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Friday, March 09, 2018

Scooby and Those Pesky Tweeters Rumble Psychiatry

I've stood back in amazement whilst watching psychgate unfold. It's been fun to watch the Royal College of Psychiatrists (RCP) crumble over the past few weeks. Back in February, they were rejoicing about the release of a "new" study proclaiming antidepressants work better than placebo and that they now have evidence to prove it. Wow!

Remarkable, 30 years after the launch of Prozac and we are being told we now have evidence that it, and other SSRIs, are actually better than placebo!

Reading between the lines of the study and the flurry of tabloid headlines and you'll see the results have been known for many years - RCP just put a different spin on it, along with the Science Media Centre, of course. Drugs marketed as "antidepressants" appear to possibly be better than placebo ONLY for sufferers of Major Depressive Disorder (MDD). And this result was limited only to a drug trial lasting 8 weeks. It's not known if "antidepressants" are better than placebo after 8 weeks and these drugs were never meant for long-term consumption despite that many psychiatrists lucratively prescribe them permanently to uninformed patients.

Anyway, I've pointed out the flaws in past blogs.

Moving on to more recent events

As I reported previously, Wendy Burn and David Baldwin, both of the RCP, landed themselves in hot water when they co-authored a letter to The Times newspaper. They claimed, "We know that in the vast majority of patients, any unpleasant symptoms experienced on discontinuing antidepressants have resolved within two weeks of stopping treatment."

One has to dissect the above comment to understand its meaning. Not only did they claim a majority of patients, they claimed a "vast majority." By saying "vast majority" they are implying it's at the high end of the spectrum. So, not just a majority, but a 'vast' one.

In actuality, both Burn and Baldwin were hideously wrong, their figures, or rather their estimation, was plucked out of thin air, in much the same way that is a diagnosis. When asked for evidence of their hideous claim, both Burn and Baldwin have failed to show any. The comment remains and no effort of a retraction has been made, nor an apology for getting it catastrophically wrong.

It was James Moore who set the ball in motion when he confronted Wendy Burn on Twitter. The correspondence (tweets) can be seen here. I shall now refer to James as Scooby as he's the brains behind the exposing of Burns and Baldwin. (Ugh, what a horrible thought, Burns, and Baldwin exposing themselves.)

I jest, and I shouldn't really, because this is a very serious subject. Proclaiming withdrawal symptoms are resolved within 2 weeks is dangerous and throws further stigma onto those experiencing withdrawal problems. In essence, Burns and Baldwin are saying anyone who experiences severe withdrawal after 2 weeks is either a liar or is merely imagining the horrific, debilitating withdrawal effects. Nice, huh?

It appears Burns and Baldwin have messed with the wrong people. They may feel they have the weight of the profession behind them but you should never mess with patient safety advocates such as Moore (ahem, Scooby).

Today a formal complaint of misleading the public on a matter of public safety has been lodged with RCP against Burn and Baldwin. The complaint, signed by Professor John Read of the University of East London, on behalf of many psychiatrists and victims of antidepressant withdrawal can be read here.

Scooby Scoop

Scooby wouldn't be Scooby without a perfect ending. So, what does Scooby do? Well, he interviews the complainer, John Reed.

Reed comes across as someone who knows his onions. His utter dismay of recent events shines through in this short interview. He also has actual evidence that Burn and Baldwin are wrong as he conducted his own study into withdrawal effects from antidepressant drugs. Listen and share. It will have you whooping and shouting screams of approval, or disapproval, depending on which side of the fence you sit, the side with evidence, or the side without.

Credit to James Moore for starting the snowball and for continuing to roll it.


Bob Fiddaman

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