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Emotional side-effects of antidepressants reported by more than 50% of largest sample surveyed to date


A survey of 1829 New Zealanders prescribed antidepressants, the largest sample ever surveyed, has found high rates of emotional and interpersonal adverse effects. The abstract of the paper, just published online in Psychiatry Research, follows:

Background: In the context of rapidly increasing antidepressant use internationally, and recent reviews raising concerns about efficacy and adverse effects, this study aimed to survey the lived experience of the largest sample of AD recipients to date.

Methods: An online questionnaire about experiences with, and beliefs about, antidepressants was completed by 1829 adults who had been prescribed antidepressants in the last five years.

Results: Eight of the 20 adverse effects studied were reported by over half the participants; most frequently Sexual Difficulties (62%) and Feeling Emotionally Numb (60%). Percentages for other effects included: Feeling Not Like Myself – 52%, Reduction In Positive Feelings – 42%, Caring Less About Others – 39%, Suicidality – 39% and Withdrawal Effects – 55%. Total Adverse Effect scores were related to younger age, lower education and income, and type of antidepressant, but not to level of depression prior to taking antidepressants.

Conclusions: The adverse effects of antidepressants may be more frequent than previously reported, and include emotional and interpersonal effects. Lead researcher, Professor John Read (Institute of Psychology, Health and Society; University of Liverpool) comments: “The medicalization of sadness and distress has reached bizarre levels. One in ten people in some countries are now prescribed antidepressants each year.”

“While the biological side effects of antidepressants, such as weight gain and nausea, are well documented, the psychological and interpersonal effects have been largely ignored or denied. They appear to be alarmingly common.”

“Effects such as feeling emotionally numb and caring less about other people are of major concern. Our study also found that people are not being told about these effects when prescribed the drugs.”

“Our finding that over a third of respondents reported suicidality ‘as a result of taking the antidepressants’ suggests that earlier studies may have underestimated the problem.”

Over half (55%) of young people (18-25years) reported suicidality.

“Our sample was not biased towards people with an axe to grind about anti-depressants; 82% reported that the drugs had helped alleviate their depression.”


Read, J., Cartwright, C., Gibson, K. (2014). Adverse emotional and interpersonal effects reported by 1,829 New Zealanders while taking antidepressants.  Psychiatry Research


Liverpool University Media Release


Research led by a University of Liverpool psychologist has found strong support for the theory that early childhood trauma, such as abuse and neglect, could lead to the development of psychosis in later life.

An international team of researchers reviewed more than 120 reports on the biological mechanisms underlying the relationship between childhood trauma and psychosis.

They concluded that people experiencing psychosis should be offered evidence-based psychological therapies that address the social causes of their difficulties.

Anomalies in the brains of people diagnosed with mental health problems such as ‘schizophrenia’ have traditionally been used to support the notion that such problems are biologically based brain disorders that have little to do with life events.

Recent research, however, shows support for the ‘traumagenic neurodevelopmental’ model of psychosis, which suggests that those differences can be caused by adverse life events, especially those occurring in early childhood.

Professor John Read, from the University of Liverpool’s Institute of Psychology, Health and Society, said:

“Trauma based brain changes should not be thought of as being indicative of having a brain disorder or disease. The changes are reversible. Recent studies have found, for example, that the brain’s oversensitivity to stressors can be reduced by properly designed psychotherapy.

“The primary prevention implications are profound. Protection and nurturance of the developing brain in young children would seem to be of paramount importance.

“We hope that this vast body of literature will encourage more mental health staff to take more of an interest in the lives of the people they are trying to help, rather than viewing hearing voices and having unusual beliefs as mere symptoms of an ‘illness’ that need to be suppressed with medication.”

The review was published in Neuropsychiatry.

READ THE FULL ARTICLE HERE: http://www.futuremedicine.com/doi/full/10.2217/npy.13.89

John Read Interviewed on Take It From Us

On Take It From Us on Tuesday 26th, is guest Professor John Read, of the School of Psychology at the University of Auckland, sharing some of the highlights of his time in New Zealand before returning to the United Kingdom. Take it From Us will canvass his views on the strengths and weakness of our mental health system, what are the priorities for the future, and what’s important to achieve recovery.

Listen live on 104.6FM at 12.30pm or online www.planetaudio.org.nz

If you miss the live broadcast, listen for the next seven days @ www.planetaudio.org.nz/takeitfromus 

or Catch up on the last four shows online

And don’t forget the Facebook page www.facebook.com/takeitfromus

Public Workshop: The Psychology of Psychosis 15 Feb 2012

Public Workshop: Professor John Read


  • Friday, February 15th 2013
  • 9.30 – 4.30
  • Tamaki Innovation Campus, The University of Auckland, Building 721; room 201

Professor John Read’s last workshop in New Zealand before returning to the UK will summarise the latest research on the psycho-social causes of madness and the efficacy of psychological treatment approaches. John will be joined by clinical psychologist Jeremy Clark (St Luke’s First Episode Psychosis team); expert-by-experience Debra Lampshire (Auckland DHB and University of Auckland) and Dr Melissa Taitimu (Clinical psychologist) who will focus on the practical implications and applications of the research.

This free workshop is intended as a ‘thank you’ to all those in the mental health community who support the Clinical Psychology programme in various ways.

It is also open to everyone interested in improving services for people who hear voices or have very unusual beliefs.

Please RSVP to Sheryl Robertson, s.robertson@auckland.ac.nz by 1st February 2013

Morning tea and coffee will be provided. Lunch by own arrangement. There are cafes on campus.

Living With Voices Seminar Day 21 July 2012

Hearing Voices Network Aotearoa, Te Reo Orooro, are pleased to present a series of Presentations on Living with Voices

The Hearing Voices Network Aotearoa are pleased to provide an afternoon with three wonderful speakers on the subject of hearing voices. This will be followed by our Annual General Meeting.

  1. Hearing Voices as a meaningful Human experience- A research Summary by Dr John Read : Dr John Read is a Proffessor of Clinical Pschology at Auckland University. One of his main areas of work and research is in the area of hearing voices and Psychosis. He is a member of The Hearing Voices Network as well as ISPS. Dr Read has written many books and is an interesting and heartfelt speaker .
  2. Integration of Culture and Personal experience for living with Voices by Egan Bidois: Egan Bidois will speak about his own experiences, how he has “embedded them” and come to peace with them in his head/life/spirit etc. Egan now works in mental health and will also incorporate Maori Cultural aspects that he values, and how he perceives such experiences in relation to our cultural definitions, and how these secure and cement his ongoing wellness. Egan is a powerful speaker, coming from his own personal experiences, he is talking his walk.
  3. Coping and Living with Voices by Adrienne Giacon. Research amongst the Hearing Voices Network shows that many voice hearers live with their voices and can even find them to be helpful. The difference between those that are distressed, and those that aren’t can often be how they react to the voices. Adrienne Giacon has been a facilitator for our West Auckland Support group for over 5 years and runs a group at a Forensic clinic. She will share some of the techniques and understandings she has found helpful for coping and living with voices.


Hearing Voices Network Aotearoa is a registered charity. Our main focus is to provide support and information about hearing voices and visions. Our Annual General Meeting will be held after the lecture series. We welcome anyone interested in helping to keep our organisation going. We are run by a voted in committee consisting mainly of those who hear voices.

  • When: 1 to 4 PM Saturday 21st July 2012
  • Where: Lynfield Room, Fickling Convention Center,546 Mt Albert Rd, Mt Roskill.
  • Cost: $20 for waged- $5 for unwaged. Current HVN Members Free. If you cannot afford this fee please let us know and a koha can be accepted.
  • Bookings: Call Adrienne at 0272650266 for more details or email: info@hearingvoices.org.nz for a registration form. Please note spaces are limited. If you want to come you will need to book asap.

Afternoon tea provided. Hearing Voices Network are a registered charity. These fees will help support their work.

Making Sense of Madness Lecture w/ Professor John Read

Professor John Read, Psychology Dept, University of Auckland would like to invite you all to his Inaugural Lecture (for new Professors). Please pass this on to others who might be interested. It is a public lecture – open to all.

  •  Wednesday November 2nd
  • 5.30pm for refreshments, 6pm for lecture.
  • Lecture Theatre 732.201, Tāmaki Campus, University of Auckland.


Hearing voices and believing that people are out to get you are sometimes described as ‘symptoms’ of ‘schizophrenia’ –  one of an array of ‘mental illnesses’ supposedly caused by genetic predispositions and biochemical imbalances.

Recent research, however, shows that ‘schizophrenia’ is an unscientific construct, that there is no robust evidence of a genetic predisposition, and that hallucinations and delusions are best conceptualized as understandable reactions to adverse life events and circumstances. Furthermore, studies from all over the world indicate that the public, including patients and their family members, already holds this ‘psycho-social’ model of mental health.

This lecture presents research (including University of Auckland studies) linking psychosis to poverty, loss and trauma, and describes how the findings challenge the simplistic and pessimistic bio-genetic ideology which, with the support of the pharmaceutical industry, currently dominates mental health research and services.

The Psychology of Psychosis Workshop

Workshop – The Psychology of Psychosis: From Theory to Practice

  •  20 Oct 2011
  • Location: Auckland
  • Venue: Centre for Psychology, Massey University 3rd Floor North Shore Library Building Albany Village, Auckland

More Information: http://www.awct.org.nz/events/course-detail.asp?eid=13

Professor John Read, Psychology Department, University of Auckland
Dr Vanessa Beavan, St Luke’s First Episode Psychosis Team, Auckland DHB
Jeremy Clark, Early Psychosis Intervention Team, Waitemata DHB
Debra Lampshire, University of Auckland School of Nursing, Chair of ISPS-NZ, and an experience-based expert and trainer

Thursday 20 October 2011 9:00am – 4:30pm
Centre for Psychology, Massey University 3rd Floor North Shore Library Building Albany Village, Auckland
A one-day seminar organized by the Psychology Department, Massey University and the NZ Branch of the International Society for Psychological Treatment of Schizophrenia (www.isps.org; ispsnz@gmail.com)


  • Session One: ‘Psycho-social Causes of Psychosis: A research Summary’, Professor John Read
  • Session Two: ‘Psychological Therapy with People Experiencing Psychosis’, Dr Vanessa Beavan and Jeremy Clark


  • ‘A skills based workshop on working with people who hear voices’, led by Debra Lampshire

About the Presenters

Professor John Read is the Editor of the I.S.P.S.’s international scientific journal ‘Psychosis: Psychological, Social and Integrative Approaches’ and of ‘Models of Madness (Routledge, 2004). He worked for 20 years as a clinical psychologist, primarily with people experiencing psychosis. In 2010 John was awarded the NZPS’ Hunter Award for excellence in academic and professional achievements.

Dr Vanessa Beavan gained a Doctorate in Clinical Psychology from the University of Auckland before taking up her current position with a first episode psychosis team in Auckland. She has published several research papers, including: Beavan, V. (2011). Toward a definition of ‘hearing voices’: A phenomenological approach’. Psychosis, 3(1), 63-73.

Jeremy Clark completed his training as a clinical psychologist at the University of Auckland. He is currently a senior staff member in (and has previously managed) an early psychosis intervention team with Waitemata DHB. Jeremy is a member of the Executive Committee of the NZ branch of I.S.P.S.

Debra Lampshire held the position of Consumer Consultant to Auckland District Health Board (ADHB) the largest in New Zealand, for five years, providing consumer advisory services. Debra is employed by ADHB as a Project Manager for the psychological interventions for enduring mental illness project. Debra is also a senior tutor with The University of Auckland’s Centre for Mental Health Research and Policy Development. Her work has been presented as key notes and workshops/symposia at numerous conferences both nationally and internationally. Debra has transferred her 30 years of the lived experience of recovery, voice hearing and the shared experiences of the consumers she has worked with, into a wealth of knowledge that is collaborative, interactive and empowering. She is a prominent leader and mentor to others within the service-user and clinical movement in New Zealand and a well know trainer, educator and advocate within national and international mental health services. Debra is also Chairperson for ISPS New Zealand.


  • $250 for professionals
  • **early bird registration $230 for registrations received by 20 September**
  • $125 for students

Morning tea, lunch and afternoon tea are provided and included in the fee. attendance are provided to all attendees who complete the workshop.
Certificates of Numbers are limited and places will be allocated in order of receipt of registration.

How to Register
Please contact: Helen McMaster, Centre for Psychology, Massey University, Private Bag 102904, North Shore Mail Centre, Auckland, Fax : 09 443 9732 Email : H.McMaster@massey.ac.nz