Neuroleptics and Tardive Dyskinesia in Children

Philip Hickey, PhD
29
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There’s an interesting February 11, 2014, article on Peter Breggin’s website:  $1.5 Million Award in Child Tardive Dyskinesia Malpractice.  (Thanks to Mad in America for the link.)

Here’s the opening paragraph:

“On February 11, 2014 a Chicago jury awarded $1.5 million to an autistic child who developed a severe case of tardive dyskinesia and tardive akathisia while being treated by psychiatrists with Risperdal and then Zyprexa between 2002 and 2007. The drug-induced disorder was diagnosed when he was fifteen years old and by then had become disabling and irreversible.”

Tardive dyskinesia is a movement disorder characterized by repetitive, involuntary movements, including:  grimacing, tongue movements, chewing, lip smacking, puckering of the lips, purposeless limb and body movements, etc. . .  The movements are sometimes described as Parkinsonian-like.

Tardive akathisia involves feelings of inner restlessness that can range from a mild sense of inner discomfort to an almost unbearable feeling of generalized tension. Victims of this condition can seldom sit still.  They usually pace a great deal, sometimes for hours on end, and even when they sit or lie down, their limbs are in more or less constant motion.

Apparently the individual in Dr. Breggin’s paper was diagnosed with autism as a child and was prescribed SSRI’s before the age of seven.  The SSRI’s caused some deterioration in the child’s behavior and mental condition, to combat which his first psychiatrist prescribed Risperdal (risperidone).  Subsequently a second psychiatrist added Zyprexa (olanzapine) to the cocktail.  Both Risperdal and Zyprexa are neuroleptics (euphemistically known in psychiatric circles as antipsychotics), and are known to cause tardive dyskinesia.

On the face of it, one would think that this would be a big story.  One can picture the headline:  “Psychiatrists Destroy Child’s Brain.”  But in fact, the only references to this case that I’ve been able to find are the present article on Peter Breggin’s site, and links to Dr. Breggin’s article on Mad in America, Carl Elliott’s blog (Fear and Loathing in Bioethics), and Jon Rappoport’s Blog.  Pharma’s stranglehold on the media is as effective as a government security blackout.

The truly tragic aspect of all this is that the neurotoxic effects of SSRI’s and neuroleptics are well known.  It’s not like the thalidomide tragedy of the early 1960’s, in which the teratogenic effects weren’t known until it was too late.  At which point, incidentally, the drug was taken off the market.

In the case of neuroleptics, or major tranquilizers as they used to be called, the link to tardive dyskinesia has been known for decades.  In fact, Jean Delay and Pierre Deniker, French psychiatrists who are generally “credited” with introducing neuroleptics into psychiatry in the early 1950’s, promoted the notion that the dyskinesic effect was linked to the putative therapeutic effect.  For this reason, they routinely raised the dose until this produced noticeable dyskinesia.

As the second generation neuroleptics became available, it was widely touted by pharma and by psychiatrists that these new drugs would not cause tardive dyskinesia.  That claim is now discredited.  The second generation neuroleptics do cause tardive dyskinesia, though perhaps at a slower rate than the earlier drugs. [CATIE Study]

The incidence of tardive dyskinesia among people who take neuroleptics is high.  The risk generally increases with higher doses and longer duration.  Psychiatrists justify this neurotoxification on the grounds of the “benefit” outweighing the risk, but it is truly difficult to imagine what benefit the individual in this case derived from these drugs that would outweigh his present plight.

Another argument that psychiatrists use in this area is that through careful observation, they can spot tardive dyskinesia in its very early stages, and by stopping the drug at that point, can arrest the problem.  The argument is specious, however, on two grounds.  Firstly, although the drugs cause this problem, they also mask its manifestation.  By the time the problem is sufficiently pronounced to break through the masking effect, it has already reached an advanced stage.  Secondly, the tardive dyskinesia is not only a disabling and disfiguring movement disorder, it is also an indication of more generalized neurological damage.  Here’s a quote from Joseph Glenmullen’s book Prozac Backlash (2000):

“We still do not fully understand how tics reflecting permanent brain damage develop with major tranquilizers.  But when one looks at the symptoms, the best model to explain them is that the appearance of noticeable tics is merely the final stage in a process of slow, progressive damage.” (p 57) [Emphasis added]

For readers who are not familiar with tardive dyskinesia, there are videos herehere, and here.  If you do a Google search, you can find others.

In my experience, there is a widespread belief among the general public that tardive dyskinesia is a “symptom” of the condition known as schizophrenia.  Almost everybody over the age of 40 who has been “diagnosed” as “schizophrenic” has been prescribed neuroleptics, and most of these people have tardive dyskinesia, so it’s not surprising that the public is confused.  Tardive dyskinesia is extraordinarily disfiguring and disabling, and serves to confirm the popular view – avidly promoted by psychiatrists – that “schizophrenia” is a progressive brain disease.  This is even more the case in that, as the victims of this neurotoxic assault continue to ingest these drugs, their presentation becomes steadily more disfiguring and more stigmatizing – “confirming” that “schizophrenia” is a progressive condition.

Organized psychiatry routinely claims that it is working hard to reduce the stigma associated with “mental illness,” and they castigate us “mental illness deniers” for allegedly increasing this stigma.  If psychiatry were seriously interested in destigmatizing these individuals, they would take some of the money that they are currently using to promote their profession, and use it to tell the public the truth:  that tardive dyskinesia is caused by psychoactive drugs!; that tardive dyskinesia is caused by psychiatrists and is entirely preventable.  But apparently the APA feel that they have better things to do with their money.

Psychiatry in America today is little more than a marketing arm for pharma.  Neuroleptics are neurotoxic drugs that, at least initially, have a controlling and dampening effect on agitated, aggressive behavior.  In the long term – and psychiatry routinely promotes them as long-term treatments – they are fraught with truly horrendous adverse potential.

Whatever might be argued about their use for consenting adults (and I recognize psychiatry’s creative understanding of the word “consent”), it’s difficult to even imagine how practitioners can foist these products onto children, whose brains are still developing.  By what kind of mental gymnastics can a psychiatrist prescribe these products to a child, and at the same time maintain even a semblance of self-esteem?

How much more destruction and how many more lawsuits is it going to take before psychiatrists recognize the obvious truth:  that you can’t help people by damaging their brains?  What is it about psychiatry that renders its adherents so narcissistically unreceptive to this patently clear reality?

In December 2012, Mark Olfson, MD, et al, published an article in the Archives of General Psychiatry.  The title is National Trends in the Office-Based Treatment of Children, Adolescents, and Adults with AntipsychoticsThe authors collected data from the National Ambulatory Medical Care Surveys for the period 1993-2009, and looked for trends in antipsychotic prescribing for children, adolescents, and adults in outpatient visits.  Here are the results:

Age Increase in no. of antipsychotic prescriptions per 100 population (1993-2009)
0-13 0.24-1.83 (almost 8-fold)
14-20 0.78-3.76 (almost 5-fold)
21+ 3.25-6.18 (almost 2-fold)

 

The authors provide a breakdown of the diagnoses assigned to the children and adolescents during the antipsychotic visits.

Diagnosis Visits %
Children
(0-13)
Adolescents
(14-20)
Schrizophrenia 6.0 8.1
Bipolar 12.2 28.8
Depression 11.2 20.9
Anxiety 15.9 14.4
Dev Disorders 13.1 5.0
Disruptive Behavior Disorders 63.0 33.7
Other Dx’s 18.0 16.8

 

Percentages do not total 100, because some individuals were assigned more than one diagnosis.

As one can see, the most frequent use of these products for children of all ages, but especially for those under the age of 14, is disruptive behavior disorders.  In other words, the drugs are being used to control misbehavior.

On September 24, 2012, an article by Richard Friedman, MD, psychiatrist, appeared in the New York Times.  The article was titled A Call for Caution on Antipsychotic DrugsHere’s a quote:

“…there has been a vast expansion in the use of these second-generation antipsychotic drugs in patients of all ages, particularly young people. Until recently, these drugs were used to treat a few serious psychiatric disorders. But now, unbelievably, these powerful medications are prescribed for conditions as varied as very mild mood disorders, everyday anxiety, insomnia and even mild emotional discomfort.”

There is nothing to suggest that Dr. Friedman’s call for caution has been heeded.  In fact, according to Drugs.com, Abilify (aripiprazole), a second generation neuroleptic, was the best-selling drug in the US for all four quarters of 2013. (Q1, Q2, Q3, and Q4.)  Not just the best-selling psychiatric drug – the best selling drug, period!

Psychiatry is not something good that needs some minor corrections.  Psychiatry is something fundamentally flawed and rotten.  Organized psychiatry is so intoxicated by its own self-congratulatory rhetoric, that it has rendered itself blind to the reality – that it is destroying people’s brains.

* * * * *

This blog first appeared on Philip Hickey’s Behaviorism and Mental Health

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29 COMMENTS

  1. Dr. Hickey,

    Great article per usual. I’m very glad you are focusing on this monstrous poisoning of our nation’s children as well as adults who must care for those children. I am also thankful for Dr. Peter Breggin’s ongoing fight against this evil paradigm. I am also forever grateful to him that he exposed this vile biopsychiatry menace from its very beginnings with his great books, Toxic Psychiatry, and Your Drug May Be Your Problem, 2nd edition, among many others along with his very informative web sites and newsletter. Dr. Breggin has been more than validated as the corruption and fraud surrounding the biopsychiatry/Big Pharma cartel is increasingly exposed.

    I’ve been an avid reader of all of your great articles on your own web site though I haven’t commented on your web site (yet). I’m very happy your very informative, common sense (not so common) articles are being shared at MIA.

    Thank you for your hard efforts to expose the predatory agenda of biopsychiatry once it sold out to Big Pharma.

  2. Yes, great article as usual.

    I had tremors while in benzo withdrawal – not recognized as such. Prescribed antidepressants for ‘agitated depression’. Result of antidepressants was akathisia which was treated with more antidepressants and then antipsychotics and then sleeping pills three times a day and once at night to control the increasing agitation. Then diagnosed with vegetative depression when I fell asleep during appointments, and psychotic depression when my limbs would not stop moving when I sat.

    I walked during appointments and marched on the spot when I stopped to talk to friends on the street.

    I carried a copy of Peter Breggin’s book ‘Your Drug May be Your Problem’ everywhere I went but not one doctor was interested.

    I went to a psychiatric facility for help in withdrawing from drugs. They found my behaviour ‘bizarre’ and forcibly detained me and forced me to have ECT.

    I have my medical records and see from nurses’ notes that I was pacing the halls all night and was ordered back into my room several times.

    That was 10 years ago. I still have persistent unpleasant movement in one foot. The moment I was out of the hospital, I tapered myself off all drugs.

    What chance does a child have?

    Thank you Philip Hickey and thank you Dr. Breggin.

    • “What chance does a child have?” That’s what concerns me the most, too, amnesia. I’m so sorry for what happened to you, but am glad you got off the toxic drugs.

      Thank you, Dr. Hickey, for this article. As a person who was egregiously poisoned with neuroleptics, and does suffer “mild” (I can usually hide it, or people take the grimaces as smiles, and smile back) long run tardive dyskinesia and tardive akathesia. I’m mortified and disgusted by the psychiatric industry’s continuing torture of other human beings, especially children.

      And a quick question, do the tardive dyskinesia and tardive akathesia continue to get worse, or do these horrible effects of the neuroleptics subside, once one is off the meds? Do you know?

      I’m so grateful you are pointing out the deplorable and inanely stupid reality that the psychiatric industry thinks it can “help people by damaging their brains.”

      In my case, I was made sick by doctors intentionally harming me because they wanted to cover up a “bad fix” on a broken bone and medical evidence of the sodomy of my child. But it’s shocking to me to learn that psychiatrists are pretending the same way they cover up easily recognized iatrogenic artifacts and pastoral sins, is how they “cure” childhood behavior issues.

      Forgive me, but I couldn’t be more disgusted by today’s psychiatric community.

        • From what I’ve gathered it seems that most (if not possibly all) types of brain damage are self-perpetuating. A damaged brain doesn’t function properly and can therefor produce more damage over time because of it. It’s ironic too because psychiatry doesn’t disagree with that understanding of brain damage. It’s why they say the patients need the drugs in the first place, to correct their brain malfunctions so it doesn’t cause brain damage… smh

        • Dr. Hickey,

          Thank you for the reply. And I agree, “psychiatry has truly become something horrendous.” Actually, since their falsely advertised “new wonder drugs,” were ‘t actually “new,” I guess that means psychiatry has always been “something horrendous.”

          And my understanding from reading about psychiatry’s history and goals, is this takeover and destruction of other human beings has been their intentional goal for decades. I personally don’t see the difference between today’s “lacking in validity” “disorders” and the Nazi’s “lacking in validity” “disorders.” Do you? Forgive me for calling a spade, a spade.

          But, Dr. Hickey, the mainstream medical establishment is largely to blame for giving psychiatry legitimacy. And I understand full well, mainstream medicine is advocating belief in psychiatric fallacies and iatrogenesis, because the psychiatrists and their drugs are the tools mainstream medicine utilizes to prevent malpractice suits.

          But I hope the mainstream medical community will stop advocating belief in psychiatry’s “bible” of stigmatizations. And work to end psychiatry’s right to hold people against their will, defame, and force medicate them. Mainstream medicine should change it ways, behave in a respectable manner instead, and learn that not even doctors should have a legal right to kill or take away other human beings civil rights.

          It’s all about power and money. We have the wrong people in charge right now. But I do thank you for speaking out, Dr. Hickey. Please encourage more doctors to break the wall of silence.

    • amnesia,

      Thanks for coming in. I’m glad that you found a way out of this nightmare. Tragically, most do not. Psychiatrists remain blind to this trail of destruction that they leave in their wake, blithely attributing the deterioration to the “disease.

      Indeed, what chance does a child have?

  3. Of course most people here know my story, but to recap: I was a child who was given psych drugs initially for ADD, had bad reactions to stimulant drugs over time and then wound up on cocktails of powerful drugs, eventually developing movement disorders, weird as-of-yet-unnamed nerve and sensory problems, among serious mental and emotional suffering that comes from not only being an abuse victim harmed for life, but having to live in a society where not only do most people deny it, but the sort of people who did it to me in the first place continue having the power to do it again because I’m on SSI and have a history of “mental illness”… I have to constantly worry about my emotions getting the best of me, the police being called, and then having to go through it all again.

    Imagine if child molesters could cause it’s victims to live in life long fear because they had the legal authority to take custody of them as adults to do it all over again. It’s how I feel about it, and if people think that’s an offensive or insensitive comparison, than you truly know nothing of psychiatry and these drugs.

    • “What chance does a child have?” That’s what concerns me the most, too, amnesia. I’m so sorry for what happened to you, but am glad you got off the toxic drugs.

      Thank you, Dr. Hickey, for this article. As a person who was egregiously poisoned with neuroleptics, and does suffer “mild” (I can usually hide it, or people take the grimaces as smiles, and smile back) long run tardive dyskinesia and tardive akathesia. I’m mortified and disgusted by the psychiatric industry’s continuing torture of other human beings, especially children.

      And a quick question, do the tardive dyskinesia and tardive akathesia continue to get worse, or do these horrible effects of the neuroleptics subside, once one is off the meds? Do you know?

      I’m so grateful you are pointing out the deplorable and inanely stupid reality that the psychiatric industry thinks it can “help people by damaging their brains.”

      In my case, I was made sick by doctors intentionally harming me because they wanted to cover up a “bad fix” on a broken bone and medical evidence of the sodomy of my child. But it’s shocking to me to learn that psychiatrists are pretending the same way they cover up easily recognized iatrogenic artifacts and pastoral sins, is how they “cure” childhood behavior issues.

      Forgive me, but I couldn’t be more disgusted by today’s psychiatric community.

      • “And a quick question, do the tardive dyskinesia and tardive akathesia continue to get worse, or do these horrible effects of the neuroleptics subside, once one is off the meds? Do you know?”

        I know you were asking the author, but I’d like to give you my answer too. Recently there was a study in the news here finding that most cases of tardive dyskenisia were permanent. But beyond that, I feel I should tell you a few things about both it, it’s history and the problems with researching it.

        The study that was linked recently was to be considered one of the more valid studies ever done because it supposedly followed people who took the drugs for non-psychiatric purpose and never went back on the drugs afterwards. The neuroleptic (nerve and muscle seizing effects) effects of drugs themselves will restrain the movements in the early stages of TD’s development, and if a psychiatrist periodically increases the dose or ads more to the cocktail, they can effectively keep TD hidden for years, all while making the underlying cause significantly worse. This is why the research literature on the prevalence and/or permanency of TD cannot be trusted.

        I’ve read a lot over the years that leads me to believe that TD is different in every case, and remarkably different in many cases. Yet, doctors, including neurologists, are stubbornly resistant to diagnose it unless the symptoms fit a very (and needlessly) specific mold.

        For me, it has come and gone and affected different parts of my body all the time. It began around when I was 14 with grunting noise and neck and head movements. At some point when I was 16-17 that went away and it turned into involuntary contraction of my chest/rib and breathing muscles along with facial grimacing and a “motor tic” in my upper lip. That ran a course of fluctuating severity until I was about 22, when it almost completely went away most of the time until I was 25 when it came back harder than ever, affecting the hips, legs, hands (especially terrifying to this day because of all the time I’ve invested in playing guitar) and for a few months I could not drive or safely walk.

        Beginning about when I was 27-28, it has since been mostly in my jaw (where it had never been before) and causes me to constantly go back and forth between under and over bite, often stopping at one or the other to clench before going back to the other. As always, the severity fluctuates, and sometimes it goes away completely or nearly completely for brief periods of time, before coming back.

        So, my experience is that it’s permanent, even when it’s technically not. And this makes sense, because there reason to think that the brain can return to normal, so there’s no reason to think it will ever truly be done, even if the movements for some reason are from time to time.

          • JefferyC,

            Thank you for the reply. I’m getting to the point I’m realizing that indeed, the patients apparently do know more than the doctors, so I’m grateful for your insight. But I will say, it was odd when a person interviewing me asked, “So, how does it feel to know more about the drugs than the doctors?” Initially, I was taken aback, because I hadn’t realized I knew more than the doctors.

            But, I thought about it, and realized. Well, of course someone who’s experienced the drugs personally, who wasn’t blinded by pharmaceutical sales pitches and publication bias, and actually bothered to read thousands of patient concerns all over the internet, would in fact know more than dismissive and disrespectful doctors.

            And even my new doctor, the head of a department at a very well respected US hospital, who seems like a good doctor, didn’t know Wellbutrin, given for smoking cessation (a desire to quit smoking was the etiology of my “bipolar”), could have unusual sexual side effects. I had to explain to him that there was a publication bias problem in the mainstream medical journals and that I was fully aware that the medical journal articles were not reporting this as an issue with Wellbutrin. Then I explained that if he googled Wellbutrin and increased libido, he’d find lots of people have notice this odd sexual side effect.

            But my point is, JeffreyC, thank you. Your insights – and the concerns of many online patients – have more validity, than anything the psychiatrists or neurologists are spewing. Please remind yourself 100 times that you are an important and intelligent human being. (Forgive me, I’m finding intentionally thinking positive thoughts is helping me with the angst due to the tardive akathesia, perhaps such may help you as well?). And I do hope you know that you are an intelligent and important human being, and that the doctors who defamed and drugged you as a small child are indeed disgusting and inappropriate beings. I am so sorry you were attacked as a child. That’s appalling!

            My experience with tardive dyskinesia is similar to yours, in that it seems to come and go, and manifests itself differently at different times. It’s not so serious that I can not hide it, or control it, most the time. I really haven’t researched it much yet. But I likely will, there’s a lady at my church who has to physically hold her jaw, because her TD is so bad. It breaks my heart to watch her, and I don’t know if she’s even been told the condition is caused by the drugs, or if she’s been weaned off them yet.

            What a living nightmare, for so many millions, psychiatry has made of this country. The soulless seem to have decided to wage a war against us decent folk who are hoping our souls will have eternal life. God save the decent, please.

  4. JeffreyC: The concerns you raise are the same ones as my son always raises. I can only write about him anonymously because he fears being revictimized. As long as psychiatrists continue to have as much power as they do, the world will be very frightening for victims and their loved ones. I hope that you can find support on the internet on sites such as this one, Psych Rights, and MindFreedom. I hope you can also connect with a few individuals who will commit to supporting you if you should ever be victimized again. There are many people who understand what you have gone through.

    • MadinCanada and JefferyC,

      Forgive me, I’m not certain why my previous comment showed up twice. But I would like to mention there are starting to exist mainstream doctors who are ethical and disgusted by the psychiatric industries’ crimes against it’s patients. And, in as much as they become embarrassed at having to list your prior adverse effects to psychiatric drugs as allergies to drugs, the decent PCP’s will do such. At least if you are able to medically explain you had no problems prior to psychiatric stigmatization.

  5. I sure do hope that the like on facebook button is broken. If the majority of the people in the re-thinking mental health crowd refuses to see the reality of this, then there is probably no hope for the future. Thus far, after being up all day, it has three likes on facebook… one of them being mine.

    • That’s what psychiatry has spent the past 60 years doing. They’ve been documenting the adverse effects of their drugs, and they’ve put all these psychiatric drugs ADRs into a “bible” of stigmatizations. And they’re claiming their drug induced “disorders” are “life long incurable mental illnesses.” Mindless psychiatry.

  6. Dr. Hickey, We desperately need help finding a place that will actually help our son. He was wait-listed with Kennedy Krieger, but they are unable to work out the contract with Medicaid.
    He is 18 years old, autistic son is currently (going on 5 months) and has been hospitalized 8 times for severely aggressive behavior, we know the antipsychotics have created a much, much bigger problem than he ever had. At 11 years old, he was on a “cocktail” of: risperdal, prozac, seroquel and depakote when he had his first, of many severe aggressive attacks. And that was just the beginning of ongoing new cocktails they have give him. They have burned through all the antipsychotics and he is now on Zyprexa (30 mg. day, and still having aggressive attacks) and gained 60 pounds in 4 months. The list of drugs he has been on is LONG. We know he has tardive akathisia (per Dr. Breggin’s book) and has been on all of the antipsychotics for years – at this point we are looking for a residential treatment facility – there are none in Kentucky where we live.
    He’s too dangerous to bring home, but they are threatening to release him to home, as they say there is nothing else they can do for him. Please can you give us any guidance or help?

    Sad and desperate parents here, Shelley