Psychology and Theology: Medications

         DISCLAIMER: The information provided to you in this article has been compiled from numerous journals, research papers, and studies for the sole purpose of offering you, the reader, a look at the risks of medication management to weigh against the benefits. You must consult your prescribing doctor before discontinuing medications you may be on at this time. I, in no way, have the legal, moral, or ethical right to tell anyone what to do with respect to medical management of any kind.

          Well, with that being said…let’s get started. If you’ve been reading any of my other articles for Faithful Families, you know that I try to write from a Christian slant. I study and research many fundamental sources devoted to the discrediting of psychology, especially where it is against Scriptural reason. But I have decided to forgo my partners this time to allow you to see for yourself that the psychiatric community itself is not in one accord when it comes to the origins and treatments of depression and ADD/ADHD. I will give research findings provided by those in the field to show you that the clinicians speaking against the media blitz and the over-prescribing of seemingly ineffective and dangerous drugs are not a lunatic right-wing splinter group that have a following reminiscent of the “Jonestown people.” No, these are highly esteemed professionals in their fields and their research is being found in professional journals, as well as being cited by other researchers in their own articles.

          I’m afraid this week’s installment may be more technical in nature and a lot more dry than some of my other articles, but I hope it will prove fascinating as I lay out example after example. I began the series a few weeks ago by calling it “Psychology vs. Theology.” So let’s look at the enemy’s own words and admissions…shall we…
The major premise of drug therapy for these disorders is that the drugs will correct a chemical imbalance in the brain. But in a 2008 issue of Society Journal, research has been cited that a chemical imbalance for mental illness has never been found. So, it would be reasonable to ask the question as to whether or not these medications are effective if there is no pre-existing chemical imbalance. The answer is “NO.” In a 2008 study that analyzed data on the effectiveness of antidepressants (that was turned over to the Food and Drug Administration) it was revealed that all the research combined showed that antidepressants are no more effective than placebos except in the cases of people with severe depression, where it was only a more slightly effective treatment option (Initial severity and antidepressant benefits: a meta-analysis of data submitted to the FDA, February 2008).

          In a 2007 article in the Canadian Journal of Psychiatry, a psychiatrist explains that one of the reasons the data is so skewed and the medications for psychiatric disorders appears to be overwhelmingly beneficial in nature is because “trials with negative outcomes are far less likely to get published and that even the positive outcomes are selectively reported.” This article validates the notion that antidepressants are no more effective than placebos by citing research that reveals that “despite the enormous increase in antidepressant prescribing in the West over the last decade and a half, epidemiological evidence suggests that the prevalence of depressive episodes is higher than ever,” and further studies cited in the British Medical Journal in 2005 reveal that “there is abundant evidence that suicide trends are long-standing and independent of patterns of antidepressant use.” Incidentally, the highest risk of suicide for a patient suffering from depression is about 2-3 weeks after starting antidepressant therapy. These patients experience a mood elevation and begin to have enough energy to plan and carry out a successful suicide…how ironic…

         But if psych medications aren’t anymore effective than placebos, where does the mood elevation come from in depressed patients? In a book called Psychiatric Drugs Explained (Mosby, 1997) Healy says, in essence, that the desired side effects of these medications creates indifference and ambivalence and an overall desensitizing of the emotions. In other words, it’s like taking alcohol, which has many potentially bad side effects and ignoring the risks to gain a little “liquid courage” when needed or maybe escape from something too difficult to deal with in your right state of mind. But, like alcohol and anti-anxiety medications, the longer you’ve been on it, the more dependant your body becomes and the more severe the withdrawal is once you try to come off your meds.

          Two authors in 2003 (Guy Holmes and Marese Hudson) wrote an article detailing the dangers of coming off of psychiatric medications. They caution that much of the time, depression is situational (death, loss of job, family crisis) and if someone is put on meds for coping, once the person has worked through the situation, they usually want to come off the medication. Unfortunately, research done in 1998 showed that 63% of people had experienced problems of some type while discontinuing their medications. Most of the withdrawal symptoms were similar in nature to having a bad case of the flu, but in other instances, Holmes & Hudson explained that, “some withdrawal effects mirror psychiatric symptoms.” It’s this recurrence of symptoms that confuse clinicians and prescribers about whether or not the patient is experiencing rebound (recurrence of not completely resolved pre-medicated condition) or whether this is a new and undiagnosed underlying psychosis for which patient’s may be put on an anti-psychotic medication.

         Very recent research has found that when a drug may be considered for treating depression, every person is different in their body’s ability to metabolize the drug. In their 2008 article in the Journal of Psychiatric and Mental Health Nursing, one of the three contributing authors shares her experience as her son was wrongly diagnosed with schizophrenia after experiencing severe reactions to Prozac resulting from his body not being able to metabolize the medication properly, thus displaying psychotic features, thus being diagnosed as schizophrenic and placed on an anti-psychotic medication. After careful and calculated reduction of the medications over the span of almost three years, her son is improving. But the reduction phase took almost three years.

         Beware if you or your child is sent for a mental health evaluation for whatever reason. In 2005, in England, the Healthcare Commission found that 92% of the people in the mental health system had taken medication over the last year. In the United States, one report has the number of people on psych medications in the tens of millions. Research has been mainly done on adult populations and many of the current drugs being prescribed to children have not been fully studied as far as the long-term consequences go.

Children and Psychiatric Medications

        A review of the literature that appeared in the Lancet Journal (2004) showed data from published and unpublished research that since older tricyclic antidepressants, such as Ellavil or amitriptyline were ineffective for children (as cited from the Journal of American Academy of Child Psychiatry, 1996) some of the newer antidepressants being prescribed were ineffective and essentially more dangerous for children. It was realized that this finding was reported in many of the studies that never got published. As I mentioned earlier…that happens and results are skewed…either by accident or purposely.

          Whether results are skewed by the research groups or not is one thing, but there are times when the media has purposely misled the consumer. The Treatment of Adolescent Depression Study was ordered to study the effectiveness of Prozac. This study, funded by a US government agency was found to put out publicity that did not match the nature of the reported findings. It was reported in the British Medical Journal (2007) that the very people investigating the drug not only received funding from this US government agency, but also, “the investigators had received appreciable industry funding.” Hmmm…you decide what that means. Were your kids the interest and the bottom line or was it another bottom line that trumped children’s well being.

          The following review of ADD/ADHD medication is from an on-line resource for people with ADD/ADHD (www.add-adhd-help-center.com). Ritalin is now the most widely prescribed drug for the disorder, though the trouble with Ritalin is that the short-acting form of the drug leaves the system in four hours and so do the benefits associated with the drug. There is a longer acting extended release form of Ritalin that enables the child to take the medication before school and since it lasts six hours, no dose needs to be taken at school. However, Ritalin has been found to affect the child’s brain much the same way cocaine affects an adult’s brain. If you’ve ever seen anyone “crash” off their cocaine high, the same experience can be felt by the children coming down off their Ritalin, which is a stimulant medication. In fact, the base formula for Ritalin is a relative to methamphetamine, also known as “crystal meth.”

          Concerta is a Ritalin medication that has a 12-hour extended release component. Now remember, Ritalin affects the brain of children much like cocaine does in an adult. Studies have not been done to determine the possible effects on children of having a cocaine-like substance in their bloodstream for up to 12 hours. But in 2000, the FDA approved its use. Now, go back to last week’s installment and think about whether or not ADD/ADHD is biological or behavioral and then justify to yourself the risks associated with putting children on amphetamines. The resource site also stated that the Military Personnel Procurement Manual disqualifies a potential soldier permanently from ever joining the military if they are on prescribed Ritalin.

         This site lists several interesting facts about the ADD/ADHD drugs. It’s estimated that 1 in 8 children will be prescribed an ADD/ADHD medication at some point. Since 1991, prescriptions for these meds increased by five times. Ritalin usage jumped 700% in that same time frame. And, even though there is much caution about not prescribing to children under the age of six because none of these drugs have been studied for the safety and effectiveness before the age of six or seven, children as early as 2 years old are being prescribed these medications.

         The scary thing is that other factors may mimic ADD/ADHD and parents and doctors may not be willing to take the time needed to investigate the underlying cause of ADD/ADHD-like symptoms. Incidentally, there are also many underlying medical conditions that can mimic depressive symptoms, and most can be tested for with routine blood work targeting the possible causes.

         So, what’s the deal? Are depression and ADD/ADHD true medical conditions that can benefit from drug therapy that pose their own threats? Or is depression an emotional condition and ADD/ADHD a “Defect of Moral Control” that requires discipline and structure? What’s the truth? God knows for certain, but I have a hunch. As society moves further and further away from God, we open ourselves up to false doctrines of many kind, including the nature and causes of emotional and spiritual states.

         You want to know the truth about these matters? John 7:17 states that “if any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself.” But to have that truth, according to John 8:31-32, we must continue in God’s Word to have the truth revealed to us…”Then Jesus said to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are you my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free.” Imagine, studying God’s Word on the subject of sadness, depression, hopelessness, anxiety, inappropriate behaviors and anything else concerning modern mental health disorders, will lead you to the truth about such matters. Imagine, God promising the truth will set us free! Free from what you may ask? Free from the lie that we are not accountable for our actions; free from the public stigma associated with having psychological issues or mental health problems; free from depositing hard-earned money into the coffers of drug companies whose marketing and research tactics are suspect; free from the possible adverse drug reactions and long drawn out dangerous withdrawal processes; free from all that…

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2 Responses to Psychology and Theology: Medications

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