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Junk Science Update: Antidepressants Make People Less Likely To Harm Others

The most recent addition to the cornucopia of junk science from the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, says that people on antidepressants are less willing to hurt or punish other people.

That's the glorious conclusion by a team of pseudoscientists at the University of Cambridge. To test the effect of antidepressants on moral judgements, Molly Crockett and her team of quacks presented 24 healthy volunteers with a moral dilemma while they were under the influence of the antidepressant citalopram – a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI).

These are the same drugs that lower bone density, cause weight gain, harm male fertility and make people more likely to go on shooting rampages, commit suicides, and attempted suicides.

There's more. It also causes panic attacks, low heart rate and lightheadedness, induced mania, psychotic symptoms, electrolyte disturbances and seizures, and even anorgasmia (inability to achieve orgasms). There are literally dozens of other side effects too numerous to mention in this article.

In 2004, Health Canada issued a warning for citalopram indicating there was a potential for behavioural and emotional changes, including risk of self-harm.

Yet, according to Molly Crockett and her team, participants given citalopram were about 10 percent less willing to inflict harm on someone in order to benefit others compared with those given a placebo.

Ironically, Crockett points out that antidepressants are the most widely prescribed class of drugs in the US and that it is therefore important to investigate their effects on users' social behaviour and moral judgement.

Moral judgement? Would it not make more sense to design a study whose objective outlines why not to take antidepressants?

Rather than using two dozen people to demonstrate a miniscule reduction in inflicting harm to others, you would figure that Crockett's moral compass would have some semblance of mentioning the dozens of other very real and significant side effects of SSRI's and how they affect social behavior in orders of magnitude which far outweigh any benefits of taking the drug.

What is the point of this study and what purpose does it serve any party including those who funded it?

So we've concluded that SSRIs will give you osteoporosis, cause you to gain weight, harm your fertility, make you suicidal, homicidal with induced mania, panic attacks, seizures, psychotic symptoms, and to top it off, leave you unable to have an orgasm.

However, you will be 10% less likely to harm others?? Thank you Ms. Crockett and her team for clarifying that.

Marco Torres is a research specialist, writer and consumer advocate for healthy lifestyles. He holds degrees in Public Health and Environmental Science and is a professional speaker on topics such as disease prevention, environmental toxins and health policy.


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