The site in question is Patient UK, their tag line being "The same information as provided by GP's to patients during consultations".
Let's see what they have to say about SSRi's [bear in mind that Doctors probably use this site, if Patient UK's tag line is to be believed]
SSRI antidepressants are used to treat depression and some other conditions. They take 2-4 weeks to work fully. Treatment usually lasts six months or more. Side-effects may occur, but are often minor. At the end of course of treatment, you should gradually reduce the dose as directed by your doctor before stopping completely.
This opening para is vague to say the least.
...used to treat depression and some other conditions?
Firstly, Patient UK does not state what level of depression SSRi's should be used for and secondly, what are the 'other conditions' SSRi's are used to treat?
...treatment usually lasts six months or more
Um... try six years in my case and I've read many stories where patients have been on SSRi's for much longer than six years too!
...Side-effects may occur, but are often minor
Is this site/organisation funded by Pharma?
...you should gradually reduce the dose as directed by your doctor before stopping completely.
No advice to the doctor about a tapering programme? Why? - Because there isn't one!
How do antidepressants work?
...An altered balance of serotonin and other neurotransmitters is thought to play a part in causing depression and other conditions.
Ah, the old chemical imbalance theory touted yet again. Nice to see they at least drop the word 'thought' in to cover themselves!
Antidepressants and depression
...Sometimes a life problem such as bereavement, redundancy, illness, etc, triggers a depression. Sometimes there is no apparent cause for a depression. However, antidepressants treat the symptoms of depression, whatever the cause.
No mention of the Kirsch study here? Why? Antidepressant use in people with mild to moderate depression is useless - a placebo is as effective!
But wait... Patient UK tell you in the next para how you know you are depressed.
...Symptoms of depression include: low mood, feelings of sadness, sleep problems, poor appetite, irritability, poor concentration, decreased sex drive, loss of energy, guilt feelings, headaches, aches, pains, and palpitations. If symptoms are eased, you not only feel better, but you may also be able to cope better with any problems or difficult circumstances.
Oh come on! This just has to be funded by pharma in some way?
How effective are SSRI antidepressants?
...About 5-7 in 10 people with depression improve within a few weeks of starting treatment with antidepressants. However, up to 3 in 10 people improve with dummy tablets (placebo) as some people would have improved in this time naturally. So, you are roughly twice as likely to improve with antidepressants compared to taking no treatment.
"...up to 3 in 10 people improve with dummy tablets (placebo) as some people would have improved in this time naturally."
Which begs the question - why take SSRi's?
The following para could have been written by the genius marketing team at GSK [though I'm not suggesting it was]
...If you find that the treatment is helpful after 3-4 weeks, it is usual to continue. A normal course of antidepressants lasts up to six months or more after symptoms have eased. If you stop the drug too soon, your symptoms may rapidly return. Some people with recurrent depression need longer courses of treatment.
How does one know when one is better? When one comes off the drug because he/she thinks they are better, withdrawal kicks in. The GP cannot recognise withdrawal [because the truth has been kept from him/her because of shoddy advice given to them such as the advice from Patient UK]
When you are taking SSRI antidepressants
...It is important to take the medication each day at the dose prescribed. Do not stop taking them abruptly. The dose is usually gradually reduced before stopping completely at the end of a course of treatment. But don't do this yourself - your doctor will advise on dosage reduction when the time comes. It is best not to stop treatment or change the dose without consulting a doctor.
Your doctor will advise you on a dosage reduction? Who advises the doctor? Have they learned this at med school? Perhaps Patient UK can shed some light on this? They seem to know an awful lot about SSRi's yet so very little about withdrawal. Are they funded by pharma?
Is this what is known as Astroturfing?
What about side-effects?
...Most people have either minor, or no, side-effects.
WHAT? - May I suggest, if they have balls big enough, for Patient UK to visit Paxil Progress or to download a section of the Paxil Protest petition where patients have left comments about the horrendous withdrawal effects they have experienced!
...The most common ones [side effects] include: diarrhoea, feeling sick, vomiting, and headaches.
Forgive me for sounding cynical here. Let me quote Alistair Benbow, Head of European Psychiatry for GlaxoSmithKline. "The side effects [of Paxil "discontinuance"] are things like dizziness, nausea, headache, um, and are clearly labeled in the information made available to doctors and patients."
...It is worth keeping on with treatment if side-effects are mild at first.
Of course it is. It was designed that way. Try to come off, find the side effects intolerable so remain on it. GSK, in the case of Seroxat, wins - Everybody is happy, particularly those counting the pound notes and GSK investors!
...Minor side-effects may wear off after a week or so.
Shades of GlaxoSmithKline spokeswoman here: "If ‘discontinuation reactions’ occur in patients stopping [Paxil], the majority will experience symptoms that are mild to moderate in intensity, and are usually limited to two weeks." - Mary Anne Rhyne GlaxoSmithKline spokesperson
...The leaflet that comes in the drug packet gives a full list of possible side-effects.
No mention of suicidal thoughts, no mention of severe aggression, no mention of short term memory loss, no mention of an intolerance to sudden loud noises, no mention of electric shock sensations that rip through your body and make you want to lash out at anyone standing/sitting near to you.
...do not drive or operate machinery if you become drowsy whilst taking one.
Are the RAC or AA aware of this? What about motor insurance companies up and down the UK. So, in essence Patient UK are saying that if I worked in a factory on a lathe, I would not... sorry should not operate that lathe. What about if I was on this drug for 6 years or more? Would Patient UK expect my employer to wait until I had finished taking my SSri?
SSRI antidepressants and suicidal behaviour
...In recent years there have been some case reports which claim a link between taking SSRI antidepressants and feeling suicidal. The Committee on Safety of Medicines (CSM) has recently reviewed the evidence on whether there is such a link. They were unable to find any convincing evidence of this link. The CSM has stated that it will continue to monitor this issue.
Because of this possible link, see your doctor promptly if you become restless, anxious or agitated, or if you have any suicidal thoughts. In particular, if these develop in the early stages of treatment or following an increase in dose.
I've got a better idea for Patient UK's readers, if you become restless, anxious or agitated, or if you have any suicidal thoughts download this and this. Once you have read how you have been duped check out the archives on this blog!
Are SSRI antidepressants addictive?
...SSRIs are not tranquillisers, and are not thought to be addictive. (This is disputed by some people, and so this is a controversial issue. If addiction does occur, it is only in a minority of cases.)
This is a very interesting statement by Patient UK, particularly the last line, "If addiction does occur, it is only in a minority of cases.)"
Wait a minute, it's either addictive or it isn't. That's like labelling cigarettes or cocaine addictive in a minority of cases. This is totally absurd, talk about sitting on the fence!
The following advice given by Patient UK, I believe, is false and misleading and, dare I say it, dangerous advice!
They write: "...Most people can stop an SSRI without any problem. At the end of a course of treatment you should reduce the dose gradually over about four weeks before finally stopping."
Four weeks? This advice is scandalous. Who are these people? What training, if any, have they been given? Have they ever witnessed Seroxat withdrawal first hand? Four weeks? How naive and unprofessional to offer such advice to people tapering from, what I deem, a highly addictive drug [in some people]
Finally, Patient UK offer the pharmaresque advice:
...An option if they do occur [withdrawal symptoms] is to restart the drug and reduce the dose even more slowly.
Who wins? Pharma!
I shall be contacting Patient UK, I suggest readers of this blog do as well. Air your grievances at them, tell them they are more or less quoting the likes of Benbow and Rhyne. Tell them your personal stories but more importantly tell them that THEY ARE WRONG and the information they are providing for GP's is causing unneeded hardship for patients taking SSRi's.
To kill two birds with one stone I hereby award Patient UK the Seroxat Sufferers Dumbass Award and wish for them to know that I will be digging a little deeper to see who funds their organisation. I notice from the content of the webpage that they include a link to Depression Alliance. You can read about Depression Alliance here, here and here and you can see how the former CEO of Depression Alliance sent me a series of emails that I found rather intimidating, maybe it's just me though you can judge for yourselves by reading them here, here , here, here, here and finally, here.
Patient UK can be contacted via the online web email here
A copy [url] of this post will be sent to Pateint UK and also the MHRA
Read the new book, The Evidence, However, Is Clear...The Seroxat Scandal
By Bob Fiddaman
AVAILABLE FOR DOWNLOAD HERE
PAPERBACK COMING SOON