Let’s fix the chemical imbalance first, and then we can work on the problems second’: an exploration of ethical implications of prescribing an SSRI for ‘depression

Monash Bioethics Review 25 (1):15-30 (2006)
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The creation of pharmacotherapies, such as Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs), for the treatment of depression was hailed as a great breakthrough in mental health care. However, since that time, serious questions have arisen as to their safety and the way they are prescribed without full information being provided to patients about a range of important issues, including the possible aetiologies of depression, and the efficacy and potential side-effects of medication. These issues have been especially important in the care and treatment of young people, as there is evidence that SSRIs may be implicated in increased suicidal behaviour. In this article, we examine the experiences of five individuals who were prescribed an SSRI in their late teens or early twenties, and discuss some of the ethical issues that arise from their accounts.



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Anna Hansen
Cambridge University

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