Brave New World – Doctors and Researchers Make the Case for Preemptive Antidepressants
Should people without depression take medication to prevent it? This is the latest question to come out of modern psychiatry, and is explored in detail in a recent article by a major news outlet. In short, they are presenting an admittedly controversial idea; the suggestion that certain people who are statistically at a high risk of developing symptoms of depression be treated preemptively with antidepressants.
Looking at a research report out of Nebraska, the article notes that patients suffering from head and neck cancers are predisposed to becoming clinically depressed during treatment, and that in a study, patients given antidepressants were less likely to get depressed.
In medicine, this approach is often referred to as prophylaxis, or a treatment used to prevent disease.
Prophylactic antidepressants have shown promise in other high-risk patient populations as well. A meta-analysis published in 2014 found that prophylactic antidepressants cut down the incidence of depressive episodes among people receiving therapy for hepatitis C by more than 40 percent. Randomized trialssuggest that patients who take antidepressants early after a stroke experience significantly lower rates of depression. Small studies have also found that people receiving treatment for melanoma may be less likely to develop depressive symptoms if they are pre-treated with antidepressants. [Source]
The conclusion that psychotropic antidepressants may prevent depression is not new, and the prophylactic approach has been researched a number of times, reaching the conclusion that depression can be prevented by antidepressants.
These findings provide compelling reasons for physicians and patients to consider using these medicines to preempt mental-health issues. But this experimental frontier — which relies on prediction and prevention — is controversial. [Source]
The notion of personal health freedom informs us that patients should have the last word on medications and treatments, and while suggesting that antidepressants can be used prophylactically is not inherently dangerous, this line of thinking sets an uncomfortable precedent.
Just because an antidepressant might help prevent drug- or chemo-induced depression does not mean that nondepressed individuals will benefit from taking antidepressants prophylactically. In fact, it may well have the opposite effect. There’s really no telling what kind of devastating societal health effects such a trend might create. [Source]
Antidepressants are well-known to cause a litany of negative side-effects, from diarrhea to suicidal tendencies. Depression is also a natural human condition, and while it is not pleasant, it surely has some value in informing us of changes which needed to be made, and preemptively medicating stunts the body’s ability to register and inform on holistic wellness.
Additionally, the overuse and over-prescription of psychotropic medications is becoming a serious social problem, and is becoming worse because of the business interests involved in production of these medications.
In Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World, the complacent population is medicated as a form of social control, a reality which we are practically living in already today. Popularizing the idea that we can always be happy and preempt depression if we take our meds before there is even a problem is a dangerous new advance in the pharmacological war on human freedom.
What are your thoughts?
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Alex Pietrowski is an artist and writer concerned with preserving good health and the basic freedom to enjoy a healthy lifestyle. He is a staff writer for WakingTimes.com. Alex is an avid student of Yoga and life.
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