Far be it from me –

Why there’s no such thing as an ‘antidepressant’

Joanna Moncrieff

Antidepressants have been in the news recently. The general feeling seems to be that although they are being overused and may have some unpleasant side effects, they certainly ‘work,’ at least in some people (1).

So what is the evidence that antidepressants ‘work’? If you compare them with a dummy tablet or placebo in a randomised trial, scores on rating scales that are meant to measure depression sometimes go down a few points more in people taking antidepressants compared to people on placebo. But what does this mean? Well, firstly, the differences are small. The commonly used Hamilton Rating Scale for Depression has a maximum score of 54 points and across studies  differences are less than two points (2). A two point difference is unlikely to have any real (clinical) significance. Whether these scales actually measure a complex emotional state like depression is another question.  They consist of lists of…

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The Challenges of Tackling Self-Harm and Suicide in School Age Children and Young People

The Challenges of Tackling Self-Harm and Suicide in School Age Children and Young People

Date(s)Friday 24th January 2014 (09:30-16:15)Contact
To register your place on this conference, please visit our online shop.
The cost is £20 (£12 for students), which includes lunch and refreshments.

The conference will be held in Business School South Building, Jubilee Campus, Nottingham, NG8 1BB and begins at 10.00 am with registration from 9.30 am.

The School of Education is holding a one-day conference in conjunction with The Institute of Mental Health and the Nottinghamshire Healthcare NHS trust.

This conference will offer a collaborative opportunity for participants to share knowledge about the challenges that face all of us when encountering suicide and suicidality in children and young people. The conference will be of value to health professionals, teachers, counsellors and colleagues working with looked after children.

Keynote Speakers:

Professor Ella Arensen
Professor Arensen has been involved in numerous international research consortia including the WHO/Euro Multicentre study on Suicidal Behaviour, Child and Adolescent Self Harm (CASE), Network for International Collaboration on Evidence (NICE-SP), the European Alliance Against Depression (EAAD), Optimised Suicide Prevention programmes and their Implementation in Europe (OSPI-Europe) and Preventing Depression and Increasing Awareness through Networking in the EU (PREDI-NU).

Professor Rory O’Connor
Professor O’Connor is involved in work with the Suicidal Behaviour Research Laboratory, Institute of Health & Wellbeing, College of Medical, Veterinary and Life Sciences, Mental Health & Wellbeing and the University of Glasgow.

Other speakers and participants:

Dr Nigel Chapman – former Notts Coroner
Dr Ellen Townsend – School of Psychology, University of Nottingham
Charley Baker – Health Sciences, University of Nottingham
Professor Nick Manning – Director of Institute of Mental Health
Maire Armstrong – CAMHS nurse consultant in self-harm
Dr Gary Winship – School of Education, University of Nottingham
Keith Waters – Honorary Research Fellow, University of Nottingham
Caroline Harroe – Harmless
The programme for the event is being finalised and you will be able to view it on this page as soon as available.

http://www.nottingham.ac.uk/education/open-days-events/events/school-age-and-suicide-conference.aspx

 

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Happy Birthday Soberistas.com!

Congratulations

My journey, from wine lover to sober and happy...

soberistas cake picA year ago today I sat nervously in front of my laptop and watched the very first members of Soberistas sign up to the brand new social network site that was there to offer peer support to women with alcohol dependency issues. I had no idea what would happen, or whether we would attract any interest at all. I didn’t know if anybody would want to discuss their booze problem online with a bunch of strangers. Or indeed if it really was just me who had no off-switch, a catalogue of past booze-related horrors and a desire to pass the message on that life without alcohol can, actually, be brilliant.

We had about a hundred people sign up during our launch night, and that first small clan of Soberistas hovered nervously around the site waiting for somebody to post something or to write their thoughts down in the Chat Room. It…

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Everything you ever wanted to know about voice hearing (but were too afraid to ask)

TED Blog

During her freshman year of college, Eleanor Longden began hearing voices: a narrator describing her actions as she went about her day. Diagnosed with schizophrenia, Longden began what she describes as a “psychic civil war,” fighting to stop the voices as they became antagonistic. [ted_talkteaser id=1800]What helped her was something unexpected: making peace with them. By learning to see the voices as a source of insight rather than a symptom, Longden took control.

What’s it like to hear voices? Read Eleanor’s FAQ below — where she tells you everything you wanted to know about voice hearing, with her signature honesty and humor.  

Want more? Longden first spoke during our Worldwide Talent Search; then told a longer version of her journey toward acceptance of her own mind on the mainstage at TED2013. And today, Longden premieres her TED Book, delving deeper into her experience. Learning from the…

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Dolly Sen – Questions and Answers

I’ve read that you first started to hear voices at age 14, can you tell me what happened?
Every Sunday the radio would play the UK top 40. I listened to it and taped the songs I liked. All of a sudden the music went quiet and a troll-like voice issued from the radio: “What do you want, Dolly? How much do you want?” My skin prickled. I shut off the radio in fear. Deep demonic laughter followed. “Can’t get rid of me. I’m yours for life now.”
  “Who are you?”
“I am the universe. I choose whether you live or breathe.” I got up and ran out of the room. I stopped listening to the radio from then on. As the days passed, I thought maybe I just dreamed it all. But they came back and haven’t left me yet.
Was it one voice, or many? … What were the voices saying?
At first it was only one distinct voice with whispering voices in the background, but not long after my first experience, one voice became many. The voices were quite vicious and abusive, ordering me to kill myself, telling me I was evil and a demon, that my family were better off with me dead and that I would bring harm to them just by being alive. If there was a disaster on the TV, they told me it was my fault. They called me a whore, a slut, that my heart was rotting. Imagine hearing that day in day out, for years on end.
When you heard these voices were there any images that appeared in your mind? Did these become visual hallucinations as well?
Before I heard my first voices, I was seeing shadows in my room, and sensing presences behind me, or over me when I slept, so they all came together more or less. It was only days after hearing that first voice, that I began to see demonic faces. The voices felt demonic too. I was too scared to know their faces so I didn’t have any images in my mind as to what they might look like.
How difficult was it to go about your daily life whilst experiencing these voices?
I had no life. I couldn’t function on a day to day level. I rarely went out or communicated with my family. I had no friends, no hobbies, no work, nothing to occupy me but terror. When that happens to you, you either lash out or freeze. I froze. I became a statue for over a decade. I did nothing; I couldn’t do anything. Even when I tried to brush my teeth, the voices were telling to stab myself in the eye with a toothbrush.
Do the voices feel as if they coming from inside or outside your head?  For over 20 years, they came from outside my head. I even felt the breath and the body heat of the voices I heard behind me. The more I deal with why I have my voices and accept they are part of me I can’t face or are too painful, some of them move into inside my head.
Does the distance of the voice change with its character (i.e. angry voices compared to soft soothing voices?) They cover all sorts of distances. Sometimes they seem far and muffled, like they are in the other room. Sometimes they feel so close, their spittle touches me and disgust me. These close ones are the ones that are characteristically negative, abusive and overpowering.
Do you believe that the voices you hear are a metaphor, holding traumatic experience safely?
Absolutely. The evolution of my voices were at first thinking they were demons. When I was diagnosed with psychosis, I was relieved they were not demons so welcomed a diagnosis. But as the years went on and the medication turned me into a zombie but did nothing to address WHY I was having those voices. Pills do not cure trauma or abuse. Although voices produced terror, they also saved my life. The abuse at the hands of my dad and others was so horrible that if I believed what he told me about why he was abusing me, it would have ended with my suicide. Voices took it away from my heart and head to save my soul, to turn it into metaphor so I can deal with hell in installments. My voices are the sanest part about me. I have to learn to listen to their pain. Voices tell me about the state of my soul. If the voices are telling me I am an alien, it is telling me I am feeling alienated from the human race. If they tell me I am Jesus, God or all-powerful, I know it’s because I am feeling powerless and need to address that. Whether you want to describe voices as flesh, ghost or dream, I have to listen. What has changed over the years is the power dynamic of the voices. They controlled my life for many years, now I am in the driving seat, but I understand they have to be in the passenger seat until they have reached the end of their journeys.
You mention that you find it very difficult to make phone calls. Please explain more about this.
Try speaking on the phone whilst listening to music or talking on your headphones, and see if you are able to do it. It is physically impossible, because the voice at the other end of the phone is also disembodied, which is the right voice to listen to in the orchestra of confusion? That’s why I think you should have more than one way to contact crisis services than a phone.
Often when we hear about conditions like voice hearing it’s considered a ‘broken brain’ issue. Would you agree the issue should be considered in this way?
No, because they still haven’t proved it. But what I can prove to you is that people who hear voices have a broken heart that needs healing. The more my heart heals, the less power the voices have.
Tell me about some of the art works you’ve produced and the role of auditory hallucinations in the process. Do voices help you in your work? Creativity seems like an exorcism of pain. One day I will write and make art about pretty things and being middle class, but I have still some terrors to release and some ghosts to make even more invisible. Art helps me do that.

http://www.dollysen.com

 
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Daniel Collerton on ‘Seeing things that are not there. What we think we know about visual hallucinations’, Joint Special Interest Group for Psychosis (Durham University, 27 November 2013)

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The harsh reality and unfairness of the government’s anti-immigration campaign

Pride's Purge

(not satire – it’s the UK today)

This has been taken from Harley Miller’s Facebook page, an Australian who has been living in the UK for the last 9 years: 

Hello my friends,

You may have noticed that recently I have been posting up lots of political articles, some of which you may agree with, others not. Many of those articles have been about immigration. Some of you may even know why I’ve been putting those posts up – out of protest.

You see, as an Australian living in the UK, I am an immigrant. In recent times, I have seen how there has been an increasing political campaign by a particular party which very much scapegoats immigrants for what is going on n this country. Sadly, the other parties, afraid of losing votes, have followed suit.

The point of this post is not to get into a…

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