While it is probably true that many psychological
disorders and diseases are over-diagnosed, there are people who suffer from things like OCD
who truly do exactly that, suffer
. For those people, drugs like Prozac
can literally save their lives.
SSRI drugs work something like this: Seratonin is a neurochemical that is naturally released by the brain into the bloodstream to help one's mind and body cope with anxiety-inducing or extremely stressful situations. When the increased levels of seratonin are no longer needed in the bloodstream, the brain re-collects it. An SSRI (Seratonin Reuptake Inhibitor) causes the brain to re-collect less of the seratonin than it might naturally, causing seratonin levels in the bloodstream to remain constantly higher, therefore increasing, (NOT decreasing!) someone's ability to think through and cope with a difficult situation. There are people whose brains do not naturally produce enough seratonin to do them the good they need it to do. Those people have a neurochemical imbalance, which is a physicial condition that causes illness, not simply something that makes them feel "different." Seratonin reuptake inhibitors absolutely do not cause people to lose their ability to think, and they are not designed to "shut things off." Proper doseage is of paramount importance to successful psychotropic drug therapy, and sometimes it takes an awfully long time for doctors and patients to figure out exactly how much of these meds someone should be taking. Once the doseage is stabilized, SSRIs are designed to worh with behavior modification, and once new habits are formed, a patient is weaned from the medication.
I am an animal behaviorist. I have a good deal of education and experience in treating (mostly) canine behavior problems, thereby preventing those pets from being euthanized. (Behavior problems kill more animals in the USA every year than cancer and car accidents combined, btw.) I'm afraid that seeing someone call behavior modification a "placebo" gets under my skin a bit. I have had dogs come to me with multiple lacerations over 50-80% of their bodies because they literally flung themselves out of plate glass windows when they were left alone, or when they heard a thunderstorm approaching. I have had dogs who would routinely bite the snot out of anyone who was around them if their primary caretaker wasn't there. I have had dogs that lick their feet until their bones are exposed among a mass of infected, oozing flesh because of their severe anxiety disroders. Psychotropic medications, properly dosed, and used in conjunction with systematic, humane behavior modification cured those dogs of their problems and they are alive and happy today because of it. If SSRIs and b-mod implemented by someone who knows what they're doing can do that for a canine, imagine how much good those same things could do for a human, who has the ability to clearly vocalize their symptoms to their doctors, and to understand the way the program is designed to work when it's explained to them!