So where did it come from? It's pretty much a grey area (pardon the pun) but we all know that grey areas are there to be exploited. If we don't know something for certainty we seek professional help - in this case - we have put our trust in a pharmaceutical company and a medicines regulator who both agree that Seroxat benefits far outweigh the risks in adults over 18.... or is it 24?... or maybe 30? The goal posts have been moved that many times even I am unsure now.
So, the serotonin myth? Was it invented purely to market GSK's baby, Seroxat? But more importantly, did GSK know that patients would become addicted to it, thus earning them pocketfuls of cash?
In layman's terms, you take a drug manufactured to help your depression. This drug replaces serotonin in your brain - serotonin that has allegedly gone missing - never been proven in a human, yet you go along with it.
Sometime later, when you feel the 'depression' has lifted, you decide to come off the drug. The patient information leaflet tells you to wean off it gradually or 'taper.'
Some 18 months later you have weaned from 40mg per day to 22mg per day. The side effects DO NOT tally with what is written on the patient information leaflet - thoughts of suicide and aggression increase and you begin to wonder whether or not you should have stopped your treatment. One thing antidepressants mask is the actual illness, so when should you stop your treatment? How are you supposed to know when you are ready? This is what I like to call GSK's 'Blockbuster Effect.'
This pushes Seroxat up the marketing ladder pretty much in the same way tobacco has done over the years - with tobacco you get assistance (ie, nicotine patches, ironically manufactured by GSK). There are also many support groups to help one wean off the weed. What do we get for Seroxat? Nothing! Not even an acknowledgement from its manufacturer that it causes addiction, even the medicines regulator (MHRA) side with GlaxoSmithKline, despite not having access to the clinical trial data (the negative trial results) that GSK held from them.
Anyway, here we have GlaxoSmithKline's paradox. Claim a drug replaces low levels of serotonin, when it has never been scientifically proven that it does, then once 'hooked' on the drug the serotonin myth becomes a reality. The levels one comes accustomed to whilst administering the drug are severely missed when withdrawing from the drug. That is the chemical imbalance. That is the reason why Seroxat is such a big seller. That is the reason why GlaxoSmithKline will never publically admit Seroxat is the cause and not the cure for a chemical imbalance of serotonin in the brain.
A conspiracy? Maybe. But one that I have had personal experience of and one that echelons of other sufferers have had to, and still do, endure.
So where do we go from here? Would it really be beneficial to us all if GlaxoSmithKline finally admitted the truth? Personally, it would be a help. For years I have had the stigma attached to me for 'playing the system' - a term normally used by occupational doctors for large companies. For years I have been trying my hardest to explain that the Bob Fiddaman people were witnessing was not the real Bob Fiddaman. I'm sure there are thousands of others who feel the same. Without acknowledgement our testimonies mean nothing, without acknowledgement GP's will still continue to prescribe Seroxat, therefore making GSK wads of cash.
The BBC TV Panorama programmes highlighted the subject but within a week or so the public outcry dies as a celebrity makes a fool of themselves on Big Brother, et al.
It is only with constant pressure from blogs such as Seroxat Sufferers and Seroxat Secrets that GSK, the MHRA and the unsuspecting public will eventually sit up and take notice. Seroxat Sufferers blog is being monitored by GSK in Pennsylvania as is Seroxat Secrets and a whole host of other blogs and websites set up by patients.
With an up and coming class action lawsuit in the UK against GlaxoSmithKline there will be a lull before the eventual storm, well one would think/hope that would be the case. Alas, I think GlaxoSmithKline will once again settle out of court, keeping the truth from the public. Some spin will be invented by the clever legal team they employ, probably along the lines of: 'We came to a settlement as to not further any more costs to the claimant.'
In an ideal world, there would be custodial sentences for those involved with the cover up, including those at the medicines regulatory agency who have sang from the same hymn sheet as GlaxoSmithKline.
A chemical imbalance? A GlaxoSmithKline/MHRA imbalance would be more apt.