On the radar of late:
Neuroskeptic ponders reports that antidepressant use in the U.S. has doubled in the last decade. As he notes, perhaps the most troubling thing finding in the study is that
the number of Americans using an antipsychotic as well as an antidepressant increased by a factor of more than 3. This is, frankly, extremely troubling, since antipsychotics are by far the worst psychiatric drugs in terms of side effects. There is evidence that some antipsychotics can be of use in depression as an add-on to antidepressants, but there is better evidence for other alternatives, such as lithium.
And he comes up with a sensible conclusion I much agree with:
But here’s my personal take: the main reason why people are taking more antidepressants is that the popular concept of “depression” has become more broad. People have become more willing to label their experiences as “depression” and seek medical treatment. The notion that mental illness is extremely common – the one in four meme – is one aspect of this.
Ditto with PTSD.
Harold Varmus, of the White House, and the CDC argue over Varmus’s report that the swine flu might kill 90,000 Americans this winter. Dana Blankenhorn, The Awl, and Effect Measure ponder.
The sharpness of the reaction against Varmus’s pessimism is a bit strange, given that WHO’s chief says this flu “travels at an unbelievable, almost unheard of speed.” Most who die, WHO director Chan notes, have underlying health problems. But in this case “most” means 60% — which “means that 40% of the fatalities concern young adults — in good health — who die of a viral fever in five to seven days.”
Don’t much like the sound of that.
And Helen Branswell has a nice piece on how the war against H1N1 (swine flu) is likely to be fought in intensive care units.