Psych Drugs Kill vs Psych Drugs Save Lives. What if Both Are True?


Sometimes I happen upon folks talking about the work on Beyond Meds when I’m out and about on the internets. The other day for example I found a google group full of people who were largely inspired by the work on this blog. It was a lovely and surreal moment as I accidentally eaves dropped on their comments of gratitude about having found Beyond Meds.

Today instead I stumbled upon a comment in which the person mused the opposite. She was not at all comfortable with my message:

Hrmmmm . . . read over this lady’s pages and I just can’t get behind anything she says. I think it’s IMMENSELY dangerous to suggest that the bulk of psychiatric disorders aren’t even illnesses, and that psych meds are hokum. Clearly, she was over medicated and under treated as a teenager. However, I think this “withdrawal symptom” is a load of BS and is, in actuality, her disorder in an untreated and worsening state. Do you withdrawal from meds initially, sure, but for years? I doubt it. And it’s not as if I don’t have experience here. I was on some serious meds as a teen and young adult, and like her, wasn’t getting anywhere but sedated and deadened. However, finding the right meds takes time and a good doctor. I finally got there and found out that my mood swings and sensitivity didn’t have to be the way I lived my life. Without my meds, I can honestly say I wouldn’t be here.

The only real issue here is that she imagines her experience is somehow universal. We are all individuals and when we forget that we are potentially dangerous to anyone for whom we think we know better than they do.

I am not this woman and she is not me. There is room for both of our experiences. When we project our experience onto someone else we cease to respect them. We cease to acknowledge them as a separate person.

Let us stop doing that to one another. I won’t do it to this woman who found that medications saved her life. I ask that she and others like her not do it to those of us who have been gravely harmed by the very same medications.

And to those of us who’ve been harmed I send great big hugs and love because it’s doctors and a medical system who believe as this woman does that continue to make it difficult for us to heal once we’ve been iatrogenically injured.

In response to her concern that I am in a worsening state I can only say that I am in a state of deep gratitude for the lovely healing machine that my body is as my improvements take on an exponential pace. Everyday I can do more now and also everyday now I understand more about my body/mind and spirit.

I am in awe of this life we have been given. Let us respect the path, however it unfolds, in each and every one of us.

* * * * *

See: Many Paths (as Many as There Are Beings)

Please do not attempt to discontinue psych drugs without first very carefully educating yourself on the risks involved so that you might minimize the chances of developing grave iatrogenic illness if you decide to withdraw:

Psychiatric Drug Withdrawal and Protracted Withdrawal Syndrome Round-Up

More on topic: 

●  Stop Taking Your Meds, Right Now . . . (NOT!)

●  To My Friends and Readers Who Still Take Psych Drugs (and to the whole spectrum of folks on and off meds too)

●  Informed Consent and Pro-Choice When it Comes to Drugs and Medications

●  Dogmatic Anti-Meds Stance Can Be Dangerous

●  Some Thoughts on Stopping Psychiatric Medications

(This article was first posted on Beyond Meds)


Mad in America hosts blogs by a diverse group of writers. These posts are designed to serve as a public forum for a discussion—broadly speaking—of psychiatry and its treatments. The opinions expressed are the writers’ own.


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  1. Well I think you have to ask if the person who wrote that might have gotten better over time without treatment and if how they are now is mainly just a result of time passing.

    I don’t know, the sentiment you express is noble but there are sides in this, I don’t really think that it’s projection to use your own experiences as evidence when advocating, and on this issue I don’t see a problem with advocating.

    But hey, maybe they’re just true believers and you’re still in your denial phase 🙂

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      • Yes, it is solipsism or at the very least ignorant. It should be obvious— even aspirin, ibuprofen, and acetaminophen effect different people differently. Anything that passes the blood/brain barrier is likely to work for some and not for others.

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  2. I just want to thank you for presenting both sides. I have been labeled with diagnoses and overmedicated for years, and I am finally coming off of my medication. I align myself with many of the beliefs expressed on the Mad in America website, but often find myself frustrated by some of the extreme views. I believe that acknowledging, not denying, the reality of individuals like the one quoted in this article is the best way to effect change. Otherwise, we are met with resistance rather than a willingness to engage in a dialogue and an opportunity to fully explain our perspective.

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  3. “Psych drugs kill and psych drugs saves lives. What if both are true?” Many years of reading medical journal articles AND patient comments leaves me believing that you are correct, “psych drugs kill and psych drugs save lives.”

    And this seeming reality highlights the ethical considerations regarding forced psychiatric treatment (because the drugs do NOT benefit everyone, especially in the long run). And it highlights the problem with the psychiatric industry’s belief system that people’s opinions and life experiences should be disregarded, and all psychiatric patients should be drugged based solely upon the “diagnosis” they received, for life, irregardless of how the drugs affect that particular patient. Psychiatry’s current belief system is “mindless,” and absurd. And given the subjectivity and “lacking in validity” of the DSM disorders, forced treatment should be abolished.

    And, Monica, I just wanted to thank you for your web site, I got lost in reading the many posts you’ve amassed on spiritual journeys not too long ago, and am grateful for all your work.

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  4. I’ve seen people from both sides of the debate be very intolerant and contemptuous of the other. For one to dismiss another’s experience on the basis that it doesn’t align with their own says more about the judge than the judged. The fact is some do better with meds and some without.

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    • Problem is that the “getting better” on drugs is often a result of either placebo effect or spontaneous recovery, which people don’t recognise as such. I have a colleague who was on anti-depressants for years and claimed he needed to be on them because when he stopped he immediately felt horrible – typical withdrawal. A psychologist weaned him of drugs and he got his personal life together and is fine. Had he done it from the get go he would have never needed the drug.
      I wouldn’t mind people taking psych drugs as much as I don’t mind people smoking pot or doing recreational drugs as long as they know exactly what they’re getting into. However, psych drugs are sold as specific medications which will cure some magical “disorders” which is a blatant lie. Sure, some people feel better on them in the short term but same goes for alcohol and psychedelics. And this is the more dangerous because it’s well known that people in emotional distress are the most prone to addiction (if you’re life sucks and this substance makes you forget about it – there’s nothing surprising about it).
      There may be legitimate medical uses for these drugs but not for treatment of life problems.

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  5. You know I was perusing the site “” the other day. Just type in a drug and read hundreds of people’s account of the drugs effect and efficacy. Such widely varying opinions. For psych drugs you get everything from….”I turned into a zombie and wanted to die everyday…” to “this drug saved my life.”

    I agree we have to honor both sides of the issue and have courteous and open dialogue with people who strongly support using psych drugs in their life.

    At the same time, it is hard to play the balance of being open, while still reporting the strong dangers of these drugs. Very challenging indeed when you see some of the harm they have caused.

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    • it is very difficult, you’re right Jon…

      the articles I link to at the bottom of this piece go deeper into the issues surrounding this topic.

      We need an infrastructure of care that supports options…and the fact that we do not is why I am such a passionate advocate for change. Right now most people have no choice. Right now many of us are harmed with impunity because we are not allowed to be free agents in our care. We are not allowed to make choices and we are told they do not exist. This is all criminal.

      None of what I say diminishes the experience of the woman who wanted to make me wrong. All it does is challenge her opinion about me and others like me. An opinion that is woefully uninformed.

      If we had choices far fewer drugs would be needed and so I continue working.

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      • Telling people the reality is not “shaming” them. That’s the NAMI’s line and its pure bullshit. People get offended when you tell them that ADHD drug is pure amphetamine and they say you’re shaming kids buy using a proper chemical name instead of the commercial drug name. this is how sick and irrational the dialogue has become.
        Same goes with diagnoses: if you tell people that depression is not a disease they shout at you in uppercase that you’re devaluing their experiences which is not true at all – if anything you’re telling them their experience is real and meaningful rather than a brain disease.
        The dialogue on the issue is so skewed by the psychiatry and pharma PR campaign that it’s super difficult to talk to people. They think that if you don’t agree with the “chemical imbalance” bullshit you’re an unscientific conspiracy theorist, if you question if every strong emotion can be labelled an illness you’re denying reality of people’s experiences and if you’re telling the drugs don’t work (which seems true for anti-depressants at least) they tell you you’re denying them the wonder drug for their brain disease.
        It’s hard to fight that battle because you have to explain to people that all they know is wrong and in the same time be very careful not to make them feel devalued.

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  6. The concept of “post acute withdrawal” has been an accepted part of addiction treatment for decades. I believe it applies to psychiatric drug withdrawal as well. There is an “acute withdrawal” phase and a “post acute withdrawal” phase, which can last 6 to 24 months. The concept of post acute withdrawal was coined by Terrance Gorski. Here is a link to Gorski’s blog, with a search of postings he’s done about post acute withdrawal:

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    • Thank you,

      some of the psych drug withdrawal syndromes last up to a decade (of course there is everything else on the spectrum, starting with virtually no problems at all upon discontinuation).

      But yes, it’s also sometimes mentioned in the psychiatric literature…just not widely understood or recognized by the medical establishment. and there is no clear treatment either which makes matters far worse.

      I suppose most notably David Healy refers to it frequently…most doctors are still on the fence about it…even those critical of psych meds.

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      • Hi Monica
        I like what you say about tolerance.
        My experience is that withdrawal syndrome can last indefinitely or be permanent. But that its possible to compensate for it in such a way, that its manageable. I consumed light doses of psychotropics for years after I came off the strong stuff – I had no choice, I had to learn to adapt to my chemically induced imbalance.

        In my opinion even a well person can be turned into a long term mentally Ill person, through irresponsible exposure to strong psychiatric drugs. Its the withdrawal syndrome that locks the young person into long term sickness.

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  7. A Conversation with Robert Whitaker

    The Astonishing Rise of Mental Illness in America



    Levine: Big Pharma and their partners in establishment psychiatry would like the general public to believe that the only critics of psychiatry are Scientologists. In reality, most scientists who are critics of psychiatry are also critics of the pseudoscience of Scientology. It is my experience that serious critics of psychiatry are not anti-drug zealots. For example, I know that you have talked with “psychiatric survivors” — ex-patients who want to reform mental health treatment. David Oaks, one of the leading activists in the psychiatric survivor movement, often repeats that some members of his MindFreedom organization continue to take their psychiatric drugs while many choose not to, and what MindFreedom and other psychiatric survivors are fighting for is truly informed choice and a wider range of treatment options. Do you think that David Oaks’s fight is the right one?

    Whitaker: Big Pharma and their partners in establishment psychiatry have smartly used Scientology to defuse criticism of their medications. I honestly believe that if Scientology weren’t around, then our society could have a much more rational discussion about our drug-based paradigm of care. As for the position taken by MindFreedom and other psychiatric survivors, I basically do think that is the right one to take, with two caveats. In order to make a “truly informed choice,” a person needs to know the long-term effects of a treatment. It’s not enough for people to be fully informed about the immediate “side effects” of a drug. People need to be presented with information about whether such treatment has been shown to better the long-term course of the disorder, or worsen it. They need to be told about long-term physical and cognitive problems that often arise with every day use of psychiatric drugs. So providing people with a “truly informed choice” is a tall order.

    My second caveat is this: As a society, we expect the medical community to develop the best possible form of care. We do not expect a medical community to offer a therapy that regularly leads to a bad end. And so, if we were to draw up a blueprint for reforming the current paradigm of care, it would be nice if the psychiatric community would try to develop therapeutic approaches that involved using psychiatric medications in a selective, cautious way that best promoted good long-term outcomes. In other words, I think psychiatry does have a responsibility to develop a true evidence-based model for using its drugs, a model that incorporates the long-term outcomes data. In the solution section of Anatomy of an Epidemic, I write of how doctors and psychologists in northern Finland use antipsychotics in a selective, cautious manner when treating first-episode psychotic patients, and their long-term outcomes are, by far, the best in the Western World. So if you believe in evidence-based medicine, then American psychiatry should look to the Finnish program as a model for reform. Doctors have a responsibility to lead, but I think that you see in David Oaks’ position a belief that establishment psychiatry in America cannot be trusted to provide such leadership. He’s right to believe that, of course, and that’s what is so tragic about modern American psychiatry.

    BRUCE E. LEVINE is a clinical psychologist and his latest book is Surviving America’s Depression Epidemic: How to Find Morale, Energy, and Community in a World Gone Crazy (Chelsea Green Publishing, 2007). His Web site is

    Given that biopsychiatry and its toxic drugs are based only on the most pernicious, self serving lies, as Bob Whitaker points out here, informed consent is a joke for the most part. I disagree that there are two equal sides here in that the biopsychiatry/Big Pharma/Corrupt government hacks cartel perpetrate organized crime that is far more lethal for far more profits than the illegal mafia. They are on a par with the tobacco industry with “doubt as their business” as they continue their lies to continue to profit by destroying countless lives in the guise of help for the purpose of fascist social control for the power elite.

    Smokers destroying their health and lives argue that smoking calms them and other benefits just like those taking psych drugs. Some day I hope those taking psych drugs will feel like the same as unhealthy leper poison imbibers/promoters as smokers have been made to feel!! Psychiatry and its toxic drugs need to be abolished because there is too much room for their abuse by the psychopaths/malignant narcissists in power in homes, work, schools, government, medicine, etc.

    I have full sympathy for the majority tricked into these lethal, useless drugs based on bogus DSM stigmas and the need to slowly withdraw from them. But, with the tons of information about the huge harm of these toxic drugs with very little benefit, anyone speaking of them as life saving is sadly misguided. They may have been brainwashed to believe this garbage, but owe it to themselves and others to do their homework and learn the truth. As Dr. Peter Breggin points out, those on these drugs are often so “spellbound” they can’t see how bad off they really are on them, but others sure see it, especially those who want their victims on them for self serving, evil purposes.

    See Dr. Grace Jackson’s Rethinking Psychiatric Drugs: A Guide for Informed Consent and countless others exposing the huge bodily harm from these poisons!

    And the ever increasing disability tax burden is no small thing to keep allowing the mental death profession to destroy people’s health and lives from cradle to grave for greed, power, profit and status as fake doctors.

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  8. I’m with Donna on this, and notice that the woman who degraded your line of reasoning on the web was not representing a real side in the question of good meds or bad meds for some one person. She was deciding to go along with mainstream and support group raps in not questioning doctors. You have to shop around for a good doctor? You have to travel, for Christ’s sake.

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  9. My sibling is a psychologist in private practice and we argue about psych drugs versus no psych drugs. She says some of her clients have to be on drugs to curtail their symptoms and I reply have you ever seen them off these drugs?? On lower doses? How do you know it’s them or drugs causing these internal disruptions? I have slowly brought her over a little to my side of the fence and now she makes sure her clients are on the lowest dose possible.

    I know a few people who swear psych drugs keep them balanced but I don’t see that they are better? I feel they have bought into the “I’m replicating ill” through years of constant indoctrination.

    I went through years of psychiatric drug withdrawal, I many times have no idea how I endured it. I was bedridden and in pain not sleeping for days. The prescribing psychiatrist was no help at all and refused to believe I was having withdrawals. Today psych drug free I can once again have a life without akathisia and the awful toxic effects of psych drugs but my body has never fully recovered. Did psychiatric drugs help me ?? No, they never did and in fact made me worse. I do not think long term use of psychiatric drugs is in any way safe.

    Monica, I always appreciate your blog and MIA postings. You have opened a few eyes to what has happened and continues to happen with the toxic effects of psychiatric drugs. Thank you.

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    • “I know a few people who swear psych drugs keep them balanced but I don’t see that they are better?”
      I’ve seen that too. ADHD drugs are known to create the impression of better performance while objectively they confer no improvement and I have a friend who has fallen for that. I also know a guy who had been on anti-depressants half his life and was an incredible jerk – his psychologist weaned him of and he found a stable relationship and somehow is a perfectly normal, even likable human being. I can’t say how much his jerkiness was the result rather than in spite of drugs but they certainly didn’t help him with anything that solving of his life problems did. But he’ll still defend the drugs because every time he tried to quit them (cold turkey) he’s get a horrible depression – nobody told him about withdrawal…

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  10. Another thing about the official view of medication as indispensably good. Possibly, most psych workers fear what they see happening to people for their patients’ own good, when they see them transition into real or apparent psychosis–seemingly from “not taking their meds”. But this well-intended reaction to their fears for what has happened to their patients only works according to how it validates the existing hospital mandates, instead of working consistently in favor of preventing and alleviating painful expereinces.

    They don’t take notice of the fact that the recurrent problems of patients who faithfully adhere to their prescriptions, viewed in light of the whole range of effects of treatment, suggests that medication frequently debilitates and adds stress to persons already at a disadvantage for coping with things. Telling worse, is the likely event that they naturally consider from time to time that warning people to taper could keep some from going too far, too fast, or becoming desperate and suicidal–but they won’t bring up the idea of withdrawal, since that allows questions and choice and temptations. The staff are usually happy just to assume that everyone who “withdraws” will kill themselves or get in trouble and visit them in the hospital again.

    They are entirely content to remain oblivious if it means not confronting change and questions.

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    • Problem is there is no good definition of what these drugs are supposed to achieve. When you take insulin, there is a clear objective – you should bring down your blood glucose level. When you take an antibiotic it’s supposed to kill the bacteria.
      But when you kill the anti-depressant? Try to ask this question to a psychiatrist and listen t what bullshit he will come up with (unless he’s one of the more honest/smarter ones who will just stare blankly at you and the admit that he really doesn’t know). Because what is it supposed to do? Is is supposed to calm you down, sedate you? Or is it supposed to make you feel good – or high? Because these are the only two possible outcomes that can be regarded as drugs “working”. And depending on the person’s expectations any or both of them can also be labelled as a side effect – when I had my depressive period I didn’t just want to be “calm” (or rather a zombie – that was nothing like the natural, relaxed calmness) and certainly I was not looking for something to make me high. there is no objective measure to define mental illness so there cannot be any objective measure to define if one got better. So the paradigm is basically:
      patient says he/she is very sad -> depression diagnosis and a drug
      patient says he/she feels better-> drug working
      That can mean anything and nothing. And often the things that one person may consider a relief off symptoms (“drug working”) is unacceptable for another (“drug side effect”). You can get the same results drinking scotch, smoking pot or using any kind of psychoactive substance with a particular effect on you. You’re really better off long-term going to a shaman to say some magic words or someone to prescribe you homeopathy and regular exercise.

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  11. Is saying psych meds are “hokum” more dangerous than promoting their use in light of studies like this:

    “The best available evidence shows that unmedicated patients with bipolar disorder do not have a higher risk of suicide.

    Storosum and colleagues analyzed all placebo-controlled, double-blind, randomized trials of mood stabilizers for the prevention of manic/depressive episode that were part of a registration dossier submitted to the regulatory authority of the Netherlands, the Medicines Evaluation Board, between 1997 and 2003 [28]. They found four such prophylaxis trials. They compared suicide risk in patients on placebo compared with patients on active medication. Two suicides (493/100,000 person- years of exposure) and eight suicide attempts (1,969/100,000 person-years of exposure) occurred in the group given an active drug (943 patients), but no suicides and two suicide attempts (1,467/100,000 person-years of exposure) occurred in the placebo group (418 patients). Based on these absolute numbers from these four trials, I have calculated (see Figure S1 showing calculation, and see Figure 2) that active agents are most likely to be associated with a 2.22 times greater risk of suicidal acts than placebo (95% CI 0.5, 10.00).

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  12. While I agree with Dr. Breggin that psych meds should never be given to anyone, yet I can see how that might work in spite of their effects. Here is how. Someone can be so locked into a state of mind that anything that changes that can give hope. The illusion that this drug will help also has a placebo possibility. Change alone can inspire an improved mood. But the risks are terrible.

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    • Three options:
      – placebo response
      – spontaneous recovery which occurs despite the drug
      – psychoactive effect of the drug (same as when you put a person on anything which acts like a narcotic)
      From the 3 only the third could be potentially considered as a “drug working”. However, is it really reasonable to prescribe a depressed or anxious person 3 shots of vodka a day to help with his/her symptoms? If not then why should it be different for psych drugs?
      There may be some legitimate uses for some psych drugs (as there are for legal and illegal narcotics) both in medicine and for recreational purposes but they certainly don’t treat “mental illness”.

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  13. Hi Monica, There is a group in the movement–not popular here– that proscribes criticizing the patient. To do so, theyclain, is to act like a psychiatrist. The credo is the client knows best. So if she takes 5 different drugs one must respect her, i.e. accept she has made the correct decision. People in the movement who say that act as if their drugs come from a slot machine. They never want to talk about their shrinks. I used to say, “People are not addicted to their drug. They are addicted to their drug pusher.” It’s my responsibility to reach people BEFORE they are on the drugs for years–and have to pay the price. This particular woman is hopeless. But notice,”However, finding the right meds takes time and a good doctor. I finally got there and found out that my mood swings and sensitivity didn’t have to be the way I lived my life. Without my meds, I can honestly say I wouldn’t be here.” Is if the meds or the doctor? Obviously they go together. She trusts the doctor to take care of her. WE know SSRIs, e.g., are no more effective than an active placebo—50-60%.. Moncrieff found lithium was not effective. Most likely it the doctor and placebo effect ( which can be very high) of the drugs he gives her which “saved” her, not the drugs alone. The first wave of activists to get off neuroleptics hated the shrink. they placed their trust in Szasz or Breffin, and they got off successfully. Just like with LSD the effects depend up set and setting.” That is set is mind-set/expectations and setting is environment which for todays’ radical is a virtual community. And they don’t end up with diabetes and TD.
    Seth Farber, Ph.D.

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    • I’d act the spontaneous recovery to it: “finding the right meds takes time”. There is a chance when you’re running from doctor to doctor and drug to drug that you just recover in the meantime and most of how bad you feel is just a side effect of the drug mix that you’re taking in the meantime. The nice empathic doctor puts you on something that has fewer side effects and the drugs are suddenly a magical treatment.

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  14. As far as I’m concerned as long as one is alive and breathing no one is hopeless. Also as far as I can tell most everyone has some degree of lack of clarity. Our paths are endlessly varied as well and we wake up in millions of different ways.

    You would have dismissed me…just like you dismiss this woman 15 years ago.

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  15. I don’t think I “dismissed” her. I think I am realistic about the choices she will make. You want .
    her to acknowledge you’re making the right choice. Well people don’t always do what we want. She wrote,
    “I think it’s IMMENSELY dangerous to suggest that the bulk of psychiatric disorders aren’t even illnesses, and that psych meds are hokum…. I think this “withdrawal symptom” is a load of BS and is, in actuality, her disorder in an untreated and worsening state.” That does not sound like a person who is going to validate your reality. I had a client/friend, a so-called schizophrenic who got off neuroleptics when he was 27 as a result of my encouragement. Although he was doing great for 15 years his NAMI mother would not talk to him– until she was on her death bed.

    I’m not as saintly as you Monica but my guess is I probably would NOT have” dismissed” you had I met you for ONE simple reason.(I think you meant to say dismiss you not her 10 years ago.) Maybe I’m wrong but my guess is you were far more ambivalent about Psychiatry than this woman is. My impression is you have little in common in terms of your sensibility. This woman has certainly dismissed you now. If I saw the slightest sign you were ambivalent about psychiatrists or drugs I would have tried to warn you. Of course you’re a pioneer so I could not have known how far you could come after so many years on the drugs.

    But basically I believe that almost no one benefits from these drugs in the long run, I wrote “It’s my responsibility to reach people BEFORE they are on the drugs for years–and have to pay the price. This particular woman is hopeless.” I meant there is little or no chance of breaking the hold her shrink has on her, not that she’s an evil person. I would not waste my time and hers trying to change her belief system. But when people are younger or more ambivalent I will tell them that long term use of neuroleptics and SSRIs can ruin their lives—and not to listen to their psychiatrists. I would consider it a cop out to do anything less. It’s a thin line between “dismissing” someone and respecting their desire to be left alone. But in every case I’ve met, the person who raves about anti-psychotics has been brain-washed by psychiatrists. Usually the most generous thing to do is to tell them they have been deceived.

    I wonder what YOU call “dismissing” someone. Gently telling them they’ve been duped? Or quietly walking away? If you tell me the drugs are really right for THEM, I would say you are overlooking what we know about the long term effect of the drugs.

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  16. there is so much more than the body and what the drugs do to the body.

    everything I’ve done in my life (and every pill I popped into my mouth) has made me who I am…able to fight this fight and understand it from many different standpoints.

    I am grateful for every moment now and in wonder of the way life’s tapestry works.

    what a mystery that that which harmed me too has been what has forged me that I might help others.

    I’m perpetually in awe of how truth holds such paradox.

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  17. To the idea that withdrawal is not real and can’t take years – well, this claim has no grounds. The fact is, that has never been studied and saying that you can just go off drugs in a few weeks and be fine flies in the face of what people on these drugs experience. I personally took Zyprexa and Seroquel only for a very short time (I was smart enough to resist them even though they were pushed on me) and still developed the restless leg syndrome. Almost every doctor out there will tell you that this should go away when you stop the drugs, however, for me it persisted for over a year and I finally got rid of it with iron supplements (kudos to my neurologist – I was trying to fight it with magnesium but that brought only a temporary relief from cramps). It still occasionally comes back and I need to take an iron pill but it’s fortunately less and less frequent. One can say of course that I had underlying nutritional problems all along but somehow it never showed before I took the drug and started immediately after I took it. I don’t know how these drugs cause it (they have an effect on dopamine signalling and it is known to require iron but I don’t know how they can influence it over such a long term) but withdrawal is real. I don’t even want to imagine how bad it is for people who took this shit daily for months and years and in multiple drug combinations.

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  18. Monica,
    THANK YOU. Thank you for putting it all out there for others, like myself, to understand. I am currently on Lexapro 20 mg and am trying to figure out how to ween off the best way. I quit cold turkey and my anxiety and the suicidal thoughts were awful. I find myself so mad because I know that I do not need these meds and the only reason I am medicated, is because I am medicated. I NEVER had thoughts of hurting myself before these meds. In fact, I was classic anxiety, scared of death. I had an amazing psychiatrist who wanted to help me get off of my meds and help me with eating whole foods and all, but unfortunately he passed tragically in a car accident. Now the psych I have is trying to push more drugs on me. He even said, “how old are you?” “30?” “Your mom has BPD and you WILL get it once you turn 30.” REALLY?!?!?!
    What. A. Quack.
    Do you know of any herbs that I can take to help with the weening process??
    Thank you. 🙂

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    • Even by their ridiculous definitions you can’t “get” BPD – it’s supposedly a persistent personality disorder present from childhood. Not that most psychiatrists care about that but when you have such a precise diagnostic too as DSM it’s hard to blame them for that. What difference does it make anyway?
      For me melissa sometimes helps with sleep and camomile for digestive issues (I know people usually recommend mint but for me it has the opposite effect). I’d avoid anything that has caffeine including tee – when I was getting of the drugs and suffered from anxiety it made me really bad and I couldn’t sleep.
      I’d do a comprehensive blood check to find if you don’t have a nutrient deficiency (especially iron or magnesium – both have been implicated in mood regulation and they also help if you have restless legs). Sometimes if you’re still in the norm but close to the lower limit it’s still low enough to need supplements (these norms are arbitrary and I think drugs may increase demand). It’s just important not to overdo – vitamins and microelements can be toxic as well. Some people also suggest omega 3 fatty acids – you may try it as well.
      In general I’d also recommend physical activity (I know it may sound impossible but you may need to force yourself and see if it works) and contact with nature. For a better sleep – no electronic devices (especially computer screen) 2h before bedtime and make the room as dark as possible. Also physical activity about 1-2h before sleep – the best is to switch you computer and do whatever exercise you manage (if you’re in shape for walking or jogging and have a park nearby that’s the best combination) and then give yourself some time to take a shower, relax and try sleeping.
      I know it sounds awfully inadequate but I found these things helpful even if they didn’t completely rid me of any problems. In the end you need to try and see what works for you.
      Good luck and I hope it gets better soon.

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    • Btw, if you have RLS and cannot fall asleep because of it I suggest taking a magnesium supplement (the best is dissolvable tablet – it works faster). For em it worked every time and within 15-20 minutes. It’s not a long-term solution though, for that you may need something else (for me it was iron supplements and of course dietary change).

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    • Hi kuppy,

      I’m sorry you’re having a hard time. I’m like you too in that I never had a suicidal thought until drugs were on board. I can say that it’s possible to get through all that, though. It really does get better.

      As far as getting help with supplements etc… I suggest you join some online withdrawal boards if you need assistance. There really are no sure-thing supplements that help everyone and a lot of supplements can actually make things a lot worse. It’s better that you get some ongoing support and information that responds to your particular needs. I’m not in a position to do that here.

      I recommend Surviving Antidepressants

      You can also read my post on how to find support online in general. I’m not up to date on all the groups out there these days and you may want to find support in more than one place. There are additional ideas there on how to do that there.

      Online support in withdrawal

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  19. Thank Y’all so much for the advice. I really appreciate it. I did want to know if anyone on here has successfully W/D from Lexapro and how long it took to feel “normal”. When I stopped cold turkey, I felt amazing! I went through a week with dizzy spells and stuffy nose and then that was it. I felt things that I hadn’t felt in a long time! I used to hate the rain, it depressed me. But I remember waking up one morning and lying in bed with the window opening listening to the rain and I was soooo content. It felt amazing. Three months later, I had a horrible panic attack, and that led to the hopeless feeling which led me to thoughts of wanting to die, then of course I freaked out for thinking that and it spun from there. Thank y’all again!

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    • Btw, I’ve learnt that having extreme states of mind (like panic attacks) is actually not so bad in and of itself when you kind of get used to it and how to deal with it. The worst problem is everyone’s reaction to it. I still occasionally have panic attacks (nice case of “treatment” induced PTSD) and it takes me between a few minutes to 1/2h to calm down. Unless I have to deal with people trying to “help” and not taking “no” as an answer or family members who get more upset by the experience than I do.

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  20. IMO, it all comes down to FULLY informed consent.

    If a person is given ALL the facts, including those that show the long-term use of psychiatric drugs cause brain injury and impede recovery; then sure, an ADULT should have the right to take legal psychotropic drugs for their emotional pains.

    But none of this negates the FACT that these drugs DISABLE the brain:

    In short, the facts are the facts… they cannot be sugar-coated.
    All people are created equal, and have an equal right to make their own decisions.
    But not all decisions are equal.
    They really aren’t.
    We all, at various times in our lives make stupid decisions.

    To take brain disabling drugs or to not take brain disabling drugs?
    Decisions, decisions….
    Political correctness is not going to help anyone.
    Facts will.


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    • To clarify, people who have been on psych drugs are in a tough spot. Withdrawal is not for everyone. It is painful; can be life-threatening….

      All the more reason to present people with the FACTS –
      BEFORE they begin taking psychiatric drugs.

      This approach may be unpopular; politically incorrect; painful for many… but a lot of times the TRUTH is hard to face…. but oftentimes SAVES LIVES!


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  21. I am coming off my meds with very few side effects, aside from some headaches and one night I started shivering like I had a fever when I didn’t. Funny how the withdrawals for me are of the physical variety. If they were my symptoms remanifesting themselves wouldn’t I hear voices, have mood swings or become suicidal?
    I’m very thankful things are going so well since I have no support from family or friends and have to taper in secret. If things go badly and I’m found out, back to the psych ward I go!
    I think God is watching out for me.
    No offense Monica, but the thought of becoming an iatrogenic invalid like you did, made me put off coming off my meds for at least a year longer than I would otherwise have. I live alone and have no one except my pro-psychiatry parents to care for me. If I became as sick as you did, I would never hear the end of it from them! And I would just wind up drugged again anyhow–only probably more so.

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