Tom Cruise has recently started to attack anti-depressant drugs and has dragged Brooke Shields into the controversy. She did not sit quiet after she was criticized and has struck back in an op-ed piece in The New York Times, criticizing Cruise's "ridiculous rant." This controversy among two people, who are not scientists, has left most people highly confused. Here are a few facts to remember:
- Cruise's beliefs are based on his religion - Scientology. The founder of Scientology was neither a scientist nor did he use any scientific principles to formulate his theories. Like any religion, these are beliefs based on faith. For those who believe, they are true; for those who don't, these are baseless arguments.
- Apart from the followers of Scientologists, no one else takes seriously the theories of psychiatry developed by L. Ron Hubbard, the founder of Scientology. There is no body of evidence that shows that any of the principles proposed by Hubbard can stand scientific scrutiny. However, decades of research and data support psychiatry and psychology.
- The market for anti-depressant drugs like Prozac, Adderall, Ritalin, etc. is huge, adding up to tens of billions of dollars worldwide. Some of the world's largest drug firms sell drugs to combat depression. The number of Americans using antidepressants is so high that the US is often referred to as the "Prozac Nation."
- Drug firms fund most of the research in the United States and can not only influence the outcome of a study but can also bar publication of data that may be harmful to the prospects of a drug.
- The FDA has very close ties to the drug industry and not only relies on it for funding but also for research data. It rarely takes a view that is likely to harm the interests of the industry.
- American doctors and scientists often receive research grants and other favors from the drug industry and rarely question the pharmaceutical industry.
- The American political system relies heavily on lobbyists, advocacy groups, foundations, research establishments, think tanks, etc. that often publish studies and data without disclosing their contributors. A lot of these studies make it appear as if diseases are exploding and more drugs is the solution.
- Antidepressant drugs are currently being investigated by the FDA for increasing suicidal tendencies.
So what does it mean for you?
- Mental illness is a reality. Researchers supported by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) have found that half of all lifetime cases of mental illness begin by age 14, and that despite effective treatments, there are long delays — sometimes decades — between first onset of symptoms and when people seek and receive treatment. The study also reveals that an untreated mental disorder can lead to a more severe, more difficult to treat illness, and to the development of co-occurring mental illnesses. The survey found that in the U.S., mental disorders are quite common; 26 percent of the general population reported that they had symptoms sufficient for diagnosing a mental disorder during the past 12 months. However, many of these cases are mild or will resolve without formal interventions.
- Mental illness patients can receive tremendous benefit if they are in a loving environment and friends and family members who support them as they fight the illness. Most doctors agree that professional help, including prescription of drugs, can significantly reduce the recovery time.
- In other words, if you are suffering from depression or any other mental illness, it makes sense to work with your doctor, while seeking the support of friends and family members.
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