Episode 1 Professor John Read on the Epidemic of Psychiatric Overprescribing and the Lack of Research into Withdrawal

In this episode, we chat with Professor John Read from the University of East London about the overuse of psychiatric medications and the alarming growth in the prescribing of antidepressants, benzodiazepines and other psychoactive medications. Professor Read worked for nearly 20 years as a Clinical Psychologist and manager of mental health services in the UK and the USA, before joining the University of Auckland, New Zealand, in 1994, where he worked until 2013.

He has served as Director of the Clinical Psychology professional graduate programmes at both Auckland and, more recently, the University of Liverpool. He has published over 120 papers in research journals, primarily on the relationship between adverse life events and psychosis.

In this episode we discuss:

  • The fact that the medical profession is not that interested in what has happened to someone, preferring to label with a diagnosis and then medicate.
  • That we overmedicate, we medicate too quickly and we medicate with no idea of how to help people withdraw at the end of treatment.
  • The black hole in research on withdrawal and a lack of any real support options for people trying to withdraw from their psychiatric medications.
  • The Gothenburg conference on psychiatric drug withdrawal and Professor Read’s participation.
  • That the largest study of its kind found that only 1% of those taking antidepressants were told about potential withdrawal by their GPs or Psychiatrists.
  • The setting up of withdrawal training programmes for doctors, medication users and their families..
  • How pharmaceutical marketing and lobbying has convinced the public, MPs and the medical profession that mental health issues and emotional distress are medical problems when they are not.
  • The myth of the chemical imbalance.
  • The fact that psychiatry has sold its soul to the pharmaceutical companies.
  • The worrying increase in antidepressant prescribing (in the UK, a doubling within a decade to 63 million items in a single year).
  • How we can improve the safety of psychoactive prescribing.
  • That we need to remember the ethical principle of informed choice where the prescribing of these powerful mediations is concerned.
  • Polypharmacy is rife in prescribing, of all the people who are on antidepressants, 60% are on at least one other drug and 40% are on two other drugs.
  • That we should move to a social model of emotional distress rather than a diagnostic and medicalised approach.
  • The groundbreaking ‘Hearing Voices’ movement.

Relevant links

Long-term antidepressant use: patient perspectives of benefits and adverse effects

Psychological side-effects of anti-depressants worse than thought

Seven percent rise in prescriptions for antidepressants in England

Models of Madness: Psychological, Social and Biological Approaches to Psychosis (International Society for Psychological and Social Approaches to Psychosis Book Series)

1 thought on “Episode 1 Professor John Read on the Epidemic of Psychiatric Overprescribing and the Lack of Research into Withdrawal”

  1. That was SO good. Thank you. One of best podcast’s I have heard. To the point and no fluffing around crapping on. Yes we are conditioned from childhood that our Family Dr will “fix” us, if we have ANY health problem, we are always told “GO SEE YOUR DR” – they are not trained enough to deal appropriately with depression or mental health problems, like anxiety etc. I was prescribed at least 10 !! different AD’s over the years, and ALL did not work because of the bad side effects they gave me. I could not stay on ANY of them. And yet there was always a new one to try . I totally agree, and have always thought this, that that line abt ” you have a chemical imbalance” is a load of BS ( excuse the expression) It IS abt long term unaddressed or verbalised emotional STRESS, for me, related to childhood trauma. Fam Dr will not talk to you about this aspect of your life. I needed to have access to therapy and tools to deal with that, but if you do not have a lot of money, you cannot pay to get proper therapy, or for an ongoing period of time. A counselling session in my country can $190 per hour !! So pills it is. PLUS u have kids to raise and a job you HAVE to be able to do because you are paying off a mortgage, so pills it is. Except they don’t work. I am withdrawing off BENZO’s as we speak after 10 years – TOUGH going – my GP is supportive but knows little of the reality of withdrawing. Psychiatrist was even worse abt wdl knowledge. Never want to go back to her ever again. I do not want to Dr bash – My Fam Dr is very good at what she is trained to do – they are trained to find a disease you may have and save your life if needed. Some save your life with surgery, or in ICU after a catastrophic event, and you love them for that, but chronic illness and mental health and knowledge abt pharmaceuticals – not so much. And I was also trained in the medical system – I was just another monkey – u just do what they train u to do – dish out pills that u have extremely little knowledge about. Sorry for rambling. Good to hear some common sense.

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