Anti-Depressants in Denmark: Panelists Open Dialogue with Psychology Students

The European Clinical Psychology course hosted a panel of psychologists and professors to lead a discussion on anti-depressants in Denmark.

DIS DIS Copenhagen Semester

In a country that in recent years was considered the Happiest Country in the World, DIS faculty member Lars Rossen challenged his European Clinical Psychology students to understand reasons that have led to an increased usage of anti-depressant medication in Denmark. During classtime, the course had been discussing the controversy over anti-depressant use, as well as the intersection of psychology and psychiatry in diagnosing and treating individuals with mental illness.

Members of the panel included clinical psychologist Peter Olsen, medical student Signe Friis, pharmacist Birgit Toft, as well as DIS faculty members Lars Rossen and Karen Raaberg-Møller.

The discussion ranged from pharmaceutical policies in Denmark, and the controversy surrounding increased use of neuroleptics, to a few of the panel members’ personal experiences with depression and anti-depressants. Following, students had the opportunity to ask questions and engage in a dialog with the panelists.

Lars Rossen, who teaches European Clinical Psychology and Psychology of Adolescence, said students gained a wider perspective of anti-depressant usage from some of the panel members’ personal stories. “I think the students became aware of how we are used to thinking of psychiatry as an exact science – which they saw it certainly is not. They learned how depression affects real people in ways that may be very different from what textbooks argue. It was a more nuanced and personalized view on the condition.”

Students gained insight into the drawbacks of diagnosing and treating individuals with mental illness in the same way. They learned that it is more crucial to treat the symptoms as opposed to the cause, and as Lars said, “As psychologists, we must learn to be aware of not using a one-size-fits-all model in therapy … but look at the individual patient and his or her personal history and use that to decide what kind of treatment. By doing so, medicine becomes a tool for facilitating recovery and making the patient ready to take steps toward life changes, not a solution in itself.”

European Clinical Psychology core course student, Lauren Goette from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, said the panel covered many topics they were learning in class. “The panel highlighted one of the many complex issues involved in psychiatry, misdiagnosis, and the general use of medication to treat mental illness. I now have a much better understanding of how complicated the use of antidepressants is. It was intriguing to see how the panelists felt about anti-depressants and why they felt that way.”

Hearing insight and new knowledge from professionals gave students further context to understand the complex issues surrounding anti-depressants in Denmark.

Back to all news