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Psychiatric Guidelines Questioned for Conflict of Interest

Researchers at the University of Massachusetts Boston (UMass) have uncovered blatant conflicts of interest associated with clinicians responsible for formulating the Practice Guideline for the Treatment of Patients with Major Depressive Disorder. The guideline is the primary resource for clinicians who treat patients with depression. Such treatment often includes prescription anti-depressants.

The UMass study showed that all of the medical and psychiatric professionals who developed the guidelines — published by the American Psychiatric Association (APA) — had financial ties to drug companies that manufacture antidepressants. The problem is that the APA recommends psychotropic drugs as a first-line treatment for all levels of depression. But treatment with drugs for mild depression is not the recommended treatment according to research.

There is considerable literature questioning the use and efficacy of psychotropic drugs to treat mild depression. With the latest edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) about to hit the bookstores on May 22, there is new concern that psychotropic drugs are being over-prescribed. The DSM is the dictionary of human suffering, defining mental disorders and emotional illnesses. Ten percent of Americans currently take some form of anti-depressant. Seventy-two percent of anti-depressant prescriptions are written without a diagnosis of depression.

Anti-depressants are not benign medications, but include significant side effects that include:

  • Nausea
  • Insomnia
  • Weight gain
  • Intestinal irregularities
  • The possibility of suicidal thoughts and tendencies

It is due legal system that holds the drug companies accountable as much as due congress.

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