Big lessons not learned

To my surprise, my pharmacist friend missed the news last week that depression has (if we believe the latest research!) been shown not to be caused by abnormalities in serotonin. So maybe you missed it too. The general press picked up on the implication that SSRIs (selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors) like the famous Prozac have instantly lost their therapeutic rationale. Given how widely they’re prescribed now, that’s big news.

Psychiatrists replied that, regardless of that, SSRIs still work by some unknown agency. But that is dubious for a couple of reasons.

Firstly, unlike the bad old days, in which therapeutic effects were discovered more or less fortuitously, SSRIs were tailored on the basis of the underlying theory according to Scientific Principles. Although it is possible that they work by some entirely undiscovered mechanism unrelated to their design, that would be as incredible a stroke of luck as discovering that your upgrade lithium battery design actually performed nuclear cold fusion.

Secondly, there has been a controversy for years (mainly, I’m afraid, since my retirement, so I haven’t followed it) over whether SSRIs, with their various drawbacks of suicidal ideation and dependance, act any better than placebo. If not, all the expensive research to modulate serotonin levels was a waste of time anyway.

Now, the problem underlying the last point is that it is certain that the published trials on which licensing of these drugs was based did show they were significantly better than placebo, and that the side-effects were not significant. But since the work by brave scientists, including John Ioannidis, showed up the devastating replication crisis in science, and the manipulation by Big Pharma of their “double blind” trials to blind the entire medical community to the truth and produce the results they want, those original trials are quite likely to be worthless. In the biomedical field, 85% of results cannot be reproduced, remember. Even horoscopes do better than that. So every one of the SSRI trials needs to be re-examined and critiqued, and preferably run again to verify them. And that’s not going to happen, because the interest and funding is lacking, so we’re reliant on horoscopes.

The problem is even worse, because some of the SSRI trials were comparative trials against their precursors, the tricyclic antidepressants like amitriptyline. When that generation of drugs was discovered, I fancy that biomedical research was more honest, but science itself was less developed. So does “as effective as amitriptyline” mean that the trials of both are worthless, that the trials of SSRIs were fixed to make them look as good as the old stuff, or that both miraculously work by unknown mechanisms; or that the placebo effect works in both equally, since they are both equally useless?

If it were to be shown, by painstaking research that nobody is likely to fund, that none of the antidepressants has a real effect on depression, then the whole medical model of depression as a disease is called into question (as it has been by anti-psychiatrists and others since at least the 1960s). And since, to be honest, clinical depression is about the best documented instance of mental distress as a “disease,” the whole edifice of psychiatric medicine begins to totter. If the diagnosis of “depression” is shaky, what price “gender dysphoria” as a true disease?

Just to add to the mess, the rot even extends to herbalism, for the apparent antidepressant effect of St John’s wort is said to depend on its action on serotonin (and hence its dangerous interactions, so we hear, with SSRIs).

And so it is that a woeful failure in the basic science has produced massive implications for medicine – not to mention for those unfortunate souls diagnosed with clinical depression… on the basis, often, of “depression scores” designed to distinguish true depression from mere melancholy, which are presumably calibrated on the ultimate basis of their response to anti-depressants, that may just have turned out to do nothing useful.


This, however, is not the only Tower-of-Babel-collapsing medical story of the moment. The other one I find much less distressing because it may hurt the villains most, but I think it has not been adequately aired. What has been discussed is the increasing evidence of uselessness of the COVID “vaccines,” and especially the mRNA type. There is now plenty of evidence that they don’t prevent infection, don’t prevent transmission, don’t produce herd immunity and (the last stronghold of their proponents’) may not even lessen the rate of hospitalisation or death, once the stats are properly analysed. Other than that they work brilliantly…

Add to this the rapid decline in their effect, hooking people on to endless boosters, the emerging signs of original antigenic sin making one eternally susceptible to COVID strains old and new, and the growing incidence of death and serious side effects, and it’s not surprising that enthusiasm for the jab is rapidly declining, despite the flag-waving of those whose ill-judged embrace of the damned things got us into the mess we’re in now. As some of us predicted.

So whether COVID vaccination will go out with the bang of litigation or the whimper of cancelled adverse effect sufferers remains to be seen. But the big point, to me, is that the debacle demolishes an entire school of public health, so called, if The Gates Foundation, corrupt government scientists and the would-be World Dictator the WHO can be loosely labelled “public health organisations.”

As I’ve occasionally documented here, years before COVID was designed and leaked, the above-mentioned bodies were fostering a model of health management for the world that consists of identifying horrible new bugs on a regular basis (currently think monkeypox, haemorrhagic fever and Marburg virus as well as whatever variant of SARS-CoV-2 they’ve managed to produce by vaccine-selection or directly in Ukrainian labs). Once identified, and once the press has been mobilised to paralyse the whole population of the world with fear (assuming they ever get their fingertips moving again after the last scare), the idea is to produce new vaccines and roll them out regularly across the world, to keep it healthy as it owns nothing and is happy, from other enlightened policies.

It was hoped to banish the idea of natural immunity to the history books: Big Pharma would get to own the world’s money, WHO and the other Lizards would get to rule the world, and Utopia would press down hard on whatever percentage of the population had not been culled in order to re-wild nature. Everybody (who matters to them) would be happy.

But the first full-scale attempt at this strategy has failed on a monumental scale. The truth has leaked sufficiently for the whole WEF-Gates pipe dream to be exposed, eventually, as claptrap on stilts. Already a majority of Americans are no longer interested in further COVID boosters, and a good many have looked into the whole vaccine industry’s record and concluded, rightly or wrongly (in my view rightly) that it’s a badly conceived scam deliberately blind to the collateral damage it causes and to its ambiguous health outcomes. If it isn’t, then some more research needs to be validated.

So the whole mainstream narrative about the pathology of depression, and the whole vaccine model of therapeutics, have both been seriously damaged in the last few months, and a debunking on that scale is not going to increase public faith in our experts in other areas of health, or in science in general, come to that. You can’t say it’s a good thing to have your entire intellectual worldview pulled from under your feet, any more than the current economic and political suicide of the West is a good thing. But then, it wasn’t very comfortable for the Soviet Union’s people and scientists once Lysenko’s fictions were discredited.

Sometimes, truth hurts. A lot.

About Jon Garvey

Training in medicine (which was my career), social psychology and theology. Interests in most things, but especially the science-faith interface. The rest of my time, though, is spent writing, playing and recording music.
This entry was posted in Medicine, Politics and sociology, Science. Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to Big lessons not learned

  1. Jon Garvey says:

    There’s some interesting background in this lecture.

  2. Robert Byers says:

    I think , insist, anti depressants are excellent and one of the best things ever invented.
    It helped me long ago and I got of it. They work greatly more then placebos.
    Yes I was told, and heard, that serotonin levels was the way they helped, by improving, and this serotonin was the culprit.
    I always knew it was a secondary thing, or possibly urrelevant. I know, especially from the bible., that all these problems are triggering problems with the memory or what is called the mind. Depressions really are just more phobias. Something stuck in the memory which triggers the body to r in what is called fight/flight.
    The bible insists we have a soul, soirit, mind and so depressions etc are not caused by the soul. They are caused by the mind. the soul/spirit led to most depressions entering the mind but many are just from the mind. the drugs are simply interfering with the triggering mechanism for the memory no different then alcohol.
    All these peoblems are triggering problems with the memory. tHe drugs/alcohol numb the triggering mechanism and so help people be in a better mind.
    i think thats all they do but I accepted in a minor way they might stimulate serotunin. However so does chololatte they said. Now you tell me serotonin is not affected.
    Doesn’t matter. Long live the great invention of anto depreseents.

    • Jon Garvey says:

      Well, I prescribed enough of them in my career to sink a battleship, and of course I believed what the drug company research told me… so my contribution to any placebo effect would have been strong.

      Don’t underestimate the placebo effect, however – in the trials the companies suppressed they were even sometimes more effective than SSRIs!

      • Robert Byers says:

        The placedo effect works for the same reason the drugs do. just not as well and haphazard. the placedo effect simply affects the triggering mechanism for the memory. if the memory is persuaded its the real thing it will affect the body. However it won’t in serious matters that need real chemicals. Its very possible placebo effect can mimic the real effect of anti depresents. However a poor cousin.
        Its all simply triggering mechanism for the memory which is the mind in the bible. tHe bible never mentions the existence of the brain. because its non existent. just soul, spirit, mind.

  3. Levi says:

    I’m no doctor, but I think St John’s Wort is nevertheless effective, like high EPA Omega 3, because it is an anti-inflammatory.

    As a young man, I suffered bouts of depression after sport-induced traumatic head injuries (I was unaware of the link until years later), sometimes for months and years, and was completely cured within a matter of weeks after using both St John’s Wort (after my first bout, age 19-22) and, later, high EPA Omega 3 (after a terrible bout, age 29-32, having largely forgotten about St John’s Wort).

    My research suggests that concussion-related (including sub-concussive) depression, suicidal ideation, personality changes and even early onset dementia might be related to initial unremedied brain inflammation (unremediable, sui generis, due to blood-brain barrier) and subsequent atrophy in the brain, now known as Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE). Given that concussive and sub-concussive events are not as common as depression, could inflammatory depression be triggered also by non-traumatic events, such as the ingestion of toxins, alcohol, drugs or auto-immune reactions, which would explain its accelerating incidence in the population?

    When I mentioned my findings and experiments to my psychiatrist, he was impressed, and suggested that high EPA Omega 3 treatment is indeed the new hope in depression medicine, all the while likely destroying the basis of psychiatric practice, and therefore being likely to be suppressed.

    I happily never sought or took antidepressants. My best friend committed suicide while on a trial of new meds. He’d been diagnosed with everything under the sun, whereas, simply put, I just thought he lacked the cardinal virtues and resisted gaining them.

    • Levi says:

      To qualify my last sentence, having been depressed before myself and not wishing to impugn the poor fellows also followed by the black dog, depressive mindset is a total transformation of one’s being, leaving little room for hope, curiosity, humility, or wisdom with which one might begin to challenge the negative worldview in which one is prisoner. That only comes after the fog has lifted, so I know well why sufferers cannot see, hear or understand reality, truth, or wisdom, when it is staring them in the face.

      • Jon Garvey says:

        Indeed a terrible condition (as one knows if after a few of the people whom one has been treating take their own lives).

        Interestingly, it was recognised as a medical, rather than a moral, disorder well before the advent of psychiatry: back in the 16th century Richard Baxter (if memory serves) distinguished melancholia from the spiritual ailments.

  4. Peter Hickman says:

    I remember an enthusiastic drug rep, sometime in the 80’s, bringing me the news of a new class of drug, the SSRI. Apparently, so the story went, depression was caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain and SSRIs, one of the early ones being Fluoxetine (Prozac), were effective in helping restore a proper balance. That’s the lay person’s version. I also remember my immediate response: ‘Just a minute! Correlation is not causation. Perhaps the ‘chemical imbalance’ is not the cause of depression but the result of it’. I’m putting it simply. Since then, of course, we have discovered a lot about how the brain works. The brain does, indeed, change in response to our state of mind, not only chemically, but macroscopically too – the changes can be seen on MRI scans. The phenomenon is known as neuroplasticity. (I realise you know these things, Jon!)

    In 1903 James Allen published his book ‘As a Man Thinketh’. His thesis, based on Proverbs 23v7, was that a man is the product of the cumulative effect of his thinking processes over time – ‘As a man thinketh in his heart – so is he’ (KJV). Whatever the intended meaning of the author of the proverb, it seems to me that it contains a truth – that we ‘form ourselves’ through the choices we make, not least through the thought processes that we choose to accommodate (or reject). Throughout my professional life I have taken this to be a guiding principle, particularly in the area of mental health. The application of this principle is the foundation for CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy). If you want to change unwanted symptoms it is necessary to change how you think. That’s it, in a nutshell. SSRIs represent inappropriate treatment because, in so far as their mechanism of action is understood at all, they don’t go to the root of the problem. The use of SSRIs was always a case of the ‘cart’, of trying to treat the consequences, being put before the ‘horse’ of managing the causes. And that’s why they don’t work.

    During my 40+ years of general medical practice I saw many hundreds of patients taking antidepressants. Very few of them unequivocally benefited from them. Many took them for years without knowing whether they made any difference at all, but were reluctant to stop. More often than not, I think, they were prescribed as the default option by hard-pressed GPs for ‘treating’ unhappiness.
    The evidence for the efficacy of antidepressants is conspicuously absent. Take a look at Dr Sebastian Rushworth’s 2021 analysis of systematic reviews https://sebastianrushworth.com/2021/04/30/do-anti-depressants-work/.
    He concludes with this paragraph, “Anti-depressant drugs are ineffective against depression. The harms of these drugs clearly outweigh the practically non-existent benefits. That is true for everyone, but especially so for the frail elderly who are at much higher risk of side effects than the general population. In light of this information, which has now been in the public domain for at least a few years, you would expect large campaigns to get doctors to stop prescribing these drugs. Funnily enough, that hasn’t happened yet.”

    • Jon Garvey says:

      …you would expect large campaigns to get doctors to stop prescribing these drugs.

      Peter, the reasons are obvious, and not so obvious. One is the poor provision of other management options. CBT (for example – assuming its benefit for the sake of argument)was always hard to obtain, and in order to amerloirate this the referral agencies kept on shortening the number of sessions, and putting it online instead of person-to-person (cue loss of laudable placebo effect), and so on.

      But behind that, it now seems to me, is the fact that when one’s entire focus as a profession and as a health service is on paying Pharma to come up with expensive magic bullets, you have no resources left to pay for alternatives… and that’s before one gets to Pharma using that money for disinformation, data fraud, and so on.

      The current situation of robbing people of control of their own lives, and of hope for the future, is a spiritual malaise guaranteed to maximise negative thinking. The mass formation process doesn’t seem to help that much, but maybe it will when they get to public execution of dissident doctors!

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