“….I threw away the pills… I couldn’t go back to a place where I didn’t know what was real and what wasn’t…”
Ruth Davidson MP.
There has been much discussion online about UK MP – Ruth Davidson’s – revelations that she had adverse reactions to an anti-depressant which she was prescribed in her young college years. The anti-depressant that caused her so many problems hasn’t been named, but it looks like it could have been Seroxat. In an excerpt Ruth describes the common side effects of Seroxat induced nightmares, paranoia, increased suicidal thoughts, and self harm (all now known and well established Seroxat side effects which are more common than GSK, psychiatrists, or the UK regulators will ever admit).
In the excerpt, of Ruth’s story, below (from Sunday Times Magazine 16th Sept 2018), she mentions that the anti-depressant she was prescribed was embroiled in legal controversy including class action lawsuits in relation to suppression of info about adolescent suicide.
The only drug that has had this major controversy discussed in the media is Seroxat/Paxil, so I take it that Ruth was likely prescribed Seroxat and that this is the drug that caused her so much misery.
The Scottish Conservative leader, Ruth Davidson, has been praised by mental health experts, campaigners and MPs for talking openly about self-harming and having suicidal thoughts as a teenager.
Davidson, who is pregnant with her first child, talked about going into “a total tailspin” after a boy she knew killed himself. At 17, she said that she started hurting herself, punching walls, cutting her stomach and arms with blades or broken glass. When she was 18, she was diagnosed with clinical depression.
The comments were made in her new book, extracts of which were published in the Sunday Times. During an interview with the paper, Davidson pulled up her sleeve to reveal her scars.
She explicitly ruled out ever being leader of the Conservatives, despite frequently being tipped for the position. Asked if she would ever run, Davidson said: “No. I value my relationship and my mental health too much for it. I will not be a candidate.”
The Scottish politician’s openness and frankness has been met with praise by psychiatrists, politicians and mental health campaigners.
Norman Lamb, the Liberal Democrat MP for North Norfolk, said she was an “admirable human being”, adding that her words would help to confront the stigma around mental health problems.
He said: “It’s also a message of optimism because she has overcome challenges … That message of optimism and hope is an important one.”
Alastair Campbell, the former spin doctor who is now an ambassador for Time To Change, Mind and Rethink, said that Davidson’s decision to speak about her mental health could only be a positive thing.
“The more people in public life who show that it is possible to have, or to have had mental health problems, and to take on big challenges, the better,” he said.
“I certainly don’t think that the issues Ruth Davidson has talked about would in any way bar her from seeking high office. But ultimately people have to be the best judges themselves of what levels of pressure and scrutiny they could bear and there is no doubt being prime minister means a lot of both.”
The Royal College of Psychiatrists were equally positive, with Dr Bernadka Dubicka, chair of the Royal College of Psychiatrists’ child and adolescent faculty, saying it showed anyone can be affected by mental illness. “But with the right help, people can recover and lead successful lives,” she added.
Others pointed out that mental health problems should not put people off taking on political roles. Natasha Devon, a mental health campaigner, welcomed said Davidson’s words could be be interpreted as meaning that “if you have mental health issues you aren’t fit to lead a party.”
“That’s simply not true; mental illnesses, just like their physical counterparts can be managed and with the right support they don’t render a person less capable,” she said.
Lamb said that the balance Davidson displayed showed exactly the sort of person who should be in the political the system and running the country. “We should reflect profoundly on how the way we do politics puts off someone like that,” he said.
Lamb said in 2015 he had to make his own mind up on whether to stand as leader of the Lib Dems. “[I was] wracked by self-doubt and indecision and completely identify with what Davidson says and the view she reaches and the words she uses to express the fact she is having a child and wants to commit to that child as a parent,” he said.
The Sunday Times printed extracts from Davidson’s new book, titled Yes She Can, in which she wrote: “I started hurting myself: punching walls, cutting my stomach and arms with blades or broken glass, drinking far, far too much and becoming belligerent and angry, pushing people away. I was punishing myself and hating myself for it at the same time.”
At 18 she was diagnosed with clinical depression, but her medication gave her “desperate, dark, terrible dreams” where she “couldn’t tell what was real”. “I started having suicidal thoughts,” she said.
By her second year at university, Davidson “became so afraid of sleep that I spent a whole term living nocturnally”. She described depression as “a smothering black blanket” that took away her hope and energy.
She added she was still scared of returning to that state. “When I have periods of heightened anxiety, or I can feel the weight of the black blanket start to descend, I go back to what I know works for me: structure, exercise, forward momentum, measurable outcomes. Sometimes that’s hard in a job that’s 100 miles per hour,” she wrote.
Obviously Seroxat killing kids, and GSK hiding the side effects of their drugs doesn’t bother him enough nor does it bother him that GSK are corrupt. If it did he wouldn’t work for them, but he does.
Because, like all these psychs. The only thing that matters is making their mark on the holy grail of brain research. Their quest is to understand the brain. They want brains. Your brain, my brian, anyone’s brain will do. Everything else is immaterial, but it’s nice to make a bit of money along the way isn’t it?
And the status, and the prestige… that’s nice too.
Brains, brains, brains..
The people who the brains inhabit are just meat-body hosts.
It’s the brains that they are interested in.
Even if Ed Bullmore’s theories are correct and that inflammation can cause depression, this still doesn’t mean that drugging depressives with anti inflammatories is the answer because the inflammation could have come from stress, or emotional trauma. Things like psoriasis can flare up from stress- the psoriasis is the body’s way of saying to the person, I don’t like this stress. (I have had a bit of psoriasis since my teens on and off and when I am emotionally stressed it really flares up). It’s similar with depression, even if it is linked to inflammation for the majority of people depression is a sign that something is wrong. Treating the depression with inflammatories is not going to get rid of the cause of depression (which could be a range of external/psychological or economic factors in a person’s life). Drugging the inflammation that comes with the depression still approaches depression the same way that bio psychiatry always has- the wrong way!
Only when more humane, non-drug centered approaches are embraced will we see progression in humane mental illness treatment.
We’re still at a pharmaceutical dominated, psychiatric brain fetish obsession, of what depression is.
“…That’s one thing a psychiatrist would do. Bullmore suggested drugs. That’s another. “He asked me how they worked. I told him all about how they changed the serotonin level in the brain, because there was supposedly a serotonin imbalance the drug could correct. He said, ‘How do you know that about me?’ And it was quite a shock, actually.”
This was the world of psychiatry in 1990, and there are several things that might shock you about it. A man tells a doctor he feels extremely low and has lost the ability to feel pleasure. The doctor tells him he’s suffering from depression and anhedonia. He then prescribes an SSRI drug – a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor such as Prozac or Seroxat – in order to raise the level of a substance called serotonin in the patient’s brain. But he has no idea whether or not the patient’s levels of serotonin are too low. He’s just guessing.
Also, he has no idea whether or not the drug will work. It works, or seems to work, for some patients. Sometimes it works for a while, and then stops working, at which point some patients respond well to increased doses. Others don’t. Sometimes there are side-effects. SSRIs can make patients gain weight or lose interest in sex. Sometimes the patient might find the side-effects another set of reasons to be depressed.
“I realised,” says Bullmore, “that there was quite a lot we didn’t know about why and how we were using these treatments.”…
And now he says another shocking thing. “There still isn’t a good answer to that question. The crucial thing is: anybody prescribing SSRIs to anybody for depression or anxiety – nobody knows that that particular patient has a problem with serotonin in the first place. There is no biomarker.”
In medicine, drugs are usually prescribed to respond to biomarkers. For instance, a doctor might diagnose an inflammatory disease by analysing a blood sample, and then decide to prescribe a steroid to treat the inflammation. It was shocking that, in the world of mental illness in 1990, doctors were prescribing drugs that might or might not work, without responding to a biomarker. It’s even more shocking that they’re still doing it now. Nothing much has changed for almost 30 years.
“….Bullmore studied these images here at Addenbrooke’s, at a unit funded by the pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline. He was trying to see what happened in the brains of depressed people because he wanted to find something that would be a more effective treatment for depression than an SSRI. So, of course, did GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), which poured tens of millions into the project…..
“…Around 2010, all the major pharmaceutical companies realised the same thing, more or less at once: that they wouldn’t be able to create a significantly better antidepressant drug by watching people’s brains at work while they were thinking. Not in our lifetime, anyway.
“A number of us were invited to join a conference call,” says Bullmore. “And we were told this decision had been made, and was going to be effective immediately. It was a big shock. So then I thought, OK, GSK has made a decision. I understand that. It’s a simple case of people looking at the productivity of an area and seeing it doesn’t match the level of investment….”
“We could be on the cusp of a revolution,” writes Bullmore. “I might be wrong. But I think it has already begun.”
Dr Ed Bullmore FRCPsych is the most senior NHS psychiatrist in Cambridge (England), and says a ‘Cartesian divide’ or ‘orthodoxy’ is standing in the way of ‘the new science of immuno-psychiatry’. He invites us to believe that a third of all depressed people, over 100 million worldwide, could be identified with a simple blood test for ‘inflammatory markers’, and ‘be eligible for treatment with a new anti-inflammatory drug’.
If I sound sceptical, even cynical, it is with good reason. I have spent many hours listening to drug reps (pharmaceutical company representatives) and, to me, Dr Bullmore’s book could have been written by one. He appears to have worked, half-time, for one of the world’s largest Pharma companies, GlaxoSmithKline, since 2005, and it is no surprise that his rhetoric against ‘professionally conservative’ medicine seeks to create a need for a ‘new’ drug.
What is wrong with the ‘old’ drugs? He writes:
‘An obvious idea would be to try taking one of the many anti-inflammatory drugs that are already in widespread use, like aspirin…there is no solid evidence that aspirin or any other anti-inflammatory drug already in medical use has anti-depressant effects. The clinical trials…have simply not been done.’
‘Aspirin, for example, commonly causes stomach irritation, ulceration and bleeding…a careful doctor in 2018 is likely’ not to use ‘existing anti-inflammatory drugs’ for depression.
This is misleading in at least four ways. Firstly, ‘aspirin’ is named three times (and once more, elsewhere), rhetorically foregrounding it as typical, but it is not. For most ‘careful doctors’, an NSAID with less marked side effects would be the first choice for ‘inflammation’. I myself took ibuprofen 3-4 times a day for several months, with no significant side effects, when I had a frozen shoulder. A new NSAID with no gastrointesinal side effects would make a lot of money, so perhaps Dr Bullmore is letting us know that his employer does not have one in the pipeline.
Secondly, ‘the clinical trials…have simply not been done’ suggests ‘conservative’, perhaps ‘Cartesian’, medics selfishly want to block ‘transgressive’ and dynamic ‘immuno-psychiatrists’ from helping the 100+ million. The real reason is that ibuprofen and other NSAIDs are out of patent, so non-Pharma funding for the trials would be needed.
Thirdly, it is true that ‘a careful doctor in 2018 is likely’ not to use ‘existing anti-inflammatory drugs’ for depression, but that is because of the lack of clinical trials and, in the UK, NICE guidance, not the side-effects of generic NSAIDS.
Fourthly, the need for new anti-inflammatories for depression seems less urgent if there is only ‘some evidence that inflamed patients respond less well to anti-depressant treatment with conventional drugs, like SSRIs’. Earlier, there is a more upbeat ‘increasingly clear’ statement on this, but the only citation provided is from 2006, so perhaps the increase of clarity has levelled out in the dozen years since. There is also no mention of evidence that people with ‘inflamed’ depression either respond less to psychotherapy or have less tendency to spontaneously improve.
For all I know, the research base outlined for cytokines and other components of the immune response having a mediating, or even sometimes a more directly causal, role in depression may be quite sound. However, Dr Bullmore’s wide-ranging 2009 defence of neurosciency hype in psychiatry means that his account cannot be taken on trust. In this book he repeatedly claims that his ‘post-Cartesian’ approach reduces the ‘stigma’ of depression and other mental health problems: but in 2009 he himself attempted to smear critics using a stigmatising mental health label, as ‘neurophobic‘.
Dr Bullmore writes that in 2010 GSK suddenly announced it was ‘strategically exiting the whole area of mental health’, and here the account becomes rather opaque. He implies that the supply of new antidepressants dried up across the whole industry: ‘Acting rationally, companies have stepped back, not wanting to put good money after bad’. Unsurprisingly, he makes no reference to the UK’s MHRA criminal investigation into the notorious Study 329, or to CEO Andrew Witty’s knighthood in early 2012 for ‘Services to the Economy’, rather than to Health.
For me, though, the key flaw of this book is the near-absences of the placebo effect in the treatment of mild and moderate depression, whether ‘inflamed’ or not, and the tendency for most episodes to get better anyway, with adequate support. Despite a rare moment of good sense in which Dr Bullmore writes ‘Stress is one of the most well-known, and one of the least understood, causes of depression….a massive effect, especially for…major life events’, I fear that his aim is to prepare the way for new patented drugs to get through the lax regulatory frameworks which exist in both Europe and the United States.
(Added 8th May:
Thanks, Neil, I did enjoy your incisive review. I’ve not read the book, and he may be a huckster, but there is still something interesting in the stress – HPA pathways, I think. – eg work of McEwen, Sheldon Cohen, and Galea’s group on stress and epigenetics….
“…”I suffer from depression and some days I wake up and I’m like, ‘F***, I wish I didn’t wake up’. That was part of why I moved to California, trying to get away from the place that was doing that to me, and the people I was around.
“I realised it was just myself – it’s a chemical imbalance in my brain,” he added at the time.”
Lil Peep was an American rapper who overdosed on Wednesday night, November 15, at age 21. Prescription drugs such as Xanax were mentioned a lot in his lyrics and his songs contain numerous references to drugs, prescription drugs in particular. It’s sad to see a life cut short at 21, but Lil Peep is representative of the generation who psychiatry has overdosed and over-diagnosed. His death is one of many.
In one article- from Pitch-Fork- Lil Peep mentions that his ‘mental illness’ is all down to a ‘chemical imbalance’. It’s hard to believe that the drug company created- chemical imbalance theory- is still doing the rounds. A tech savvy millennial like Lil Peep would have only needed to do a quick google search to see that the chemical imbalance theory has long been debunked, and even psychiatrists are backing away from it now. Nevertheless, it seems that the the allure of this myth to those looking for a chemical cure to their despair is as potent as ever. This, of course, means tons of business for the drug companies and their psychiatric puppets… and much harm to patients.
It will be interesting to see what psychiatric drugs were prescribed to this talented young man, and in what way did they contribute to deleting his young life and potential.
“Based on information [police] were told and evidence that was found in the tour bus, they had evidence of a possible drug overdose, most likely from Xanax,” Sgt. Dugan says, adding that an official cause of death will be released by the medical examiner after toxicology reports. “Based on evidence, there was drug paraphernalia found inside the bus and some narcotics.”
Public records reveal Las Vegas shooter Stephen Paddock was prescribed the anti-anxiety drug Valium. He may have also been taking an antidepressant.
Valium, which is the trade name for Diazepam, is an anti-anxiety medication that is one of a number of drugs classified as a benzodiazepine, nicknamed “Benzo.” Others include Xanax, Klonopin and Ativan.
Breggin believes in Paddock’s case, his drug use could be the key to what led to his killing rampage. Breggin said Valium “can cause impulsivity, disinhibition, or loss of self-control resulting in violence.”
Breggin said he recieved an unconfirmed reports that Paddock “was prescribed antidepressants, which are commonly given along with Benzos.” If true, that likely exacerbated the situation, according to Breggin. However that link might never be known because while physicians must report benzodiazepine presecriptions to the Prescription Monitoring Program, they are not required to do so when prescribing antidepressants, Breggin said.
Earlier, Breggin told CBN News he believes psychiatric drugs play a larger role in mass killings than most in the medical community are willing to admit.
Like Breggin, pharmacist Suzy Cohen thinks the link between Paddock’s Valium prescription and the mass killing is more significant than many within the medical community are willing to admit.
“He was either on a benzo or had just gotten off one,” Cohen told CBN, referring to the danger of not only taking these drugs, but also of stopping their use too fast.
She said although we might never know why Paddock became a mass killer with little to no warning signs, she said taking a benzodiazepine is “the fastest way to go from a normal, good citizen to insane at the drop of a hat.”
She continued, “I’m certainly not blaming Valium for a gunman gone mad; millions of people take these types of drugs without becoming psychotic. But I will share this with you: in a 2015 World Psychiatry study, 960 Finnish adults and teens convicted of homicide proved that the odds of them killing someone were 45% higher during time frame they took benzodiazepines. And one year prior, researchers in the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry concluded: ‘It appears that benzodiazepine use is moderately associated with subsequent aggressive behavior.'”
Cohen said although Paddock’s drug use raises red flags, more must be known about it to understand the connection to the Las Vegas killings. “Did he stay on it? Did he take more than prescribed? Did he combine it with other psychoactive medications? Did he suddenly stop it after taking such a high dose?” she questioned, “Unfortunately, these are questions for which we might never find answers.”
Following on from the BBC’s recent Panorama documentary on SSRI’s causing violence in some people, a series of articles defending the use of SSRI’s appeared in the media. One of the commentators (who also appears frequently on twitter defending the use of SSRI’s) is Dr Carmine Pariante.
Pariante is a psychiatrist, from Kings College London, and judging by his tweets he seems to believe firmly in the bio-medical/brain disorder approach to depression and ‘mental illness’. He also seems to have no problem accepting funding linked to various pharmaceutical companies.
“...Dr Carmine Pariante has received Funds for a member of staff and funds for research. Professor Pariante’s research on depression and inflammation is supported by: the grants ‘Persistent Fatigue Induced by Interferon alpha: A New Immunological Model for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome’ (MR/J002739/1) and ‘Immuno – psychiatry: a consortium to test the opportunity for im munotherapeutics in psychiatry’ (MR/L014815/1; together with GSK), from the Medical Research Council (UK); the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Mental Health Biomedical Research Centre in Mental Health at South London and Maudsley NHS Foundati on Trust and King’s College London; by Johnson & Johnson as part of a programme of research on depression and inflammation; and by a Wellcome Trust -led consortium that also include Johnson & Johnson, GSK and Lundbeck….”
Psychiatrists linked to drug companies (or just taking money from drug companies) are nothing new; it’s the norm. This kind of intrinsic conflict of interest is widely accepted in psychiatry. Psychiatry is awash with pharmaceutical money and influence, and has been for a very long time. Conflicts of interest are important, but in relation to this post, they don’t interest me that much.
What interests me most about Pariante is his appearance in an article in the Standard. The article is relatively balanced, and includes Pariante’s views on SSRI’s and some counter view points from Dr David Healy and Robert Whitaker. It also includes a comment from a woman called Martha, who used Seroxat-
…‘As a teenager, Seroxat gave me auditory hallucinations, night sweats and made me suicidal,’ she says. ‘Coming off it was like coming off heroin…” (Evening Standard Article 2017)
I find it interesting that it is stories like Martha’s (above) that get completely ignored by mainstream psychiatrists like Carmine Pariante. Pariante would likely dismiss Martha’s experience as ‘anecdotal’. He would probably attempt to link her Seroxat side effects to her ‘mental illness’ as opposed to highlighting any real serious problems with SSRI’s themselves. Pariante has faced a backlash of commentary, about his pro-SSRI views on Twitter, yet in most instances he fails to even respond to views that don’t concur with his own. He seems unwavering to any opinion that does not tally with the consensus of the royal college of psychiatry, and incidentally- the drug companies.
Why is Pariante so unwilling to engage with people who have had serious adverse effects of SSRI’s? Why is he so fixed in his views, why is he also unwilling (and seemingly unable) to listen to our experiences of the drugs that he promotes? Why does he ignore different opinions?
Could this have anything to do with his declared interests with the drug companies who manufacture (and profit off) psychiatric drugs, or is it merely because his psychiatric reductionist world-view has become utterly blinkered from his total immersion in the ‘biological brain disease paradigm’ of depression and mental illness that maybe he can no longer see the wood for the trees?
Maybe he needs to listen to his patients more?
Pariante states, in the Standard article, that antidepressants stimulate the birth of new brain cells and that they ‘regulate’ stress hormones, he also says that the chemical imbalance theory is too simplistic….
“…Experts argue that the ‘chemical imbalance’ theory is simplistic. Professor Carmine Pariante of King’s College, London, tells me: ‘The action of antidepressants is more complex than that and involves stimulating the birth of new brain cells and regulating stress hormones.’ However, it’s a shorthand that makes sense to many.”..
Psychiatry and drug companies sold people millions of SSRI’s in the 90’s and 2000’s on the basis that SSRI’s (like Seroxat) fixed a ‘chemical imbalance’ in people’s brains, and it was this imbalance (so they claimed) that was causing the person’s depression. Now, it seems psychiatry is trying to distance itself from the theory- is this perhaps because the theory itself was little more than a pharmaceutical marketing ploy? a fraud? a fairy-tale sold to vulnerable people in order to get them to take mind-bending pills?
Who is going to tell all those millions of people who took SSRI’s, that psychiatry has now abandoned the chemical imbalance theory? Who will tell them that they were duped? Will Pariante do it?
Whilst dispelling one myth (the chemical imbalance theory) on the one hand, Pariante seems to have no problem planting outrageous new ones (such as SSRI’s regulating stress hormones and making new brain cells) into the discourse about SSRI’s, in the media. You’d have to wonder, with folks like Pariante (considered ‘experts’) as part of the ‘authority’ on mental health, are patients being harmed or helped by these kinds of glib pseudo-scientific statements?
Personally, I would like to see the evidence that SSRI’s regulate stress hormones, I’d also like to see hard evidence that SSRI’s creating brain cells is a good thing (where in the brain do these ‘new cells’ appear – for example).
It wasn’t long ago that psychiatry was telling us that homosexuality was a mental illness.
Psychiatry changes its theories like the weather, it depends on which way the ‘consensus’ is blowing. It also depends on who is feeding the ‘consensus builders’.
The consensus is now being altered by the internet, and patients voices (on twitter etc).
No amount of ignorance from people like Carmine Pariante can quell the tide of change that is now happening online.
Cara Delevingne ‘doesn’t agree’ with anti-depressants
4th Aug 16 | Entertainment News
Cara Delevingne stopped taking anti-depressants because she didn’t want to become dependent on medication.
The model-turned-actress has been candid about her battle with depression, and how it left her feeling so low that she even contemplated suicide around the age of 16.
She was placed on a strong cocktail of medication but decided to come off the tablets when she was 18 because she never wanted to become reliant on them.
“I hate meds,” she told Britain’s Esquire magazine. “I don’t agree with them. It’s so easy to abuse them.”
She added that she immediately felt the difference once she came off her medication because her feelings returned and she had sex for the first time.
“That week (I stopped taking them), I lost my virginity, I got into fights, I cried, I laughed,” she admitted. “It was the best thing in the world to feel things again. And I get depressed still but I would rather learn to figure it out myself rather be dependent on meds, ever.”
During the interview, she spoke about having a mental breakdown as a teenager. Dealing with her hormones and the pressure of achieving good school grades sent her into a downwards spiral so severe that she even considered taking her own life.
“I couldn’t deal with it anymore. I realised how lucky and privileged I was, but all I wanted to do was die,” she explained. “I felt so guilty because of that and hated myself because of that, and then it’s a cycle. I didn’t want to exist anymore. I wanted for each molecule of my body to disintegrate. I wanted to die.”
During that time, Cara, 23, dropped out of boarding school and pursued a career in modelling, following in the footsteps of her older sister Poppy.
“….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…
“…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.
In this is an article from 2013 Irish singer, Sinead O’Connor talks about how psychiatric drugs (prescribed for bi-polar) and psychiatric misdiagnoses wrecked ten years of her life. She recently had a kind of mental breakdown on her facebook page, after threatening suicide twice, and it seems now her facebook account has been disabled.
I wonder was Sinead prescribed more psychiatric drugs (anti-depressants perhaps) in recent times, and maybe she is having more side effects? or withdrawals and that’s why her behavior is again spiraling?
Personally, I think Sinead is a very sensitive soul, and a great musician. It seems she has been treated very shoddily by the psychiatric system too and I hope she can get proper holistic help.
The singer said she was brought to the edge by her medication and is trying to wean herself off them
Sinead O’Connor has revealed doctors have discovered she doesn’t have bipolar disorder and said: “I can now get my life back.”
The Nothing Compares 2 U singer was falsely diagnosed with the illness eight years ago.
And Sinead was left suicidal, suffering mental health breakdowns, and wanting to self harm because of the drugs she was prescribed.
She said: “They are extremely debilitating drugs. Tiring to the extreme. Ironically, extremely depressing. They can cause suicidal or self-harm type thinking. They can mess up your menstrual cycle very badly and cause you to be incapacitated for a week before.
“[They] f**k up your liver, your kidneys, your eyes, your appetite, your entire way of thinking and generally your entire life. “
Sinead, 46, said she was diagnosed after she gave birth eight years ago.
She said: “When my third child was 5 months old I became distressed over something extremely traumatic that happened. At the time I had not been working for some years and was taking care of the three children by myself. and doing a very good job of it too, even if I do say so myself.
“I could possibly have been somewhat post-natal but I was certainly distressed because of the aforementioned traumatic event.”
But the Bray star recently underwent three new diagnoses at hospitals around the country, and all found she definitely didn’t have biopolar disorder.
Sinead – who recently started a feud with Miley Cyrus – has to continue taking the drugs she was prescribed until she can slowly wean herself from them.
She said: “ It is dangerous to stop suddenly or over the course of a year at least.
“This is because of how these drugs affect receptors in your brain. They are the same drugs, some of them, that are used to treat epilepsy.”
And Sinead has revealed that when she cancelled her tour last year it wasn’t because of biopolar disorder as many believed but because she had tried to stop taking her medication cold turkey.
She said: “When I became ill and left the last tour it was because I stopped the drugs too quickly and without medical supervision.
“The illness was in fact what happens when you don’t go about coming off these meds properly.
“I’m delighted to be able to say that after ten years of poisoning myself with these drugs and having to live with the extremely difficult side-effects of them I can shortly begin the very, very slow indeed, process of getting them out of my system and my life and getting my life back.”
Here’s a recent clip of Sinead O’Connor speaking on her treatment by an Irish Psychiatrist. Sinead says that she was misdiagnosed with Bipolar Disorder and subsequently prescribed ‘toxic’ doses of Lamictal (400mgs) and Amitriptyline (200mgs). She describes her psychiatrist as a horrible ‘b’ who did not inform her of the side-effects while on the drugs, or while coming off them.
Dishing out the pills is always the first-line treatment for people that psychiatry see as ‘abnormal’. Sinead O’Connor is perfectly normal by the way, and fabulously outspoken; she didn’t need fixing! Strange that dangerous drugs can be given to a person for years for an ‘illness’ which didn’t exist. Never mind all that comes with that, not least the weight gain, depersonalization, worsening depression and huge expense; would any other profession get away with such sloppy work? Reported adverse effects of these drugs on the RxISK website: Lamictal and Amitriptyline.
The Psychiatrist & the Rockstar: State of Mind interviews Sinead O’Connor
In my adolescent 90’s playlist there’s a Song (yes, song with a capital S) that wholly deserves it’s place of honor not only for the wonderful ballad (not surprising, seeing as the composer is a certain genius from Minneapolis formerly known as Prince) but above all for the singer’s performance that spears the listener straight in the heart, it pierces the left ventricle and bleeds five minutes and ten seconds of pure emotions.
The song’s called Nothing Compares 2 U and the singer is the Irish bad-girl with a shaved head called Sinead O’Conner.
The piece, which came out in 1990, was a worldwide phenomenon helped along by the minimalist video clip featuring only the singer’s angelic face moved to tears by the time she hits the final notes (Sinead was thinking to her mother, died in a car crash five years previously, while singing Nothing Compares 2 U).
The following years were characterized by even more excellent music and peppered with resoundingly blatant provocations (most famously when she ripped up a photo of the Pope on Saturday Night Live) which earned her the label of activist and heretic; Rock’s answer to Joan of Ark.
In 2005 she surprised the masses by releasing her excellent reggae album “Throw Down Your Arms”, followed by the more intimate “Theology” in 2007, which dealt with her passionate relationship with spirituality.
At the start of 2012 her new album “How About I Be Me (and You Be You)?” was released.
This should have been followed by a tour which was cancelled due to a serious relapse into a depressive phase of the bipolar disorder that Sinead has suffered from, for 8 years. (Editor’s Note: According to DSM-IV criteria , it is most likely Bipolar II disorder). The deep depressive state was characterized by an attempt at self-harm by overdosing on prescription drugs having previously launched a desperate cry for help from her fans on twitter.
On hearing this news, I got the idea for an interview on Skype, each from their own home, me in Modena and her close to Dublin.
Sinead kindly took some time out from her schedule as a busy mother of four to speak to me. Despite the impersonality of online conversation, I felt as though on the other side of the screen I was talking to someone authentic, who isn’t ashamed to share their own fragilities and is extremely precise when describing her own journey towards healing.
GP: Well Sinead, first of all I want to thank you for your kindness and willingness in giving this interview. I must confess, I was really surprised that you accepted. I don’t know how much you want to talk about yourself specifically, but I would like that our talk be of some help for people who struggle everyday against depression.
S: I am interested in the issue obviously…well the only reason I am qualified to speak is because I have direct experience.
GP: So…you have been diagnosed with bipolar depression, haven’t you?
S: Yes I was diagnosed 8 and half years ago, but it took 12 years to get the right diagnosis.
GP: Did your disorder start with a manic state or with a depressive state?
S: I don’t get the highs and the manic particularly, I get the lows. When I was younger though, I had a very bad temper, that’s my being a bit of a manic; not in a happy way, but I was like… fuck that!
GP: A young rebel…
S: I have always had a good functioning in my artistic life, but I had problems mostly in my private life, I got very angry with my boyfriends and stuff…I would probably have good reasons to be angry but the volume would be too high, just getting to some level of wounding that perhaps was not appropriate to the actual offence committed.
S: I did have once where I was addicted to shopping, that’s unheard of for me because I fucking hate shopping, but I did actually about two years ago. That was as manic as I ever got. I bought a lot of clothes.
GP: Do you think that your experience of depression has been of some inspiration for your creative process at some point?
S: I think the other way round. I don’t agree with this romantic fantasy that people who suffer from depression are more likely to be artists. I find that I am more creative when I am happy actually.
I think that music has been a great help to me and this has been confirmed by every psychiatrist I have seen. I would probably be dead if not for music. They think that the reason that I have this depression is for what I went through growing up. I have also Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, and I wouldn’t have survived that if not for music. So I think for me, music was a soothing thing and it was also a place where you could say all the stuff that you couldn’t say anywhere else. When I grew up in Ireland in the seventies there was no such thing as therapy…I mean we didn’t even have cappuccinos until 1998! So for me music was therapy, it was also the place where one could speak about himself, where he was allowed to speak about his traumatic experiences. I grew up in a situation of extreme abuse, but there was no chance to talk about it, so music became the escape if you like.
GP: In which way has music helped you? More in the creative process of song writing or more in the cathartic process of performing?
S: I think all of it. I think in the first place hearing the music inside of you is very soothing, very comforting. For me there always been, if you like, a spiritual connection between myself and music. What I like about being a musician is that I find the thing soothing, but I also give the soothing to other people; I guess for some people particularly, I think people who come from abuse and/or people who have mental illnesses, have terrible self-esteem problems. And for me I have always found being a musician, a work and a place where I find a lot of self-esteem. I feel that I was a useful contributor to society, and that I couldn’t be a contributor to society in any other way.
I think when you have a mental illness you can feel very bad about yourself because you are always fucking up in life and making music perhaps makes you feel you are not such a dreadful person and there is something you can do that is not fucked up… because there is a terrible lack of self esteem that comes with mental illness, especially if you live, like I do, in a society such as Ireland, where having mental illness has a dreadful stigma.
And also I suppose is very cathartic to do a show to the masses and you get to make magic in a manner that you can’t do in regular life, but I suppose that self esteem effect is one of the most powerful.
GP: I think that the problem of stigma in mental health is as important as the illnesses themselves. Can you tell me something more about the stigma situation in Ireland?
S: Well I suppose in some ways, all over the world “crazy” is a term of abuse and I think that is something that should be stopped. In Ireland “crazy” is a term of abuse and people are terrified of anything that they conceive to be crazy. And the people believed to be crazy won’t be treated compassionately, they will treat you horribly and use it as a reason to dismiss anything you would think, do, say or feel, so you’re rocking into a self esteem trap. I had a letter from a man back in January, an old man aged 73, he lives in Goolen (Ireland), I was thinking about him this morning, he has been taking antidepressants for 30 years and he has not told his wife and his adult children because of the stigma. That is Ireland, you know. We are very ignorant about the nature of mental illness. People assume all over the world for example that schizophrenia means you have a lot of personalities, like multiple personality disorder, but it is not. It is completely different.
When you have mental illness you don’t have a plaster or a cast or a crutch, that let everyone know that you have the illness, so people expect the same of you as from anyone else and when you are different they give you a hard time and they think you’re being difficult or they think you’re being a pain in the ass and they’re horrible to you. You spend your life in Ireland trying to hide that you have a mental illness. I’m always checking with my friends “Do I seem crazy?”, “Am I being crazy?”, and I shouldn’t have to keep checking, if I’m being crazy I should be left in fucking crazy peace! You have to hide what you are and it’s really stressful and very bad for your self esteem. Because it’s not obvious to people that you are ill, they treat you as if you’re a pain in the ass, then you beat yourself up and you are already beating yourself up as a part of mental illness, you know.
I mean, I understand that we are actually complicated people but we are also dreadfully simple, but you know it’s a hard world where there is this gap between the supposedly sane and the supposedly insane, the sane are not familiar with the insane, which in itself is insane. We are all stuffed behind these kind of, you know, the actual bars that don’t exist anymore, the metaphorical bars do exist.
GP: I know that you have always had a difficult relationship with the Catholic Church. What do you think about the attitude toward mental illness of the Catholic Church today? Is there acceptance and compassion for the mentally ill?
S: (laughs) If there was acceptance of the mentally ill in the Catholic Church, the entire Curia would resign! You need the best psychiatrist in Italy to take a little time in there! The very top guys are insane. They are more insane than the lot of us put together. If they investigate mental illness they have to start out by checking themselves into hospital. Anybody who can claim that paedophilia and the ordinance of women are equal has a mental problem. When one criticizes the Church, what we usually mean, especially in Ireland, are the top guys. We all know that 99.9% of priests and nuns are incredible people, that do a lot to help people of all kinds. But the regular priests down the road haven’t got the training to go around the country breaking statements, all the poor priest can do is mop up the mess, which is usually suicide, ‘cause stigma leads to suicide. Because of the stigma, people don’t stay in treatment and they don’t get the help they need, because they know they are gonna be treated like shit.
S: Yes…for example: I checked into hospital about 2 years ago because I wanted to make doubly sure that the diagnosis was right. While I was in the hospital (I was there for 2 weeks), there was a woman about my age who had been there for 6 months. She wasn’t that unwell, and I was talking to her one day about why she was there and she showed me her arms, they were all cut. Her mother had died of cancer and she’d nursed her. Nothing had happened to this woman before, but the night her mother died, she probably lost her mind and she sliced up her arms. But the reason she stayed in the hospital so long was that in the village that she came from, they wouldn’t have her back, she couldn’t have her job back, none of her friends wanted to talk to her, she was a pariah in the village because she had done this to her arms, everybody thought she was mad. So she couldn’t go back to her town and she was based in the hospital.
GP: How many times have you been admitted to the hospital?
S: I took myself to the hospital twice. The first to get a clear diagnosis. The second was last year when I was taken off medication very stupidly and I got very sick, I couldn’t eat or sleep.
GP: Why did you stop the medication, was it for the side effects?
S: I was getting a lot of pressure from people in show business about my being overweight because of medication, I was on 200 mg of amitriptiline. When I said this to my doctor, for some reason she took me completely off medication and she didn’t really supervise properly. The mental health system here is really terrible. After I was taken off medications, I got sick, but I didn’t realize I was sick. Then I got carried away with loosing weight so I wanted to pretend I was not sick. It was not my choice to be off medication, but the psychiatrist took me off, so I thought it was ok. Unfortunately in my case, because of what I do for living, here in Ireland is very hard for me to find a doctor who can just deal with me as a person, that can get beyond Sinead O’Connor. I had to go to England to find a psychiatrist for my case.
GP: How long were you without medication?
S: I was off medication from August last year until April. I was told to come off by the doctor, so it took me a long time to know I was sick because when you stop those meds it takes a long time to get sick, so I didn’t know what the fuck was going on.
GP: Nine months without medication is really a long time…weren’t you warned by the psychiatrist about the possible risks of relapse?
S: Because of what I do for living, in Ireland all that the psychiatrist did was to complain about the stuff that was in the newspapers instead of talking about my sickness. The same psychiatrist was very involved in the Church’s public struggle in Ireland … on the opposite side to me.
At the same time as coming off meds, when I was going to her, she complained to me that she didn’t like what I was saying about the Church in the newspapers, so we fell out and I was left stranded. Then in Ireland the mental health system is so shit that you can’t get an appointment with the doctor for treatment for months, so I would wait for another doctor to tell me the same shit. One doctor sent me home with anti-histamines and told me to take 100 mg every night. So I said “ok!”. In Ireland people think doctors are God, they don’t question them. But this meant I was sick for three more fucking months! And the funny thing is that it was a private doctor, and the only alternative is to go to the fucking hospital. Nobody wants to go to the hospital, the worst thing that can happen if you are sick is to leave your family and your children, that’s the only thing that make you feel safe.
GP: It sounds strange…in Italy you can choose a private doctor and pay more, but you can see the doctor more often.
S: Here you have six weeks in agony, but unless you want to check into hospital, you are fucked. Moreover, here people don’t have money. I have, but the guy next door can’t pay for a private psychiatrist and can wait up to six months for a consultation. I’ll give you an idea about how bad our system is: a friend of mine works in a child drug counselling service, run by the National Health Service for children aged between 12 and 18, and there is a fridge in the toilet! That is the picture of the health system in Ireland.
GP: I can imagine you really had terrible times. Was it in the last months when you couldn’t finish the tour?
S: Yes, I almost died. It was in June this year that I was very sick, like never before. I was put on carbamazepine in April and I had a very unusual reaction that made the symptoms worse. Now I feel better taking 200 mg of lamotrigine and 100 mg of quetiapine. Now I also take very high dose of vitamin B12, prescribed by the psychiatrist. They have just discovered that it helps with the depressive phase of bipolar disorder.
GP: Have you ever tried psychotherapy?
S: Yes, fucking never stops, I still do. At the moment I have counselling every week. From July to August this year I also worked for 12 weeks with a therapist at a Suicide Prevention Centre in Dublin. They are fantastic. One of the main symptoms when I was very sick was the constant suicidal thinking and I found that many therapists are not specifically trained in the area of suicidal thinking, so you can go on for years and it is not fixed. Because I was not on medication the suicidal thinking got worse and worse and I actually made an attempt in January, and then there were three more attempts. The therapists in the Suicide Prevention Centre just work on suicidal thinking. They don’t just talk about killing yourself, they help to rebuild your life, they help you to focus on what life do you want. I saw them once a week for individual sessions. While you do that you don’t do any other therapy.
GP: What do you mean by rebuilding your life?
S: They helped me identify a number of issues, the “off-switch” was one, learning how to fucking do nothing, just sit the fuck down and put energy out. Then you sit down and realize how tired you were, when you have depressed or suicidal thinking you don’t know how tired you are.
Then they focused on the thing with me that I am too inclined to take on board other people’s negative opinions of me. If ten people stood in a room and nine said you are fucking great and one said you’re an asshole, that would be what I’d worry about and believe in, that person, getting depressed if someone says I’m an asshole. They were able to teach me, which I hadn’t learned before, how to really not give a fuck about them. And then another important thing is fun, I mean “What are you doing just for fun?”, “Are you doing anything just for fun?”. They made me put together a bucket list, so first of all you deserve better, to hang out all the people that make you feel like shit, then you need to rest your body, to take time for yourself and they made me put together a list of the things I would like to do in my life, and that was great! They very quickly put you out of the misery part and start to build a fun life. It’s quite witchy how therapy works, it’s a kind of subconscious, you don’t know how the fuck they’ve done it but suddenly you start living differently and thinking differently. I’ve been able to build the life I want, do you know what I mean? When you have a mental illness I think it is important to work with prevention services when one of your symptoms is suicidal thinking.
GP: Did you struggle with interpersonal problems that drove you to think about suicide?
S: In that period I was not on medication, and in the same time a lot of awful stressful things were happening. If I had been on medication perhaps I would have responded differently. In my case it was purely the sickness that made me think suicide but it was a compulsion. I got to the point that the physical symptoms of bipolar disorder made me feel as if I was walking under water.
GP: Walking under water…really gives the idea of how you could have felt…well Sinead, I think you were really exhaustive and brave in telling your difficult story, and I want to thank you on behalf of State of Mind and of all the people who have to face mental illness every day.
Per saperne di più: http://www.stateofmind.it/2012/10/sinead-oconnor-interview/
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 was on Seroxat (Paxil) for almost 4 years in the late 90’s/Early 2000’s. Back then, SSRI’s were relatively new to the market, doctors didn’t know a lot about side effects, and if drug companies knew, they certainly kept most of their knowledge of side effects suppressed from public view. I was told by my doctor that I would need to take Seroxat for life as I had a chemical imbalance in my brain which caused my depression. He didn’t seem to correlate the fact that that my parents marriage breaking down, my father’s alcoholism, or our family home being sold or the stress of a pending eviction from our rented house, would have had anything to do with my mental health as a vulnerable and distressed 21 year old. He didn’t even want to know how I came to be depressed, or about the traumas which led to it, and neither did the psychiatrists who pushed the SSRI on me. This approach was common practice, and apparently still is.
A lot of the bad effects of SSRI’s (such as increase in suicide, aggression, akathisia, severe withdrawal effects etc) were not disclosed to the public until relatively recent years. This is bog standard behavior for drug companies, they market the disease first, blitz the public with advertising, play down the side effects until they have made a profit, and when the inevitable law suits come, the drug companies have a legal war chest with which to fight them with. They always profit off their drugs, even if these drugs kill and maim people. I’ve been blogging about this stuff for nearly 10 years, and my research on drug companies and their behavior would make your hair stand on end. They are callous and sociopathic, and most drug pushing psychiatrists are not much better.
In the case of Seroxat (Paxil), a steady stream of information has dripped out about it for two decades. First we had the BBC Panorama exposing Seroxat as a very dangerous drug in the early 2000’s, then we had the NY attorney general forcing GSK (the manufacturer) to disclose information on the drug harming kids. After that came warnings about birth defects, and if you look at the gradual changes to the patient information leaflet over the years you will notice that side effects have increased exponentially. Just this year the BMJ published a study which indicates that Seroxat has likely caused many more suicides, and much harm, to thousands of young people, and children, who should never have been prescribed it.
The SSRI’s can cause extremely distressing side effects, but there is no doubt that they work- in the sense that you feel drugged, but of course you would feel different, and of course you would feel drugged, or that the drug works, because you’re on drugs! But they are not somehow defeating your ‘depression’, the effects of the drugs, like the effects of all drugs, affect your perception and feelings about yourself, but this is a dangerous game to play with your own mind. It’s essentially drug induced self deception. You are feeling the effects of a drug, but nothing is being cured. The drugs make you drowsy, sleepy, less interested in your problems, and less interested in most things generally. So do they work? yes they do work in that way because they are psycho-active and psycho-tropic, they make you feel different, just like MDMA or E would release dopamine, serotonin etc. These are drugs that work on similar chemicals, and in similar pathways, in the brain. Just the same as if you drank 8 beers, you might not think about your depression because you’re drunk, or if you smoked some weed, you would be stoned and it might alleviate your mood. You might be too drunk to care about your problems, or to stoned to obsess over your negative thoughts, but that doesn’t mean it’s helpful to chemically alter our minds in order to deal (or not to deal) with our psychological traumas and problems. The root cause of our malaise will always fester, and often drug treatment can exacerbate the conditions they supposedly treat, and sometimes, for some people, SSRI’s can be deadly.
SSRI’s are no different to street drugs, they are chemicals which drug you into a different state of being, however they are not curing anything. If drugging away our problems is considered the most acceptable first line treatment for people with emotional and psychological problems, then we need to seriously re-consider how we approach the human condition, and in particular, the human condition in distress. Medicating with dubious drugs is not the answer for most people suffering emotional or psychological distress, however it’s often the first thing that a doctor will suggest. A depressed person would walk on fire if they were told by a doctor that it helped depression. When you’re depressed you’re vulnerable, and all you want is the pain to end. That’s why is has been so easy for the drug companies, and psychiatrists, to exploit the ‘mentally ill’.
It’s much easier to drug someone, and spin them some yarn about a defective brain, when the patient is desperate for a cure. When you’re desperate you’ll take, or do, anything your doctors tells you to.
I am not anti-medication, I understand that some people might need a drug to give them a chemical lift out of a severe depression, however, the so called ‘science’ behind the prescribing of these drugs has largely been discredited, in particular the myth of the ‘chemical imbalance’ cause of depression. This theory was widely touted in SSRI drug advertisements for at least a decade, and even though you can’t measure Serotonin levels in anyone’s brain, and even though low Serotonin levels have never been proven scientifically to cause depression, that didn’t stop psychiatry and the drug companies from spreading these theories as if they were provable scientific facts. These are potent drugs so they affect your brain- of course (and your gut and other parts of your body)- but they are not fixing any kind of chemical imbalance, serotonin or otherwise. Even if these drugs were more sophisticated than they are, they would still be only addressing the symptoms of depression, not the cause. The causes are usually psycho-social, or emotional, in nature. With depression, there is almost always a trauma, life event, or stressor, preceding it. Depression without an external cause is rare (however it can come as a result of physical illness, poor diet, etc etc).
In recent years, psychiatry has backed away from this ‘chemical imbalance’ theory of depression, but conveniently it has never thought to inform the general public that it no longer fully endorses it. However, you will notice, that they have gradually tried to make it seem that they really never promoted the theory much anyway (this is untrue though- psychiatrists were the main promoters of this theory to the public).
Many doctors, and critical psychiatrists (and even- it seems- the head of the UK college of psychiatry), now acknowledge that the ‘serotonin theory’ for depression was little more than a marketing myth which was heavily promoted in order to sell, drugs, and the the ‘disease’ model of depression to the general public.
“…. The disease-model, however, is ultimately not helpful, as well as being unfounded. For all its attempts to incorporate social factors, the disease-model renders depression meaningless, because biology effectively trumps other influences. It conveys the message that we are powerless to change ourselves or our situations. When things go wrong, it persuades us we need a pill to put them right. This approach may appeal to some people, and I am in no way disparaging those who chose to follow it. But it is important that everyone knows how little evidence there is to support it….”
Although the Serotonin theory, and ‘chemical imbalance myth’ has been largely debunked in the scientific community, and many professionals are now moving away from it in droves, the ‘disease model’ and anti-depressant ‘chemical cure’ still profoundly permeates mental health discourse. Many people still mistakenly think that SSRI drugs fix a chemical imbalance in their brain, and some doctors are still promoting this myth to patients.
In a recent article on Vox.com by Elizabeth King (an online content writer) illustrates this perfectly. The misinformation in this article, and the general premise of it, is extremely dangerous. Her article on her experiences with SSRI’s exemplifies what I have just talked about: the depressed and misinformed patient goes to their doctor- their doctor spews some nonsense about a chemical imbalance, the patient – desperate and vulnerable- swallows the ‘depression as disease’ myth hook line and sinker, along with month after month’s supply of SSRI pills. Drugged and chemically altered, the patient now goes about telling everyone about how wonderful SSRI’s are. I don’t blame Elizabeth for wanting to believe that her depression will go away with a simple little pill, and I don’t blame her for wanting to believe that she can keep taking her little pill forever. I wanted to believe that too. Most people who end up on SSRI’s are willingly deluded, that’s how they get you on the pills. However, writing online content which potentially thousands of misinformed, vulnerable and desperate people will read, and further misinforming them, based on your own willful naivety, is highly irresponsible.
SSRI’s are seductive- all drugs are. All addictions are too. The psychological and physical dependence that SSRI’s induce is incredibly powerful, that’s why it is so difficult to come off them. That’s why the withdrawal effects are crippling, particularly in cold turkey or if you’re on them long term, and try to come off them. That’s also why the SSRI’s are a multi-billion dollar industry. They keep people in a chemical cloud of denial all the time they are on them, and who wouldn’t want that? Being on psychiatric drugs, even with the horrible side effects, makes you think that you’re treating your ‘illness’ right? and that’s validating isn’t it? It’s strangely comforting to think that you’re helping yourself by taking a treatment isn’t it? – even if that treatment involves reliance on a pill to do all the deep psychological work that you don’t want to face. You really want to believe that the drugs will keep your depression in check. And who would want the depression boogeyman to come knocking again? Much easier to have faith in the pills, and believe that you need them than actually going through the pain of soul crippling depression isn’t it? That would take actual work!
“…I wanted to feel what I thought of as “normal,” my default state neutral instead of panicked. My therapist suggested SSRIs —selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, common antidepressants that work by balancing the levels of serotonin in the brain. Hetold me they had been very beneficial for other clients with similar backgrounds. But I stubbornly resisted. I didn’t want to take SSRIs, I told myself, because I was determined to conquer my mental health issues “on my own.”...
Eventually I didn’t care how much I didn’t want to explore medication; I was willing to do whatever it took to feel better. I relented. I got a recommendation for a psychiatrist from a friend, made an appointment, and tried to keep an open mind
I left my psychiatrist’s office with a prescription for Lexapro and filled it at the pharmacy the same day. I swallowed my first dose the minute I got home.
I sat there for a second, tilting my head and focusing my hearing as if I’d be able to sense the medicine’s effects right away. Nothing happened, of course: It can take as long as six weeks to know if an SSRI is working. Eventually, mine did.
Today I’ve reached nearly a year of treatment on two antidepressants, Lexapro and Wellbutrin, and the results I’ve experienced were unimaginable to me before I started taking medication.
I was resistant to medication for so long because I didn’t understand what taking medication meant. I had bad information and bad assumptions. Here’s what I wish everybody understood about SSRIs: the good, the bad, and the anorgasmic.
I was cautiously hopeful when I started the meds. I wanted them to work more than anything in the world, and each day when I woke up, I wondered if this would be the day that I started feeling something different. For days, I thought it might be happening: My daily mood felt better, but it was hard to tell — what if I was just unusually hopeful, or experiencing some kind of placebo effect?
My troubles weren’t over, of course. My psychiatrist warned me during my first appointment that it can take as long as a year for some patients to find the right mix of SSRIs. Antidepressant medication is not like antibiotics: The same pills won’t cure the same disease in nearly everyone. We tinkered with my dosage of Lexapro and with combining Wellbutrin over the course of several months. But I was improving, and after seeing what one medication could do for me, I was eager to discover what was possible as my doctor and I fine-tuned my treatment.
While not everyone benefits from SSRIs, the zombie effect just isn’t universal, or even particularly common. It certainly wasn’t true for me. When they work, SSRIs do for your brain what a healthy brain would be able to do on its own: regulate healthy levels of serotonin in the brain so that you aren’t depressed or anxious by default.
I embraced SSRIs in part when I accepted that not all of my emotional troubles were the result of situational stress. Yes, having an uncertain love life, financial worries, and concerns about the future exacerbated my mental health issues. But they weren’t the root trouble. The “real cause” of unhappiness in depression and anxiety is often a chemical imbalance in the brain, something that can’t be talked out of existence any more than a headache.
With time, the anorgasmia faded and I was able to get off again, but by that point, my sex drive was down the drain. I could have an orgasm, but I didn’t really care if I did or didn’t. This was the first and biggest downside to my treatment, and one I wasn’t content to put up with for any great length of time.
I made another appointment with my psychiatrist. I told him that it wasn’t acceptable for me not to have a sex drive while on meds. I was a little nervous to bring it up: I didn’t want him to dismiss my concerns as frivolous or, worse, dirty.
Thankfully, he completely understood and prescribed me a second antidepressant — Wellbutrin — to help alleviate the sexual side effects. I was lucky: The combination worked well for me, and today my sex drive is more or less back to its pre-medication state.
When I began taking SSRIs, my psychiatrist told me that while some patients require medication for only a few months or a few years, others are in it for “the long haul.” He told me there isn’t a good way to predict how long a patient will need SSRIs, so I have no idea how long I may need to take mine. That worries me: What if I need to take my meds every single day until the day I die?
According to a recent Consumer Report on antidepressants, some antidepressants cost as little as $25 for a month’s supply, but others can cost more than $500 (certain dosages of Prozac can be very costly, for example). Unfortunately, the medicine that works best for a particular patient might not line up with what works best for her bank account.
Despite my newfound enthusiasm for SSRIs, I know that covering the costs of care could present a greater challenge in the future than it does now, and that scares me
When you’re in the worst throes of depression, it’s easy to believe that you have no chance of feeling better. Hopelessness, extreme nervousness, and feelings of shame are all classic symptoms of depression and anxiety. Before giving up on the idea of SSRIs, consider whether the very fears holding you back might be allayed by the treatment itself.
For many of us with chronic mental illness, taking the plunge and trying medication is the best single step we’ve taken for ourselves. It was for me.
If you even suspect that medication might help you live a fuller and healthier life, discuss it with a doctor. There’s no shame in trying. Even if the medication doesn’t work at first, or never works at all, you owe it to yourself to fight for your happiness in any way you can, and that’s the best chance any of us has to make it through.
Elizabeth King is a writer, feminist, and pop culture fiend living in Chicago. Follow her on Twitter at @ekingc.
I have already had a spat with Elizabeth on twitter, and I have tried to explain to her that her article is full of misinformation and unprovable, discredited- psycho-babble- about SSRI’s, but she is having none of it. Apparently , according to Elizabeth, I am a ‘troll’ who has ‘poor and minimal evidence for my beliefs’. Oh well, what can I say? good luck on your SSRI journey Elizabeth, don’t stay on them too long. Two to three years on SSRI’s and you’ll be coming close to the end of the honeymoon period. Soon your liver will start to get toxic, the sweats will get worse, and the bowel movements will become more than a drag. You’ll be functioning, but in a manic way, you’ll want to be on the drugs, even though deep down you know that you’re just running away from yourself. The nightmares, and muscle spasms will start to become more noticeable than the serotonin haze, but you’ll kinda not really care about that. If you do want to come off them, be sure to wean, that way you can take the edge off the homicidal and suicidal thoughts that they induce. I wasn’t told about these side effects and withdrawals when I was on them, some years ago, but there’s plenty on the net about them now.
I wish you the best..
Here’s a link to Dr Terry Lynch’s ground breaking work on SSRI’s and depression. I know you think that it’s just me and Terry Lynch quacking on about this bogus theory Elizabeth, but I assure you, Terry’s research won’t fail to impress. We’re not the only ones, that’s for sure.
It’s called ‘Depression Delusion – the myth of the brain chemical imbalance” and it has been endorsed globally by many of the top progressive mental health professionals in their field. Perhaps that’s not NEMJ or Harvard standard peer review enough for you, but hey! Can’t say I haven’t tried to warn ya!
Here’s a review by Phil Hickey (from the excellent Mad In America Site)
In this truly remarkable — and meticulously researched — volume, Dr. Lynch annihilates psychiatry’s cherished chemical imbalance theory of depression. Every facet of this theory, which the author correctly calls a delusion, is critically analyzed and found wanting. Example after example is provided of psychiatrists promoting this fiction, the factual and logical errors of which are clearly exposed in Dr. Lynch’s lucid, seamless, and highly readable prose.
The book runs to 343 pages, and is laden with factual details, case studies, alternative perspectives, and hard-hitting commentary. Dr. Lynch does not sit on the sidelines, nor does he seek any kind of collegial compromise with the chemical imbalance theory, which he unambiguously denounces as a groundless and destructive falsehood. Here are some quotes that I think will convey something of the content, style, and cogency of this vitally important work.
“The world is engulfed in a mass delusion regarding depression. The widespread belief that brain chemical imbalances are present in depression has no scientific basis. In fact, this is a fixed belief that meets all the criteria of a mass delusion. If you are one of the millions of people who believe that biochemical brain imbalances are known to occur in depression, then you too have become seriously misinformed.” (p 1)
“Despite the obvious complexity of the brain, some psychiatrists and GPs profess an understanding of this organ that is highly inconsistent with current scientific knowledge. Their comments smack of a level of arrogance that in my opinion is downright dangerous.” (p 65)
“The brain chemical imbalance delusion has dominated medical, psychological and public thinking about depression for the past fifty years. Parties with a vested interest see nothing wrong with this. Nor do the vast majority of the general public, for whom the depression brain chemical imbalance idea feels as familiar and logical as raised blood sugar in diabetes. There are two main reasons why psychiatrists and GPs have embraced the biochemical imbalance delusion with such enthusiasm. This notion portrays doctors and their drug treatment in a positive light, as real doctors treating biological abnormalities consistent with the treatment of diseases generally in medicine. Secondly, having observed for thirty years how my medical colleagues in psychiatry and general practice work, I do not believe they know any other way of understanding or responding to depression other than as an assumed biological abnormality. I remain unconvinced that there is sufficient breadth of vision within mainstream psychiatry or medicine to see or to move beyond the rigidly held belief that depression is primarily a biological disorder. Yet, the majority of the experiences categorized as depression are primarily emotional and psychological or have a significant emotional input.” (p 77)
“It is misleading to state that the brain chemistry of depression is not fully understood, when in truth it is really not understood at all. It is also misleading to state that ‘research suggests’ that ‘depression is caused by an imbalance’ of brain chemicals. It is drug companies, doctors and researchers who suggest this, not the research itself. As outlined in detail earlier the research itself does not suggest this at all and indeed contradicts this notion.” (p 149)
“In twenty years as a medical doctor, I have never, ever heard of a patient anywhere having their serotonin levels checked.”(p 153)
“Low serotonin cannot ever be identified since brain serotonin cannot be measured and we do not know what serotonin levels should or should not be.” (p 165)
“Providing societies with an apparently trustworthy rationale for avoiding the reality of human distress has resulted in increasingly costly mental health services within which recovery is a far rarer outcome than it should be. Since the core issues are repeatedly side-stepped, they are not addressed or recognized within these mental health systems. It is not surprising that the costs of such systems keep increasing with little hard evidence that these systems are providing value for money in terms of recovery.” (p 237)
“The most beneficial position for psychiatry is therefore the one that currently pertains. By nailing its colours to the biological mast, psychiatry has successfully set itself apart from talk therapies. As long as no biological abnormalities are reliably identified, there is no threat that their bread and butter will be removed from them to other medical specialties. Maintaining the myth that biological solutions are just around the corner satisfies the public and maintains psychiatry’s position quite satisfactorily from psychiatry’s perspective, albeit between a rock and a hard place. This position has no solid scientific foundation, but as long as the public do not realize this and psychiatry does not attempt to encroach on the territory of other medical specialties such as neurology, psychiatry’s position is secure.” (p 277)
“When basic principles of correct reasoning and science are applied to the brain chemical imbalance idea, the flaws and inconsistencies of this belief become obvious. When the depression brain chemical imbalance idea is rigorously examined, we find that like the emperor, it has no clothes. These flaws and inconsistencies were known prior to Prozac coming on stream in 1988. They were dismissed because they risked ruining a great story, from which many groups could profit enormously.” (p 342)
For those who wish to pursue topics further, there is a reference list at the end of each chapter. There is also a comprehensive index and table of contents which make it easy to find specific sub-topics.
Pharma-psychiatry’s chemical imbalance theory of depression is one of the biggest and most destructive hoaxes in human history. Dr. Lynch’s Depression Delusion might well be the work that finally lays this hoax to rest, and exposes the self-serving deceptiveness that has become a routine part of psychiatry’s endeavors.
Please read this book, keep it close to hand for reference, and encourage others to read it also. Ask your library to buy a copy. The spurious chemical imbalance theory is now so widely accepted that it will take enormous efforts to dislodge it. In any debate on this matter, Dr. Lynch’s book will, quite literally, put the facts at your fingertips.
Carrey said he used antidepressants to manage his depression, but now relies on natural supplements. “I think Prozac and things like that are very valuable to people for short periods of time,” said Jim. “But I believe if you’re on them for an extended period of time, you never get to the problem.”
Although White’s official cause of death cannot be determined until an autopsy is conducted, Winter said there were indications at the scene of a suicide.
“It was reported as a possible suicide. There evidently was a note found. There were pills located near her,” said the spokesman, who added that the “final cause of death won’t be released until we get full toxicology and tests back.”
According to the Irish Independent, White – a native of the Tipperary region of Ireland – and Carrey, 53, first met on a film set in 2012. They reportedly dated for most of 2013 before reuniting earlier this year.