U.S. soldiers dangerously over-medicated with antipsychotic drugs

Friday, August 05, 2011 by: S. L. Baker, features writer
Tags: soldiers, antipsychotic drugs, health news

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(NaturalNews) As if American soldiers sent to fight America's undeclared wars in Iraq and Afghanistan haven't suffered enough, now it turns out many are being prescribed powerful, side-effect laden drugs to treat their post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). These Big Pharma mind altering concoctions are ineffective and can be downright dangerous.

Multiple studies show around 30 percent of Americans soldiers who have served in combat now suffer from PTSD. It's not surprising when you consider these facts. Imagine being so young you might still be called a "kid" by some. Only you are a soldier and instead of going to college classes and rock concerts you are watching friends your age die (about 20 percent of those killed in the U.S. military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan are between 18 and 21).

You may also be killing people yourself out of self-defense, and sometimes by mistake. Even more traumatizing, you may have witnessed your fellow soldiers torture and kill civilians. Although it is often considered "unpatriotic" to even suggest such possibilities, even the U.S. Pentagon has officially apologized about American soldiers forming a so-called "death squad" to randomly murder Afghan civilians, mutilate their corpses, and keep their body parts as trophies.

PTSD typically occurs after someone has experienced a situation like the ones described above -- it results when a person has the severe shock of feeling their life was in danger or there was a sense of extreme hopelessness or helplessness.

The condition is characterized by re-experiencing the painful memory, trying to avoid anything that reminds them the traumatic events, and being kept in a state of hyper-arousal when reminded of the trauma. Earlier this year, research published in the JAMA Archives of General Psychiatry concluded that those who experienced post-traumatic stress disorder during combat in Iraq were also more likely to suffer longer-term health problems including depression, headaches, tinnitus, irritability and memory problems than soldiers who experienced only concussions without PTSD.

Now comes a new and disturbing study just published in JAMA (the Journal of the American Medical Association) that reveals patients with military-related, chronic PTSD are typically treated with antidepressants known as serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SRIs, such as Prozac). The drugs don't often work and doctors are now using a heavier drug -- the antipsychotic medication risperidone, also found to be ineffective.

Background information in the JAMA report notes that PTSD is among the most common and disabling psychiatric disorders among soldiers who have faced combat and according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), almost 90 percent of veterans diagnosed with PTSD are prescribed SRIs. The authors of the study stated that an SRI study in veterans produced negative results so antipsychotics (SGAs) are now commonly used medications for PTSD symptoms "despite limited evidence supporting this practice."

In other words, without data showing this is a good, reasonable way to treat PTSD, doctors are routinely drugging tens of thousands of U.S veterans with these mind altering drugs.

John H. Krystal, M.D., of the VA Connecticut Healthcare System, West Haven, Conn., and colleagues conducted a study to see whether risperidone (an antipsychotic drug often used for the treatment of schizophrenia and bipolar disorder), when added to an ongoing Big Pharma drug regimen, would be more effective than placebo for calming chronic military-related PTSD symptoms in veterans who had already been subjected to at least two treatment regimens with SRI drugs.

The randomized, placebo-controlled trial lasted six months and involved 367 patients who received either risperidone (up to 4 mg once daily) or placebo and other psychosocial mental health therapies. Symptoms of PTSD, depression, anxiety and other health outcomes were measured with a variety of scales and surveys.

After analyzing their data, what did the scientists find? Absolutely no statistically significant difference between risperidone and placebo in helping reduce PTSD symptoms after 6 months of treatment. What's more, risperidone was not statistically superior to placebo on any other way -- including improving quality of life, depression, anxiety, or paranoia/psychosis.

"Overall, the data do not provide strong support for the current widespread prescription of risperidone to patients with chronic SRI-resistant military-related PTSD symptoms, and these findings should stimulate careful review of the benefits of these medications in patients with chronic PTSD," the authors concluded in their study.

Meanwhile, countless veterans continue to receive this powerful drug which does not help PTSD. The drug also causes a host of other problems including these side effects: confusion, inability to control body movements, heart problems, dizziness, nausea and vomiting, diarrhea, weight gain, stomach pain, anxiety and agitation, restlessness, vision problems, difficulty urinating, inability to perform sexually, and seizures.

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