Life Mental Health

Sunday 19 November 2017

Expert view: People might do therapy for years... they have even lost their jobs over it

Patricia Casey
Patricia Casey

Patricia Casey

'The language used by Ivor Browne when talking about medications on radio recently was extreme and intemperate. The idea that people are being institutionalised by heavy drugs, or put in a chemical straitjacket, is nonsense.

There is a small group of people in psychiatry who say they would never give anti-depressants. They are known as 'critical psychiatrists' and they are a tiny minority. I agree with him that drugs can be over-prescribed. Sometimes people with stress disorders are prescribed medications when they don't actually need them. They may have short-term stressors such as a relationship that is crumbling or they are in serious debt. In this type of case they may prescribed medications inappropriately.

Drugs can be overused, but to say that you would never give them to a patient is drastic, and not based on evidence. The research shows that they do work.

He seems to believe that virtually everyone with mental illness needs to address their childhood trauma. There isn't always a trauma that you can go back into. People might do therapy for years and years, and still be depressed. Because they have been in therapy searching for the trauma, they have even lost their jobs over it. If you give them antidepressants for a few weeks, they can be new people.

People forget that the brain is an organ, and bits of it can go wrong on a microscopic level. I don't know what makes him think people won't be able to explore their inner selves if they are on medications. Presidents and ministers have been on them, and have still done their work well.

In cases where patients have been sexually abused, I don't usually prescribe antidepressants. I refer them to a psychotherapist. For mild depression they generally would not be used."

Patricia Casey, Professor of Psychiatry UCD and Irish Independent columnist

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