We are deeply concerned at this service by the extent of public misinformation and baseless assumptions about the justification for, efficacy/side effects of and withdrawal consequences attached to these drugs – in children and adults. Many GPs appear ill informed and/or disingenuous in the information they offer. We have concerns about the ever-increasing frequency with which SSRIs/SNRIs are prescribed (often pushily), as well as the skewed nature of much research, and misreporting of trial data. Seldom do people who make their way to this service appear to have been adequately informed or given balanced information about the (theoretical) scientific basis for their prescription. For example, they have often been told, and believe, the – theoretical and unevidenced – ‘chemical imbalance’ theory of ‘depression’. They have seldom heard more than lip service advice about potentially severe and unpredictable – even, as this article covers, life-threatening – side effects, nor have they been told about the risk of serious withdrawal issues. In our experience, therapists are often equally ill informed.
We do not have an agenda about whether a client chooses to take these drugs – that is up to them. However, we do have an agenda around everyone being better informed about the available – and widely disregarded – evidence.
Palace Gate Counselling Service, Exeter
Counselling Exeter since 1994