Generic Paxil Suicide Lawsuit

Citizens Commission on Human Rights Award Recipient (Twice)
Humanist, humorist

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Dr Thomas Stuttaford Answers Your Questions On Depression and SSRi's

Interesting piece in yesterday's Times Online regarding depression and SSRi's. A selection of readers letters were answered by Dr Thomas Stuttaford, quite what his credentials are is not known. His advice is typical of someone who writes about a subject he clearly does not know about. Once again, those words 'speak with your doctor' appear in his answers to patients questions. Forgive me for being fickle Dr. Struttaford but these patients are asking a doctor...YOU!

It's just typical of the current trend with so called experts drafted in to answer questions they know nothing about. Maybe the Times Online should allow me to answer questions on whether there is a God or not? If I don't know the answers I could always refer the readers to a priest!

Here we have a doctor answering questions, when he cannot deal with a question he refers the 'patient' to a doctor! How utterly absurd. It would be like you or I going in to see our own doctor, asking him a question and him/her referring us to Struttaford. And so the circle continues.

Stuttaford is the medical columnist for The Times he is also a former Conservative Member of Parliament and recently retired as Senior Medical Advisor for Barclays Bank.

This from Wikipedia:

As well as writing books and his work as a columnist for the Times, Stuttaford writes a regular column for the monthly catalogue of Healthspan, an online retailer of vitamin supplements.

The views he presents in The Times' medical column are considered by some to be rather irreverent to the subject matter, and, it is argued, are not always to be considered accurate, and in particular when regarding mental or sexual health, rather more as a right to exercise free speech.
[2] His views on the effects of alcohol on health, specifically red wine, are controversial,[citation needed] as he supports moderate consumption of alcohol as being healthy. Stuttaford has often been parodied in the satirical magazine Private Eye as Dr Thomas Utterfraud.

Let's scrutinise the advice he gives out regarding Seroxat and then later SSRi's in general.

Q: I've been prescribed Seroxat (paroxetine) for the past seven years for moderate depression and panic attacks. I've experimented with stopping it several times, on my doctor's advice, but each time the symptoms have returned. I've now reduced the dosage to the minimum (about 10mg a day) and I would be quite happy to continue taking it for the foreseeable future. It has really made a difference to my life. Are there any dangers in long term use of Seroxat or other SSRIs? Jan, Leeds

Stuttaford's answer: (with comment from me)

Long term use of SSRIs is not likely to damage the reader's life as in his case the correct drug of choice has almost certainly been found. And perhaps you could point us to the evidence? What long term study has been carried out on prolonged use of SSRi's? Would you be willing to back your claim with a small bet Dr. Struttaford, say for example, your house? What do you know of serotonin receptors, could long term use of an SSRi destroy the serotonin receptors?

Many depressed patients do discover that they will have to continue taking medication for the foreseeable future. How do they 'discover' this? Is this merely a diversion because the patient cannot get off the drug they have been prescribed?

As in all cases of this sort close liaison with the GP is essential. Why? What does a doctor know about SSRi withdrawal? Perhaps Dr. Struttaford can tell me exactly what training is given to doctors regarding SSRi withdrawal?

It is always necessary to discontinue taking these drugs very slowly. How? Does Dr. Struttaford have a program or at least a guide of how to taper slowly or is he merely reading the information from the standard SSRi patient information leaflet?

No drug that is effective is entirely without side effects. Straight from the book of Pharma

Patients taking an SSRI should be regularly monitored by their doctors to make certain that there is no evidence arising that might suggest bipolar disorder and that their kidney and liver function tests remain normal. Ah, bipolar. So not content with treating depression with an SSRi, the patient may now how bipolar! And no doubt there is another pill for that eh Dr. Struttaford?

Next came Struttaford's unbelievable response to someone suffering with memory loss which they attribute to administering SSRi's.

Q: I have been diagnosed as suffering from severe to moderate depression following a three month period of chronic stress brought on by work. I have been suffering from the stress and depression for the last six months. For the last five months I have been taking anti-depressants starting with 20mg of Citalopram rising to 40mg and for the last ten weeks Venlafaxine XL 225mg. Throughout this period I have been suffering from memory loss. In particular I find it difficult to recall what I did a few minutes ago and on a day to day, week to week and month to month basis. I recently read an article by you in which you stated that a person with damage to the Hippocampus lives only in the present. Is there any other explanation for my memory loss or am I correct in my self-diagnosis of a irreversible damaged Hippocampus which has brought on my current amnesia? Name and address withheld

Struttaford's answer:

No. I don't think that antidepressants cause permanent damage to the hippocampus. Again, have you any scientific evidence? It's comforting to know that these are merely your thoughts Dr Struttaford.

Patients who are depressed suffer from a poor memory partly because so many gloomy thoughts are making them preoccupied. As a result they fail to remember other events in their life. Their thoughts tend to go round and round in never ending and unproductive circles, so called psycho motor retardation. There is however no doubt that many antidepressants do have a reversible adverse effect on memory. I have noticed in my patients that it may also make them slightly slower at doing such intellectual tasks as mental arithmetic. People with permanent damage to their hippocampus, and associated areas, develop a generally poor memory and, as I know to my own cost, a specific inability to recognise and remember faces but not, I am glad to say, personal and clinical details of people. My short term memory is pretty poor Dr Struttaford. It was fine before I was prescribed an SSRi. There are many cases where people [patients, guinea pigs, call them what you will] have complained about short term memory loss after using an SSRi. I have been Seroxat free for almost three years [I think] - such is my memory I cannot actually remember the year without going through notes I have kept. Can you totally write off Seroxat as the cause of my short term memory problem? Remember Dr. Struttaford, I have been off Seroxat for three years or thereabouts, my local shopkeeper has my telephone number now, it was amusing at first. I'd take the three minute walk to the shop to purchase three items, I'd get there and forget what it was I went there for, even when I remembered, I'd pay for them and leave them on the counter. I even have difficulty remembering my 4 digit pin number for my Debit card. Should I go talk to my doctor, doctor?

There are a whole heap of questions aimed at Dr.Struttaford, all from different age groups regarding different SSRi's. It seems the only advice he can actually give is by telling the reader [patient] to go and talk with their doctor. This was basically the whole point of my recent meeting with the MHRA. Doctor's have had no training in SSRi withdrawal, why on earth would someone wish to seek advice from someone who knows nothing about this particular problem? It would be like someone wishing to seek advice on throat infections going to a gynaecologist!

This is the problem that faces every single person who is struggling with SSRi withdrawal, they have nobody to turn to, in fact when they turn to the patient information leaflet they are told to go talk to their doctor [No less than 30 times it states this on the current Seroxat Patient information leaflet] When they turn to the MHRA, N.I.C.E, M.I.N.D or the current Health Minister, they are told pretty much the same. Pateints deserve much better than this. Passing patients from pillar to post is adding to their frustrations and dare I say it, Dr. Stuttaford along with a whole host of others, are actually making the problem worse because you don't have any answers to questions that should have been answered before SSRi's were licenced in the first place!


Read the new book, The Evidence, However, Is Clear...The Seroxat Scandal

By Bob Fiddaman

ISBN: 978-1-84991-120-7



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