Psychotropic drugs cannot alleviate symptoms of mental disorders, say researchers

Drugs don't lead to sustainable alleviation of mental disorders, as the psychologists Prof Dr Jürgen Margraf and Prof Dr Silvia Schneider claim in a commentary published in "EMBO Molecular Medicine". The researchers from Ruhr-Universität Bochum have compiled numerous studies that question the long-term effectiveness of psychotropic drugs; some even document negative effects after prolonged application. Psychotherapies, on the other hand, are effective in the long-term. The authors postulate that it is necessary to interlink the research into the biological, psychological and social factors, rather than reduce mental diseases to biological causes alone.

The currently available drugs cannot permanently alleviate the symptoms of mental disorders. This is the conclusion drawn by psychologists Prof Dr Jürgen Margraf and Prof Dr Silvia Schneider from Ruhr-Universität Bochum in a commentary published in the journal "EMBO Molecular Medicine".

Effect of drugs are only short-lived

Margraf and Schneider have compiled ample evidence suggesting that anti-depressant, anti-anxiety and anti-ADHD drugs have only a short-term effect; if patients discontinue treatment, their symptoms return. The authors suspect that medication for the treatment of schizophrenia would yield similar results.

Long-term application of the drugs might even have a negative effect, for example increased risk of a chronic illness or higher relapse quota.

Psychotherapies are not available for many patients

According to the authors, psychotherapies such as cognitive behavioural therapy yield much better and more sustainable results in the long-term. "The main problem with psychotherapy is not its effectiveness or costs," says Silvia Schneider. "Rather, it is its insufficient availability." While psychotropic drugs can be applied straight away, patients often have to wait a long time for their first appointment with a therapist.

Biological concepts are insufficient

In their article, the psychologists from Bochum also discuss the question why better therapies are still non-existent, despite 60 years of dedicated research. According to their opinion, one reason might be the ill-advised notion that mental disorders can be explained by biological concepts alone.

"Today, it has become standard to tell the patients and the public that mental disorders are caused by an imbalance in the neurotransmitter system," elaborates Jürgen Margraf. However, it is not yet clear if that phenomenon is the cause or the effect of the diseases. Social factors should not be neglected. According to Schneider and Margraf, the rigid categories of "ill" and "healthy" are not helpful at all with regard to mental disorders, which manifest in many different forms.

Fewer psychotropic drugs, more psychotherapy

The authors postulate that it is necessary to link research into the biological, psychological and social factors and to broaden the narrow view of possible biological causes. Large pharmaceutical companies should reduce the marketing of psychotropic drugs. Moreover, patients should be given access to psychotherapeutic services more quickly.

Source:

Ruhr-Universitaet-Bochum

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Comments

  1. Doctor Nitro Doctor Nitro United States says:

    Been taking bipolar meds for years. When I try to stop I get very ill and usually end up detained or hospitalized against my will. I still hate taking them, always found them to be suspicious.

    • Robin Rosenberg Wernick Robin Rosenberg Wernick United States says:

      My reply to you and to this article is:  would you stop taking insulin if you had diabetes?  do you think your symptoms would return if you stopped taking your insulin?  Might you feel very sick and get worse without it?

      My issue with this article is that it is clearly written by researchers who have not lived with mental health disorders themselves or with family members who have mental health disorders.  I have lived with both, and it is clear to me that for certain mental health disorders, medication is necessary for
      1) survival, and
      2) effective functioning.

      I will be happy to explain further if interested.

  2. Charles Donaldson Charles Donaldson United States says:

    I would like to see the peer review this study and see it replicated before drawing hard conclusions. As for mental disorders this article does not differentiate enough and over generalizes.   Without drugs and blood test monitoring persons with bipolar disorders would not be able function in various types of therapies.  Same with schizophrenic patients.  I would agree that from my limited experience that those who are under both psychiatric and psychological supervision do the best. That suggest the statement, "necessary to interlink the research into the biological, psychological and social factors, rather than reduce mental diseases to biological causes alone" is true and is already known in the community.

    Part of the problem is that it easier to prescribe a pill than for the patient to got to weekly therapy sessions even if these sessions are readily available.

    Also, the study does not deal with the severity of the illness.  An elderly patient who shows some signs of depression often is helped with a prescription since traditional talk therapy is difficult to arrange or be accepted by the patient.  When the sleep pattern is restored and person becomes more active during the day, the patient does better.  This is the place that the caregivers and family members can help the doctor to adjust the prescription.
    necessary to interlink the research into the biological, psychological and social factors, rather than reduce mental diseases to biological causes alone" is really commonsense but the reality as shown in the article is that the availability of a psychologist or other therapist requires long wait for appointment.
    "...

  3. Oliver Lu Oliver Lu United States says:

    "The main problem with psychotherapy is not its effectiveness or costs," says Silvia Schneider. "Rather, it is its insufficient availability." While psychotropic drugs can be applied straight away, patients often have to wait a long time for their first appointment with a therapist."

    This is true of the system in Europe, generally speaking, in the U.S. the problem for most people is affordability (in my experience).

    (But I agree otherwise that the drugs just cover up the symptoms and aren't a great long-term solution, although many people believe they can't do without them).

  4. Gabe Castillo Gabe Castillo United States says:

    So the study says that meds don't work because if people stop taking them their symptoms return?

  5. Taylor F Taylor F United States says:

    Wow. You are drawing very hard conclusions. Everyone has different experiences, illnesses and reactions to drugs. Shame on this article.

  6. Mike Knife Mike Knife United States says:

    This news is proof that psych meds are a fraud that kills people while making money off of suckers who buy into their lies.

  7. Stacey Weeaks Stacey Weeaks United States says:

    A large part of the problem with medications is compliance. When a drug is prescribed and it is either misused or not used at all, the results of a study like this are incorrect.

  8. GIL ANGEL CALERO GIL ANGEL CALERO Spain says:

    Los psicofármacos son necesarios para mejorar la calidad de vida de las personas con enfermedades mentales, otro asunto es que la terapia psicológica también sea favorable en la mayoría de los casos.

The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News-Medical.Net.
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