Another Little Sign of a Deeply Dysfunctional Society

Having gone through a horriblly traumatic marriage breakup, I can speak to this issue a little. I rejected taking anti-depressants, despite a counsellor’s recommendation that I do. I still have bouts of depression, but they are manageable in a strange way for me – I use music, meditation, meetings, and reading to counter them.

We could write a book about the medical profession in this nation, one that wouldn’t be even slightly flattering since we believe doctors are minions of the pharmaceutical industry. There is no magic in life, and that’s why we don’t believe pills are much of a solution for anything. Of course, for most of us, we used to have rather different views on this topic. And maybe I need to be speaking for myself. Richard Jehn

Fears for a drugged generation
William Birnbauer
January 7, 2007

A STAGGERING 337,553 prescriptions for antidepressants were written for children and adolescents in the past year, raising fears about whether “happy pills” are being used as a quick-fix for despondent youngsters.

Australia’s drug regulator, the Therapeutic Goods Administration, has not approved any antidepressant medicines for children or adolescents younger than 18 but can not prevent doctors from prescribing them.

Medical regulators and drug companies warn against the use of antidepressants in young people and there is concern that the drugs, including the newer breed known as serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), have been associated with suicidal behaviour in the young.

Yet more than 75,500 prescriptions for antidepressants were written for children under 15 in 2005-06, according to figures prepared exclusively by Medicare Australia for The Sunday Age.

A further 262,000 antidepressant prescriptions were filled for youths aged between 15 and 20 in 2005-06. In Victoria there were 12,351 antidepressant scripts for children aged 14 and younger in 2005-06. In the 15-to-20 age group, 64,663 medicines were prescribed.

There is concern particularly that Prozac (fluoxetine), the only SSRI that appears to be more effective than a placebo in children, will become the new Ritalin, the drug of choice for a spate of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder diagnoses in the 1990s.

Melbourne psychiatrist George Halasz sees the increasing use of antidepressants as further evidence of what he calls “diagnostic creep”. Not that long ago, he says, sadness was simply sadness and shyness was shyness. Today, along with myriad conditions once regarded as normal, sadness and shyness can be diagnosed respectively as depression and social phobia and treated with a pill.

Read the rest here.

And on this entire topic, there’s this (see the bold-faced section below respecting one of our biggest concerns about the ‘magic of pills’):

Bird flu drug carries a lethal threat: Scientists warn that Tamiflu use could devastate wildlife and trigger a second, deadlier pandemic
Robin McKie, science editor
Sunday January 7, 2007
The Observer

Britain faces an ecological catastrophe that could wreak havoc on wildlife populations when the first outbreak of Asian flu hits the country.

Scientists say they fear that tons of the anti-viral agent Tamiflu – taken by Britons trying to combat the disease – would be flushed down sewers into rivers and lakes.

Natural populations of microbes would be killed off by a deluge of water polluted with concentrated amounts of the anti-viral drug. As a result, birds, fish and other creatures that rely on these bacteria and viruses for their survival could be devastated.

In addition, waters containing Tamiflu would provide ideal conditions for the evolution of drug-resistant strains of bird flu virus. These strains would then infect wildfowl and ultimately human beings, triggering a second outbreak of the disease – although this time Tamiflu would provide no protection against the virus.

‘Anti-viral drugs are quite new and no one has ever planned to use them in the vast quantities that are now being considered,’ said Dr Andrew Singer, of the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology in Oxford. ‘However, there are some very alarming environmental implications about giving out millions of doses of Tamiflu in order to combat an outbreak of Asian bird flu. These have not been considered by health authorities. This is unknown terrirory.’

The prospect of a pandemic of bird flu sweeping the world is a growing worry for scientists, doctors and health officials. They fear that the deadly flu strain H5N1, which is now established in poultry in many areas of the Far East, could soon mutate so that it infects human beings. A pandemic that would affect hundreds of millions of people could spread rapidly around the world as a result.

A vaccine against such a strain could take up to a year to develop and, as a result, most countries are relying on Tamiflu to provide the necessary protection for their citizens. The drug should alleviate symptoms and also limit the spread of the disease from person to person.

Read the rest here.

Here’s some more of this same dross and dreck:

To Sleep, Perchance to Succeed
Alex Williams, NYT

FOR those who have failed in a decade or three’s worth of New Year’s resolutions to become better workers, spouses, parents, athletes or lovers, there is a new frontier in personal growth — or at least a proliferation of products, mostly hawked over the Internet, that promise to help turn the last bit of untrammeled downtime (sleep) into an opportunity for improvement.

New health products have emerged, often from the margins of commerce. Old self-help approaches like subliminal “sleep learning” have evolved and found new life on the Web.

“While you sleep!” has become an Internet marketing catchphrase. The idea plays on two classic, if contradictory, American impulses: the desire to get ahead, and the compulsion to avoid the slightest expenditure of effort.

There are diet pills sold under names like Lose and Snooze and Sleep ’n Slim, which contain collagen and which the makers say can help maximize the body’s metabolism. There are foot pads from Japan that look like tea bags and promise to drain toxins and restore energy while you sleep.

On one Web site,, besides recordings designed to improve public speaking or break addiction to alcohol or heroin, there are programs promising to help you, at least partly while sleeping, “Overcome Fear of Clowns” and “Master the Bagpipes.”

“The grow-yourself revolution started in the ’50s,” said David Allen, a productivity consultant who wrote “Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity” (Viking, 2001), and it “is the one industry that has never faltered in the last 40 years. All they have done is give you more clever ways of getting it without having to give anything.”

Read it here.

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