Adverse Reactions to Psychiatric Medications Hospitalize 17,000 Annually


Nearly 90,000 American adults are going to emergency rooms every year in response to adverse events from psychiatric medications, according to a study in JAMA Psychiatry. Examining data from 2009 to 2011, researchers from the Center for Disease Control and Johns Hopkins University found that 19.3% of these adverse events resulted in hospitalization. They called these rates of harm “conservative” because they excluded, for example, self-harm, drug abuse, and long-term chronic conditions resulting from medications. The rates were similar across age groups, but 61.9% involved women compared to 38.1% involving men.

Antidepressants were the most common cause of adverse events among women aged 19-44, while antipsychotics ranked highest among men of that age. Almost 3/5ths of all adverse events were caused by just 10 drugs. “Attempts to reduce the use of psychiatric medications when risks outweigh benefits have had mixed success, but the current burden of [adverse drug events] from therapeutic use of psychiatric medications, which conservatively includes almost 90,000 [emergency department] visits a year, suggests that such efforts should continue,” concluded the researchers.

Emergency Department Visits by Adults for Psychiatric Medication Adverse Events (Hampton. Lee M. et al. JAMA Psychiatry. Published online July 09, 2014. doi:10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2014.436)

Also see:

Psychiatric Drugs Send 90,000 to the ER Yearly (Live Science, July 9, 2014)


  1. Wow, Captain Obvious wrote this one.

    Ya, every visit of mine was a result of those drugs just like almost everyone in the place with me. I was NEVER EVER in an E.R or psych ward before falling for the low serotonin scam and taking those first pills that lead to more.

    The problem is those ‘medications’ fry your memory and like me many people forget what they were like before taking them and continue to believe everything will be alright when you ‘find the right meds’ instead of recognizing its the ‘meds’ themselves that are destroying them.

    Of course ‘doctors’ never every ask patients what they were like before ever taking ‘meds’, no way, instead they just throw the stronger more dangerous ones at them.

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    • I went to an ER due to a mania-induced attempt at suicide using Celexa and booze. Of course I was told to see a psychiatrist for my “drinking” problem and get on more drugs! Even though the drug was prescribed by one. Insane. I instead began a process of tapering which also ended the alcohol cravings because those receptors were no longer being stimulated to oblivion. I am thankful they released me next day from that place and I wasn’t sent to the psych ward. What a wakeup call.

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    • It’s so awesome that some people are forced to take these drugs. Especially with outpatient commitment when you can just force an injection on someone and then live them alone so that they can potentially die from the side effects. Awesome.

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      • …which by the way happens even under “supervision” from the “professionals” – the hospital I was locked up in had a case like that: they drugged the guy to unconsciousness and put him in restraints and of course didn’t monitor him – he died from heart failure. Of course after “careful examination” it was determined that doctors and nurses didn’t do anything wrong. On which planet? No responsibility, no punishment…

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        • My hospital? Suffering WD (but I didn’t know), gp gave me a valium, went psycho, my own psych told them to send me to a mental hospital (great guy?, he bolted Australia years ago, thank god), so I got locked up, 450km from home, without my newborn baby. When I got there, the valium had actually worn off, I felt ok, except for the restless legs and confusion. Over the three weeks, uppers and downers, locked wards, all wards. Nurses almost laughing when I was looking for my “baby” they didn’t believe I had one. Besides, the rfds blokes promised my they put my baby on board, lying bastards. Nearly died 3 times, side effects to all their crap. Got sent home on no drugs…. 6 weeks to see a psychiatrist. No choice back to see the same old doc…. the bastards. My problem 12 months before all this at 35, with no pychiatric problems? I didnt want to get out of my bed one day, too much stress. The last 20 years? I am now 55? Agony, thank god I found surviving antidperessants.

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          • I feel for you. I have no kids but I can’t imagine giving birth and then having my newborn taken away from me. It is known to drive women crazy on its own, without all the other shit on top of it. It is perfectly normal to feel stressed and overwhelmed after you gave birth and all that should happen is caring support and help with caring for the child not labelling as “depressed” or “psychotic” followed by the usual abuse. Psychiatry is a crime against humanity, it’s a modern witch hunt.

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  2. I would like to see a study done of hospitalized patients that suffered an adverse reaction. My last hospitalization I became confused and orientated and was ultimately thrown into seclusion and put into a very restricted floor without explanation. It was only after obtaining my medical records that I found out that Lithium Toxicity was stamped on the records. The discharge plan was for me to go into a Nursing Home with guardianship to be pursued by my husband. I was made aware of the discharge plan by comment from a hospital aid and didn’t believe her. Obviously if the the discharge was to be a nursing home they were unaware of the toxicity issue which could have easily killed me. Instead of treating me as a patient with a medical crisis I was treated like a wayward prisoner who was refusing to be “good”. It was after reading my records and confronting my husband that I decided to move into the pysch survivor movement. I can’t imagine what my life would be like if I had not escaped by pure luck and persistence.

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    • My last hospitalization I got complete anterograde amnesia and I didn’t know what was going on around me and no “good professional” even noticed. I know you’re not supposed to swear on MIA but every time I think about it I want to scream obscenities. I love it when the hospital stuff bitches around about violence they supposedly experience from the patients – 99% of it is totally earned and I’m being generous here.
      “I can’t imagine what my life would be like if I had not escaped by pure luck and persistence.”
      If my family didn’t take me out of psych ward I’d be amnesiac like the Henry Molaison patient.

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  3. I’m interested in what the politics of this means. Why is JAMA now publishing this kind of information? Why is mainstream Johns Hopkins and/or the CDC doing the research? It can’t be that they care about our welfare or legitimate scholarship, not with the background they both have in singing whatever tune Big Pharma calls. So what is this then? A response to all the bad publicity anti-psychiatry has been successful in generating? The public outrage over cases like Justina Pelletier and the desire to distance themselves in the public’s mind from the likes of Boston Hospital? Will courts be persuaded by this and be convinced in an election year at least that forced drugging might not be such a swell idea for judges facing election?

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    • Maybe it’s a case of throwing a little bit of oil in a pot of boiling water to calm the boil? If they show that they care about this issue (or pretend to) and admit it’s a fraction as bad as it actually is, outraged people will become less outraged?

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      • They’re just looking for more public money. Pretend to care so that when they submit Grant Applications to NIH and others, IF, they find themselves faced with questions by Congress somewhere down the road, they’ll have their pre-published badge of:

        “See? We CARE. We’re AWARE, and we’re working on it. Now give us another 10 Billion or we won’t be able to continue to work on it.”

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  4. That is an astounding figure!

    Actually, JAMA has published articles on medication damage before, including the big one about medical care being the third leading cause of death in the USA, as well as (I believe) the one about “seriously mentally ill” people dying 25 years earlier than the general population. Maybe it’s because it’s not specifically a psych journal? And Hopkins is the home of Julie Zito, at the School of Pharmacy, who has done a great job using epidemiological data to show the ridiculous rise in psych prescriptions for kids (including INFANTS) on Medicaid.

    Not everyone in the research world is evil, even though a lot of research is biased. The information we need has been out there a long time. I think it’s more a problem of the psychiatric aristocracy and the media choosing to publish only those things that make money for them and Big Pharma.

    —- Steve

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    • I came across a short comment about evil on another site that intrigued me. The commenter was quoting a psychiatrist called M Scott Peck, who said that “evil leaves huge waves of chaos in its wake. Trying to explain the chaos is much tougher work than making the chaos”.

      I intend seeking out this book “the road less travelled” as i’ve not read it.

      Isn’t this what these researchers are trying to achieve with these studies? Explain the chaos caused by evil people? I think so personally.

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      • I’m sure it is a pattern that many people here can relate to.

        An evil deed is done to a person (in my case an act of fraud), a good persons life is destroyed. Attempting to have the original evil act examined objectively is easily thwarted with further acts of evil. Its simply a matter of creating the required amount of chaos to escape any accountability.

        And it works really well.

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  5. I would think this is likely a huge underestimate of actual psych drug ADR related hospitalizations. At least none of my psychiatrists, either to my face or in their medical records, ever admitted any of their drugs could ever have any adverse effects in any person, other than possible increased “Thirst.” And, to the contrary, all ADRs and withdrawal symptoms of the psych drugs I was put on were blamed on “lacking in validity” disorders, according to my medical records.

    Plus I know of a child who was hospitalized. He was on a drug cocktail which had major drug interaction warnings that coincided exactly with his medical problems. But the hospital did not disclose this to the family, and instead blamed the family.

    I personally was hospitalized twice, both times by the same psychiatrist, who worked with an internist who has now been arrested by the FBI for having lots of patients medically unnecessarily shipped to him, “snowing” (drugging until only the whites of the eyes are seen in) patients, and then performing unneeded tracheotomies, for profit.

    Prior to the first hospitalization, my initiating issue was actually a sleep walking talking issue, likely related to drug withdrawal induced super sensitivity mania. (I’d been weaned off drugs by doctors, but my family had not been forewarned about the apparently typical withdrawal symptoms). But, according to my medical records, I was admitted into the hospital with a previously non-existant “chronic airway obstruction.” And after this odd hospital induced “airway obstruction” didn’t result in “brain death” (I was an organ donor at the time), it magically turned into “bipolar.” Then I was “snowed” by this internist’s sick psychiatrist partner. Thankfully, they didn’t get to the unneeded tracheotomy part of their scam with me, nor was the psychiatrist able to convince other doctors or my insurance company that I needed to be institutionalized for life, as she’d hoped.

    The second time I was medically unnecessarily shipped to this same psychiatrist (who was never my choice of psychiatrists, and never would be). It was because I was lying in a beautiful park, minding my own business, looking at the clouds go by, as I was trying to mentally come to grips with having found the medical proof of enormous medical and religious betrayal. As my subsequent pastors confessed, after reading the chronologically typed up medical records and medical research I’d just finished typing up, I’d dealt with “the dirty little secret of the two original educated professions.” (A cover up of easily recognized iatrogenesis, by my ex-PCP and her husband, and a cover up of the sexual abuse of my child by a pastor, his friends, and those former doctors). I was taken to a hospital, and examined against my will, and I’d signed no HIPPA forms. This resulted in a “medically clear” diagnosis, according to that hospital’s medical records. But, despite that, I was not let go. And instead shipped in the middle of the night back to the 2006 hospital psychiatrist. And admitted with a supposed “urinary track infection,” with medical proof to the contrary. Why the state of Illinois is allowing doctors to forcibly hold and force medicate patients for non-existent “urinary track infections” in state mental hospitals is beyond my comprehension. I was let out of that hospital after a week, with a diagnosis of “adjustment disorder.”

    My point, I guess, is that doctors are not accurately admitting to psychiatric drug ADRs and withdrawal symptoms, nor even admitting people into hospitals with accurate diagnoses. So the number of psych drug ADRs or withdrawal problems can’t possibly be documented accurately. I do understand that my personally situation would have been excluded from this particular survey, but the child’s hospitalization I researched, would not have been included either, since his ADRs were blamed on the father, despite no scientific proof.

    Truly, I’ve come to the conclusion, that almost all ADRs to psych meds are blamed on the patient’s supposed “mental illness,” rather than the psych drugs themselves. But that opinion just comes from nine years of reading thousands of medical journal articles, patient blogs, and the personal experience of a person with no prior personal or family history of mental health issues, who’d had the ADRs of a “safe smoking cessation med” (actually an antidepressant) misdiagnosed as “bipolar.”

    “Houston, we have a problem…” IMHO.

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  6. I think much (if not most) of the bipolar boom can be attributed to harmful, ineffective treatment for depression. Every psychiatrist I’ve ever consulted has declared that antidepressants merely “triggered” my underlying disorder. This rather bold conclusion is made in the face of no evidence: there were no prior mood swings nor any family history of same. Seems a very convoluted way to explain away a pretty obvious cause and effect relationship.

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