The Literature section of the March 7 issue of the St. Petersburg Times contained a fascinating review (“Depression, Inc.” by Jonathan Rottenberg) of two books: Manufacturing Depression: The Secret History of a Modern Disease (by Gary Greenberg, a practicing therapist), and The Emperor’s New Drugs: Exploding the Antidepressant Myth (by Irving Kirsch, expert in statistics and clinical trial methodology).
The anti-depressant industry serves nearly 30 million Americans and provides income of 10 billion dollars a year to pharmaceutical firms. Both books question the honesty of this market, and — according to Rottenberg — do so in a thorough and entertaining manner.
For example, Greenberg attacks the subject from many angles — historical, scientific, clinical, and others — including enrolling in a clinical trial as a patient.
Kirsch points out that the drug companies, along with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) which approves their drugs, operate in a deceptive manner. The FDA allows the drug companies to pick and choose which clinical trial results they wish to publish. As Rottenberg states, “If a drug company does 10 trials and only two support the efficacy of the drug, they can elect to publish only those two.”
Depression symptoms when severe can be debilitating and dangerous, and require the immediate help of a qualified health care professional. This help, according to both authors, should not solely require the ingestion of expensive little pills.