Friday, May 10, 2013

Depression, Hyperbole and a Half recommendation, the problems of psychiatry

A post in Hyperbole and a Half does a really good job of talking about depression in a way that is both amusing and sensitive. As a person has suffered clinical depression and who has been suicidal, I have felt pretty much everything that Allie talks about. It is incredibly difficult to talk about depression when people don't realize that it really is a kind of disease, serious and debilitating – that your ability to feel is crippled, so merely asking or hoping for a clinically depressed person to “get better” is like asking a person with no legs to get up and run. It's not possible. That part of your brain is just too broken.

Part of me got angry, though. Not at Allie but, rather, for her and everyone out there who has suffered long spells of treatment with partial and intermittent success. As I've said before I think psychiatry is totally fucked up.

Whether out of cowardice or ignorance, psychiatry makes people suffer. They have a ton of options that they simply fail to use, both medication that is commonly used for physical pain and illness (opiates and hormones, for instance) as well as drugs that are irrationally illegal but are of known psychiatric value (LSD and MDMA, for instance).

I wanted to bring this up on Allie's blog, but I couldn't because the comment maximum had been reached. Drat.

Psychiatry has a huge problem: their inability to prescribe drugs outside of a narrow band that society and politicians have deemed acceptable for treating mental illness. Drugs that have study after study done that demonstrate their value as medicine. This is a problem, I feel, of sufficient magnitude to discredit psychiatry altogether. Allowing popular opinion and ignorant politicians shape medical practice into a limited and crippling form that does damage to the most vulnerable of patients when many alternate methods of treatment are available is not scientific medicine. It is not too far different from snake oil salesmen, really, when psychiatrists prescribe yet another dopamine or serotonin effecting drug when the last several did no good, as if all SSRIs or dopamine agonists don't do basically the same thing.

That's a huge problem. It isn't Scientologists jumping up on couches and casting psychiatry into the role of demonic pawns of body thetans. These are real medical issues and they are enormous, it is a huge confluence of events that delegitimatizes all of psychiatry. People should be jumping up on couches and saying, “They have drugs that can treat serious depression and anxiety and fall to even attempt to use them! They allow specious judgments of the FDA stop them from using drugs whose usefulness to medicine is demonstrated in many hundreds of studies! They allow malevolent public policy by conservative politicians and the fears of traditional religion drive medical practice and they roll over and take it! It needs to stop so we can help millions of Americans who suffer serious mental illnesses!”

It's what I want to do. I want to jump and point the finger. They are failing both as scientists and as ethical beings. They are creating untold suffering. They need to be stopped.

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