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Experts: Psychiatric drugs do not permanently alleviate mental disorders


Psychotropic drugs only relieve symptoms for a short time and involve considerable risks
The massive use of psychotropic drugs in the treatment of mental health problems has been increasingly criticized for some time. "Medicines are often available more quickly than psychotherapy" and "many people trust appropriate preparations," according to the latest report from the Ruhr University Bochum (RUB). However, the consequences are often fatal.

Scientists at the RUB come to the conclusion that "the drugs currently available cannot permanently alleviate the symptoms of mental disorders". Long-term use would also have significant negative consequences. The psychologists Prof. Dr. J├╝rgen Margraf and Prof. Silvia Schneider report on their results in a commentary from the magazine "EMBO Molecular Medicine".

Short-term relief from medication
The RUB scientists have compiled numerous evidence that speak against the long-term effects of psychotropic drugs. The drugs for depression, anxiety disorders and attention hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) can only be seen to have a short-term effect. When the patients stop taking them, the symptoms return, according to the researchers. According to the RUB, the scientists suspect similar findings for schizophrenia drugs.

Long-term risks
However, the drugs not only have a limited effect, but long-term use also threatens negative consequences, such as an increased risk of a chronic illness or increased relapse rates, reports the RUB. Accordingly, the patients may be exposed to health impairments that could be avoided with other psychotherapy treatment methods.

Psychiatric drugs can be prescribed quickly
In addition, according to the scientists, psychotherapies such as cognitive behavior therapy achieve much better long-term effects than medicines. The question arises, why are those affected no longer treated with psychotherapy? According to Prof. Schneider, the main problem here is "the lack of availability." The effectiveness or costs are usually less important when making the decision. But psychotropic drugs can be administered quickly, while sufferers often have to wait a long time for a therapy place. In the end, the decision is mostly in favor of the medication.

Consider the influence of social factors
The scientists conclude that research on biological, psychological and social factors needs to be more closely linked in order to achieve better care for patients. The widespread notion that mental disorders can only be explained with biological concepts is inappropriate here. "It is standard today to tell patients and the public that a disrupted neurotransmitter system is the cause of mental illness," said Prof. Margraf. However, it remains unclear whether this phenomenon is the cause or the consequence. According to the expert, social factors should not be neglected here.

Less marketing for psychotropic drugs
According to the researchers, the rigid categories of "sick" and "healthy" for mental disorders, which can manifest themselves in very different ways with their many different forms, are not very helpful. Especially since the transitions between individual psychological peculiarities and actual mental disorders are often fluid. In view of the high level of use of psychotropic drugs, the scientists are also addressing the large pharmaceutical companies directly and are calling on them to reduce marketing in the field of psychotropic drugs. At the same time, those affected should have quicker access to psychotherapeutic offers, the RUB experts continue. (fp)

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