I read this article and simply cringed knowing that the reporting was faulty and it certainly doesn’t speak to all the issues with SSRIs. I was not intending sharing it on the blog, but then shared it with my friend Alto Strata who made a great comment at Forbes.
Below is an excerpt from the article in question and below that is Alto Strata’s response to it. I am sharing it as it’s good to learn to think like this when we read reports of such studies.
According to a new study, antidepressants may indeed set the brain back to a more “plastic” or youthful state, so that the stage is set for talk therapy to work its magic.
The researchers looked at how the antidepressant drug fluoxetine (Prozac®) affected the stress responses of mice. It’s been known for some time that fluoxetine may make certain parts of the brain more plastic, so the researchers wagered that the drug may also affect areas of the brain important in learning about stressful and non-stressful situations. read the rest
Alto Strata’s response:
We need to keep in mind these are MICE studies. The mice are unable to voice concern about side effects. There is no way to assess their quality of life while they are being treated with the drug and before they are sacrificed to examine their brains.
In addition, causing the mice torment may be a poor analogy to actual human emotion, yet all mouse studies supporting psychiatric drugs make exactly this assumption — which may be the first place psychiatric research goes wrong.
The evidence that antidepressant-induced “plasticity,” if indeed it does occur, confers a benefit in mood disorders is highly questionable in comparison to placebo — i.e. a stand-in for the natural tendency of depression to resolve.
In none of these “plasticity” studies is the degree and quality of “plasticity” compared to that generated by, say, taking a walk or talking to friends — activities of daily living.
Lastly, now that the “chemical imbalance” theory is dead, this “plasticity” hypothesis has arisen to protect the franchise. Psychiatry loves fads. How many times do you need to be fooled?
I really wish commentators in the pop press would take this into account instead of breathlessly reporting the results of poorly designed and highly speculative studies as breakthroughs in psychiatry.
Alto Strata has written other informative articles that appear on Beyond Meds some of which relate to the above post as well:
Alto Strata also runs the fine psychiatric drug withdrawal support website: Surviving Antidepressants