Clever marketing

It’s mildly uplifting to find a senior psychiatrist who agrees that a lot of diagnosed depression is just unhappiness. Putting forward this view on this blog tends to spark some angry responses, so I guess Gordon Parker will get a bit of flak for this.
He carried out a a 15 year study of 242 teachers. He found that everyone had periods of unhappiness.

Professor Gordon Parker claims the threshold for clinical depression is too low and risks treating normal emotional states as illness.
Writing in the British Medical Journal, he calls depression a “catch-all” diagnosis driven by clever marketing.

The number of prescriptions for antidepressants in England hit a record high of more than 31 million prescriptions earlier this year – a 6% rise in two years.

A BBC report from July implied that the happy-go-lucky response to prescribing also affects children,

The number of prescriptions handed out to children under 16 for depression and mental health disorders has quadrupled in a decade, official figures indicate.
GPs in England wrote more than 631,000 such prescriptions for children in the last financial year, compared to just 146,000 in the mid-1990s.
But at the same time, figures suggest the rate of mental health problems in the young has not changed markedly.

And, going back into the mists of time, here’s a 2004 news item.

European drug regulators are concerned that Prozac, like its sister antidepressants, is unsafe for children, contrary to UK advice. The Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use (CHMP) reviewed all of the available data.
It said there was an increased risk of suicidal behaviour and thoughts with all antidepressants known as Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs). UK regulators say the benefits of Prozac in under 18s outweigh any risk.

Hang on. Greater risk of suicide? Isn’t that why these things are prescribed – to prevent suicides in the severely depressed? Confuses the hell out of me.

Now, that is what I’d call really good marketing to doctors and the public. Are children in the rest of Europe happier than the UK and the USA – two countries where there increasingly large take-ups of anti-depressants and ritalin? Well, yes, actually, according to the UN report last year. So the drugs don’t work, then?