It Gets Better: Neuropsych Doctor Confirms Psych Drug Iatrogenesis, PTSD, Brain Injury


The IT GETS BETTER collection is intended to help those who are currently dealing with the iatrogenic (medically caused) injury from psych meds . . . so that they might know that we can heal. It is also intended to help educate the masses to the realities that we face. Protracted psychiatric drug withdrawal syndrome is real. It’s also sometimes gravely disabling. The fact is it’s largely denied in the medical community. We are routinely blamed and told that the experience is psychiatric . . . this leads to more drugging and sometimes forced drugging with the very drugs that have harmed us. This must end.

But yes, to those who are still suffering, it gets better. Indeed, I do not consider myself ill anymore. I consider myself HEALING, which is a vibrant state of movement and change. My limitations do not mean that I am sick. Learning to make boundaries for my well-being has been one of the healthiest things I’ve learned to do. Deeply respecting the needs of this body/temple is one of the most wonderful achievements of WELLNESS.

* * * * *

#9 of the IT GETS BETTER series

From DECEMBER 6, 2010

Neuropsych Doctor Confirms Thoughts About Psychiatric Drug Iatrogenisis, PTSD, Brain Injury

(See this too: “This is a Brain Injury Situation”)

I shared the post that I did explaining how it struck me that what I am experiencing, in part, as a result of the psychiatric drug withdrawal, is PTSD – with the neuropsych doctor who has been my friend and supporter since the beginning of this journey. I’ve said before that his influence was a catalyst in my process, though he never suggested this path to me he always answered my questions to the best of his ability and honestly.

You’ll see he continues his frank honesty with me below which I greatly appreciate. I have his permission to share this.

Hi Gianna,
Thanks for sending me this notice and your thoughts. Another great post. I feel you are exactly right about what you’re saying and how you’re seeing it.

I was just presenting some data on complex PTSD at the International Society for the Study of Traumatic Stress in Montreal. I’ve gotten connected with Ruth Lanius (who does brain imaging of complex PTSD), Julian Price (who looks at emotion regulation problems from complex PTSD), and Bessel van der Kolk (who coined the term “complex PTSD”). I think it is important that you’ve come to this understanding about what is happening (it allows for that calmer witness you describe). Though it isn’t helping right now, it is a critical component for getting better.

Here’s the part that may not feel so good to hear, though. I strongly suspect, as do you, that the medications you took for so long have damaged your brain. I think your brain will repair itself over time and, despite how it feels, is repairing as we speak. I think the psychological trauma you’ve experienced has really compounded the recovery. It was traumatic to realize what had been done and most definitely traumatic to have experienced what you’ve experienced through your withdrawal ordeal. The part that isn’t good to hear is that there really aren’t good treatments yet for the combination of problems. The Middle Eastern wars are giving us a chance to see lots of people with the combination of traumatic brain injury and PTSD, but they aren’t responding particularly well to the better PTSD treatments. This was the conclusion of the world’s experts who were at the meeting in Montreal.

I think that you are having a prolonged recovery due in part to the PTSD, but I think your prospects of overcoming the PTSD will require improved brain functioning. It won’t have to be all better, but I think it’ll have to be better than it is. Lots of the symptoms you are experiencing are not PTSD related but rather are from either impairment to your brain or even the recovery of your brain (initial recovery may not feel particularly good, think about walking on a broken ankle after the break has healed).

So, I think you’re really on to something, but I think PTSD treatment is premature right now as there’s still more brain recovery that has to occur before it can be useful for you. I do think the GABA receptors will reestablish and the interneuron inhibitory circuits will get stronger, but I don’t think this will not be the end of it as the PTSD will still have to be addressed.

Hopefully, there’s some benefit in really knowing what is going on. Accurate identification is a big start on getting to where you want to be.

Again, thanks for sharing this with me. I hope my thoughts are not discouraging as that is not their intent. I have never pulled harder for anyone to feel better than I do for you.

All the best and give my best to (your husband),

Your doctor

I’ll let you all know that what he said was NOT discouraging. I’m living this and it’s obvious to me it’s going to be a long haul so it’s nice that it be recognized by someone. I also knew before sharing this information with him that treatment at the moment would be premature.

Most importantly I also have other means of interpreting what is happening to me and I’m getting help from people who share those interpretations. I see a large part of what is happening to me from a spiritual perspective and I trust that this is, ultimately, a healing journey. I will perhaps share with the readers of this blog some of those thoughts in the future.

My husband in turn shared these thoughts on what my doctor wrote:

His perspective is very useful and I doubt that you could communicate with anyone who is better informed on these issues. It confirms what I have long sensed: that time is the most important factor here. Which is to say, that the physical process of repair will take a certain amount of time yet we can only know what that amount of time is retrospectively. So a major part of the coping process requires embracing this fact that we don’t know how long it will take. Confidence that healing is possible is vital and I hope what he says gives you such confidence.

What happens with the PTSD component when your neurological healing has advanced far enough, is something I don’t have an opinion about — mostly because I suspect that the baselines for all your susceptibilities to a multitude of stressors are going to change significantly over time. (One thing I would say, though, since he brings up the experiences of war trauma, is that I would expect that you are in a somewhat privileged position compared to kids who are now bouncing between VA hospitals and trailer parks. Not only are they stuck in physically stressful environments, but as individuals, few of them can have the personal intellectual resources that you are able to draw upon, to make sense of their own experiences. And on top of that they have the burden of the idea that what they went through supposedly served their country.)….

In all of this — and echoing (your doctor) — I do think that you have been and continue to be your own guide. In other words, you have a greater capacity for self-reliance than you often believe — or would necessarily want.

I’ve shared other correspondence with this doctor here. Where he first likens this situation to a brain injury.

And, yes, it gets better! The below are posts that show how far my healing has come.

For an article with the history of my tale of wild untested psychopharma gone bad visit Dr. David Healy’s website: Monica’s story: the aftermath of polypsychopharmacology 

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

* * * * *

This post firs appeared on Monica Cassani’s website,
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.


Mad in America has made some changes to the commenting process. You no longer need to login or create an account on our site to comment. The only information needed is your name, email and comment text. Comments made with an account prior to this change will remain visible on the site.


  1. Polypsychopharmacology , that’s when the psychiatric poo really hits the fan !

    Reminds me of the children’s song There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly .

    The song tells the story of an old woman who swallowed increasingly large animals, each to catch the previously swallowed animal.

    Just fill in SSRIs for flies, benzos for spiders, mood stabilizers for birds, neuroleptics for cats, cogentin for dogs…

    Or change it to there was a young boy who swallowed some Vyvance but it made him “bipolar” so he swallowed some Risperdal … But the Risperdal made akathisia inside him so he swallowed some more stuff but that stuff …

    Report comment

    • If you have food clothes and shelter provided by others because you can’t get out of bed to get it for yourself you’re on pretty shaky footing and would die without the kindness of your community. It’s nice to have autonomy as an adult and many take it for granted. Those who get ill like this from protracted psychiatric drug withdrawal often lose the capacity to care for oneself. For me it was about 4 years of needing 24 hour care…like an infant.

      You have minimized the gravity of this illness since I’ve known you.

      I am profoundly grateful for all my blessings, so yes, you’re right about the helpfulness of gratitude…and for the many people who have helped me stay alive…there are countless blessed souls that have allowed for that to happen. Certainly I would have died without them.

      Report comment

          • I did not intend to humiliate you Monica.

            I think you sell an excessive fear of withdrawing and do not approve.

            A doctor gives “hope” to his/her patient not “fear”.

            A reason many take the psych drugs, is out of a hope of a better life. Looking for external cures can make people switch to another drug in hope of that one is the right one. It’s just drugs.

            “The best way to predict your future is to create it” Abraham Lincoln.

            p.s. I think you have a much better life than my own ( I clean up garbage in city parks) , if that is any conciliation to your perception of humiliation.

            Report comment

          • @markps2

            I think that you give way too much credit to most psychiatrists that I know and deal with in the state hospital where I work. They don’t give a fat damn about all the harm that they’re doing to their “patients” by forcing them to take the toxic drugs that they swear by and worship at the altar of. They deny that the drugs do any harm at all as they put people on the toxic cocktails.

            Report comment

  2. Thank you for sharing this. The opinion of your neuropsych doctor friend is especially validating and heartening – quite the opposite of discouraging. I have yet to meet anyone offline – professionals or nonprofessionals – who takes me seriously when I try to talk about the protracted withdrawal I’ve been experiencing. It’s really adding insult to injury.

    Report comment

    • Yeah, it’s toxic to spend time with professionals that don’t take the gravity of these psych drug withdrawal syndromes seriously. I’ve been able to find lots of folks who can hear it now. I also don’t have relationships with professionals that are not both friendly and collegial at this point. I simply cannot deal with anything else…also I don’t consider professionals more knowledgable than the peers who I get info from…sometimes they have different info but it’s not superior in any way. I simply don’t have any expectation that professionals are going to offer any sort of meaningful help. I think it’s good for folks to develop that capacity…to not expect anything from professionals. It helps me a lot. I find help wherever it comes from and most of the time it’s not attached to a professional. On occasion it is.

      Professionals are people…like everyone…sometimes they’re helpful and sometimes they’re not…I simply don’t expect that their qualifications actually guarantees anything…that simply sets me up for disappointment because quite often they are not helpful and worse, they have also been very harmful.

      Most of the time at this point in my life I find I don’t actually need professionals (to be clear, when I do there is no hesitance to utilize them, I simply select them very carefully)…I just need to pay attention to what is going on in my body/mind…and then the universe brings me what I need in all manner of different ways…

      We can be far more self-sufficient than we are conditioned to believe!

      Report comment

  3. You know at this point it’s exactly remarks like the one that Mark made that fuels me.

    As I said, I don’t consider myself sick anymore. I am past the dark ugliness and crippling disability…the tragic thing is that there are many 1000s of people who are still living in that darkness and disability. And many thousands of others still being medicated with the drugs that will lead to that. I know what it’s like and it is now that pain that others are still facing that motivates me.

    It is comments like Mark made that keep me going. It is such disbelief and ignorance that fuels my work so that others might not be harmed…his disbelief is just as toxic as the psychiatrists who made this happen to us. We can’t get help anywhere if even our so-called allies quite often have no idea what we’re facing…oh, yes, this fact fuels me.

    So, heck…it’s truly all good. We need to be fueled so that we stop these crimes from happening…and when they do happen so that we can get the help we need and not be faced by cruel ignorance that, yes, adds insult to injury.

    I am grateful for everything that helps me find my way…so thank you too, Mark.

    Report comment

      • I think she is preparing people for what may be a grim reality, as well as helping people who don’t want to face such a grim reality perhaps decide not to start using these drugs. Of course, not everyone has this level of difficulty, but for those who do, I imagine it must feel like a big relief to hear they are not alone, that this can be a very difficult process, and that despite those difficulties, Monica has continued to move forward and ultimately succeed in getting herself off of these drugs.

        We each have something to contribute, and I think Monica’s contributions are extremely valuable, and I always have.

        —- Steve

        Report comment

  4. I think you’re a hero, Monica. And I agree, we need to try and end psychiatry’s “Whack-a-Mole” diagnoses, as boans said on a different post, or “There was an old lady who swallowed a fly,” “I don’t know why, I guess she’ll die” psychiatric crimes against patients, as copycat stated above.

    “We need to be fueled so we can stop these crimes from happening … and when they do happen so that we can get the help we need and not be faced with cruel ignorance that, yes, adds insult to injury.”

    Report comment

    • thanks Someone Else.
      everyone who comes through this is a hero. This is undoubtably a hero’s journey as Joseph Campbell talks about it…if nothing else an incredible opportunity to transform…I am among many heroes…everyone who shares their stories here and tells the truth that others might be spared…if there hadn’t been so many before me I, too, wouldn’t have known how to come through.

      Report comment

  5. I’ve had nearly 20 years to “heal”, and I think I can say with certainty that if you suffered this brain damage as a child, it most certainly does not get better. For me, it’s only gotten worse. I often wonder what happened to that DJ Koontz kid from that PBS “the medicated child”, as always the journalists never followed through to find out. I’m sure he’s “much better” by now. Probably in a near medically induced coma, or thrashing around from dystonia in a group home somewhere.

    Report comment

    • I’m sorry you’re still struggling. It’s impossible to generalize 100% about any of this…there are no systematic studies that are happening…but there is a full spectrum of outcomes that is for sure…and everyone in the end is an individual…with their own trajectory…no crystal ball

      I have encountered folks in withdrawal circles who were drugged through out childhood who are now doing well. …I do know that the body/mind has the potential of being astoundingly plastic. We can heal from all sorts of egregious injuries. There is always reason for hope…I would never tell a young person who’d been on drugs they had no hope for healing…because it would be blatantly untrue.

      That does not minimize or change the fact that you continue to suffer and others do too and I am sorry for that…it continues to motivate me to help stop the drugging.

      Report comment

  6. Monica, Do you think that just being on SSRI’s makes us ill? Do you think it causes or exacerbates MS, Chronic Fatigue, adrenal fatigue, low thyroid……things like that. In looking back over the past 25 years I’ve been on a number of different drugs I began to get ill with a variety of diagnosis. Do you think there is a correlation?

    Report comment