Anxiety, Depression and Drugs, Oh My! or Mental illness for fun and profit

by Michael D. Shaw,  staff writer

The past 2 decades have witnessed an alarming increase in the number of Americans diagnosed with mental illness. Is modern psychiatry reaping an immense profit by impulsively—perhaps even deliberately–conflating mental illness with a growing, public aversion to the demands of personal responsibility?

In the summer of 2011, The New York Review of Books published two lengthy articles by Marcia Angell, MD—Senior Lecturer in Social Medicine at Harvard Medical School and former Editor in Chief of The New England Journal of Medicine. In these articles, Angell reviewed three books which take a critical look at psychiatry and its relationship with the pharmaceutical industry, and also examined the DSM-IV-TR (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition, Text Revision).

Some of the findings of the books she reviews are quite disturbing:  The major psychoactive drugs are revealed to be no better than placebos; the “chemical imbalance” theory of mental illness is mostly nonsense; psychoactive drugs are being given to children as young as two; and the process whereby the DSM—a major source of income for the American Psychiatric Association—is compiled is fundamentally flawed.

One of the reviewed authors—Irving Kirsch, PhD obtained all the clinical trials data on six major psychoactive drugs via the Freedom of Information Act. There were 42 trials and most of them were negative. Bear in mind that drug companies must turn over all clinical trial data to the FDA, but need only show positive results in two studies to gain approval, and these of course are the ones that are published in the journals. The FDA regards the negative studies as confidential material.

But even as the value of psychotropic drugs is being questioned, Dr. Angell acknowledges that “Americans are in the midst of a raging epidemic of mental illness, at least as judged by the increase in the numbers treated for it.” She also notes that the number of Americans who qualify for Supplemental Security Income or Social Security Disability Insurance based on mental illness more than doubled between 1987 and 2007—from one in 184 to one in 76.

In a study which focused on adults over 50, Dr. Dawn Alley of the University of Maryland found high rates of depression among those behind in their mortgage payments, and a higher likelihood of making unhealthy financial tradeoffs regarding food and needed prescription medications. Alley comments: “We knew of the link, but we were surprised by the magnitude of the problem. These people were more than bummed out.” One Maryland nonprofit statewide mental health counseling referral service reports that almost one-third of cases now involve people who have lost their homes or their jobs.

In short, people who have experienced one or more of the misfortunes of life are being systematically diagnosed as mentally ill; their unfortunate circumstances contributing greatly to the income both of psychiatrists who prescribe psychotropic medications and the drug companies which make them.  

So visit a psychiatrist, take a pill and obtain absolution from the unpleasant vagaries of the human condition!  After all, the mentally ill can’t be expected to deal with the pressures of a lost job or unpaid mortgage.

Can there be a more disgraceful way to “treat” the American public.


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7 thoughts on “Anxiety, Depression and Drugs, Oh My! or Mental illness for fun and profit”

  1. Thank you for a great article/I long have been bothered by all of what you say and lost much faith in the medical profession when I learned of their perks from the drug companies/how about the student shootings-drug links? Sincerely, Suzanne

  2. Suzanne–

    Thanks. The Coach added some “stingers” to the end of the piece. The finding that the major psychotropic drugs are no better than placebos seems to be common knowledge within the drug/psych community. But, if you think it works, then it must work, right? They’re certainly all willing to take the money.

    Or, as the joke goes: “Hypochondriacs really are sick.”

  3. “Modern Psychiatry” is nothing more than a scam, akin to astrology. They are behind the deconstruction of all that is normal and healthy. They are behind the chaos in public schools, because they decided you can never say no or punish a child, or they will have “self esteem” problems.
    They do nothing to help people deal with their problems, as they used to.
    It was them that decided delusional homosexuals should be told they are normal, and now we have these poor, pitiable people asking for hormone treatments to have babies!
    We need the exact science of DNA to establish crimes in court, but we allow bought and paid for opinions from these clowns to decide the fate or push the juries one way or the other. They are never held responsible when they are wrong.
    Every recent mass killing was done by victims of these charlatans, people whose minds were being experimented on with psychotropic drugs even the doctors don’t understand. The doctors are free, but the victims of their experiments are dead.
    The American Psychiatric Association was be stripped of all official accreditation and brought up on charges for the experiments they have been performing on society, the deaths they have caused with their unsafe medicines, and the collusion with the drug companies that got them to give out dangerous brain-rewiring drugs in the first place. They should also be held responsible for all suicides in the gay community of those who never thought to seek help for their problem..

  4. I suffer from and am being treated for depression and anxiety. I see a therapist and take medication, prescribed by a psychiatrist. Both treatments have improved my life, tremendously. I am a good dad, run my own business, am well-liked in my field and in my community. It was a long road and a lot of trial and error to fin d a course of treatment that has worked well for me.

    I get that people want to condemn psychiatry as witchcraft or mumbo-jumbo and there are good and bad therapists. I have been to both. My current therapist is brilliant and the medication I take, now, after trying quite a few, seems to be proper, for me.

    Just thought I’d present my view from this side of the fence.

    1. Hubie Gee,
      I don’t believe any of us at CiR view psychiatry as witchcraft or hold most psychiatrists in low esteem. You’re quite right when you say that there are good and bad in the field, just as there are in any other. Your situation is a testament to the good.
      But many recent articles have been written by psychiatrists concerning unhealthy trends which have crept into the profession. Another piece by Michael Shaw will appear on CiR Friday. I believe you’ll be interested in reading it and hope to get your opinions. At the beginning of the week a piece on the DSM-V will post on CiR. This latest “bible of psychiatry” has been excoriated by a number of individuals in the field, concerned that, among other things, true physical illness is being mislabeled as mental illness.
      Thanks very much for reading Coach is Right.
      Doug Book, staff writer

    2. As usual, my passion put my foot in my mouth. I hope there are still some real psychiatrists left practicing the real thing. My rant did not allow for that fact, and for that I apologize. I have had several close-up experiences with people taking brain-chemistry changing drugs. Putting people on mind altering chemicals that they must take for the rest of their lives, without knowing how those drugs will affect the person, is the path the new generation is taking. I don’t believe real psychiatry evolved around the concept of addling the brain with drugs, but helping people talk through and accept themselves and the world around them. One helps them deal with reality, the other seems to create it’s own reality.
      I am glad for your good experiences, and appreciate your comment.
      Thanks and be well,
      Ron Reale

  5. I will partly disagree with this article; being a nurse by training, and a victim of depression as well, which began about the time I reached school age. Some percentage of those claiming mental illnesses today are malingering, and avoiding responsibility, I agree. Also that pharmaceutical remedies rarely are all that effective. However, SOME is also genetic predisposition to some forms of mental illness, and those suffering schizophrenia are suffering a physical brain deterioration which shows clearly on scans. It’s just as wrong to lump ALL into one basket here, as in most other places with humans. Each needs to be adjudged individually. But there does need to be a more stringent assessment process, before declaring a person to be “disabled” by mental illness, as it USED to be! Like so many other areas, with respect to government entitlement programs, this one has become so lax as to be a JOKE!

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