Anti-depressants
Danish expert blames psychiatric drugs and anti-depressants for over half a million deaths in people aged 65 and over in the western world.Getty Images

A Danish expert on clinical trials has claimed that psychiatric drugs often prescribed to help patients suffering from depression do more harm than good.

According to Professor Peter Gøtzsche, research director at the Nordic Cochrane Centre in Copenhagen, pharmaceuticals mostly exaggerate the "minimal" benefits of psychiatric drugs in clinical trials overlooking their side effects.

These drugs have often lead to several many suicides that remain under reported, said Gøtzsche in an article in the British Medical Journal (BMJ).

As per Gøtzsche's claims, the suicide rate amongst people on these drugs is 15 times more than reported, with drugs such as antipsychotics, benzodiazepines, and antidepressants believed to have resulted in 3,693 annual deaths in Denmark.

"Given their lack of benefit, I estimate we could stop almost all psychotropic drugs without causing harm - by dropping all antidepressants, ADHD drugs, and dementia drugs and using only a fraction of the antipsychotics and benzodiazepines we currently use," said Gøtzsche, reported The Independent.

"This would lead to healthier and more long lived populations. Because psychotropic drugs are immensely harmful when used long-term, they should almost exclusively be used in acute situations and always with a firm plan for tapering off, which can be difficult for many patients."

Critics of antidepressants and dementia drugs will agree with Gøtzsche claiming these drugs are often used to numb the patients' agitated behavior, without helping them overcome the disease in the long-term.

Gøtzsche claims over half a million people across the western world aged 65 and over die due to such medications.

The "short-term relief" is weighed over the "long-term harm" of these drugs, claims Gøtzsche.

"Animal studies strongly suggest that these drugs can produce brain damage, which is probably the case for all psychotropic drugs," said Gøtzsche.