Democratic presidential candidate Marianne Williamson told BuzzFeed News’ AM to DM that she believes antidepressants are overprescribed by doctors and that they aren’t needed to treat situations she categorized as instances of “normal human despair” instead of a mental illness.
“The twenties can be very hard. They’re not a mental illness. Divorce can be very difficult, losing a loved one, someone that you know died, someone left in a relationship and you’re heartbroken — that’s very painful, but it’s not a mental illness,” Williamson said on AM to DM on Friday. “You had a professional failure, you lost your job, you went bankrupt. Those things are very difficult, but they’re not a mental illness.”
This isn’t the first time Williamson, a successful speaker and author, has expressed skepticism that drugs can play a role in treating depression. In 2018, Williamson tweeted, “how many public personalities on antidepressants have to hang themselves before the FDA does something, Big Pharma cops to what it knows, and the average person stops falling for this? The tragedies keep compounding. The awakening should begin.” That same day, Kate Spade was found dead in her apartment after reportedly killing herself.
Williamson went on to tweet that depression wasn’t stigmatized until the condition was “medicalized.”
“Most antidepressants are being prescribed by Dr.s who aren’t even mental health professionals, & many times when people are simply SAD,” Williamson tweeted. “The answer to depression is more scientific research only if you think of it simply in biomedical terms. The medicalization of depression is a creation of the medical industry. For millennia depression was seen as a spiritual disease, and for many of us it still is.”
Williamson also appeared to agree with a tweet claiming antidepressants have played a role in the motivation behind mass shootings, suggesting they influenced the attacker in the 2017 Las Vegas shooting.
Asked on AM to DM if it was productive for her to weigh in on antidepressants, Williamson said she found it completely appropriate.
“I don’t think it’s wrong at all, I very much stay in my lane. I would say when doctors are coming in to talk about situational despair, that they’re getting in my lane. I’ve never weighed in on issues like bipolar, schizophrenia, anything like that,” Williamson said. “That’s not my lane, I’ve never weighed in, and clearly there are medical conditions for which psychotherapeutic drugs have been and continue to be very helpful in people’s lives, and I think that’s true with clinical depression as well.”
In a November 2018 interview, Williamson told Russell Brand that she’s lived through periods of what doctors call clinical depression. “Even that’s such a scam,” Williamson said about the term. “All that means is somebody in a clinic said it. There is no blood test, right. But if you’ve been there you know it.”
“The issue of personal human despair and how we treat it and how we deal with it is very much my lane and I’m very much a professional dealing with those things,” Williamson told AM to DM.
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-8255. Other international suicide helplines can be found at befrienders.org.