‘I Should Be More Careful With Twitter’: Marianne Williamson on Those Mental Health Comments

I regret saying that. That was an uncareful comment, because it’s not always a scam at all.

I have met hundreds of people going through hell trying to get off antidepressants that should never have been prescribed to them. I’ve worked with people going through normal human crises since 1983. And I have seen what has been, in many cases, the devastating effects of overprescription.

That’s not to say that some people do not have serious — and by the way, I have certainly had experiences where I have said, “I think you should go see a psychiatrist.” I can tell you the difference. One is, “I’m crying because my boyfriend left,” and one is someone who can’t even look up. I understand the difference, and when someone is showing certain symptoms, I’m the first to say, “I think you should go see a psychiatrist.”

You’ve emphasized before that there’s no blood test for clinical depression, which seems to imply that the distinction is arbitrary and one can’t cleanly tell the difference.

First of all, let’s talk about all the times someone is told they’re clinically depressed by their gynecologist. People throw around that term these days. And even when people say, “Oh, there’s brain chemistry” — yes, I understand that there’s brain chemistry involved. But we’ve also seen changes in brain chemistry from yoga, from meditation, from prayer. I don’t see where an intelligent questioning about what is happening here should be derided.

At this point, we turned to Ms. Williamson’s comments about antidepressants and suicide, particularly one she made the day the designer Kate Spade killed herself: “How many public personalities on antidepressants have to hang themselves before the F.D.A. does something, Big Pharma cops to what it knows, and the average person stops falling for this?” There was no public evidence that Ms. Spade had been taking antidepressants.

The Food and Drug Administration has stated for years that certain types of antidepressants may increase the risk of suicidal thoughts in people 24 and younger. Its warning instructs doctors to weigh this alongside the drugs’ potential benefits and to monitor patients closely, but also says that studies show no similar risk in people over 24, and that untreated depression is itself a risk factor for suicide.

Asked if she stood by her comment, Ms. Williamson paused for several seconds before answering: “Yes. What in that statement is not true? Because what I say is the F.D.A. knows this. Big Pharma knows this. Intelligent people know this.”

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