More than 80 million prescriptions for psychiatric drugs are written in the UK alone every year. Not only do they have only short-term benefits, at best, they make addicts of many patients, and cause dangerous side-effects and even kill, says Prof Peter Gotzsche at the University of Copenhagen and a researcher with the Cochrane Collaboration.
The antipsychotics, often given as a 'chemical cosh' to keep disruptive patients quiet, increase the risk of heart disease, diabetes and stroke, while psychiatric drugs increase the risk of a patient falling, and antidepressants can cause potentially deadly irregular heartbeat.
And the suicide rate alone for people on antidepressants is 15 times higher than official figures suggest.
Reviewing all the published, and unpublished, data, Prof Gotzsche estimates that psychiatric drugs are the third major killer in the West, after heart disease and cancer.
Prof Gotzsche's new book, Deadly Psychiatry and Organised Denial, is published by People's Press.