Bestselling Psychiatric Drugs Now Linked
to Chronic Disease and Medical Malpractice
by Helke Ferrie
Vitality, November 2012
“The battle against polypharmacy, or the use of a large number of drugs (the action of which we know little, yet we put them into the bodies ... the action of which we know less), has not been fought to the finish…. Do not use rashly every new product of which the peripatetic siren sings. Consider what surprising reactions may occur in the laboratory from the careless mixing of unknown substances. Be as considerate of your patient and yourself as you are of the test-tube.”
Sir William Osler (1849-1919)
About 20% of the North American population is now on psychiatric drugs for either depression, ADHD, anxiety, schizophrenia, phobias, impulse-control disorder, or bi-polar disorder. North Americans consume multiple uppers and downers and mysterious “mood stabilizers,” to the tune of $25 billion annually. These are prescribed by doctors who are either deceived by the manufacturers of those drugs or who are complicit with Big Pharma’s business model. Most prescribers know very little about pharmacology and almost none have any training in toxicology. Big Pharma tosses 87% of their annual $58 billion marketing budget at doctors, starting in medical school where 94% of psychiatrists-in-training have accepted gifts from Big Pharma by their third year.
Big Pharma’s top sellers are psychiatric drugs used to treat conditions codified in the current edition of the Diagnostic & Statistical Manual (DSM-IV) of the American Psychiatric Association. Dr. Marcia Angell, professor of public policy at Harvard and former interim editor-in-chief of the New England Journal of Medicine, observes: “This Bible of psychiatry, like the real Bible, is dependent a lot on something akin to revelation. There are no citations of scientific studies to support its decisions”; the diagnoses described in it are arrived at in secret, behind closed doors, by vote only, and are not backed up by any references to objective scientific findings – testable and verifiable material.
As psychiatric drug sales keep rising, and psychiatrists tell us that 46% of the American population now fit at least one of the criteria in the DSM-IV, Angell asked: “What is going on here? What about the drugs? Do they work? If they do, shouldn’t we expect the prevalence of mental illness to be declining, not rising?” She then examined the pervasive intellectual morass and corporate-controlled scientific fraud on which modern psychiatry is based. It was best illustrated with the help of a graph published in Nature recently, showing the sky-rocketing increases in fines that pharmaceutical companies have paid since 2006 for the harm their blockbuster drugs have caused. The fines are now in the billions of dollars.
The drugs prescribed by psychiatrists are backed by manufacturer-sponsored clinical trials, a business worth $30 billion annually; the industry keeps all the resulting data secret, protected by current patent law from the critical intellects of independent reviewers. Most are scientific trials in appearance, but in reality they are controlled by marketing departments; as such “the blind lead the blind – giving a whole new meaning to the idea of a double-blind study,” observes Dr. David Healy, a UK professor of psychiatry and pharmacology and outspoken critic of psychiatry. According to him, “Evidence-based medicine has become evidence-biased medicine” so that “we are quite literally taking pills to save the lives of companies who have the greater interest in the vitality of the diseases they market drugs for than in our well-being.”
And what about the doctors involved? Marketing departments armed with off-prints of those company-controlled studies work aggressively to influence the doctors’ prescribing habits; most doctors believe what they are told and prescribe as they are told. Healy states: “The idea that most doctors have been body-snatched and replaced by someone working for a faceless marketing department seems at first inconceivable to most people, the germ perhaps of an amusing idea for a television series.”
“Medicine as we know it is at death’s door,” writes Healy in his latest book Pharmagedon. In it, he shows how the pharmaceutical industry has hijacked clinical medical practice, research, and the governmental regulatory systems to serve their business objectives, thereby doing far more harm than good for patients. The most tragic victims of all are children who are prescribed toxic psychiatric drugs now known to cause brain damage and the risk of sudden death. For children, especially those in foster care, the concept of informed consent has become meaningless.
On October 4 of this year, at the annual convention of the American Psychiatric Association, Healy told his colleagues “you are committing professional suicide,” comparing their relationship to industry with the Vatican’s attempts to suppress child sex abuse scandals instead of dealing with the problem. He told his fellow psychiatrists, backed by the most compelling international research he had published in a series of books, “you’ve been fooled by industry. The key conflict is whether people are hiding the data from you.” One example involved Zyprexa “which has the highest suicide rate in clinical trial history” – information which was totally hidden from regulators and prescribers. Indeed, as reported by AdverseEvents Inc. (www.adverseevents.com) in March of this year, the worst adverse events are brain-related side effects caused by the best-selling psychiatric drugs.
THE DRUG PARTY IS OVER
There are four classes of drugs used in psychiatry:
1) antidepressants (e.g. Prozac, Paxil, Effexor, Celexa);
2) anti-anxiety meds (e.g. Lorazopam/Ativan, Valium);
3) antipsychotics (e.g. Chlorpromazine, Seroquel, Zyprexa, Haldol, Risperdal, Abilify);
4) stimulants (e.g. Ritalin, Concerta).
The proof is now in, provided by critical-thinking researchers supported by brain-imaging technology, that drugs, especially those used to treat schizophrenia and stimulants used for ADHD, actually shrink the brain. Who would have thought that MRIs would give concrete reality to the term “shrink”!
In 1989, Nancy Andreasen, professor of psychiatry and then editor-in-chief of the American Journal of Psychiatry, found – through a longitudinal study combined with brain scans – that anti-psychotic drugs shrank the frontal lobes of schizophrenics and thus made recovery impossible. In 2008 she observed, “The more drugs you have been given, the more brain tissue you lose.... The pre-frontal cortex doesn’t get the input it needs and is being shut down by the drug. That reduces the psychotic symptoms. It also causes the prefrontal cortex to slowly atrophy.”
Children, if taken off Ritalin, do have a chance to recover the use of their brains, as psychiatrist Peter Breggin has shown with his withdrawal protocols. Breggin, often referred to as “the conscience of psychiatry,” is credited with stopping the return of frontal lobotomy surgery, and other forms of psychosurgery, and acted as expert witness for more than a hundred legal actions against manufacturers of antidepressants. He explains that Ritalin causes children to become abnormal: “the crushing of spontaneous behaviour and the enforcement of compulsive, over-focused behaviour is actually [not] an improvement. It’s a form of brain dysfunction, and long-term it causes permanent abnormalities in the brain and suppresses growth. That is a dreadful thing to do to children.” While serious behaviour problems can be very real and disrupting, most can be attributed to intolerances to specific foods, and/or artificial food additives, or sensitivities/allergies to pervasive chemicals in the environment.
In 1965, Joseph Schildkraut suggested that depression might be caused by a lack of the neurotransmitters serotonin and epinephrine; this is the “catecholamine hypothesis of affective disorder” – today’s “chemical imbalance” myth. Then, in 1969, followed the “dopamine hypothesis.” By the mid-1970s it was clear there was not a shred of evidence to support either theory, and psychiatry abandoned it. Yet Healy describes how – by the late 1980s – the marketing departments of SmithKline Beecham (as it was then), Eli Lilly, and Pfizer revived this theory to sell Paxil, Zoloft, and Prozac: “In fact, mindless patter about restoring chemical imbalances did a great deal to make SSRIs most profitable… from 1990 onward.” Referring to the flood of company-sponsored and controlled trials designed to help support such myths, Healy wonders if such “spin” can ever be “overcome” by real data, because “myths always have the last word.”
PSYCHIATRIC DRUGS INCREASE RISK OF CHRONIC DISEASE
On January 23 of this year, on NPR’s Morning Edition, leading psychiatrists admitted that the chemical imbalance theory is baseless, and FDA regulators stated that this theory was “really just a metaphor.” However, this ‘metaphor’ is the rationale used for prescribing artificial chemicals which are totally foreign and toxic to the body – and this truly ass-backwards logic insists that proof for those “chemical imbalances” is the presence of depression, anxiety, suicidal despair, grief, or rage.
Thanks to Irving Kirsch, who spent 15 years studying the entire database, published and unpublished, on antidepressant drugs, we now know that (through the skillful avoidance of long-term studies) none of the aforementioned drugs are better than placebo. Furthermore, the psychiatric drugs have undeniable and unacceptable side effects and virtually no helpful effect. All carry the increased risk of diabetes, cancer, irreversible neuro-motor damage, worsening depression, insomnia, loss of sex drive, suicide, and homicidal behaviour. Last December, the “Prozac defence” was upheld in a Manitoba court for a teenager who killed his friend while under the effects of the drug. The biological evidence was so solid that the case was not appealed.
James Gottstein, a lawyer and activist for psychiatric patients’ rights who works especially for the right of children to be medication-free, states that antidepressants should really be renamed on the basis of the currently available evidence and be called “antiaphrodisiac medication,” “agitation enhancers,” “insomnia inducers,” “suicidality inducers,” “mania stimulators,” or “gas busters.” This last one applies because these drugs can cause serious gastrointestinal problems when interfering with serotonin which regulates the bowels. He admits that such re-naming would not “offer the same marketing appeal.”
Worst of all, babies have double the rate of usually fatal heart abnormalities when born to mothers on SSRIs – even if the mother discontinued them up to nine months prior to becoming pregnant. SSRIs, like Prozac, are now especially known to cause epigenetic damage; this is harm done to the next generation’s DNA building and repair mechanisms by inheriting the mother’s disturbed metabolic signals caused by the toxicity of antidepressants. Until now, epigenetic damage has only been known to occur from pesticides which predispose the fetus to cancer.
Healy observes with wry British humour that “if Pharma made cars, the seat-belt warning signs would be removed… and the accelerator would be re-engineered so that the only options were travel at the upper end of the speed limit or faster.” However, ever since the tobacco industry was successfully challenged, we have the odd situation that “if Philip Morris made medicines, all available drugs would come with prominent Black Box warnings stating that this drug can kill… there would be a ban on all advertising, and the use of drugs would be severely restricted for children.” He suggests doctors should think like pilots who know that if they make a mistake they get killed along with their passengers.
Psychiatric illness is a terrible medical reality; people can suffer paralyzing depression, frightening hallucinations, or disabling flashbacks to horrific traumas suffered in the past. Robert Whitaker discovered in his research, while working as publications director for Harvard Medical School, that highly successful drugless methods, based on empathy and the provision of a protective environment, had been developed by leading psychiatrist whose published results were based on highly successful long-term outcome studies. Alas, empathy cannot be patented and when profit is the guiding motive, the demonstrated and published excellence of psychotherapy and its unquestioned superiority in the long term is easily dismissed.
Parallel with the rise of Big Pharma’s psychiatry we find, however, also the research of psychiatrist Dr. Abram Hoffer and those great doctors and researchers who developed the truly healing protocols of orthomolecular medicine, among them Theron Randolph, Linus Pauling, David Horrobin. Hoffer was encouraged by then Premier of Saskatchewan, Tommy Douglas, to try his nutrition- and vitamin-based therapies for especially schizophrenia patients – and emptied out that province’s asylums. Hoffer’s randomized, double-blind controlled trials documenting his successful methods (75% better than drugs) were published and are discussed in his scientific memoir.
The newly published revelations about the profit-mediated harm psychiatry is capable of come from clinicians Irving Kirsch, David Healy, Joseph Glenmullen, Peter Breggin, and Grace Jackson and others in the research community. Indeed, if ever the truth is capable of making people free, these dissenting researchers provide accessible road maps to mental health freedom with the help of withdrawal protocols that can return patients to the re-possession of their mental and emotional lives.
M. Angell, The New York Review of Books: The Epidemic of Mental Illness: Why?, June 23, 2011. Google will get you to the series of articles as well as to her Yutube lectures at various medical schools.
The National Post ran the article on the “Prozac Defense” on December 7, 2011, by Tom Blackwell
David Healy’s observations about psychiatry committing professional suicide come from his address to the APA on October 4, 2012 and were reported in the international media. Google: David Healy + American Psychiatric Association 2012
D. Healy, Pharmagedon, California University Press, 2012
R. Whitaker, Anatomy of an Epidemic, Broadway, 2010. The story of antidepressants from the perspective of patients. This book includes the highly valuable information on the rigorous research that showed, and still shows, that psychotherapy is without fail always superior in outcomes to drugs.
Website: Mad In America. This is Robert Whitaker’s site on which once a week an article by Dr. David Healy is featured on a psychiatric drug, issues of toxicity, fraud, withdrawal etc. in addition to weekly updates on legal issues involving drugs, marketing etc. The citations from David Healy on what would happen if Big Pharma made cars etc. are posted on that website.
I. Kirsch, The Emperor’s New Drugs: Exploding the Antidepressant Myth, Basic Books, 2010. Kirsch and his team spent 15 years researching especially the unpublished, suppressed, trial results and analyzed the effectiveness of all antidepressants after excluding those that were proven to be fraudulent. The result: none are better than placebo but very toxic, unlike placebo.
A. Cassels, Seeking Sickness – Medical Screening and the Misguided Hunt for Disease, Keystone 2012. Prof. Cassels teaches public policy at the University of British Columbia and has here compiled the information showing how testing is used as a marketing tool by Big Pharma, also for especially psychiatric drugs.
Dr. Glenmullen, a psychiatrist at Harvard medical school, was among the very first to blow the whistle on Prozac in his now famous book Prozac Backlash, Touchstone, 2001
G.E. Jackson, Drug-Induced Dementia – A Perfect Crime, AuthorHouse, 2009
David Healy, The Antidepressant Era, Harvard University Press, 1997. History of these drugs and their evolution into lifestyle drugs marketed like a consumer good.
David Healy, The Creation of Psychopharmacology, Harvard University Press, 2002. Professor Healy is a practicing psychiatrist as well as a professor of pharmacology in the UK and provides here a history of the entire field.
David Healy, Let Them Eat Prozac, Lorimer, Toronto, 2004. This book caused the FDA to put warnings on Prozac packaging about increase of suicides from SSRIs.
David Healy, Mania – A Short History of Bipolar Disorder, Johns Hopkins University Press, 2009. Bipolar is the flavor of the year now for psychiatry and Healy shows here how it evolved out of the side effects resulting from the toxicity of psychiatric drugs.
Katherine Sharpe, Coming of Age on Zoloft: How Antidepressants cheered us up, let us down, and changed who we are, Harper, 2012. A young woman’s story of how her life was wrecked as a university student when the counseling department put her on Zoloft. Foreword by David Healy.
Gary Greenberg, Manufacturing Depression: The Secret History of a Modern Disease, Simon & Schuster, 210. A psychotherapist’s perspective based on treating and rescuing antidepressant-poisoned patients.
Daniel Carlat, Unhinged: The Trouble with Psychiatry – A Doctor’s Revelations about a Profession in Crisis, Free Press 2010. The perspective of a psychiatrist.
CPS (Compendium of Pharmaceuticals and Specialties) current edition, found in every doctor’s office, in every pharmacy, and free online. It is updated and published annually by the manufacturers of all drugs currently on the market and is required by law to provide the information on each drug including toxicity, side-effects, withdrawal problems, addiction issues etc. For some reason doctors seem to prescribe these drugs without first reading what manufacturers openly admit to!
R. Pelton & J. Lavalle, The Nutritional Cost of Prescription Drugs, Morton, 2004. This book is published in its large format for doctors by the American Association of Pharmacists (whose business it is to sell drugs!) to show what you can do to prevent damage to yourself. This book is available on amazon.com and is not up to date (got to Peter Breggin and orthomolecular doctors for that) but provides an excellent overview of the issues; the information on most currently available drugs is still correct, but far more has been published since.
Resources for Coming Off Psych Drugs:
Joan Matthews Larson, Depression-Free Naturally, Ballantine, available on amazon.com. You can watch her lectures on how to withdraw from antidepressants on Yutube as well. This book gives the treatment protocols for people coming off antidepressants as developed by Dr. Abram Hoffer and the current orthomolecular strategies. Here is the result of three decades of clinical experience. Dr. Larsen is familiar to EXPO attendees as she was in Toronto some years ago.
Julia Ross, The Mood Cure, Penguin, available through amazon.com. Explains the biochemical workings in the brain in the presence of drugs vs essential nutrients through her clinical practice. Very helpful for people with mood disorders trying to avoid going on pharmaceutical drugs in the first place.
G. E. Jackson, Rethinking Psychiatric Drugs: A Guide to Informed Consent, Authorhouse, 2005
Dr. Joseph Glenmullen, The Antidepressant Solution, Free Press also from amazon.com.
David.Healy www.rxisk.org For withdrawal protocols and the details of how these toxic drugs were developed and fraudulently marketed, and how medical associations and governments became complicit with the marketing agenda. Essential reading for anybody using these drugs as you learn the facts about each specific drug.
P. Breggin, Psychiatric Drug Withdrawal: A Guide for Prescribers, Therapists, Patients, and their Families, Springer 2013., and www.bregging.com. The single most valuable guide to facts about drug toxicity and safe withdrawal protocols for each. Dr. Breggin was the expert witness in antidepressant trials in more than 100 cases and is an expert in toxicology.
Abram Hoffer, Adventures in Psychiatry – The Scientific Memoirs, Kos Publishing, 2005. Here is the story of how psychiatry divided into drugs on the one hand and orthomolecular medicine on the other. Invaluable for those seeking help. Available through the International Society for Orthomolecular Medicine: 416-733-2117
Phyllis A. Balch, Prescription for Nutritional Healing, 5th edition. This excellent guide provides the information on what each nutrient actually does in the body and why it is essential to all the known metabolic processes.
Since most cases of depression have underlying emotional trauma, contact EMDR International (google) for EMDR-trained health professionals in your area. EMDR specializes on the treatment of emotional trauma, especially PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder).
Highly recommended is the Journal of Orthomolecular Medicine www.orthomed.org
Helpful aids for withdrawing from Benzos and Effexor
This is a general guide only, based on the literature cited above. Consult a doctor who is nutrition-literate and contact the Canadian College for Naturopathy for naturopaths who can help you.
Benzodiazepine drugs interfere with the activity, production, and normal functioning of GABA (Gamma-aminobutyric acid) which is the main neurotransmitter responsible for the inhibition of anxiety. GABA is made in our bodies from another amino acid called glutamic acid. GABA works in synergy with certain nutrients upon which its ability to function depends: specifically the B vitamins niacinamide and inositol. When GABA works properly and is available to the brain, its role is to prevent anxiety and stress messages from flooding the motor centres of the brain. As GABA production and stores reduce, anxiety increases, stress hormones (cortisol) increase as they are designed to rev up all metabolic functions in an emergency, increase out of the adrenal glands. Designed for emergency situations, chronic excitation of cortisol production leads to “adrenal fatigue” which is usually attended by chronic anxiety.
Effexor is a drug that is potentially highly toxic to the liver. The functioning of the liver depends to a very large extend on the sufficient production and availability of glutathione. It is a detoxification compound from the amino acids cystine, glutamic acid and glycine. Glutathione is found mostly in the liver, the body’s detoxification centre, but also in the intestinal tract, the lungs, and is always present also in the blood stream. When the liver is presented with toxins and cannot make enough glutathione to neutralize them by excreting them via the bile ducts, the build-up of toxicity tends to show first mental disorders, anxiety, tremors, problems maintaining balance and accelerated visible signs of aging especially of the skin.
All psychiatric drugs also interfere with and deplete magnesium and calcium stores – the most important minerals for the facilitation of calm brains and the ability to sleep. These minerals are required for the production of melatonin produced by the pineal gland. If calcium/magnesium stores are not sufficient, taking melatonin by itself rarely works to restore sleep.
Both these and most other psychiatric drugs tend to be addictive. The addictive response is essentially a protective change in the system which adapts to a war it cannot win. The body cannot stop receiving the toxin if the patient keeps taking it, it also cannot create enough of a detoxification defense to eliminate those toxins - they are foreign/artificial chemicals that cannot be metabolized or neutralized. So, the body stores it while keeping up the detoxification defenses enough to keep the person functional. As long as possible, the body stores these substances by “packaging” them in the deep tissues and in fat, i.e. in cholesterol. Chronic antidepressant takers usually have high cholesterol. That goes down to normal when the drug withdrawal has been successfully completed. Withdrawing from these drugs is difficult and must be done slowly and adjusted to the needs of the individual patients.
All psychiatric drugs are toxic: a toxin is a substance that interferes with essential nutrient absorption, poisons pathways essential for metabolism, or blocks the production of detoxification systems – usually all three. Toxicity means that eventually organ damage occurs which may become irreversible.
Withdrawing from these drugs is greatly assisted if those nutrients are supplied in therapeutic doses which were reduced by the drugs’ toxicity.
NOTE No 1: manufacturers sold in drug stores are not recommended as they do not guarantee purity in terms of no GMOs, no wheat, no soy, no added sugars, no fillers etc. etc. The companies whose products are excellent: NOW, Sisu, Natural Factors, Organika, Carlson, Flora, Inno-Vite, AOR and Quest. There are excellent additional companies, but they usually only sell to health professionals. See also ads in Vitality.
NOTE No 2: people differ in requirements and ability to resist toxins. The information below is a basic guideline. They do not apply to everybody; many need a lot more. You need help from people who know about these drugs (some doctors, most naturopaths) to adjust your program to work best for you. Tests to determine the exact depletion status are available through many laboratories, but expensive.
1. Essential Fatty Acids - Carlson’s cod or halibut or salmon liver oil
Dosage: 3 capsules daily with a full meal.
2. Inositol – AOR powdered form
Dosage: 1 tablespoon in yogurt or pudding or juice twice daily
NOTE: some people have loose stool when taking inositol: take ½ tablespoon
once daily for a week then slowly increase
3. GABA – by any of the above companies
Dosage: start with dosage as recommended on the container, increase to double 3-
4 weeks later, stay on that increase until completely withdrawn from the drugs.
4. Taurine – the product by NOW is most cost effective. Same as or GABA.
5. Ornothine – same as for Taurine and GABA
6. Vitamin C – Natural Factor’s BioCgel – 2 capsules daily. This C product is specially
formulated to be highly absorbent and and causes no stomach acidity.
7. B1 (thiamine), B2 (riboflavin) B5 (pantothenic acid – essential for adrenaline
production – always take 4 capsules once daily), Niacinamide (vitamin B3 – 1 capsule
of 500 mg daily) Folic acid (also a B vitamin) in the doses shown on the bottle.
8. At bedtime only: 4 capsules of Inno-Vite’s Cal-Mag (also has boron and D3 added for
bone protection). Sleep problems, caused by anxiety, malnutrition, or chemical
assault, deplete magnesium and calcium; without adequate reserves one cannot sleep.
NOTE No. 3: If the drug being withdrawn is a classic SSRI, such as Prozac, the patient also needs to supplement with Co-Q 10.
All of these need to be taken with a meal, except # 8, because their absorption depends on the presence of fat. It is usually advisable to take everything other than Cal-Mag during the day, preferably with a good breakfast consisting of mostly protein and fat. Cal-Mag puts people to sleep quickly and should be taken with dinner or bed time.
No-Nos! Alcohol, cigarettes, high coffee intake (more than 4 cups daily, no caffeinated pop).
Highly recommended: organic food if possible, especially meat, eggs and milk products.