Medicines for pain and distress? How much is too much?

Our final talk before our summer break was from Professor Richard Byng who asked: “Medicines for pain and distress? How much is too much?”

The talk was prompted by Johann Hari’s recent book “Lost Connections: Uncovering the Real Causes of Depression – and the Unexpected Solutions”. Although the Skeptic community had lambasted Hari’s arguments about antidepressants, Richard felt the book was well written made a lot of valid points. He then took us through the many issues there are with antidepressants: the rise in the prescription rate, problems with dependency and withdrawal symptoms, and the lack of understanding as to how they actually work. Dealing with depression is far from easy for doctors – do they rely on drugs, or investigate the social factors that can trigger the condition? If they go for the former, there are then challenges when the drugs do not work, or become less effective over time.

He ended the talk with news of an encouraging local initiative to take a more wholistic view of depression and how best to treat it, one which looks more deeply at its causes and helps to find the best solution for the individual patient