” I used to do Seroxat… and it made me really loopy… really scatty…”
Amy Winehouse- ‘Amy‘ Film 2015 (22.oo mins)
“….Winehouse had been taking Seroxat, an anti-depressant, since age 14. After a messy breakup with a bad-influence boyfriend named Blake Fielder – coupled with the constant media frenzy – Winehouse stopped eating and started drinking heavily. One scene at the recording studio shows her nursing a whiskey in between takes. She is bulimic, disappearing mid-rehearsal, leaving the studio’s toilet bowl splattered with that day’s lunch, and returning with eye makeup smeared across her face. Over the course of the documentary, her full, round voluptuous body becomes withered and sickly. In the beginning, we see her dangling a bag of weed in front of the camera before performing a big concert. To get high and relax a little, presumably. But later in the movie, she and Fielder are doing cocaine, crack-cocaine and heroin regularly. She was 23…”
“…Often I don’t know what I do, then the next day the memory returns. And then I am engulfed in shame.’ The troubled star also discussed her battle with depression, which she had suffered since the age of 16. ‘I saw a picture of myself when I came out of the hospital. I didn’t recognise myself,’ admitted Winehouse. ‘Since I was 16, I’ve felt a black cloud hangs over me. Since then, I have taken pills for depression.”..
“…An influential study which claimed that an antidepressant drug was safe for children and adolescents failed to report the true numbers of young people who thought of killing themselves while on it, re-analysis of the trial has found
Study 329, into the effects of GlaxoSmithKline’s drug paroxetine on under-18s, was published in 2001 and later found to be flawed. In 2003, the UK drug regulator instructed doctors not to prescribe paroxetine – sold as Seroxat in the UK and Paxil in the US – to adolescents. ..”
I have just finished watching the recently released, brilliant documentary on Amy Winehouse ( simply called ‘Amy’). I really liked her music (particularly Back to Black), she was a true original, and she was a really interesting woman too. She was extremely smart, savvy, charismatic and a great lyricist. Musically she was always superb, but I liked the documentary as it revealed Amy’s personality and we get to see real footage of Amy behind the stage image and the media-constructed persona. The film is also interspersed with stories from her close friends over the years, and this adds to the authenticity of it. It’s very sad that she succumbed to addictions, and her demise was profoundly tragic: the kind that is symptomatic of hugely influential people who die in harrowing circumstances at the height of their talent and fame. The paparazzi also played their dark part in her life (as they did with Princess Diana) in hounding Amy to her grave.
I also found it interesting to learn that Amy was put on Seroxat when she was a teenager, and apparently she was prescribed it for depression. Having been prescribed Seroxat myself at a young age (21) I can’t help but wonder did Seroxat have any affect on Amy’s development? And also, could it be possible, that for some, Seroxat (and other SSRI’s) can become a kind of ‘gateway’ drug?
Seroxat is extremely powerful and potent, highly addictive, and in many ways resembles a narcotic (with ‘hypnotic’ type qualities). It changes your personality, and your behavior, and personally, I believe, that after experiencing such a dangerous psychotropic, this can alter a person’s psyche in many ways too. Seroxat does not cure depression, and in many cases it can exacerbate depression and anxiety, and Seroxat often prolongs the time it takes to recover from depression because it offers only a chemical distraction. Children who are prescribed drugs like Seroxat are given a signal by adults that its appropriate to deal with your emotional issues with potent drugs. This could arguably harm a child’s development, not to mention set them up for much more trouble down the line. It could also perhaps lead them to take other drugs, such as cannabis, heroin, cocaine etc because they would have been introduced to addiction, or dependence, through taking a drug which induces these effects early in their lives.
Addiction counselors often talk of cannabis being a ‘gateway drug’ in youth- it’s arguable then perhaps that extremely strong, addictive, mind-bending- drugs like Seroxat could also serve that function. I also believe that alcohol and nicotine could also play their part in wiring kids brains for other addictions later on, but a drug like Seroxat is perhaps an even bigger gateway drug for a young person, because it’s sanctioned, and legally prescribed, by an adult (doctor/professional/psychiatrist etc), in the guise of help and healing, therefore this would re-enforce the drug as a ‘gateway’ both psychologically as well as psychically.
“..In a 2007 interview followed her first highly publicized overdoses, she speaks candidly about her depression. “Since I was 16, I’ve felt a black cloud hangs over me,” she said. “Since then, I have taken pills for depression. I believe there are lots of people who have these mood changes.”
A reanalysis of a Seroxat (in children) study published in the BMJ in 2015 (study 329) confirmed what Seroxat users, and ex-users, have been saying for decades- this drug is highly dangerous and largely ineffective. Furthermore not only is a drug like Seroxat useless for depression, a possible gate-way drug, and also- most likely- delays recovery, but it also can cause suicide, self harm, violence etc. It’s simply lethal.
Amy Winehouse was (like many other kids)- a Seroxat guinea pig.
The adults, and young adults, who took it were too.
I was a Seroxat guinea pig too (thanks GSK!)
I don’t know how long Amy was prescribed Seroxat, but she says herself in this documentary that she was prescribed it and it made her ‘loopy'(crazy) so who knows what affect Seroxat had on her early development, or on her attitude to drugs later on? It’s unclear if Amy took other SSRI’s or psychiatric drugs after Seroxat, or if she suffered withdrawals etc. It’s also unclear what age she was first prescribed anti-depressants, in some articles it says she was just 13 years old, in others 14, 15, or 16..
What is clear though is: Amy Winehouse deserved better ‘mental health’ treatment, I deserved better too, we all did..
Seroxat shouldn’t have been prescribed to anyone…
The irony of Amy’s death was that, despite almost killing herself with cocaine and heroin, and going through various detoxes, and rehab for those Class A drugs, it was alcohol (a legal drug) and Librium (a prescription drug-benzo) that killed her in the end..
SSRI’s often don’t show up on toxicology reports, and it can take repeated tests to find traces of anti-depressants. Amy could have been taking anti-depressants well into her 20’s and up until her death, she could have been experiencing cravings for alcohol to take the edge off the side effects.. she could have been going through various psych-drug withdrawal symptoms and side effects over the years.. the only way to know would be to see her medical records…
Drugs like Seroxat are notorious for causing alcohol cravings..
“…Mitch Winehouse has said that he believes his daughter died after a seizure, related to the drug Librium.
Amy Winehouse was prescribed the tranquilizer to ‘calm’ her withdrawal symptoms from alcohol, but it has been linked with the deaths of a number of people, including Michael Jackson, Heath Ledger, Marilyn Monroe and Judy Garland.”
Perhaps if she wasn’t prescribed Seroxat, and instead was given compassion, empathy, and a listening ear when she needed it as a teenager, things could have turned out a lot different? Who knows?..
Amy became disruptive in class and began to play truant, as had Kurt Cobain.
Amy came to dislike singing the songs that had made her famous
She pierced her upper lip and her mother was horrified when, aged 15, she had her first tattoo done.
Amy later said, ‘My parents pretty much realised (at that stage) that I would do whatever I wanted.’
But even before she had left school and entered the music business she had begun taking antidepressants, with Janis suggesting that she might be bipolar.
Later she would begin self-harming, cutting herself to get attention.
Success arrived quickly after that troubled childhood and, as with the six other principal members of the 27 Club, it proved overwhelming.
Her surgeon cousin Jonathan Winehouse became concerned early on after seeing her perform and meeting her backstage: ‘She was very distant… and really sort of out of it.’
He told her manager that she needed psychological support, but the manager simply said that Amy would go her own way.
After her first album, Frank, was released in 2003, when she was still only 20, Amy began to drink to excess. A nervous performer, she drank to calm down before a show, but then, like Janis Joplin, another troubled and insecure female singing star who lined up glasses of tequila during concerts, she began drinking during the show.
And when she wasn’t performing, Amy went to the pub, the Good Mixer in Camden becoming her second home.
She’d arrive shortly after it opened and usually drank doubles of Jack Daniel’s, sambuca, vodka or tequila. After a while, she was drinking everything mixed together in a pint glass.