Episode 48 - Robert Whitaker: Rethinking Psychiatric Care: If We Follow the Scientific Evidence, What Must We Do to Better Promote Long-term Recovery?

Monday, June 14, 2010, 8:08:28 AM

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In this episode, author and journalist Robert Whitaker discusses what he has discovered through study of the evidence that is utilized to guide the treatment of psychiatric illness. With a critical eye, he describes the paradoxes in the conventional wisdom and practice in this field and how faithfully "following the evidence" would transform care for the drug-based treatment of mental illness.

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Average Rating: 5stars  unrecognized evidence, Monday, February 10, 2020

By Abbigal Adkins :

It was very interesting when he talked about the long term study where the people who were no longer on medication had shown improvement over those who were continuously on medication. For those who were off of their medication, they also had higher rates of recovery and higher rates of employment. It is unfortunate that the long term studies that show similar results are hidden from general knowledge. They do not appear in textbooks or in the news, yet if the results were the switched it would be covered in all sorts of media rather than being buried into obscurity. He makes a good point with how the success of the financial aspects of the pharmacological industry makes it so there is an incentive to downplay the evidence that long-term medicine use may not result in the best outcomes. It would be better for medicine to be used in a more limited or select manner in order to increase a person's recovery rather than just muting the symptoms.

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Average Rating: 4stars  medication for mental illness?, Monday, February 10, 2014

By Karen Healy :

This podcast questions current treatment of mental illness (MI), suggesting overuse of medication may contribute to the rise in incidents of individuals on disability for MI. Medication may be given prematurely in many cases with no evidence of long term help. He discusses a study where 40% of those off medication were in recovery compared to 5% of those on medication. Similarly 50% of the medicated group was in the worst outcome category compared to only 16% of the unmedicated group. Whitaker notes improvements in social work howver provokes thought regarding more improvements needed. MI and family members need to know there are other options. Current research shows medication does help in line with the western assumption that a pill will cure everything. A capitalistic view promotes medication use because the drug industry is financially productive. Whitaker is not opposed to medication, however believes it is not the best option in all cases. This is realistic considering promotion of healthy lifestyle, as well as talk therapy in conjunction with medication for depression. The study regarding exercise for depression showed the exercise only group did better than both the medication only group and the medication combined with exercise group. A Finnish study showed 2/3 of first episode psychotic participants improved over several years with no medication. 85% treated for first time psychotic episodes were back to school or work with an unemployment rate better than the general population. Finland has experienced a 90 % decrease in psychotic cases since this needs-based treatment has begun. It seems that such a plan be created & tested in our country, especially since Whitaker states there has been no chemical imbalance proven for mental illness. Medication may be helpful in many cases, however other more holistic treatments may also prove effective.

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