Dr. Oz’s TV show on the Truth about Antidepressants, part 1 with personal video introduction   Leave a comment

The following is a summary of part 1 of Dr. Oz’s The Truth about Antidepressants, aired on April 3, 2013:


Dr. Oz announced that he is doing what he calls one of the most important shows he will do this year – one he is passionate about – what he calls The Truth about Antidepressants. As I said, I am concerned with the impression with which the show begins. Dr. Oz said antidepressants don’t work for most patients. They can actually make your problems worse. They may even cause deadly harm. New research, he said, has shown that they do not help anymore than placebos. They can cause horrible side effects like irritability and sexual dysfunction. They can increase the risk of birth defects and suicide in teens and young adults. They may actually change the brain and make depression worse. His introduction can easily confuse people. However, he clarifies his message as the show progresses. His guest is Dr. Drew Pinsky, an addiction specialist – not a psychiatrist – but a physician who prescribes antidepressants and who admits that doctors have prescribed them excessively.

Dr. Oz asked how we have come to this. Dr. Pinsky replied that the biggest problem is that the system does not allow talking and developing a therapeutic relationship with the patient. And thus the system encourages primary care doctors to prescribe. Dr. Pinsky also added that the way health insurance is structured, it is almost impossible to get a referral to a psychiatrist. Consequently, non-psychiatrists prescribe the bulk of antidepressants.

Dr. Oz:                       So, 2004… the FDA required that manufacturers put a suicide-warning label on antidepressants. Why is that?

Dr. Drew Pinsky:  It’s relatively uncommon but in some populations, particularly children and adolescents, you can increase suicidal thinking. And I tell you the real problem that I see is because so many antidepressants are prescribed by primary care doctors like myself.  They aren’t doing the proper evaluations and, for instance, can precipitate a manic episode. And that can produce suicidality. They don’t differentiate between unipolar depression and bipolar depression.

Dr. Oz:                    …[A]ntidepressants… have increased over 400%. …it’s primarily among women…. How is that possible?

Dr. Drew:               …. We have become a pill society. Pharmaceutical companies [advertise] direct to consumers. We have limited time with patients. Patients come in and demand a medication. And in every study that’s ever been done on the treatment of depression, the outcomes always shows that talk psychotherapy with medical management – which may or may not include medication – is what’s required to have a satisfactory outcome. We never get the psychotherapy part. The medical management isn’t sophisticated. Bad outcomes.

…It’s that they just don’t work as well as we thought they did. And they may cause more problems and more depression down the line.

Dr. Oz:                    How do they make it worse?

Dr. Drew:                  …I think it’s because we don’t carefully select the population that needs to be treated. There’s specific treatment for specific diagnoses. It’s not a shotgun. And my biggest concern is that most of the prescribing is done by primary care people like internists, family practioners, and gynecologists. And we have little or no training in the assessment and use of these substances. So how could it possibly be good?

Dr. Oz:                         I think it’s one step further, everybody. There’s new evidence that antidepressants may also make your depression come back. …People who were treated by antidepressants… were actually twice as likely to get it again compared to a placebo.

Here is the link to the video of part 1 of Dr. Oz’s episode:    



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