Links from out and about

Following are some interesting finds from over the weekend:

  • AstraZeneca ‘suppressed’ drug test data — BBC –this is becoming like a bad dream one has over and over again. “Seroquel’s former UK medical adviser told the BBC he was pressured to approve promotional material which said weight gain was not an issue.”

  • A “Severe” Warning for Psychiatry — Neuroskeptic  “Now imagine that, for some reason, people decided that 10% of the population need to be taking this drug, instead of 1%. So sales of the drug sky-rocket. Eventually some clever person comes along and asks “This is one of the biggest selling drugs in the world – but does it work?” They look into it, and find that it doesn’t work very well at all. For about 9 out of 10 people, it’s completely useless! What a crap drug.”

  • Making the rest of the world crazy – The Boston Globe — continuing coverage of “Crazy Like Us”  the book.  Americans are a generous people. We donate riches to needy countries. We send our troops abroad. We have exported some of history’s most influential cultural, scientific, and social inventions: democracy, fast food, and Britney Spears. Whether that generosity is helpful to other nations is another question. And so it goes with mental health. According to Ethan Watters in “Crazy Like Us: The Globalization of the American Psyche,’’ the American way of perceiving and treating mental illness has quickly and ruthlessly become the worldwide way. –What is lost are local customs, beliefs, and practices that worked fine before the invention of antidepressants and antipsychotics. For example, people who suffer from schizophrenia in some developing nations tend to cope better than those in industrialized nations armed with “Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders’’ diagnoses. Why? In East Africa, for example, traditional beliefs in spirit possession help families accept schizophrenia and reduce social stigma. But Western ideas have “the effect of stripping away the local beliefs’’ that in practice can make people feel better.”

  • On mental illness » three rivers fog — “Mental illness is still widely misunderstood in our society. In popular conception, mental illness marks a person as dangerous, incommunicable, strange and weird, living in their own world, not a whole person, not the same kind of person. According to this conception, a mentally ill person has no control over their own thoughts. “The illness” controls them. Any unsavory actions are attributed to “the illness.”– There is also popular conception (which somewhat contradicts the above, but both are still commonly held together without second thought), that says that mental illness is a character flaw: that a person need only buck up, think positive, get some sun, stop being so negative, exercise, etc. and it will all just go away. The subtler, more “enlightened” form of this conception says that a mentally ill person just needs to attend therapy and get the right medication, and it will all just go away. As if it’s that easy.”

  • Drugs for depression, anxiety tied to preterm birth Reuters — Researchers found that among nearly 3,000 women who gave birth in Washington State, those who started taking antidepressants known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) in the second or third trimester had a higher risk of preterm birth. Compared with their counterparts not on the medications, these women were nearly five times more likely to deliver prematurely. (h/t Furious Seasons)

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