HELENSBURGH medic and campaigner Marion Brown has featured regularly in the Advertiser over recent years for her work raising awareness of the dangers of antidepressants and fighting for alternative methods of treatment to be considered.

Here Marion shares some of her thoughts on a new book on the topic, featuring some of the evidence presented to the Scottish Parliament in 2017 in a petition launched by Marion herself.

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HAVING known Beverley Thomson for several years, and having been involved with her work and research, I am delighted that she has written the book that we all so desperately need to share with anyone who is taking, thinking of taking, prescribing, and/or considering prescribing antidepressants.

There is an ever-rising number of people who will fall into one or more of these categories, or who will be living, working or closely associated with people that do. Whilst the medical profession has a responsibility to “first do no harm”, we as patients also have a responsibility to learn about this medication we take, often with very little thought.

The book is deeply researched and fully referenced, presented in plain language in a practical format, with comfortably sized print and clear layout.

It has five main parts, covering the medicalisation of our mental health; the power of the informed patient; safe antidepressant management and withdrawal; special concerns; and patient experiences.

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Antidepressed offers us an opportunity to open our minds and explore options to best help ourselves and to reduce harm and dependence. It tracks the history of the ever-rising prescribing of antidepressants, still mostly believed by prescribers, and indeed our culture and society, to be safe, effective and non-addictive, and outlines just how this has come about.

Then it offers us a wealth of practical information about the important differing characteristics of the common antidepressants used, and what they can – and might – do for us, in order for us to make better choices for ourselves from the outset.

The section on patient experiences contains a summary of the evidence submitted for our Scottish and Welsh petitions (raised initially in 2017), which gathered an unprecedented collection of written reports from patients, as well as from professionals and professional bodies, all formally published in the online Parliamentary Petition archives.

A substantial selection of real, raw patient testimonies is included (often a harrowing read), mostly drawn from the full Scottish Petition evidence.

These accounts feel quite personal to me, knowing some of the contributors and how immensely important it felt for them to have their experiences shared and recorded.

The examples included here not only make for powerful reading but also bring starkly to life the range of topics covered within the book.

Antidepressed fills a serious void left by prescribers having been unwittingly co-opted as prescription drug sales intermediaries. I sincerely hope it will enable us finally to become fully savvy about antidepressants, so that we can make informed choices both about the place of medication and how else we may cope, in dealing with life’s ups and downs.

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