February 14, 2007

Diagnosing Robbie

Gotta love tabloid alarmism. The Sun reports that Robbie Williams "is hooked on the powerful and controversial anti-depressant Seroxat."

That's absurd. Seroxat, known in the US as Paxil, is not a habit-forming drug. (It may cause withdrawal if it's discontinued without tapering off, but that's not the same thing.)

Paxil is most often prescribed for Generalized Anxiety Disorder, but it doesn't sound like it's working all that well for Williams: "Robbie also revealed in the interview that he is plagued with anxiety and suffers regularly from attacks especially before a tour." It might help to cut back on the caffeine and nicotine; according to The Sun, "daily he gets through an incredible 36 super-strength double espresso coffees, 60 Silk Cut cigarettes and around 20 cans of energy drink Red Bull." If those figures are close to accurate, it would probably be healthier to get back on cocaine.

Posted by John Tabin at February 14, 2007 03:54 PM

No offence sir but Seroxat is addictive in some people... it certainly was was me. It took me more than 18 months to wean myself off it.

Glaxo SmithKline (the manufacturer) will have you believe it is not addictive but then again they said it was safe in use of adults and teenagers despite the clinical trials showing a 6 fold increase of suicidal thoughts in teenagers and a three fold increase of suicidal thoughts in adults... a fact which they suppressed.


Posted by: ROBERT FIDDAMAN at February 15, 2007 02:21 AM

No offense taken. Sorry you had such a rough experience.

My criticism of The Sun's alarmism stands, though. I don't think long weaning-off time from an antidepressant is what most people think of when they hear someone is "hooked" on a drug; it's not as if Paxil/Seroxat gets you high. And the numbers we're talking about when we discuss adverse side effects, especially the suicide thing, are small enough that the reporting is often misleading. But I'm sure it doesn't seem like it when you're unlucky enough to have a miserable time on a particular drug.

(I don't think GSK "suppressed" the side-effect research; my understanding is that it didn't turn up in the early clinical trials. I tend to be skeptical of claims to the contrary, especially when they're made, as they often are, by lawyers chasing a payday.)

Posted by: John Tabin at February 15, 2007 12:11 PM