Last night Guido was on a panel chaired by Jeremy Vine when the subject of Gordon Brown’s alleged anti-depressant pill popping came up. Jeremy had read Simon Heffer’s article the night before (on his iPhone in bed) and thought that this blog had ran the story. Guido had not, but on Monday this blog ran a cartoon that referenced the rumour that everyone in the Westminster Village has heard. The Prime Minister is said to be taking powerful mood altering anti-depressants, specifically Mono Amine Oxidase Inhibitors (MAOIs) which are very rarely prescribed since the arrival of Prozac derivatives, used only sparingly when dealing with severely depressed patients.
Guido hesitated to run with the story, which was first reported by John Ward, though it was widely discussed in the comments on this blog.
In the broadsheets Simon Heffer, Matthew Parris have touched on the issue and this morning Matthew Norman in the Independent has explicitly referred to the allegation that Gordon Brown is taking “heavy duty antidepressants known as MAOIs (Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitors)”. The evidence is first and foremost his behaviour – what some have previously put down to a lack of EQ or emotional intelligence, is now being attributed to drugs to control his dark depressions. We all know the stories of rages, flying Nokias, smashed laser printers, tables kicked over and crying Downing Street secretaries subjected to foul-mouthed tirades. We have seen the deranged YouTube performances, the bizarre facial contortions, the incongruent emotional responses – smiling when offering condolences, frowning when giving best wishes.
The new evidence offered is that a civil service circulated dietary restrictions list is said to be of the kind required for someone on MAOI medication. The side effects include insomnia, dry mouth and jaw clenching (bruxism) – all of which Brown is known to suffer. Psychiatrists warn of MAOIs that ‘Extrapyramidal effects include acute dystonic reactions such as protuding tongue, muscular contractions and clenched jaw’. Gordon’s bruxism may have another explanation, it has been remarked on before. In the context of all this speculation and his manifest physical unease, surely somebody in the Lobby has to publicly ask the question at the PM’s next monthly briefing: “Prime Minister, have you been taking medication that may affect your judgement?”