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Are Psychiatric Medications Causing More Mental Illness?

(e-MagineArt.com/Flickr)

(e-MagineArt.com/Flickr)

A special report on WBUR’s CommonHealth blog pits two prominent adversaries against each other on an important issue.

A local science journalist and author, Robert Whitaker, says in his recent book, “Anatomy of an Epidemic: Magic Bullets, Psychiatric Durgs, and the Astonishing Rise of Mental Illness in America,” that the long-term use of these popular psychiatric medications is actually causing more mental illness — not less.

Whitaker says his research which examines for the first time the long-term effects of psychiatric drugs, shows that these medications are often making diseases such as depression and schizophrenia worse, not better. He points to a major increase in the number of people getting federal disability benefits for mental illness who are taking these medications as a sign that the drugs are, in fact, contributing to chronic mental illness in America. For example, Whitaker points out that between 1987 and 2007, “the number of disabled mentally ill children rose thirty-five fold.”

Whitaker’s claims are refuted by academic psychiatrists here in Boston.

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