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Tom Cruise's Drug Comments Spark U.S. Medical Debate

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Jun 28, 2005 | 11:55am EDT

Tom Cruise's critical TV comments about psychiatric drugs have sparked a medical debate in America.

Professors, doctors and psychiatrists have appeared on the TV shows where Cruise made his remarks about anti-depressants. Top U.S. doctor Steven Sharfstein insists the movie star was wrong to make his comments.

He told breakfast show Today, "When he starts to play doctor he's being totally irresponsible. When you are severely depressed, medications are very important."

But Joseph Glenmullen, a professor of psychiatry at Harvard University, insists Cruise has made a few good points: "Psychiatric drugs can mask the real problem, psychiatric drugs are being over-prescribed. He's right when he actually says there are no proven biochemical imbalances."

The movie hunk stunned top TV newsman Matt Lauer last week when he attacked him on the Today show for suggesting Cruise was wrong to dismiss prescription antidepressants.

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Meanwhile, Hollywood beauty Brooke Shields has thanked Cruise for drawing attention to her book on post-natal depression, after he publicly criticized the actress for using anti-depressants.

The actress suffered post-partum depression following the birth of her daughter Rowan and has praised the drug Paxil for helping her to return to a happier state of mind. Shields has written about her experiences with the illness in her tell-all Down Came the Rain.

Cruise caused controversy last month when he lambasted Shields' "misguided" drug use and asking, "Where has her career gone?", while claiming vitamins would have cured her of her depression, on TV show Access Hollywood.

Cruise renewed his argument against prescribed drugs talking to reporter Lauer on the Today show last June 25, saying, "She (Brooke) doesn't understand the history of psychiatry. You don't know the history of psychiatry. I do."

Shields is amazed by Cruise's stance that he knows enough about post-natal depression to tell her how to deal with the illness, despite the actor having no first-hand knowledge as he adopted two children with ex-wife Nicole Kidman.

Shields says, "In many ways, I think he's just validated my book. "Has he had a baby? Anything that highlights the help available to the thousands of women who suffer is fine by me.

"Tom should stick to saving the world from aliens and let women decide what treatment is best."

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