Monday, Nov. 14, 2005
They're prescribed to millions, but do the new antidepressants work? And are they worth the risk?
BY DANIEL WILLIAMS
There's really nothing funny about what happened to Rebekah Beddoe, except maybe for a little black comedy at the end. In 1999, a psychiatrist diagnosed her with postnatal depression, which she probably didn't have, and for the next three years multiple doctors treated her with drugs that she almost certainly didn't need. As episodes of deliberately cutting herself progressed to bouts of mental torment and suicide attempts, Beddoe's carers, concluding that her illness was worsening, kept upping her dosages and trying new medications. Nothing worked. Eventually, Beddoe acted on a different idea. Without telling anyone, she weaned herself off the drugs and gradually became well again. Her psychiatrist at the time assumed he was responsible for Beddoe's recovery. She remembers watching him one day from the other side of his desk, thinking that this eminent doctor was congratulating himself on having the skill to concoct precisely the right drug regimen. "I could also see his relief," Beddoe says. "It had been a difficult case, but he'd finally cracked it."