Psychiatrists Lament the Commercialization of Antidepressants

But Also Highlight Their Need in Restricted Cases

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ROME, APRIL 15, 2003 (Zenit.org).- The service offered by psychiatry cannot be limited to the prescribing of drugs, according to specialists at a gathering here.



At a meeting on Bioethics and Psychiatry, organized by the Regina Apostolorum Pontifical Athenaeum last Thursday and Friday, Italian psychiatrist Dante De Santis said that the "indiscriminate use, even at school age" of psycho-drugs or antidepressants "poses many questions from the ethical point of view."

The practice also causes an "increase of expectations" among people on the efficacy of these drugs, which in some countries, such as Italy, are prescribed by general practitioners, De Santis said.

The psychiatrist called for the overcoming of "drug-philia" as well as "drug-phobia."

The former, he said, leads patients to regard antidepressants as a "consumer good." But the latter, which considers that "depression is due to external causes and can be resolved by sheer will power, must also be surmounted," he warned.

Lorenzo Piombo, the moderator, expressed a clear "no" to the "commerce" of psychiatric treatments for chronic patients. He emphasized that the patient's consent cannot be reduced to "a bureaucratic ritual, a guarantee for the doctor, but not so much for the patient."

"The ethical meaning of consensus does not simply seek adherence to a treatment, but to create a profound relation between the doctor and the patient," he explained.