Ben Goldacre on SSRI’s (2013) : “The Side Effects Are Not Horrendous By Any Stretch Of The Imagination”…


I’m really quite shocked when I read about Ben Goldacre’s views on SSRI antidepressants, and ‘mental illness’. I discovered a tweet (above) from 2013, where Ben is discussing a recent BBC Panorama series on antidepressants and birth defects. One commentator tweets into the debate and says “Why is any doctor prescribing SSRI’s? the side effects are horrendous”, he then recommends, “Exercise, Vitaman D and Melotonin”.. instead of SSRI’s, and Ben retorts with: “The side effects are not horrendous, by any stretch of the imagination, patients can be informed, and then choose’…

I seriously can’t believe that Ben doesn’t know that SSRI side effects are horrendous. If we are to take the Seroxat PIL as an example of your typical SSRI side effects, we can see that the side effects are staggering both in their amount and their frequency. Bear in mind, that these are GSK’s conservative estimates, and you can bet that pharmaceutical companies don’t give accurate readings in the PIL (they are obviously going to aim for the least alarming estimate). Even at that, the Seroxat PIL remains horrendous.

However, reading a PIL on Seroxat is one thing. Try actually being on the drug, and then try being on it for a number of years, and then try and imagine what it’s like when you experience most of these side effects over those years. Seroxat is a horrendous drug; all of the SSRI’s are. It’s all very well Ben saying that “patients can be informed, and then choose”, but when I was prescribed Seroxat, I wasn’t warned, my doctor told me nothing about side effects, absolutely nothing. I didn’t have an informed choice (and most doctors still down play side effects and patients are not informed). The PIL was also different back then, GSK were forced to change the wording on the PIL’s because the public outcry from people who had taken Seroxat in the UK was unprecedented. There was widespread condemnation of GSK. In fact, the public response was so big, that Panorama did three more documentaries about Seroxat.

This was also unprecedented in BBC Panorama’s history. And all this scandal was literally because of Seroxat’s utterly horrendous side effect profile.

The types of horrendous side effects I experienced on Seroxat included :muscle spasms, anxiety, panic attacks, suicidal thoughts, mood swings, personality changes, aggression, cravings for alcohol, dis-inhibition, mania, vivid nightmares full of violence, sleepiness then insomnia, out of character behavior, akathisa, headaches nose bleeds, blood in my stool, diarrhea, IBS, depersonalization, de-realization, bloating, nervousness, twitching, sweating, zaps…. the list goes on and on and on…

That’s just a snap shot of some of the side effects I experienced. Some days I had them all at once. Imagine that Ben! Wouldn’t that be fun huh?… Would you like to spend a few years on an SSRI like Seroxat experiencing those side effects on a daily basis? and then try withdrawal, now there’s where the side effects turn into a total horror show.

Many hundreds of thousands of people have reported similar side effects.

But Ben Goldacre says that SSRI “side effects are not horrendous by any stretch of the imagination”

First of all Ben, these side effects have nothing to to with imagination, and secondly, they are horrendous, so horrendous in fact, that I have no idea how I survived those years on Seroxat. Maybe my youth had something to do with it. Others were not so lucky, I am well aware of that.

I would like to ask Ben, has he ever seen a family member experience SSRI’s long term, or has he tried them himself, or maybe he has a friend who has experienced SSRI’s long term? If not, then he has no clue and he should really educate himself on the side effects of SSRI’s…

You can start here Ben..

This is but one forum of many:

and when you’re finished there, just google SSRI side effects, and you’ll see that there are thousands upon thousands of reports of horrendous side effects all over the internet, and if you couldn’t be bothered doing that, just look in the PIL’s – they are horrendous enough..

“Leslie Ash feels ‘really awake’ after quitting anti-depressants”

It wasn’t until recently that she stopped taking medication

I don’t like them, because they don’t let you finish your conversation or finish your sentence even.

You have big bits of your life missing and so I really wanted to get off them and I’ve taken quite a long time to get off them because it’s not something you can just suddenly come off and I feel really awake now, it’s brilliant.”

“…But Stein said those drugs played a dangerous role in his personal battle with depression. He said the closest he came to actually taking his own life were the times he was taking anti-depressants….”

“…And then within the last several years, a drug called Wellbutrin, which is a well-known anti-depressant was prescribed to me and it actually worked quite well for about two weeks. And then I felt an overwhelming compulsion to commit suicide and I stopped taking it and it went away,” Stein said…”

“Unless there’s some gigantic breakthrough I’m unaware of, I would never think of touching anti-depressants again.



  1. lisa

    I would like Ben to have watched my son when he was on venlafaxine and then went through withdrawal and tell me side effects are not horrendous. Yes they bloody are Ben !!!
    Watch one of your loved ones turn into a psychotic manic shell of a person facing prison because of what the medication turned them into and then see if you still have this ridiculous opinion.
    Maybe Ben prefers to listen to his best mate Witty rather than families who have been torn apart by these drugs. He’s certainly showing were his loyalties lie and it’s not with the people he’s saying Alltrials will protect its with the people who profit from these drugs.

    • truthman30

      Ben has either never seen these side effects, and is therefore completely ignorant or he is just blindly subscribing to pharmaceutical propaganda.. I can’t tell which..
      He surely can’t seriously be that unaware?…

    • Karen Ferguson

      Truthman…reading your post at 5:11 in the morning & I’m caught off-guard. For the 1st time, I decided “just read it fast and don’t care how much you pick up, because you can read it again.” Whew. So that is what I did and….I got it. A tiny glimpse of the hell as a result of the SSRI side effects & withdrawal hell. I am finally hearing the TRUTH with capitals, verification of my own journey.

      But more than that, I appreciate [so much] your list of symptoms/side effects from the drug. I understood them: sometimes the PDR talks in circles. [I used to use it when nothing else was available.] I realize the conflict of interest: it’s put out by Big Pharma. You alluded to the total terror of withdrawal symptoms too, but I haven’t read that yet. Is there a link? I need to read it.

      Any one in the industry, like Ben, probably had to take an “oath of silence” hence, just like “nicotine”….What was it? 8-10 CEOs stood and swore in a court-of-law, “No, I don’t believe nicotine is addictive.” The atrocity: our own corporations putting their profits before the safety & well-being of their patients. And, now, because it’s gone on so long, we just tend to shrug and not realize the depth and damage being done. There needs to be more consciousness around this: marching, pickets at hospitals, awareness created…the lone docs out there swimming upstream need help, eh? Changing the system is like turning the Titanic ..difficult but possible! Let’s start with the VA.

      It helps that you give your real-life example for better understanding and “sticking” in the brain. I appreciate it.

      There’s no textbook for this information and it’s sorely lacking in any kind of medical training. I find that lack of depth-of-training appalling, unethical, and dysfunctional…alas, our health professionals come out of that culture. It’s not good for them either: the suicide rate for med students is over-the-top high. It makes me wonder: how far is Big Pharma’s influence felt at the med school level? I know they’ve been in bed w/ the FDA and AMA for a long, long time. The FDA is made up of ‘window dressings’ waiting for their turn at a job at Big Pharma for Big$$ for all those past favors. The only ones I like there are the ‘whistle blowers.’ As far as the AMA, it’s just a union protecting its workers as far as I can tell. I have to note here, I try hard to realize that when one comes out of a grueling 4-7 years of med school journey, its hard to recover from such dysfunction.

      It takes time to wake up. But WAKE UP! we must & help each other. I’m currently reading “The Power of Kindness” 2006, by Piero Ferrucci. Are we so ‘out of touch’ that we have to have a book to remind us of the ‘power of kindness?’ Pathologizing is a narrow road: kindness has much broader sweeps.
      Thank you for sharing your experiences.

      • truthman30

        Thank you Karen, it is heartening to read that people are interested in the stuff I discuss on my blog. It’s just a shame that people like Ben (who have a huge influence) choose not to protect patients and instead play straight into the hands of the corrupt industry. Ben doesn’t even debate with people like me. He has left the odd comment here and there, but it was him more or less putting me in my place as opposed to opening a dialogue. However, we must not forget, people like Ben are experts… yeah right.

      • Karen Ferguson

        Today, the thought dropped into my mind, “I wouldn’t wanna be that guy, Ben, because if I ‘woke’ up, I’d be horrified at what I had done, what I had perpetuated, what I had not set right.” It’s hard for me to fathom that depth. Please tell us what your experience is about this when you have some time. I honestly don’t want to be naive.

  2. kiwi

    Ben boy incorrectly said, “patients can be informed, and then choose”
    What an arrogance and a shameful dangerous total ignorance of what is occurring on a daily basis.
    I was told NOTHING didnt even know i was being given an ad, i asked all the right questons, is it addictive any side effects and i was assured it was safe, not addictive and no side effects. Basically i was completely hoodwinked by someone calling black white. Lied to in other words. i guess it is a minor thing to you the doctor forgot to tell me potent dependence is quickly established, or there are over 350 side effects…life ruining at that, over 58 documented withdrawal symptoms one of which is akathisia which could have easily taken my life on any day in a 2 year period and took me 3 yrs before i felt managebly safe, then there is the fact i am sexually destroyed…i could go on. (All done by someone who has promised publically to do no harm). These are beyond horrendous Ben has been a complete insult to my humanity. The doctor also forgot to inform me that GSK is a front for a criminal mafia type organisation peddling poisons under fraud, lies and deceit.
    It is unacceptable for patients to be left to write the taper book needing YEARS to taper off this chemical because GSK wants to hide the truth and guarantee life long repeat business by asserting slow tapers are 2-3 weeks and horrific wdl induced trauma is a relapse and not horrendous drug withdrawal.
    It is totally unacceptable for a patient to do just 10 mins homework to discover the truth, homework that pharma indoctrinated doctors refuse to do. It is totally unacceptable for patients to now provide doctors with professional development and advice, informing THEM of the truth (for free) only for them to dismiss it.
    It is totally unacceptable for a doctor to refuse to try some of his own medicine.

    Finally it is totally unacceptable for a now life ruined unemployed and unemployable patient to spend years making complaints about a doctor and his mental thalidomide ‘pill- popping’ ways to every possible agency including to his face and then he suddenly makes an unbelievable 180 degree turnaround and takes all the glory…completely overlooking the ruined lives he has caused….
    I guess he just couldn’t take the cognitive dissonance any more.

    Canterbury vs Spence 1972 Federal Court in America.
    “The patients right of self decision shapes the boundaries of the duty to reveal. “That right can be effectively exercised only if the patient possesses enough information to enable an intelligent choice.” “What would a reasonable patient want to know with respect to the proposed therapy and the dangers that may be inherently or potentially involved.” A risk is considered material when a reasonable person, in what the physician knows or should know to be the patients position would be likely to attach a significance to the risk or cluster of risks in deciding whether or not to forgo the proposed therapy.

    …i think its not unreasonable to expect to be informed of the 357plus side effects, potent addictiveness requiring years to safely taper off, 58 plus horrendous withdrawal symptoms including trauma inducing akathisia and the possibility of horrifying permanent sexual damage, don’t you?

    “Few of the millions of Americans who now take a psychiatric drug on a daily basis made an ‘informed choice’…our use of these medications has occurred without genuine informed consent.” R Whitaker (2015).
    I have no doubt this is true the world over and not limited to Americans alone.

    Ben people like you are a dangerous menace to society… just because you have a big P-Nutt, a selfie and a Certificate (in BS pontification?) doesn’t mean you have to start proclaiming LIES. Stop the lies please!!

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