In Portland, Ore., Jay Johnston followed his doctor's orders and took the prescribed antidepressants Zoloft and Prozac. He then attempted suicide with a shotgun, permanently disfiguring himself. In the same month as the Wyoming jury's decision, Johnston sued his doctor for not properly monitoring him. The jury found the doctor guilty of criminal negligence and awarded Johnston $5 million, reports Dr. Ann Blake Tracy in Prozac: Panacea or Pandora. Similarly, who could forget Eric Harris, who -- along with Dylan Klebold -- killed 11 people and then himself in the Columbine school shooting? At the time of the shooting, Harris was being treated with the prescription antidepressant Luvox.
These patients are among the growing statistics of people who committed suicide, or tried to commit suicide, while undergoing treatment with prescription antidepressants.
Antidepressant drugs such as Prozac, Luvox and Paxil are selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, commonly known as SSRIs. Serotonin is one of your brain's most important biochemicals; it controls everything from appetite to mood swings. If you're depressed, compulsively eating or gambling, not sleeping properly or even just moody, you're probably lacking serotonin. It's important to note, however, that you can also have too much serotonin.
In Health and Nutrition Secrets, Dr. Russell L. Blaylock writes, "It is also known that these medications increase brain levels of the neurotransmitter serotonin, which, in high concentrations, can also act as an excitotoxin." When antidepressant drugs raise serotonin to an excitotoxin level, the brain reacts in ways similar to mental illness. According to Burton Goldberg's book, Alternative Medicine, side effects of SSRIs include uncontrollable facial and body tics, dizziness, hallucinations, nausea, sexual dysfunction, addiction, electric-shock-like sensations in the brain and, of course, homicidal or suicidal thoughts and behavior.
Unfortunately, the doctors prescribing these SSRIs often forget that you can have too much of a good thing -- that is, too much serotonin -- so they prescribe SSRIs to just about everyone. Now, there are some truly bad doctors out there, such as the psychiatrist whom Dr. Joseph Glenmullen describes in Prozac Backlash:
"Anna was started on Prozac but became severely anxious, agitated and sleepless ... Having never been suicidal before, two weeks after starting Prozac, Anna went to her HMO because she felt like killing herself. The psychiatrist on call told Anna the Prozac was indeed making her worse and hospitalized her. But her original psychiatrist disagreed, restarted Prozac, although at a lower dose and added a second, sedating antidepressant (Trazodone), which Anna only took for two days."
Anna's original doctor seems to be little more than a licensed drug dealer. However, let's give the benefit of the doubt to most antidepressant-prescribing doctors and say that they're just ignorant of antidepressants' potentially fatal side effects. Based on Goldberg's figures, physicians -- not psychiatrists -- write over 70 percent of all prescriptions for SSRIs, so they may very well be ignorant of the antidepressant scare.
Pharmaceutical companies, however, have no excuse. Prozac's maker, Eli Lilly, frantically fought any change in the prescribing guidelines for antidepressants; even a general warning. Not even public allegations linking the drug to suicides, murders, murder-suicides and mass murder-suicides could weaken Eli Lilly's staunch defense of the antidepressant. Dr. Glenmullen explains that Eli Lilly's stance was a result, of course, of financial greed: "Pharmaceutical companies spend hundreds of millions of dollars developing and launching a drug like Prozac. By 1991, Prozac was already the number-one bestselling antidepressant, with sales near $1 billion a year. The stakes were indeed high. So the pharmaceutical industry and drug advocates decided to defend Prozac at all costs, despite the risks to individual and public safety." In other words, to the pharmaceutical industry, it seems nothing -- not the individual lives of depressed people, not the massacre at Columbine -- is more important than making $1 billion a year.
You know your life is more important than that; you know that humanity is more important than any financial sum. It's up to you -- not your doctor and certainly not a pill -- to find a way to overcome depression. Visit a therapist and do some cognitive therapy; even the staunchest pill-pusher won't deny that antidepressant medication is no substitute for counseling. If your brain lacks serotonin, there are many safe and natural ways to boost the biochemical. You can find a concise, yet informative article on boosting your mood through diet, right here on NaturalNews.
Prozac, Luvox, Paxil and Zoloft are just brand names for the same recipe for disaster. Every day, doctors prescribe medications that are known to induce suicide and other violent behavior in depressed people who may already be suicidal. This is so ironic that it's sickening, and only knowledgeable consumers who tell their doctors that they don't want to be given these dangerous drugs can make it stop.
The experts speak on antidepressant drugs and suicide:
What's true for Prozac doesn't necessarily apply to other drugs classified as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). For example, the FDA has ruled that Paxil (paroxetine) should not be taken by anyone younger than age 18 because it is associated with a possible increased risk of suicidal impulses.
Dr Isadore Rosenfeld's Breakthrough Health By Isadore Rosenfeld MD, page 87
6/29/01-Portland, OR, $5 Million Awarded In anti-depressant Negligence Case Jay Johnston tried commit suicide after being given Zoloft and then Prozac. He is permanently disfigured from the shotgun blast. He sued his doctor for not properly monitoring him and was awarded $5 million.
PROZAC Panacea or Pandora by Ann Blake Tracy PhD, page 280
A brand-new drug can be like a license to print money. It certainly worked that way for Eli Lilly. When the company launched the antidepressant Prozac in 1987, nobody else had anything quite like it, and Lilly cleaned up. But then other pharmaceutical firms rushed in with their own versions, including Zoloft, Paxil, Celexa and the recently newsworthy Luvox, found in the blood of Columbine High School shooter Eric Harris. The competition has already eaten into Lilly's market share, and things can only go downhill from here.
"Beyond Depression" by Michael D. Lemonick and Alice Park, Time 5/17/99, page 74
Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI). Drug, such as Prozac, that increases levels of circulating serotonin. SSRIs have the potential for serious side effects, including suicidal thoughts, restlessness, and aggression.
The Memory Solution by Dr Julian Whitaker, page 252
It is also interesting to note that in all the cases of school shootings, the kids responsible for the violence were taking SSRI medications, which are known to produce suicidal and homicidal "side effects." It is also known that these medications increase brain levels of the neurotransmitter serotonin, which, in high concentrations, can also act as an excitotoxin.
Health And Nutrition Secrets by Russell L Blaylock MD, page 79
Prozac and similar antidepressant drugs, such as Paxil and Zoloft, have seen a significant increase in use over the last decade, with approximately 28 million Americans having used the drugs, and 70% of the prescriptions for them written by physicians rather than psychiatrists. Joseph Glen-mullen, Ph.D., author of Prozac Backlash, considers this trend both dangerous and reckless, pointing out that anti-depressants can have severe side effects. These include uncontrollable facial and body tics (which can be signs of severe neurological damage), hallucinations, dizziness, nausea, anxiety, withdrawal symptoms, sexual dysfunction, and electric shock-like sensations in the brain. Dr. Glen-mullen cautions that a small percentage of people can become homicidal, suicidal, or both as a result of Prozac use.
Alternative Medicine by Burton Goldberg, page 798
Once she was stable, Anna was admitted to McLean Hospital, where she was described as having had a "paradoxical" reaction to Prozac. A nurse told her one of McLean's psychopharmacologists, Dr. Teicher, had written about patients like Anna who became suicidal on Prozac. She was put on a different type of antidepressant, which did not precipitate the same reaction.
Prozac Backlash by Joseph Glenmullen MD, page 140
Because suicidal tendencies are a frequent characteristic of depression, perhaps one of the most serious problems associated with antidepressants is the potential for drug overdose. The potential for suicide caused by the very medication prescribed to prevent it, is further enhanced by the synergistic interaction of the antidepressives with alcohol, barbiturates, and other central nervous system depressants. A glance through the PDR indicates that the quantity and the magnitude of the dangers associated with Elavil are equally present with the other antidepressants.
Get Healthy Now by Gary Null, page 215
Just before Christmas Dr Stuart Donovan and colleagues published a crucial article in the British Journal of Psychiatry. Of 2,776 patients taking SSRIs who were treated at the Derbyshire Royal Infirmary over two years. They found that if you look for a statistically significant relationship between taking SSRIs and suicide by overdosing on them, you won't find much. But they did find a relationship between taking SSRIs and all forms of deliberate self-harm - including overdose, attempted overdose, hanging, gassing, laceration, deliberate road traffic accidents, head banging, swallowing non-medicines - much higher for SSRIs than for the older tricyclics. "The relationship is so strong, Dr Donovan says, that he firmly believes promotional material for SSRIs including Seroxat [Paxil] should be changed immediately so doctors no longer prescribe them to potentially suicidal patients thinking, mistakenly, that by doing so they are protecting their lives." When Dr Donovan sent the manuscript of this study to SmithKline Beecham [now GlaxoSmithKline] (who partially financed the study along with Eli Lilly) before it was published asking for comments. They did not reply.
PROZAC Panacea or Pandora by Ann Blake Tracy PhD, page 15
There has been a study released focusing on the popular antidepressant Paxil and its role in suicidal behavior in children.
Ephedra Fact And Fiction by Mike Fillon, page 233
GULF WAR VETERANS: Captain Joyce Riley, who has headed the battle in exposing Gulf War Syndrome, has noted that approximately 80- 90% of the Gulf War vets are now on or have been offered one of the SSRI antidepressants. As a result many have had their lives turned upside down with others committing suicide or murder/suicide.
PROZAC Panacea or Pandora by Ann Blake Tracy PhD, page 15
One of the disadvantages of the older tricyclic antidepressants is that they are much more dangerous when taken as an overdose. But a very well kept secret, revealed by considering all the research, is that the actual rate of death from suicide is higher in patients who take the new antidepressants than in those who take the older tricyclics. Even more important, twice as many people taking the new antidepressants successfully committed suicide than did the people who took placebos. The results of all the studies--published and unpublished--showed that of every 1000 people with depression treated with one of the new antidepressant drugs, 4.6 more committed suicide each year than would have if they had been treated with a placebo.
Overdosed America by John Abramson MD, page 117
How do serotonin boosters catalyze suicidal and violent impulses? Does the phenomenon occur because of the drugs' stimulating, re-energizing effects as with previous antidepressants? Or might something different happen with these new drugs, as Teicher and Cole suggested in their original report?
Prozac Backlash by Joseph Glenmullen MD, page 152
Nine clinical studies show: "SSRIs: Suicide Risk and Withdrawal (Editorial)," The Lancet 361:1999, 2003. See also Gardiner Harris, "Debate Resumes on the Safety of Depression's Wonder Drugs," New York Times, August 7, 2003.
Overdosed America by John Abramson MD, page 243
In another case, reported by Frederick Goggans and colleagues, in Medical Mimics of Psychiatric Disorders, a 27-year-old executive was hospitalized after attempting to kill herself by overdosing on antidepressants prescribed by her psychiatrist. The woman's suicide attempt--her second--followed a year of psychotherapy that had failed to relieve her fatigue, cognitive problems, and despondency. She was distraught that her suicide attempt was unsuccessful, and told her doctors that she would probably try to kill herself again.
A Dose of Sanity by Sydney Walker III MD, page 108
While the FDA had cleared the drugs, my colleagues continued to describe some cases in which they appeared to have caused severe reactions--agitation, paranoia, psychosis, suicide, and violence--in a small number of patients. Rumors within psychiatric circles held that the FDA panel of outside experts had been flawed, beset with conflicts of interest and deeply divided on the issue of Prozac's safety, in spite of the impression given to the public. Could it be true that a majority of the panel members had conflicts of interest? Had the vote not been unanimous? Was the panel so divided that one-third of its members pressed for a warning and changes in the guidelines for prescribing antidepressant drugs? What was one to believe?
Prozac Backlash by Joseph Glenmullen MD, page 143
It is apparent that the proportion of people taking fluoxetine and committing suicide is higher by an amount to be of concern to medical examiners and also to health care providers. The present report provides evidence that suicide has occurred more frequently in patients taking fluoxetine than in those taking tricyclic antidepressants, the possibility that fluoxetine has induced the idea of suicide must be considered.
PROZAC Panacea or Pandora by Ann Blake Tracy PhD, page 162
When you understand these problems, it is not surprising that twelve years after Prozac was approved, people were again raising the issue of Prozac-related psychoses, suicides, and violent acts. Recent books such as Prozac Backlash, and The Antidepressant Era have made headlines by citing studies suggesting a connection between Prozac and such reactions. A May 2000 story at Dr. Koop Health News began, "The question of whether Prozac, the most-prescribed antidepressant, can make some patients more likely to commit suicide just won't go away, despite repeated and categorical rebuttals by the drug's manufacturer, Eli Lilly and Co. Based on his experience as a suicide counselor and investigator, Dr. Ronald W. Maris, director of the Center for the Study of Suicide at the University of South Carolina, is firmly convinced that a risk exists."
Overdose by Jay S Cohen, page 48
Dr. James W. Long in his discussion of Prozac in THE ESSENTIAL GUIDE TO PRESCRIPTION DRUGS 1992 explains, "A review of relevant literature on this subject reveals that the development or intensification of suicidal thoughts during treatment (regardless of the severity of depression) has been documented repeatedly for many antidepressant drugs in wide use. It is apparent that suicidal thinking may emerge during treatment with any antidepressant. " And Fava and Rosenbaum state in a letter to the JOURNAL, OF CLINICAL PSYCHIATRY, in November 1991 that "..emergence of suicidal ideation or behavior has been observed with many antidepressant pharmacotherapies."
PROZAC Panacea or Pandora by Ann Blake Tracy PhD, page 49
He prescribed the medication Prozac. One month later, after taking this medication, she committed suicide by hanging herself. What was so strange about this unsuspected action was that she was not behaving like a person who was depressed or suicidal. At first we discounted the significance of this story. Unfortunately, emotionally disturbed people sometimes commit suicide whether they are taking an antidepressant or not. But in February 1990 an article appeared in the American Journal of Psychiatry that shed a new light on this case history. Physicians associated with the Department of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School reported on six patients who suddenly developed an "intense violent suicidal preoccupation after 2-7 weeks of fluoxetine [Prozac] treatment." It would be disastrous if an antidepressant medication actually produced "obsessive, recurrent, persistent, and intrusive" thoughts of suicide. This may be a rare occurrence, but the Harvard psychiatrists warn that people who feel fatigued and restless or sleep much more than usual may be at higher risk.
Graedons Best Medicine by Joe Graedon & Dr Terasa Graedon, page 214
In the early 1990s most doctors did not know what to make of the Prozac scare. Psychiatrists had long recognized that in the early weeks and months on any antidepressant, patients are at increased risk to act on suicidal impulses. Over the course of just a few weeks, antidepressants can jump-start patients, reinvigorating people who have been without energy for some time. The newfound energy provided by an antidepressant can suddenly enable a patient to act on suicidal or violent urges. Classic papers dating as far back as the 1930s describe the risk with amphetamine antidepressants. For decades pharmaceutical companies and drug proponents adamantly denied the phenomenon, but by the 1970s, when strict limitations were imposed on prescribing amphetamines, their ability to trigger suicide and violence had been firmly established.
Prozac Backlash by Joseph Glenmullen MD, page 141
A small number of people taking fluoxetine have experienced intense, violent, suicidal thoughts, agitation, and impulsivity. Whether their symptoms were induced by fluoxetine or were related to their underlying psychological problems is unclear. As with any other antidepressant, fluoxetine should only be used under close medical supervision. Patients are advised to consider telling relatives and friends about their use of this drug and the risk of suicidal obsession and self-injurious behavior.
Worst Pills Best Pills by Sidney M Wolfe MD and Larry D Sasich PharmD MPH, page 235
On September 20, 1991, the FDA held a hearing to discuss a request that warnings be placed upon the labels of Prozac and other antidepressants, which was made by Ralph Nader's health research group, The Public Citizen. They felt that problems were serious enough that warning labels mentioning the possible side effects of "violence and suicide" should be put on the bottle to make consumers more aware of the rapidly mounting evidence that Prozac may chemically induce this reaction. Ten professionals sat on the FDA board. Although the FDA had felt that the financial interests held by these ten individuals would not sway their vote, so they had them sign a statement that they would not allow that to influence them. All five who admitted their interests at the beginning of the FDA hearing voted "against" the warning label.
PROZAC Panacea or Pandora by Ann Blake Tracy PhD, page 315
Fluoxetine and the other SSRIs may reduce the risk of suicide in depressed patients. However, there have been a few reports that fluoxetine may actually induce suicidal thoughts in selected patients, although this has not been confirmed. Public Citizen's Health Research Group petitioned the Food and Drug Administration in 1991 to require a box warning in the professional product labeling for fluoxetine warning doctors that a small minority of persons taking the drug have experienced intense, violent, suicidal thoughts, agitation, and impulsivity after starting treatment with the drug. You should not take this drug for mild depression or anxiety, or as a sleeping pill.
Worst Pills Best Pills by Sidney M Wolfe MD and Larry D Sasich PharmD MPH, page 235
Because of her suicidal and self destructive behavior her dosage of Prozac was increased, and along with that increase came an increase in suicidal ideation and self mutilation. Finally her doctor read Dr. Tiecher's report, immediately called her and told her he felt her problem was Prozac. She argued that she must "need" this antidepressant because of her odd behavior. Then as the evidence became clear to her, she asked, "You mean to tell me I have gone through this Hell because of an anti-depressant?!!" Rhonda Hala went off Prozac and returned to a normal mental and emotional state.
PROZAC Panacea or Pandora by Ann Blake Tracy PhD, page 216
I continued to check in with Joanne daily. The suicidal preoccupation subsided quickly and was completely gone within a week. Given what had happened, Joanne did not want to try another antidepressant. I wasn't feeling that bad before I started Prozac." Indeed, Joanne did fine without medication.
Prozac Backlash by Joseph Glenmullen MD, page 146
"I became obsessed with death, with my sickness. I became obsessed with the idea that I was a sick person who would have to be on antidepressants all my life. I became obsessed with dying. I thought dying was the only way out, and I had never contemplated suicide before that time. "
PROZAC Panacea or Pandora by Ann Blake Tracy PhD, page 266
Teicher and his colleagues went on to recommend that, "the practitioner be attentive to the possible emergence of suicidal ideation, even in those patients without a previous history of suicidal thoughts or actions. Patients who have previously been treated with other antidepressants or who develop intense fatigue, hypersomnia, or restlessness while taking fluoxetine [Prozac] may be at risk."
PROZAC Panacea or Pandora by Ann Blake Tracy PhD, page 154
Healy himself has continued to publish on the subject of suicidality and violence associated with Prozac. He has published numerous articles and several books, including a recent one on the Prozac-type antidepressants. The antidepressant Era, published by Harvard University Press. In court declarations, Healy reports Lilly has been guilty of "bald mischaracterization" of his statements and work. Healy says Lilly's "refusal to mount or countenance further investigation" of Prozac's causing suicide and violence "must say something about their perceptions of what the likely outcome would be."
Prozac Backlash by Joseph Glenmullen MD, page 179
Suicidality was more frequent among patients receiving Prozac than among those receiving older, tricyclic antidepressants. "The relative risk of suicidality was 3.3. Interestingly, the proportion of patients with treatment-emergent suicidality on Prozac in this study was similar to that reported by Teicher" in his original article calling attention to the problem.
Prozac Backlash by Joseph Glenmullen MD, page 163
Although Prozac was reported to have fewer side effects than most antidepressants, and this was the basis for the aggressive marketing that has pushed Prozac to the top of the charts, the FDA lists approximately 575 side effects. Additionally, Lilly admitted to the FDA on April 20, 1990 that they did not include "suicidal thoughts" as an adverse event and therefore, did not look for that as a side effect in their clinical trials on Prozac.
PROZAC Panacea or Pandora by Ann Blake Tracy PhD, page 54
In the mid-1980s, the German food and drug administration notified Lilly that they were not going to approve Prozac "because of their concern with suicidality and agitation," said Dr. Lord. She continued, "They [the Germans] said that people became agitated before the antidepressant effects came on, and that increased the risk of suicide. They wrote a memo concerning damaging effects, and Lilly then went over there and looked at the data again and pulled out cases that they didn't think were suicide. How are they to know? The investigator [researcher] thought it was a suicide attempt. They said, well we don't think it is." Difficulties in other European countries were handled in a similar way.
Prozac Backlash by Joseph Glenmullen MD, page 169
One of the latest flaps in psychiatry circles that has spilled into the public press, deals with the safety of the SSRIs. Occasional suicides and violent behavior in children have led to calls by some to follow the lead of the British equivalent of our FDA in banning all SSRIs for children except Prozac, and early in February 2004 the FDA was scheduled to hold hearings on the issue. Days before the hearing, a group of researchers from the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology, headed by two prominent academic psychiatrists, released a preliminary analysis of their Task Force on SSRIs and Suicidal Behavior in Youth. It concluded that antidepressants did not increase the suicide risk in children, and that the benefits of SSRIs outweighed their risks.59 Their report was immediately criticized because nine of the ten panel members allegedly had "extensive ties to the pharmaceutical industry."60 Some critics labeled their report "junk science"; others were less restrained.61 At the hearing, FDA regulators testified that their analysis did suggest that in clinical trials the risk of suicide in children was increased over those taking placebos with some of the SSRIs.62 So far, the FDA has decided only to require a warning about possible suicide tendencies in descriptions of these drugs.
On The Take by Jerome P Kassirer M.D., page 127
Had the FDA decided to add a warning on suicide and violence to the label of antidepressants, this would have necessitated closer monitoring of patients, markedly reducing Prozac's unique appeal for primary-care clinicians.
Prozac Backlash by Joseph Glenmullen MD, page 167
All of these drugs by reducing 5HIAA serotonin levels should, therefore, produce any or all of the listed behaviors associated with low 5HIAA serotonin levels, ie: suicide, arson, violence, alcoholism, depression, insomnia, impulsive behavior, etc. These are many of the symptoms which patients are encouraged to take these drugs to alleviate. This has been a most incredible deception. Whatever the reason for patients, many physicians, the FDA, Congress, any of us, to have been kept in dark about the critical similarity of these antidepressant drugs to the psychedelic drugs and their potential to induce these behaviors is absolutely inexcusable.
PROZAC Panacea or Pandora by Ann Blake Tracy PhD, page 109