29 October 2020 - Melbourne’s COVID spike in antidepressant use may trigger suicides by children and adolescents. Last month, well before today's easing of Melbourne's lockdown, a group of ten GPs co-signed an open letter to Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews, pleading with him to review his Government’s approach to Covid-19 and “look at what we can reopen safely”. Their letter was driven by their experience of vast increases in the number of severely depressed (sometimes suicidal) children they were seeing. The letter stated the lead author a GP had been seeing “many 12-15 year olds so depressed that I have no other option but to put them on antidepressants”. There is no doubt that the issues they raised were real. Restrictions were impacting on the wellbeing of young people. However, there are good reasons to question the treatment practices they promote. There is compelling evidence that prescribing antidepressants put these young patients at greater risk of suicide and pouring petrol on an out of control fire is never a good idea.
15 October 2020 - Young distressed Australians put at ultra-high-risk of stigma by $33M pre-psychosis drug research. Led by prominent psychiatrist Patrick McGorry, youth mental health research organisation Orygen has secured $33 million in US funding to breathe new life into McGorry’s three decade long quest to develop a reliable and safe way of identifying young people who are at 'imminent and high' risk of becoming psychotic with the ultimate aim of developing preventative drugs. This sounds like something we should all rally behind, however, the devil is in the detail. In reality, McGorry’s grand plan involves intervening earlier than early, by medicating mildly disturbed young people who have never been psychotic, and most likely if left alone, never will be.
18 June 2020 - Australian Government Health Minister Greg Hunt had instructed his department to conduct a review of research led by PsychWatch Australia's editorial team revealing an alarming link between antidepressant use and youth suicide. Minister Hunt's welcome decision followed significant media coverage of our research and a brilliant speech by Julian Hill MP (the Labor Member for Bruce) in the Australian Parliament calling for an inquiry. It is heartening to see cooperation between politicians from both the governing Liberal Party and the Labor Opposition. It offers real hope of safer prescribing practices and improved outcomes for young Australians. It is anticipated the Minister will release the Review and his response in late 2020. To read more click here.
8 June 2020 – Recently published research led by PsychWatch Australia’s editorial team - Antidepressant prescribing and suicide/self-harm in young Australians: Regulatory warnings, contradictory advice, and long-term trends’ - raises concerns about the safety of antidepressant use by young Australians. In 2007 the FDA warned that antidepressant use roughly doubles the risk of suicidal thoughts and behaviours in people aged under 25. However, since 2009, both antidepressant prescribing and suicide rates have risen sharply. The number of suicides by Australians aged 0 to 24 rose steadily from 279 in 2009 to 458 in 2018 and the proportion of Australians aged 0 to 27 using antidepressants grew from about 2.9% to 4.8%. There is also evidence of a substantial increase in rates of self-harm by young Australians, with prescription antidepressants among the drugs most commonly used in self-poisoning.
28 November 2019- In November 2009 former Australian of the year Professor Fiona Stanley told a conference of Australian politicians that “The vast majority of kids on ADHD drugs are on drugs unnecessarily. They are just naughty little boys and they would have been coped with before but they are now being medicalised”. Since 2009, the number of Australian child prescribed ADHD medications has more than doubled from approximately 61,000 to an estimated 130,000 in 2019, despite our population increasing by less than 16%.
12 November 2019 - The Productivity Commission’s draft mental health report, includes a bombshell recommendation that threatens the monopoly that headspace has on Commonwealth Government funds for youth mental health services. Apparently even the CEO believes the headspace brand is way ahead of the substance.
14 October 2019 - It is Boom time again for Western Australia's ADHD Industry as WA Health Minister Roger Cook weakens amphetamine prescribing controls. Perth was the world's first child prescribing hot-spot to see a large (50%) decline in child ADHD prescribing rates (between 2002 and 2010). But that happened when WA had politicians that were prepared to take on the ADHD Industry. Now child and adult prescribing rates are rising rapidly, with ample evidence that diverted ADHD stimulants, particularly dexamphetamine, contribute to the state's notorious amphetamine problem.
25 August 2019 - The AMERICAN P$YCHIATRIC A$$OCIATION wins the inaugural PsychWatch Australia DISEASE- MONGER OF THE MONTH (August 2019) for D$M-5 -The DSM is now 67 years old and DSM-5 (2013), the fifth edition, was a great leap forward in the APA’s ongoing quest to eliminate sanity, and make ‘disordered’ the new normal. So forget Hollywood, Coca-Cola and McDonald's, the APA are without doubt the most influential exporters of American culture ever.
23 July 2019 - This blog outlines how a recent review of drug trials found that the rate of suicide attempts and completed suicides was about 2.5 times higher in those using antidepressants compared to placebo. The blog also demonstrates that Australian (all age) per-capita rates of antidepressant use and suicide rate, both trended upwards from 2012 to 2017. It also details that despite the real world evidence of surging Australian antidepressant use and youth suicide, both Patrick McGorry and Ian Hickie doubled down on their assertion that antidepressants don’t increase the risk of suicide.
27 June 2019 - An open letter to Prime Minister Scott Morrison in regard to antidepressants and youth suicide - Dear Prime Minister, Thank you for making youth suicide a priority for your Government. However, elements of your Government’s policy position (Our Plan for youth mental health and suicide prevention) may entrench the well-meaning, but failed, approaches to youth suicide of the Gillard, Rudd, Abbott and Turnbull Governments. To put it bluntly, if these concerns are not addressed, it is likely more young Australians will self-harm and suicide.
23 June 2019 - This blog Ten truths the ADHD Industry don't want you to know reveals that in 2018 the global sales of ‘ADHD medications’ totalled US$16.4 billion. That is more than the National Income (GDP) of 68 of the 186 countries for which the IMF collected 2018 data. This is a stunning amount given that the core business of the ADHD drug industry is selling amphetamines for use by children. This blog details ten truths the fundamentally dishonest ADHD Industry would rather you didn’t know.
15 June 2019 - Beginning in August 2019, every month, PsychWatch Australia will be announcing a 'Disease-Monger of the Month' Award. If the last decade of rampant, psychiatric, disease-mongering in Australia and internationally is any indication, competition will be fierce. The award is open to anybody, including mental health practitioners, researchers, politicians, and the media. Nominations, detailing the alleged disease-mongering are now open and can be emailed to email@example.com
1 June 2019 - More young Australians suicide/self-harm and use antidepressants while 'experts' dismiss FDA warnings -Influential organisations and experts, including Suicide Prevention Australia, headspace, Orygen, and Professors Ian Hickie and Patrick McGorry, have given advice that contradicts FDA and TGA warnings that antidepressant use increases the risk of suicidality in people aged under 25 years. Australia has followed their advice, and child, adolescent and young adult antidepressant use, suicide and self-harm rates have increased alarmingly. It's time to ask if our 'suicide prevention experts' got it horribly wrong and has their advice contributed to the avoidable deaths of young Australian?
8 May 2019 - Drug companies secretly donate to political parties, while sharing in $12.7 Billion of our taxes via the PBS, and hiding product safety data behind a FOI law loophole. Sweeping reforms of our inept Therapeutic Goods Administration, and corruption inducing, PBS, FOI, and political donation disclosure laws, are long overdue.
24 April 2019 - We revealed 1 in 8 (over 3 million) Australians were prescribed an antidepressant from July 2017 and June 2018. What is driving this epidemic - real mental illness or a sick system?
To see the media coverage generated by these blogs click here.
PsychWatch Australia - We are not Anti-Psychiatry, We are Anti-Bad Psychiatry Mental illness can be debilitating and in extreme cases psychiatric interventions can save lives. However psychiatric practice is highly variable with no guarantee that 'experts' will agree on the diagnosis and treatment of any given patient. This is understandable as the boundaries between mental illness and normality are fuzzy, and the safety and efficacy of many common treatments are far from certain. However when you combine this uncertainty with the often desperate desire of patients and their families to 'get better' you have a dangerous recipe for over-hyped but profitable promises of 'revolutionary treatments' and 'breakthrough diagnostic techniques'. (See Diagnosing Bad Psychiatry)
Disclaimers - PsychWatch Australia and its publisher Dr Martin Whitely have no connection with any commercial interests, or religion, or any other relevant conflict of interest. Dr Whitely has no medical training and Psychwatch Australia does not offer treatment advice.