[dropcap]W[/dropcap]hen did a bad day requite a diagnosis? If you analyze the prescribing patterns in this country about 25% of us are on mood and mind altering medication every day of the year. In some educational areas 5% of children are categorized as ADHD requiring RITALIN or similar drugs. The diagnosis of bipolar disorder in children has mushroomed fortyfold since 2000. Where did this all start? Are we all doomed to mental illness or is there an agenda we need to disclose?
The answer begins with an understanding of the DSM, the bible of psychiatry. The Diagnositc and Statistical Manual of mental illness is a copyright document generated by an Ivy League oligarchy of psychiatric poobahs more formally known as the American Psychiatric Association. The current DSM-IV relies heavily on the assumption behavioral disorders are simply “chemical imbalances” readily correctible with whatever flavor of pharmaceutical happens to be in vogue. Any respected neurologist will agree we’ve successfully mapped about twenty five percent of the brain’s pathways and have a comfort zone with most of their functions. That leaves vast uncharted black holes in human neurophysiology yet to be explored. So why the stampede to market some rather dubious products?
Profit. There are extraordinary monetary gains bringing these drugs on line in a society bent on solving its problems with a pill. But, recent outcome analysis suggests many of these products are nothing more than expensive placebos. The other half of the equation is the notorious track record of the pharmaceutical majors delaying the reporting of the downside of these drugs including psychotic deterioration and suicide especially in teens.
We tend to rely on and trust professionals to guide us; but a Brit investigator recently discovered the undisclosed multi-million dollar connection between Harvard’s researchers and the pharmaceutical companies driving the experiments. Have we reached the point, where medical professionals should be filing disclosure documents and posting them in their waiting room? But the party has just started. The proposed DSM-V lowers the bar even further. Are all noisy, inattentive, moody or disruptive children ADHD? Isn’t there room in the equation for some as parenting as the causative factor? Another area where the train is totally off the rails is the use of the diagnosis of ‘clinical depression’ in reference to bereavement. My mother died many years ago but every now and then I take a few moments or even several hours to reflect on all the mean things she made me accomplish such as becoming an avid reader of everything and completing my professional education. According to the new diagnostic criteria “any bereavement lasting longer than two weeks and interfering with daily function” constitutes a clinical depression. Nonsense. In Asian cultures it is common practice for entire families to put their life collectively on hold at regular intervals months and years after the death of an elder to honor their passing. I say it’s time to put the pills back in the bottle, impose severe penalties for these undisclosed financial conflicts of interest– and most importantly –refocus our attention to assisting the patient to develop lifelong coping skills and mental health independence.
Dr. David Carll is a retired Canadian physician