Thursday, April 29, 2010

what I'm reading

Poison Pills On Hiring from the Chronicle, an interesting post and interesting discussion.

And very relevant to that, a couple of interesting links from Alternet, both of which left me breathless:

Higher Education Gone Wrong, which lobs many accusations that could also apply to academic scientists.

Drugs causing mental illness, which goes back to an old post where I was saying that many people I worked with were taking anti-depressants, but it didn't seem to be helping any of them.

At the time, I wondered if it was a sign of the toxic atmosphere warping everyone's brains: rather than improve the working conditions, it seemed like everyone wanted the easy denial of taking a pill and pretending like everything was okay.

This article talks about the possibility, laid out in a new book, that long-term administrations of these kinds of drugs are actually making people less functional (although short-term use can be very helpful, they said). That has certainly been my anecdotal observation.

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At 9:10 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

YFS, Seconding your observation regarding anti-depressants. I have never known anybody who was 'cured' or helped in the long run.


At 11:18 AM, Blogger Unbalanced Reaction said...

I don't think anti-depressants are meant to cure anyone, are they?

And I do know quite a few people who cannot effectively function without their drugs....and we're talking about years of prescriptions here.

At 10:13 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

A better population to look at for this question is with people who were depressed before antidepressants and after they were introduced. The author is

Mental health has come a long way in being recognized as having serious, life-affecting disorders that were once considered character flaws.

A major concern of mine is that clinical trials are only for 3-6 months, yet people are often on these drugs for years.

I believe that antidepressants are over-prescribed because our health care system doesn't adequately cover therapy and alternative therapies. For mild-moderate depression, therapy, meditation, exercise, and other treatments are as effective in the short-term and more effective long-term than antidepressants.

However, and one big trouble with anecdotal evidence (I doubt you've spent time in a psychiatric institution), there are literally millions of people with severe mental illness who live much better lives because of psychiatric medications.

At 10:13 AM, Blogger Crystallinity said...

Certainly, antidepressants are not as effective as clinicians would like, but I have to defend them as far as they have helped - even if temporarily - many people who would otherwise be non-functional despite changes in diet/nutrition, exercise, environment, etc. both IN graduate school (science) and out of graduate school (but more in since I know more people in).

No prescriber, or consumer, of antidepressant medications in their right mind would ever consider the pills a "magic bullet" and if society thinks they are, then they better read the book you mentioned. But they're all we've got in the meantime, unfortunately, and the nature of graduate school probably won't be changeable enough to make the environment less demanding and more sad-girl-and-boy-friendly - coming from a medicated person! Maybe that's my inner Eeyore talking?

At 10:16 AM, Blogger Crystallinity said...

Oh! I read a few books about the side effects and long term dangers of the drugs - one of them being "Your Drug May be Your Problem" by Drs. Peter R. Breggin and David Cohen - I read another like it at the same time along the same time along the same lines. I'm sure it was cited in the one you're reading now - so disturbing...

At 10:43 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Having my first interviews in over 19 years I didn't realize how many of the questions I was asked could have been poison pills! I can't give anything but an honest answer so I hope I find I've been reading your blog for a long time now and wish you all the best.

At 11:46 AM, Blogger Ms.PhD said...

It's like everything else in modern healthcare. A friend with migraines wanted to do acupuncture, but her insurance wouldn't cover it. They said they would cover medication. No insurance will cover yoga, which helps with depression (and many other things, with no side-effects), but they all cover medication.

I'm advocating for systemic change since I think the "nature of graduate school" is not inherent to the successful outcomes graduate school is intended to produce.

I don't know how severity of mental illness is gauged. Either I've been surrounded by truly severe cases that were somewhat ameliorated by medication, or I've been surrounded by slightly dysfunctional people who were made unbearable by taking drugs that made them in even bigger assholes than they would have been.

Hard to say. But my feeling is that learning healthier communication and coping skills would benefit everyone and improve the environment. Drugging the people who admit they don't like things are, or can't cope with it? Not helping anybody.


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