Four years ago, something happened that turned my life around and fundamentally changed my beliefs about mental illness.
I’d always grown up fearful that the depressive illness that had caused my dad to kill himself when I was 12 would someday visit me. I’ll never forget the day in July of 1976 when my mum and sister unexpectedly turned up at my friend’s house. “Daddy’s done it,” I remember my mum saying. She didn’t have to say any more.
Of course, we all cried at his funeral. But there was relief, too. For a few years, he had sat in a room doing nothing. My older siblings tried to shield me from the reality that, at age 56, my dad no longer wished to live. I overheard conversations in which he would speak of this, and my childish brain simply could not understand his reasoning. Why didn’t he go on holiday, take up a new hobby? How could anyone simply not want to live anymore? These thoughts masked my deeper fears which went unexpressed as a child and only surfaced as an adult in therapy sessions. Surely my dad wishing to end his life must be a reflection of the fact that I didn’t mean very much to him. Did that mean, then, that perhaps I was unloveable?
My dad’s decision to end his life remained unfathomable until the same thing happened to me many years later. But it wasn’t depression that caused this. I’m one of the 1% of people who have a severe adverse drug reaction to antidepressants, causing sufferers to become instantly suicidal.
At age 48, I was suffering sleepless nights while going through a divorce, and like many in my situation, I was persuaded that I needed an antidepressant. Within hours of taking the escitalopram (Lexapro) along with mirtazapine, I was in a trance-like state. I started to have intense akathisia, an agonising condition where you can’t sit still. This is a sign that you are in a dangerous state of drug toxicity. Two days later, I was totally delirious and hallucinating wildly. I became convinced that I had killed my children, and that I was being filmed for national TV. Although I have no recollection of this, I took a kitchen knife and lacerated my arm.
I ended up in one of London’s top private psychiatric hospitals. When I was first interviewed, I insisted that I had a suicide pact with God and that there were cameras in the ceiling. Luckily, even in my deluded state, I recognised that it was the Lexapro that was making me ill. I asked not to take it and two days later I was better. The problem was that the doctors didn’t believe it was the pill that made me ill. They diagnosed psychotic depression, insisted I remain an inpatient under threat of section, and also insisted I take more antidepressants and antipsychotics.
The results were devastating. I never became psychotic again, but soon I began to be seized with an inexplicable desire to kill myself. I was unable to sleep or concentrate. I was forced to attend therapy sessions, but I couldn’t sit still because once again I had akathisia (although at the time I had no idea what this was). I remember experiencing possibly the most frightening descent a human being can experience: extreme emotional numbing. Suddenly I was unable to converse with people because I had no empathy. Music and films meant nothing to me anymore. And the worse thing was that I was unable to feel love for my children, Lily and Oscar.
After three weeks, I was allowed to leave the private hospital on the condition that I return for weekly appointments with the main psychiatrist. As my condition worsened, he became convinced that I was suffering from treatment-resistant depression.
Two months after I left the hospital, he prescribed the antipsychotic olanzapine on top of the antidepressants I was already on. I started binge eating, put on vast amounts of weight and was soon so ill I was unable to leave the house. I started to self-medicate with drinking and cigarettes to try to quell the monster of akathisia. Within a period of a few months I went from being a career-driven, high-achieving supermum and fitness fanatic to a total mess, wandering around the house in an old dressing gown, chain smoking, drinking and drooling.
My children started to hate me, and only wanted to be with my estranged husband who had to move into the house to look after me. Soon I moved out of the family home because I couldn’t bear the look of hatred on their faces. Their mum had become a dribbling monster unable to love them.
After a year of being given more and more drugs, including lithium along with a diagnosis of bipolar disorder, I was about to end my life. I’d lost everything. A day came, in September of 2013, when I was planning to throw myself under a train. Then I caught sight of myself in the mirror: my hair unwashed, face bloated from the drugs, eyes glazed and sores around my mouth. Although my brain was too addled to even be able to dress myself, it could just about remember the two most important people in my life. An image appeared of my children’s faces at my funeral. They were almost the same age that I had been when my father died.
It was this memory that caused me to turn to the woman from the Home Treatment team, who was visiting to make sure I took my pills, and ask her to take me to the local hospital. By this time my insurance had run out so I couldn’t go back to the private hospital.
When I was interviewed by the psychiatrist at the mental health unit, I said the words I knew would get me sectioned. “I’m going to kill myself,” I said.
They made a decision that saved my life. They took me off all five antidepressants and antipsychotics. I went into agonizing cold turkey. I was sweating, screaming, and shouting, sometimes unable to stand up. Then, after four weeks, something miraculous happened. I was completely better.
The process of recovery in the following weeks was magical. I remember being moved for the first time by a piece of music. Being able to concentrate on a film. Chatting and laughing with other patients at the hospital. And I’ll never forget looking into my children’s eyes and being able to feel love for them again.
Once I came out of hospital after six weeks, I began the process of putting my life back together. Within weeks I went back to work, started training for a half marathon, and got a house for me and my kids who immediately recognised that I was better.
Not everyone agreed, however. Persuading the rest of the world that it was the drugs that had caused me to become suicidal, rather than depression, has been an uphill struggle.
Friends and family advised me to keep my head down, pretend the whole incident hadn’t happened and just put it behind me. But the more I read up on the subject, the more incensed I became—not just about what had happened to me, but to others who had lost lives to these drugs.
I decided to make a film, and write a book. When I began, exactly a year ago, I had no idea of the extraordinary discoveries I was about to make. There were big pharma cover-ups, hidden trials, stories of terrible tragedies and compelling evidence that antidepressant-induced psychosis is behind some of the world’s worst killings.
But there was also a revelation that helped me understand my father’s suicide, and completely changed my beliefs about mental illness.
I discovered that many experts believe that the inability to tolerate antidepressants can be genetic. Suddenly I had an insight into why my dad decided to end his life in 1976. I learned that, like me, he was on antidepressant medication. It seems highly likely that his illness could have been entirely caused by side effects of medication, just like it was with me.
Talking to other family members revealed that they too had become mysteriously ill after taking similar medications. For example, my niece started hallucinating and couldn’t leave the house after taking an anti-anxiety pill. Another family member took an antidepressant and had to stop taking it immediately because he felt so strange.
I’ve since talked to many people who have experienced similar instances of suicides running in families. I also discovered that there are over 100 drugs that have suicidal side effects, including some anti-smoking drugs, some anti-malarial medication and some acne medications. I’ve concluded that it might not be mental illness that is handed down through generations. Maybe it’s a familial gene that makes people unable to tolerate medication and causes them to become suicidal.
This surely has some very big ramifications for our understanding of mental health. Since publicizing my story and starting a campaign, I’m often contacted by people who have started to wonder whether their loved ones killed themselves because of medication. I hope I’m able to explain to them from my own experience that if you are suffering akathisia or drug toxicity, the drive to end your life is inexorable. You are quite literally being tortured—which is why, I guess, so many sufferers make an impulsive decision to end their lives by seemingly inexplicable actions such as jumping under a train without leaving any note or explanation for those closest to them.
One of the hardest things was trying to explain to my kids, who are now age 14 and 15, that the drugs had brought me to the point where I was about to end my life. I had to tell them because it was in my book, which they said they were going to read. The conversation ended with all of us crying and hugging each other. Because we have traveled this journey of discovery about the side effects of medication together, I think they truly understood that my desire to end my life wasn’t a reflection on them. My opponents were a combination of five antidepressants, antipsychotics and mood stabilizers—with my DNA and inability to tolerate these medications, I had no choice.
Of course, I now think very differently about my father’s death. I no longer blame him for leaving me, and I’m no longer fearful that the “black dog” that blighted his life will visit me or my kids. Instead, I know for sure that antidepressant medications (and probably some other drugs) would take me to the same point of wanting to end my life in a very short space of time. And I’ve told my kids that there is a strong possibility it would be the same for them.
* * * * *
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.
And the biggest thing of all is that the so-called “antidepressants” don’t work any better than placebo. The entire theory that SSRI’s are based on is proven to be nothing more than a falsehood since there is no such thing as a “chemical imbalance” of the brain. There sure is a chemical imbalance once a person starts taking these devil’s tic tacs.
Thank you for telling your story. I too was adversely affected by “antidepressants” and tried to kill myself. I refuse to have them anywhere around me.
Thanks for sharing your story, Stephen. Great if you want to contribute this on my campaigning website http://www.thepillthatsteals.com
Thanks for speaking out, Katinka, my story is quite similar to yours. I was unknowingly put on an antidepressant, under the guise of a “safe smoking cessation med,” then the common symptoms of antidepressant discontinuation syndrome were misdiagnosed as “bipolar.” You might be interested to know that you may have suffered from what’s medically known as anticholinergic intoxication syndrome, or anticholinergic toxidrome. Since this drug induced poisoning is caused by combining the antipsychotics and antidepressants.
I’m hoping the psychiatric industry will soon change their “bipolar” drug cocktail recommendations to something that is not already known to make people “psychotic” and “mad as a hatter.” Since, as you say currently, “The problem was that the doctors didn’t believe it was the pill that made me ill,” despite the fact I think they all learned about anticholinergic toxidrome in med school. Nonetheless, I’ve learned antidepressant pushing doctors shut up quickly when you tell them you are allergic to the drugs known to cause anticholinergic toxidrome. One of my doctors even called me “one in a million,” and had me teach one of his students about anticholinergic toxidrome.
And I agree with you, the magnitude of the harm and betrayal of humanity by today’s psycho / pharmaceutical industries is truly staggering in scope and heartbreaking, we must speak out. Thanks for sharing your story, great film, too.
Thanks, tell your doctor you’re not one in a million, that the drug companies admit its 1 in 100. So thats a conservative estimate. Maybe he should read the package inserts …
He is a decent doctor, the one who finally took the “bipolar” misdiagnosis off my medical records. He actually meant that as a compliment, I apparently was the first patient he ever met who was able to medically explain this form of “complex” iatrogenesis. But prior to this doctor I dealt with at least 13 doctors who denied and misdiagnosed the ADRs and withdrawal effects of the psychiatric drugs, which is quite shameful.
So, absolutely I agree, all doctors need to wake up to the reality that their psychotropic drugs cause mind altering effects, just like the psychotropic street drugs. It’s absurd and maddening that the medical community blames the patient’s brains, instead of confessing to the adverse effects of their so called “medications.” Really, how much more evil could doctors be? But no doubt, it is very profitable to create “mental illnesses” in millions of people with the psychiatric drugs. But doing so is not ethical.
Thank you so much for this article which is sure to bring a lot of attention to the dangers of psychiatric drugs. What will be so convincing to people about your story is how quickly you returned to health after stopping the drugs. Your symptoms seem to be entirely related to psych drug use.
There are also many other people who suffer from psychosis, severe apathy (unable to dress), etc. independent of psych drug use. However, I believe there could be many of these people whose condition is made worse by psych drug use. If symptoms can be ‘created’ by drug use as in your case, it only makes sense that these same symptoms could also be ‘made worse’ in vulnerable people. I get so irritated when I hear psychiatrists argue about when, or whether ‘relapses’ are due to ‘illness’ rather than ‘medication’ , as if it is necessarily an either/or situation. So called ‘treatment resistant’ people are often left for years on drugs, never getting the chance to see what would happen if they had years to slowly recover without the psych drugs, drugs that could very likely be hindering their recovery. In the pre- drug area, there are stories of people recovering after years of languishing in mental institutions. I wonder if one ever hears these kind of stories now about people who have spent years on psych drugs in mental institutions.
BTW – What does (User Karma: 0) listed by my name mean? It is sad for me to think I have zero Karma. 🙂
SSRIs antidepressants are based on serotonin hypothesis.Even by nowadays science standards,depression is
still phenomenon.Mental Health system,WHO,BIG PHARMA are responsible for horrible situation and they
don’t care how many people will die,under their false policy.Suicide prevention trough BIG PHARMA products,
won’t change anything.Only our crazy kind united,against Mental Health system,can with protests change
something in future.No protest-no existence.We are like ghosts and this the best for them.
I’m very moved by your story, and especially the family healing which you spearheaded. This is a beautiful illustration about how gaining insight into our suffering and facing the truth of our experience head on leads to brilliant healing, especially of self-blame, which is a huge relief, and which allows us to feel love. Your kids are blessed. Great heart opening, thank you 🙂
Thank you, Alex.
This is an important and powerful story and video. Your narrative has the power to change lives as well as the current political and medical landscape. I applaud your courage and advocacy.
One important concern I would raise regarding scientific content is the emphasis in parts of the narrative on genetics and DNA. It was stated on several occasions that some people’s genetic profile makes them allergic to these drugs and creates the more violent reactions to these drugs. It was even stated that this may involve 1% of the population. I have read about certain genetic tests related to a person’s ability to metabolize these drugs, but this is still in a state of scientific infancy.
While it MAY be proven that some people have more violent reactions to these drugs than others, or that people fall on some kind of continuum of specific drug reactions, this has not been definitively proven as of yet. Unfortunately, the inference we are left with is that perhaps the rest of the population might benefit from these drugs and may not experience the physical discomfort and emotional numbing that can destroy people’s lives. I believe there is growing evidence that these sort of reactions are rather widespread based on survivor narratives and not just specific to 1% of the population.
It was even stated in the narrative that these drugs “save some people’s lives.” There is NO definitive proof that these drugs have actually save lives, but there is growing evidence that indicates they have caused deaths as the book and video make clear. There is no need to concede the point that that antidepressants have save lives when this is not yet a proven fact. Yes, some people do claim they were helped by the drugs but there are many factors, including placebo effect, that can explain this belief.
Yes, while some people may have an immediate “allergic” or “crazy like” reaction to these drugs, others who don’t have these sort of quick reactions may actually suffer a slow decline into some kind of SSRI Hell that seemingly has no obvious medical or psychological explanation. We do know that over time SSRI’s perturb the brain’s sertonergic system; this may be true for ALL people who use them. For these people, simply stopping all the drugs, may actually start them on a horrible journey into protracted SSRI withdrawal that could take years to recover from. There are multiple internet sites (involving tens of thousands of people) where people seek help from “citizen scientists” when feeling abandoned or betrayed by their own doctors.
Given that our current understanding relative to genetics and SSRI’s is very primitive at best, I believe it is best to avoid these genetic/DNA references at this time. In fact the pharmaceutical industry and the APA are already making noise about pursuing some of these angles to actually promote their drugs based on certain genetic profiling. The above story is much more powerful (in its indictment of the System) and transcendent (universal to many people around the world) without any need to confuse the narrative with references to genetics.
I make the above comments with the sincerest amount of respect and support for your overall message and I hope it is received with this spirit in mind.
Respectfully, Richard D. Lewis
Thanks for your comments and I agree with your points. I am very clear in my book that the genetic testing, based on metabolising genes is inconclusive at this point and at no point in my article am I referring to the link between these genes and adverse drug reactions. What I am referring to, is anecdotal evidence that I have gleaned from my own experience and talking to many, that when one family member has a violent adverse reaction, it seems to run through generations. I am aware that no one has identified a particular gene which is responsible and like you, I would be extremely wary of advocating a test when we know so little. I agree wholeheartedly with your points that its not just the few who have severe adverse drug reactions that are a matter of concern. I consider myself lucky in that the severity of my reaction led me to coming off all of them, and I remain extremely concerned for the many more who start out well and now are left with long term debilitating side effects. So Richard, we are very much on the same page….
Thanks Katinka for your response.
We all have much more to learn about the dangers of these drugs and a lot more activism to wage. I am afraid that until the full criminal role of Big Pharma and APA is thoroughly exposed, and the top leaders of these institutions are actually prosecuted for fraud and negligent homicide, things are unlikely to change much regarding the prolific prescribing of these drugs.
You are in unique position to have a powerful voice in this long term struggle. I hope you can continue to maximize your positive influence as a creative agent of change.
All the best, Richard
Thank you for sharing your story and getting the message out there on these dangerous, destructive drugs.
I am still recovering from a similar experience after having been drugged with these substances for a few years – their effects, even after withdrawal can be protracted!
My sister was placed on the stuff when she was in her late teens and was a mess and in and out of psychiatric hospitals all her adult life. Then, at 63, a doctor decided to withdraw her from all “meds”. Lo and behold, after a horrible withdrawal, she is now sane again, after years of struggle and torment. The whole family keeps shaking their heads at the fact that she can carry on a conversation, can be reasonable, compassionate, and function as an adult human being…intelligent even – who’d have thought it! We had forgotten.
How many others are locked up and tortured in “psychiatric hospitals” simply because they cannot tolerate these evil drugs ?
Thank you again for speaking out.
Thank you for sharing this since it gives the lie to all the bull feces that psychiatry and the drug companies spout about the fact that people will be ill for the rest of their lives. Thank goodness that this particular doctor decided to help your sister so that she could get her life back.
As someone who works in a state “hospital” I can tell you that there are thousands who are in “psychiatric hospitals” because of these evil drugs.
I was a total mess on all the drugs (ssri, neuroleptics, benzos) and the psychiatrist decided I was profoundly mentally ill. I’ve been hospitalized several times with perplexing physical symptoms along with unbelievable emotional liability that were due to the drugs. By chance I picked up Peter Brannigan’s book Toxic Drugs and had my aha moment. About the same time I had a consult with a neurologist who said I had the worst case of Akathisia he’d ever seen in his life and I thought what in the world is Akathisia? I had been to the same psychiatrist for 17 years so I went to see a new one who told me there was no way in the world I’ve ever been profoundly mentally ill and to him I was not mentally ill at all. What in the world is happening? Somehow I tapered off these drugs very very quickly and to the surprise of my family and friends I was back to who I was before I stepped into a psychiatrist office. How did I go to a psychiatrist because I was having trouble sleeping and all this happened? The same reason many of you are here with your similar outcomes dealing with psychiatry.
Aria, – and all the countless thousands of people of all ages who are condemned to exile from mainstream society by the the failure of mainstream psychiatry to understand and recognise AKATHISA: – how much of what is labelled as “Serious Mental Illness” is never, and never has been related to any psychiatric disorder whatsoever?
Your neurologist recognised that you had chemical brain injuries as a result of fatuous attempts to treat a life threatening Adverse Drug Reaction with more of the inappropriate “medications” which cause and hence intensify akathisia.
Why were psychiatrists unable to do so?
How can any SSRI or other psychotropic drug be validly consented and ethically precribed if the prescriber has not warned of the importance and implications of this common, neurotoxic movement disorder? ( or has never heard of akathisia?)
Prescribers seem to be oblivious to the tragedy that drug induced akathisia can cause extreme and unusual psychological and behavioural changes dominated by overwhelming agitation.
“The combination of medication, fluctuating restlessness, suicidality, aggression and toxic hallucinations are pathognomonic (absolutely diagnostic) of akathisia.
We cannot find any other diagnosis in medical taxonomy that combines suicidal and aggressive thoughts with medication, nor any other that recedes when the culprit drug has been taken away”.
(Eikelenboom, Lucire and Fogelman. Journal of Forensic and Legal Medicine. 2016).
The years of life destroyed by this consistent and lamentable failure of basic differential diagnosis must be added to the lives lost via deaths due to all forms of psychiatric drug- induced human and family tragedy.
When the fundamental failure of biological psychiatry is finally called to account, it is their inability to differentiate the profoundly injurious effects of psycholeptic drugs from serious mental illness which is the avoidable cause of such devastating physical, psychological, and social iatrogenic destruction of individuals, families and their loved ones which should condemn what is purveyed as “medical practice”.
Clearly, The detail of your experience is not known to me, however the comment above is based on the fact that the picture and events described in your post are so typical of those who have had akathisia mis-interpreted as S.M.I.
Thank you, TRM. The prescribing psychiatrist kept saying I was a mystery to him and to this day I can’t fathom him not relating not only my ongoing deterioration but my perplexity physical problems to the drugs he was prescribed? When my psychiatrist read the report from the neurologist he looked up at me and said I cant believe you have Akathisia? By then I knew what it was and did I have it. I’ll remember this appointment I had with a psychiatrist for the rest of my life because I confronted him with what the drugs had done to me and the man broke down sobbing in his office asking me for forgiveness. When I walked out of his office I was considered a liability and I found out later how much of a liability. I am very grateful to Be Drug Free and I’m grateful to have what I considered a relatively quiet life. All my favorite activities that I stopped doing when I was so drugged I am back doing it again.
Thank you so much for this article! I experienced suicidal ideation taking Xanax during a separation from my spouse. I spent a week on a unit and learned I was depressed, but didn’t need all the crappy meds. Once I recovered enough to handle the stressors, I tapered off the new depression meds. But I will never take Xanax again.
The problem for people like me who are on Klonipin, Lithium and 3 other meds at the moment, having been on meds since 1993, is that I’m suicidal and homicidal off my meds so not being on meds is not an option. I don’t have the luxury of not being on meds. My meds have been changed a million times. The only hope for me now is TMS which I can’t afford.
Thank-you, Katinka, *THANK-YOU*!…. I can personally endorse your story, because there are enough points of identity. When I was on the SSRI “Zoloft”, the only “effect” I noticed was an dramatic increase in general thoughts about the subject of suicide. I was NOT “suicidal”, but that’s more because of the healing and recovery work I had already done. Many SSRI’s have had an FDA-mandated “black box” warning regarding suicidality, violence, and even homicidality, since the 1990’s. Trust me, PhRMA and psychiatrists know exactly how dangerous their poison pills truly are. But their greed trumps common sense and compassion for suffering persons.
Akathisia is the OTHER key part of your story and mine. Again, trust me, Katinka, it’s FAR MORE than “1%” of the population. Please don’t fall prey to the PROPAGANDA of PhRMA. They like these little “1%” “statistics”, which are basically bogus lies. The damage done is far more pervasive, and inflicts far more than 1% of persons drugged by these poisons. True, sometimes, some persons do seem to do better on some drugs, for some short length of time. But long-term use of psych drugs is connected to an inevitable worse outcome. Conflating Akathisis with so-called “mental illness” is one of the biggest SCAMS which PhRMA and the APA inflicts on people….
I also want to echo the comment from Richard D. Lewis, above. The talk about “DNA” is vastly premature, and tentative. There is NO PROOF that “DNA variables” are at the root of bad experiences such as described here. It’s just as likely, if not more so, that it’s all a matter of individual chemical variables triggered by negligent prescribing of toxic drugs. We as people have allowed ourselves to become DRUG ZOMBIES. I’m so glad to see your story here, and you have my full support. Let’s continue to do this important work. Thanks again, Katinka!
And *THANK-YOU* to everybody at MiA, and Yahoo!, that this story was linked prominently at Yahoo!
LET EVERYBODY KNOW THE *TRUTH*!
In my next life I want to be super religious so the idea of taking a drug to be happy never enters the equation. I was pushed towards Christianity as a teenager and I just couldn’t accept that Jesus was the son of god. As an adult it seems that Buddhism makes the most sense. What I should do is go to the Buddhist services, but I’m too doped up and too embaressed. Luckily I’m not on any antidepressants. Unfortunately I’m a top 1%’er as well. About a year ago I started acting like I had rabies off all drugs so the courts say I have to be doped up. If there is a God please let me be a devout buddhist in my next life so I don’t have to deal with this mental illness garbage.
I can strongly recommend ANY books by HH Dalai Lama. They are very readable. Try “The Dalai Lama’s Little Book of Wisdom”, for a start. He even co-authored a book with a psychiatrist, although he makes the psych look like the FOOL that he is! I’m sorry you got beat over the head with the Bible, but you might like a book by the Viet Namese Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh” “Jesus and Buddha as Brothers”. It’s another perspective on Christianity and Buddhism which I hope you find as helpful as I did. Thanks for commenting here! Best wishes! ~B./
You can be a devout Buddhist right now without becoming a part of any particular group. You probably already know about mindfulness and meditation and these you can practice anywhere at anytime.
I thought I was hallucinating when I started seeing British English in “Mad in America.” Thanks for sharing the experience. I bet the pain feels the same in any language!
There need to be safety valves for the middle-class family. A parent might indeed be depressed. Some have nervous breakdowns and then get 5150ed, and then put on drugs.
Maybe they will be able to make changes in their lives, but maybe they will not be able to.
We have the availability of divorce, as no fault as possible. Maybe that will be used maybe it will not be. But me MUST PROTECT CHILDREN, and the only way to do this is to provide children with other places to go, and with other people to connect with.
@Nomadic, How does one get in touch with you? I have a friend (14) who is experiencing psychiatric abuse carried out by the parents and legal system.
Thank you Katinka and thanks to your children for such courage and powerful advocacy for those whose lives are derailed, destroyed or terminated by these and other psychotropic drugs used inappropriately for stress, anxiety, “exam nerves” and normal life experiences. Much of the following applies equally to those treated for depression.
AKATHISIA is the most dangerous of the cascade of serious adverse drug actions to SSRI’s and it is apparently unknown and unrecognised by many prescribers. Hence, the extent of the iatrogenic catastrophe of misdiagnosis via pharmacological ignorance remains unquantified. Evidence increasingly points to a vast, expanding and entirely avoidable number of otherwise well people. Their great misfortune has been to trust that mainstream psychiatry offers professional, medical expertise in alleviating adverse human experience causing intense, albeit transient distress, using “medication” with SSRIs. Primary care physicians have been deliberately mislead by the now serially deconstructed, ghost written papers which proclaimed them to be “safe and effective”.
The overwhelming neurotoxicity which you became aware of is so often mis-interpreted due to mediocre history taking and ignorance of pharmaco-toxicolgy amongst prescribers. The profoundly agitated, ceaselessly moving, pacing, skin picking, hair pulling SSRI-akathisic patient returns to the prescriber who prescribes an alternative SSRI in the false belief that a psychiatric presentation is deteriorating.
The akathisia intensifies. Tragically, they refer to psychiatry instead of recognising and managing an acute,
life-threatening medical emergency. Then follows the predictable, deeply prejudiced “diagnosis” of
“psychotic depression”- often in those, like yourself who were never depressed. Next follows false imprisonment, deprivation of all human rights, separation from family and enforced drugging with dubiously licensed, brain injuring drugs which still further aggravate akathisia. Inevitable failure to respond is labelled as “treatment resistance” and their iatrogenic abuse and destruction is played out through a cascade of neurotoxic, enforced pyschotropic drugs. Eventually, the ultra-fashionable pseudo-diagnosis of “Bipolar Disorder” follows together with the “label for life” of “Serious Mental Illness” recorded on the S.M.I. register. For many of these poisoned people, this is terminal to all life’s dreams, hopes aspirations and the end of hope. It is the anti-christ of caring and compassionate medical practice.
In the UK the profoundly embarrassing, fatuous establishment campaign “Stop Bashing Psychiatry” grumbles on. Somewhat hopeless perhaps, as “establishment psychiatrists” inexorably destroy their own credibility through such ignorance, arrogance, brutality and inhumanity.
I found Akathisia to be the bane of my existence but I had no name for it. My psychiatrist said I was Manic and it was because I couldn’t sit still, I was pacing, up all night, non stop talking, sweating, shaking and it was drug induced Akathisia. Shame on my prescribing psychiatrist shame on him. I feel blessed that I can now sit still, that I can lay down quietly without the twitching, the urge to jump up. I thought this peace would never return but it did.
This story, Katinka Newman’s story just came across my Yahoo newsfeed!!
I seriously doubt my comment will be posted, considering the content of this webpage as a whole, but I’ll try anyway. I saw this article on Yahoo. I never would have found out about this foundation otherwise, so I guess money well spent for getting Yahoo to pick up this article?
Although the experience this woman went through is tragic, it is not the norm, by far. In contrast to her experience, an antidepressant has saved my life. I’ve had what is now called “double depression” since I was a teenager, although it went undiagnosed until my twenties. Many other treatment modalities were tried first before they prescribed antidepressants, and the other treatment modalities were not effective for me by themselves. We tried 3-4 different antidepressants before finding the one I currently take (I will not say what it is, other than that it is a newer kind, because it is irrelevant to my point). The antidepressant, in combination the non-pharmaceutical treatment modalities (exercise, therapy with a psychologist, meditation, nutrition), was what made the difference for me. I went off of them unintentionally once, and intentionally a couple of other times, and my symptoms always returned. One time it triggered a particularly bad episode where I actually started planning my suicide. So yes, I know for a fact in my particular case, an antidepressant has saved my life.
Please understand, I’m not saying this is for everyone, and I do agree that drugs such as antidepressants can be overprescribed or inappropriately prescribed in some cases (as with many other health conditions). However, to make such blanket statements that they are always ineffective, any benefits reported are merely attributed to placebo, or somehow inherently dangerous, is irresponsible. I, as well as many, many others out there like me, are living proof of that. Now, go ahead and rip me apart in the replies and tell me how I’m fooled by “The System” and/or it’s only placebo that made the difference.
OK, I’ll bite. You’re “fooled by the system”, and it’s “only placebo that made the difference”. There. See, now that wasn’t so hard, was it? I said below, that, “sometimes, some people do seem to do better for some short length of time, on some small dose of drugs.” I’d say most of the rest of us here more or less usually agree with these statements. But this is all pretty vague, and very UN-scientific. It’s 100% “anecdotal”, and persons’ personal stories are regularly discounted, disrespected, neglected and ignored. We’re denied credibility. We can’t run placebo-controlled, double blind studies on ourselves, by ourselves. So all we have is OUR TRUTH. I know people who claim that a bottle of booze, or a needle full of heroin / opiate / junk is their “meds”, which they need to function….. I’m glad you shared your story, “KateS”. But I’m also sorry that you have to play the HEAD GAME of refusing to reveal DATA / DRUG NAME, because you don’t feel that it’s relevant. Finally, this is the FIRST I’ve ever heard of “”double depression””. The Amer.Psych.Ass’n should just change it’s name to “Euphemisms-R-Us”, or maybe “Neologisms-Unlimited”….
So-called “”double depression””, like ALL so called “mental illnesses”, is exactly as real as presents from Santa Claus….. Real people have real problems, but imaginary “mental health issue disorders illnesses” shouldn’t be part of that….
Thanks for your comment, Kate. I’m not doubting your individual experience with antidepressants and I have said and continue to say that with over 100 million worldwide taking these pills, sometimes they may save lives. However, when it comes to assessing the frequency of life saving versus life destroying, then we have to look not just at personal anecdotes but at scientific evidence. And when you look at all the trials that have been done and not just the few that the drug companies put forward to get their products licensed, then it has been found that antidepressants are no more effective than a placebo. I don’t know the details of your circumstances, but its worth mentioning that coming off these drugs causes feelings of intense suicidality for many. The article states clearly they are dangerous for 1 % of users, not for everyone. I wish you well with your recovery but feel it is important that people know the risks.
What is vitally important for people to understand is that this woman’s experience is exactly what most people experience with these drugs. You can not cay that her experience is not what many others experience just because you feel that these drugs help you.
I suspect that what you experienced when you went off the so-called “antidepressant” was not a relapse of what the system wants to call an illness (depression is not an illness) but the withdrawal from the drug. These drugs are habit forming in that they do cause chemical imbalances to the brain and when you withdraw from them there are repercussions for the drug no longer being there.
These drugs are no better than placebo according to many, many studies and trials. This has been hidden by the drug companies since they wouldn’t be able to make the huge amounts of money off them that they do now if the general public knew this information.
I am very glad that you find help in these drugs. But it’s important that the public understands just what is going on with these drugs and what is not going on with them. The author’s experience is probably much more the norm than any of the drug companies or psychiatrists or GP’s want to admit.
By the way, this web site will post most comments, even ones that oppose what many of us feel to be the truth, because they believe in the freedom to express your feelings and ideas. They only moderate posts that are disrespectful and abusive to everyone else posting. You seem very respectful. So, post away!
Thank you Katinika – but l feel a certain emptiness. You were saved by an extraordinary ‘local’ hospital that treated you with wisdom and compassion. They are the unsung heroes of your remarkable history. Millions upon millions of people are condemned to a life of pharma induced hell. You are so lucky! Please give the true heroes of your story their due.
Hi Rick, Thanks for your comments. I didn’t really share the details in that article of what happened at the local hospital. I’m sorry to say it was probably just luck they took me off the drugs and there was very little wisdom or compassion shown to me as I hurtled into 4 weeks of agonising cold turkey, coming off five antidepressants, antipsychotics and mood stabilisers in one go. I won’t go into the details, but suffice to say that no one seemed to understand or explain that the agonising symptoms I was experiencing were withdrawal and I was treated at best as a trouble maker and threatened with seclusion. Unfortunately, medical professionals don’t understand either the dangers of these drugs or that coming off these drugs is worse than coming off heroin. But yes, you’re right, I was lucky, but there were no local heroes !!
Exactly, the “professionals” want to interpret withdrawal from these drugs as relapse of the “illness”.
They don’t seem to understand the mechanisms of what happens to a person with these drugs, and I suspect that they don’t care. If they cared they’d have to change the way that they dealt with people and that would mean a hit to their bank accounts, their large homes in gated communities, private schools for their kids, and a huge hit to their egos because the drugs are the only thing that gives them a modicum of credence to the idea that they are true doctors. Whew, I just made one long run-on sentence.
Your article led me to believe that your father was prescribed an SSRI in 1976. It is my understanding that SSRI’s weren’t available until the late 1980’s (at least in the USA). I would be interested to know what medication he was taking.
As for SSRI’s …I have seen hundreds of lives restored thanks to the medications – but they have limits and are always best used in conjunction with talk and behavioral therapies….just my two cents
Thanks for your reply. Yes, I know SSRI antidepressants were not available in 1976. However the older antidepressants also had suicidal ideation as a side effect and there were and are many other medications such as anti-smoking drugs and antimalarials that act in the same way. I cannot access my Dad’s medical records as it was such a long time ago, but I know that he was taking antidepressants and it is likely he took anti smoking drugs as well.
And I have seen hundreds of lives complicated by these nasty little pills. I work in a state “hospital” where these nasty things are given out like candy, regardless of what is going on in the lives of the people being held in the “hospital”.
I wigged out on Imipramine, a tricyclic.
Any drug that affects brain chemistry is suspect.
Thanks for the video; it’s great. Thank you for speaking out. I’m so glad that your daughter and son have their mother back again!
Your article seems to throw all psych meds under the bus so to say. For a great many, and more than less the do save lives. Yes like ANY medication there can be devastating issues for patients that get covered up by drug companies as we now see years later with lawsuits, not just psych meds either. The article can do harm to those that would benefit by medication that will help. I know I would have killed myself long ago had it not be for the medication that I take daily. Not all meds work the same on each disorder that’s why there are different meds, just like any other medical problems. A Women don’t take viagra and men don’t use IUD’s. It devastating what happened to you. Please don’t let that cloud the real fact that them so help many people. This article is read my a large group. Many who may be looking for help and now won’t or won’t be willing to trust a psychiatrist and medication that can help.
Thanks for your comment. I am so happy this article is reaching such a wide audience. it is so important to be having this discussion with people who have different opinions about the value of psychiatric medication rather than “preaching to the choir”, so to speak.
Katrina’s response to Kate below seems to speak to some of your concerns. I just wanted to add that I have been reading MIA for a few years now, and I find that people here do not argue against an individual’s experience, or individual choices with drugs. Some people who post here take psychiatric medications. However, what a great many people, including myself, have a problem with, is when people have not given ‘informed consent’ before taking these drugs. `Informed’ consent means knowing all the possible risks of taking these drugs, and also being given an honest ‘evaluation of the literature in terms of any drug’s effectiveness. When you suggest that Katrina should not publicize her experience because other people might not take medications, you are, in my humble opinion, supporting that people should not be given informed consent. This is what the psychiatric community has been doing for decades, and I think is one of the major reasons why we can’t get to the truth of what helps and what does not help. Also I think it is important to realize that Katrina’s story is not just about a ‘drug company’ cover up , it is about psychiatrists not believing and not being able to see that drugs were causing her symptoms. This is very serious indeed and povides very strong support as to why Katrina’s story should be spread widely and loudly.
I just realized I called Katinka ,”Katrina” in my comments – sorry about that
I beg to differ with you in that I believe that this woman’s story is very important. You may have received benefit from these drugs but many other people have been harmed dearly by them, some to the point of taking their own lives or the lives of others. Numbers of adolescents have killed themselves after only being on these things for a few days. You can’t hide these facts and pretend that these problems do not exist.
I would also emphasize what Sa says about informed consent. Very few people have been told the effects of these drugs (I will not call them “side” effects since I believe that this is simply playing word games with people; what a drug does, good or bad, is an effect of that drug, period) can produce. I work in a state “hospital” and I know for a fact that people on the units are not told about what the drugs may produce in a person’s life. They are simply told that they will take the drugs or face the consequences of not getting out of the “hospital” until they do. This is by no means any kind of informed consent.
I support freedom of choice. If a person wants to take these drugs themselves then so be it but I think it’s important to know what may happen to you when you do. There is very little informed consent going on with these nasty little pills. GP’s and psychiatrists hand them out like candy, never telling people how potent and dangerous they are. I believe that this is important to know when one in every five adults in this country are on these things.
@Stephen Gilbert Great points, and also about the insidious term ‘side effects’, which I never thought about before. Indeed, if they are a part of the effects, then in what way are they an aside? Also completely agree on informed consent. No child (in particular) should be psych drugged on that point alone! Psych drugs are given to children on off-label basis and none have ever been tested long-term on them. Informed consent doesn’t even exist. Only now some research is popping up on permanent brain changes and such. No child is psych drugged with informed consent. Should be a crime.
Finally, yes, every time I hear of a teen suicide or teen homicide now I wonder if the child was being prescribed psych drugs…
Kudos to the author/filmmaker. What a great thing she’s done by getting her story and experience out there. A film is accessible and people can relate to it. Thanks to her children and all the people in the film who obviously agreed to be filmed and be public about this. More people need to know about these drugs, and to know that the medical establishment is in a complete fog about their effects (at best) and/or outright lying about them (at worst).
I wish the film great success.
Thanks Katinka you’re a brilliant writer and you’re saving lives. I’m sure it’s more than 1% of people that experience dreadful reactions.
My (first) first cousin “died” at 22 in 1980. My second first cousin died in 1986. My third first cousin died a year or two afterwards. And my last first cousin died about 5 years ago (- I believe he visited a doctor shortly before, complaining of “anxiety”). All were on antidepressants (/neuroleptics).
In 1980 I recognised my medication based reaction straight away as it happened a day after being injected – and if I hadn’t been in hospital I could have done “anything”. In the community I attempted suicide twice in the same condition. The drugs were toxic and I also suffered from continual restlessness.
In 1984 I was injected with an alternative depot and I reacted again – this time I had to break my way into hospital. This was my last hospitalization becsuse I then stopped the strong meds through careful taper – and made Full Recovery.
This is another excellent article. I was going to comment on the doctors who took the author off of the 5 drugs cold turkey as the only good doctors after a long stream of bad ones. Then I saw the comment to Rick indicating it was probably just blind luck without any real compassion. What is so bothersome is that so many doctors completely missed a dangerous side effect that could have resulted in death. Perhaps missing such side effects in the pre Internet era would be easy as the side effects were easy to sweep under the table. But now, patients who have been harmed by these drugs have a forum to get their message out. The doctors should be examining these alternate sources of information. Much of what the doctors know in prescribing is what is fed to them by the drug marketers. They control the package inserts and pdr. To hear this story of what harm these drugs can do from a skilled journalist is very moving. The writer’s look back at her fathers suicide is also very profound. I think she figured out what really happened to him. It was the antidepressant and whatever else that induced his state of mind. The drug killed him. These drugs harm people and the doctors are not paying attention.
Katinka, further reflecting on your story, some things come to my mind.
One book which has influenced my views is:
Mary Catherine Bateson is the daughter of Margaret Mead and Gregory Bateson. She lived with them in NYC until she was age 10, and then tensions developed and finally her parents divorced. Her mother stayed in NYC, but her father moved to the San Francisco Bay Area.
So one of the ramifications of this was that starting that summer Mary Catherine got to take a 3 day long train trip across the country to visit her father.
Just imagine how much fun that would be for a 10yo to get to take a trip like that!
And so these trips became a regular event. And then with her mother in NYC, lots and lots of friends got to help in the care of Mary Catherine. Her mother would go on to say, “I had to ration you out, as there were so many.”
Now San Francisco is a long way from New York. It might be better if the distance were shorter. But having two separated parents, each with their own place, amounts to backup. If there is a problem at one end, the child can just go to the other.
I think we need to make sure that this is always there in the lives of every child. Somehow there has to be back up.
So yes, every human institution is subject to corruption. But nothing could be worse than being trapped in a home with two married parents, and who have designated you as “the problem”, and where marriage is unbreakable and normative, and were there is emotional abuse, or more.
So while I am not saying that people who do not divorce when things are going bad are wrong or should be blamed, I am saying that the safety of the child must be considered.
I have written at length about a father who was molesting his three daughters, with the full support of his Pentecostal Church, whom I helped put into our state prison. The parents were married, and they are still married, and I feel that the mother should be in prison too.
But the way the case started was very simple. We are blessed to have a 24/7 youth drop in center. They can go there on foot or by bicycle, at any time. So the youngest girl, the one who got the least of it and the one who is still the best at standing up for herself, then in the 8th grade and 13yo, went and talked to a counselor.
The girl said some things which did not sound right.
Now people my age tell horror stories, and there was in their lives no intervention.
And today it still seems like most private practice doctors and therapists just ignore mandatory reporting, because they hire themselves out to the parents. So they serve the parents, and their see no evil interpretation is already established.
But in public practice, knowing a Social Worker at the County Hospital who teaches the class in mandatory reporting, they do seem to comply. She said, “You report *EVERYTHING*.”
So I don’t really know how far this goes, and CPS already gets more cases than it can do anything with.
But okay, at this youth center, the intern counselor heard stuff which did not sound right, and so she did exactly what was required. She asked more questions, wrote it up, and then faxed it to both CPS and Police.
Now it turns out that this abuser father had once before talked his way out of it with school counselors, and then once CPS bungled a well being check. But this time, Police immediately tracked down the eldest daughter and then they had a different detective do a video interview with each family member.
Soon the defendant was in jail and charged with felonies pertaining to each of the three girls.
So I emphasize the importance of children having these other places!
So the middle-class family is like a death machine. But sometimes there are mitigations. Other people, other places to go are one.
But what is happening in our society? Kids don’t even get to walk to school anymore, because parents are so scared of stranger danger, when the greatest danger is in the family home, and it is abuses committed by parents.
And then recently I have been reading about Israeli Kibbutzes. Again, there have been problems there, and no institution is incorruptible. And these communities are changing, and there are differences. But still there is the basic idea of having the parents’ home, and also a children’s home with the school, and all within walking distance. That gives children empowerment.
And then they could ride the bus from the front gate, off into the town. Lots of possibilities.
So I am not saying that parents who do not divorce should be chastised. But we must protect children. We must make provisions for this.
Even when CPS is involved, most children do go back to their parents within a year. And if you have other places for children to go already, which they have been utilizing, a temporary separation is not such a big deal. And even when there is a permanent problem, so long as the child has other places, there can still be visits and that can be safe.
I feel that most of these problems are created by the ideology which holds The Middle-Class Family up as an ideal, and then treats children as property.
Turns out that when Mary Catherine Bateson was 18yo, her mother took her to Israel to visit a Kibbutz, and Mary Catherine basically ditched her mother, deciding to stay there, and eventually marrying one of their men.
I loved your book and it was extremely compelling. I read it in one sitting. And it mirrored my life almost to a T. Except that it ended up costing me my marriage. First I felt raped by psychiatry. and then by the court system and my ex husband. I didn’t realize how many basic human rights that would be taken away when labeled. And the worst part is that there is nothing I can do to prove otherwise: no blood test, MRI, CAT or PET scan. It’s like trying to prove that you’re not ugly. How do you do that beyond a shadow of a doubt? Being on an SSRI I felt like I was in a dream and detached from what was going on. They later put me on ADHD medication and it also sent me into such a mania, I felt my body was on fire and I just wished I could jump out of my skin to get away from the feeling.
I have now been drug free for about 3.5 years. I am looking for a job while I work part time. It hurts to be underemployed and not utilizing my education. It also hurts to face the stigma that you face in day to day situations. People and sometimes the ones close to us are condescending and treat you as though you are not human. I am piecing my life back together and it has not been easy. One day I will get there. At least I made it out without too much damage.
Anyway, I found your story inspiring and hope I do as well as you did. And again, thanks for your contribution.
Dr Peter Breggin was spot on when he made the comment, going to see a psychiatrist can literally ruin your life.
I’m glad you enjoyed the book and I’m so pleased you managed to get off the drugs. I don’t know your whole situation , but I hope I can help people who have been harmed to have a voice if thats what you ever choose. In any event, do keep in touch and let me know how you get on.
Katinka, well done on your recovery from this experience, your well-written essay and the excellent video, the last of which is particularly powerful. To be totally honest, I had somewhat doubted these stories of pills having these sudden extreme effects on people, since it seemed unbelievable on superficial observation. But now, having read your story and manyother stories, I have come around to taking these reports seriously. The possibility of such adverse reactions is indeed a real threat, and it’s very scary because it seems like there may often be no way of predicting whom might be affected or when.
Katinka and myself seem to have similar stories on some level, despite the fact that I grew up in a remote part of Ireland. My father ended up trapped in the system for 10 years. From 1973. But he was on the drugs until his death at 52, from prostate cancer (but possibly also the effects of being on Lithium for 20 years was a contributing factor, as his kidneys seemed to fail in the end).
When I went to see Prof Ivor Browne I hinted at the fact that my Manic Depression / “Bipolar” diagnosis was genetic. I even went into a small bit of detail about his ‘highs’. But then Ivor dropped a clanger, that left me literally rewriting 20 years of my life. My father died when I was 23. Ivor said “But your father was around in the era of medication as well !”. No one had said it like that before. And Ivor is a so called ‘expert’ who has 50 years experience as a Psychiatrist / also trained therapist.
I realised that the drugs can bring a person way down. So low that you can’t really get out of bed. Or on a ‘high’. While the drugs might have been slightly different back in the 1970s and early 80s, they still could seriously affect mood.
While some of us do suffer from anxiety, I believe there is a problem metabolizing the drugs on my paternal side, as highlighted in the work of Dr Yolande Lucire. When I can afford to I will get tested. Another relative had a similar reaction to Lexapro as I did to Citalopram, but they are effectively the same drug.
Some people would rather live in the 1970s mentality, as this truth challenges their belief system, that they have been indoctrinated and brainwashed into. I was in that boat myself for most of my life. People trust what doctors say, but at their own peril.
The drugs don’t work long term and for me made things far worse, but they also don’t address any issues or inter generational trauma within a family or society. Or true ways in dealing with anxiety. I took Citalopram for anxiety / panic attacks and ended up in mania / ‘psychosis’ 3 years later. It has changed my life forever. I try to stay positive despite the mass damage. One day at a time. Thanks Katinka for sharing your story. I’m tired which affects my writing ability. If you got this far thanks for listening.