Dr. Yolande Lucire, a psychiatrist from Australia, recently published a paper about the iatrogenic effects of psychiatric drugs. Iatrogenic effects refer to those negative consequences which result directly from the provision of medical care. She highlights how these effects have been rising, and have led to increased numbers of disability claims, health care costs, and deaths, and how they are connected to the increase in the diagnosis of mental illness.
“The data evidenced an epidemic of ‘psychiatric’ disability, of suicidality and violence associated with mental health services and, inevitably, medication,” she writes.
The research on iatrogenic effects has implications for patient safety, the provision of a genuine informed consent process and patients’ legal rights. Lucire also documents how the psychiatric and pharmaceutical industries and regulatory agencies which are meant to protect the public interest have been complicit in the pushing of a dangerous pro-drug agenda in New Zealand and Australia.
Youth suicide, she reports, began to rise in the 1980s in Australia as stimulant medication began to be prescribed, and this trend continued as antidepressants were prescribed to young people, who in previous generations may have been identified as going through normal developmental transitions.
A similar result was found in a review of studies by the Cochrane Collaboration. Suicide rates in Australia also rose in general from 1963 to 2006, especially among males, with antidepressants carrying the highest suicide risk followed by atypical antipsychotics. Another disturbing statistic she collected shows that 36 homicides were committed by patients admitted to the New South Wales Mental Health public sector between 1999-2003 within 28 days of beginning treatment, but they were counted only if the patient had been seen within 28 days of the homicide. Patients who committed homicides while on medications prescribed by mental health care outside that period were not counted.
“As nearly everyone admitted to mental health care is or has been medicated with new drugs, they were implicated in these deaths. Between 2003 and 2008, 43 more patients treated in the NSW public sector committed homicide, but the homicide was counted only if it was committed within seven days of contact. Over 79 victims, mostly health care workers and family members were killed in ten years at an average of eight a year. Intra-family homicides are reported almost daily in the press. They are attributed to mental illness, but examination shows that mental illness was very rarely in evidence before medication.”
Another area where the iatrogenic effects of medication are seen is prisons and prison hospitals in Australia, where the author believes psychiatrists are unable to tell the difference between medication-induced violence and the relatively rare violence due to actual episodes of psychosis. Paradoxically she points out, that even if a person diagnosed with a mental illness commits a crime and gets a “Not Guilty by Reason of Mental Illness” (NGRI) verdict, they are made to take more drugs to get “well” – without an examination to determine whether or not the drugs may have been implicated in the violent acts.
The author balances her arguments by saying that even though death and suicide rates have increased on medications like antidepressants, there are some with serious depression who can benefit from them within a personalized medicine approach, with doses adjusted to their body’s ability to metabolize the medication and with continuous monitoring. Instead, she points out, that psychiatrists tend to follow dose algorithms like the ones recommended by the controversial Texas Medication Algorithm Project, which can be especially dangerous for children. She summarizes, “Algorithms are average doses suggested by the drug industry, inappropriate in the age of information and personalized medicine.”
Interestingly, she also points out how the DSM is expanding its nomenclature to include short term iatrogenic effects of medications as disorders, and at the same time does not contain, “chronic, withdrawal, post withdrawal and delayed post-withdrawal akathisia and other delayed post-withdrawal” due to medications, which makes it seem like withdrawal symptoms are a recurrence of mental illness instead of iatrogenic effects of drugs.
The author concludes by asking: “How is it possible when presented with overwhelming evidence, even the evidence of our own eyes, that we can deliberately ignore something – while being entirely aware that this is what we are doing? The magnitude of the lethal nature of Pharma-driven ‘biological’ psychiatry is too painful to tolerate, but it cannot go on forever.”
Lucire. Y. (2016) Pharmacological Iatrogenesis: Substance/Medication-Induced Disorders That Masquerade as Mental Illness. Lucire, Epidemiology (sunnyvale) 6:217. doi:10.4172/2161-1165.1000217 (Full Text)