Six Breakthroughs That Shaped Modern Psychiatry

September 17, 2017
Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors

NEW ORLEANS—As the 30th annual Psych Congress opened, the cochairs of the conference took attendees on a trip back through 6 key developments which they said have shaped the field of psychiatry in the last 3 decades.

“Of all the things that happened in the field of psychiatry in the last 30 years, at least in my view, I think the arrival of the SSRIS were the most important for us culturally and emotionally and psychologically,” said cochair Charles L. Raison, MD, the Mary Sue and Mike Shannon Chair for Healthy Minds, Children & Families and Professor, School of Human Ecology, Professor, Department of Psychiatry, School of Medicine and Public Health, University of Wisconsin-Madison.

It is difficult for clinicians today to remember what the field was like when SSRIs were introduced, he said. With seeing transformation in chronically struggling patients and minimal side effects, “it seemed like all of a sudden we had a freebie,” he said.

“Very quickly, I think, a lot of us had this feeling that these were these unparalleled wonder drugs,” Dr. Raison said. “We had a sense of empowerment at that time that is really hard for us to wrap our minds around now.”

Cochair Rakesh Jain, MD, MPH, agreed, saying SSRIs were “absolutely revolutionary.”