When Psychiatric Medications Cause Psychiatric Symptoms


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.

Photo credit: Pexels
Photo credit: Pexels

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)


  1. I just copy and pasted this article in the comments of a local paper, where one of the county supervisors (who has a ‘bipolar’ diagnosis) wigged out and was tazed and arrested for domestic violence. I have lived thru a similar episode after being prescribed imiprimine for postpartum depression–a horrifying and humiliating experience. What I needed was *support* but all I got were drugs, which led to a diagnosis, and never mind the trip to the county jail.

    As the years pass, and I free myself from both the drugs and the diagnosis, and form the threads of support that make my life happier than I’ve ever been, I hear stories in my community of similar situations where a beloved family member wigs out after starting/stopping a prescribed psych drug. It is all too common.

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    • The minute I read this I too was going to copy and paste it to a friend. Thank you thank you thank you. I suffered terribly from Akathisia (I had no idea what it was). My psychiatrist was oblivious to any toxic side effects so he saw Akathisia as mania. Need I add he proceeded to drug me even more? I’m so grateful I am 10 years + drug free.

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  2. The drugs create unnatural brain states. This can probably be helpful, for some people, for a season. My best guess is that most people on psychiatric drugs could do OK, possible even better, without them. From personal experience, I also suspect that stigmatized, low status people who could benefit from both a period of treatment with carefully selected drugs and psychosocial assistance are brushed aside. These people often don’t have any medical coverage, minimal or no resources, no status or prestige, and basically “don’t matter” to society, and therefore they “don’t matter” to the people of Mental Health.

    Other times…those who “don’t matter” are pumped full of the most noxious drugs and the psychosocial services are used mostly for control and/or behavior modification, to “keep them in line,” etc.

    My own experiences have led me to believe that psychiatry–at least where I am, in the US–helps create deviants just as surely as society as a whole does. Psychiatry helps create and label “drug addicts,” the “personality disordered,” the “severely mentally ill,” etc. The combined effects of psychoactive drugs, labeling, poverty (for many “patients…”), low status, brain damage, de-humanization, and…overall frustration, which is often present before entering “the system,” is enough to push a lot of people “over the edge.”

    I appreciate the concern about the ill effects of overprescribed drugs. I also think that a number of other factors often combine to send many on a “downward spiral” that may not have happened without the Mental Health System.

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  3. Psychiatric Drugs Cause Psychiatric Symptoms.

    My experience is that they do. They cause anxiety, restlessness, depression, anger, panic and suicide attempts. The also disable, they cause weight gain, they cause dreadful lethargy, muscle weakness and fatigue.

    They are dependency forming in the sense that a person becomes ill with symptoms they didn’t experience at the beginning, when they attempt to withdraw. Eventually the consumer becomes longterm psychiatric anyway – with the offer of more drugs as the solution.

    It’s not just Psychiatrists and Drug Companies that support the Psychiatric drug based system – it’s supported by Doctors, Medical Councils, Medical Systems, Information Regulators Ombuds men/women, Statutory Authorities, Public Representatives and The Coroners Courts.

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  4. The Article is also definitely right on the subject of drug induced Suicide and Homicide. It is true that people can get disturbed but how many do any serious harm prior to going on medications.

    Out of Character Suicide/Homicide is now at crisis proportion in Ireland among the general population – which tallies with the 10% to 15% SSRI consumption rate.

    I am qualified to comment on this myself as I’ve experienced a number suicide attempts and suicidal hospitalizations on psychotropic drugs and no hospitalizations or suicide attempts in 30 years after coming off these drugs.

    I also experienced no suicide attempts prior to going on these drugs.

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    • Our experience of the “medications” is so very similar it’s eerie, despite us living at opposite ends of the earth.

      I have only been off the drugs for around 6 or 7 years, and although I still struggle with symptoms that weren’t there before I was put on them, I am certainly far better than I was while taking them. Hopefully one day I will be asymptomatic.

      The drugs made me unable to function. They took away my career and livelihood. A simple little anti-depressant tablet prescribe by my GP and taken exactly as prescribed. When I reported side effects, I was dismissed and told I must keep taking these magic pills.

      It is a cruel thing to force a human being to take drugs that the human being knows are making them insanely unwell. Psychiatrists, however, do this on a daily basis. I think THEY are cruel and insane.

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  5. Okay Akansha,

    But if we stopped giving people psychiatric drugs, then we wouldn’t need to worry about such problems. So rather than looking for what kinds of problems these drugs cause, why aren’t we instead studying why they are being given out and why people are accepting them?


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    • Nomadic
      Doctors are giving them out ‘cos they want to be able to offer something, and they have been convinced by big pharma money and falsified trials that they work. Drug companies also fund universities, studies, doctors’ professional development etc as part of their marketing. They pay eminent doctors BIG money to promote the drugs to their colleagues, and they aggressively put down anyone who questions this megabuck business.

      People accept them because doctors tell them to and in western society we have been conditioned to trust our doctors. People also want relief from difficult feelings and are very vulnerable when tough times come along.

      Greatly simplified answer, I know….but that’s the basis of it.

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      • mik,

        Okay, so what do we do about it?

        Peter C. Gøtzsche has written that it would be better if these drugs were taken off the market. I agree with that and would like to see it happen.

        I think by a ballot initiative, say like starting in Vermont, it would not be that hard to remove them.

        But then you are going to have people screaming that they can’t get their drugs and that they are being persecuted. As I see it, the appeal of these drugs is no different than the appeal of alcohol and street drugs.

        And even here on MadInAmerica, with people who claim themselves to be completely “anti-psychiatry”, we find endorsements for street drugs as the way to deal with adversity.

        So what do we do, let these drugs be sold, along with decriminalized heroin and cocaine?

        I say that the place to start is a 100% air tight and absolute prohibition on ever giving any of these psychiatric and behavioral medication drugs to children. And I mean air tight and with severe criminal penalties for violating.

        Complete 4-point Proposal


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        • I think 2 things that could and should happen are:
          1. Stop people being forced onto medication. Even in a voluntary situation, the elephant in the room is always “better do as the psychiatrist says or else”. Take that legal right away in all but the most extreme and temporary circumstances.
          2. Stop people bring bullshitted onto medication. Patient leaflets should be mandatory and enforced days PRIOR to going on medication with the clear right of refusal evidenced by written consent for all neuroleptics with extra provisos for off label. For drugs with an effect size less than , say, 0.5, or an NNT over 5, there should be a “Clinical Efficacy Warning”. If possible,there should be a way of giving people a better perspective of the harms in addition to those endless lists.

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  6. I wonder what the chemistry is that can potentiate these reactions and episodes. For example, “antipsychotic” drugs are highly dangerous to anyone using anticholinergic substances like jimsonweed, PCP or fly amanita, provoking potentially fatal berserk reactions. Cold medicines are weakly anticholinergic. Are antidepressants prone to doing similar things?

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    • Yes bcharris, antidepressants, in addition to the antipsychotics, are among the drug classes known to make a person “mad as a hatter”/”berserk,” via anticholinergic toxidrome poisoning, aka anticholinergic intoxication syndrome.


      “Substances that may cause [anticholinergic] toxidrome include the four ‘anti’s of antihistamines, antipsychotics, antidepressants, and antiparkinsonian drugs[3] as well as atropine, benztropine, datura, and scopolamine.”

      It’s truly shameful today’s psychiatric practitioners don’t know both the antidepressants and antipsychotics can cause a person to become ‘psychotic,’ especially since I’m pretty certain they learned about this drug induced toxicity back in med school. And, if I’m not incorrect, the ADHD drugs can also result in ‘psychosis,’ although that would not be from anticholinergic toxidrome poisoning, it would be some other kind of iatrogenesis.

      “The magnitude of the lethal nature of Pharma-driven ‘biological’ psychiatry is too painful to tolerate, but it cannot go on forever.” Thanks for helping to point out the iatrogenic harm resulting from the psychiatric drugs, Akansha. Let’s pray this psycho/pharmaceutical assault on humanity ends soon, the magnitude of harm being perpetrated by today’s ‘biological’ psychiatrists is staggering, and heartbreaking for all involved, both the unrepentant doctors harming others for profit, and the millions of innocent people being harmed and murdered.

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  7. The fact that psychiatric drugs can cause psychiatric symptoms and chemical imbalances is becoming more acknowledged and accepted, though not exactly wide spread or known by the general public.

    Peter Breggin talks a lot about the harms of psychiatric drugs in his books Toxic Psychiatry and Medication Madness, not to mention all the other authors that have delved into the issue.

    My own personal experience fully agrees with the assertion that psychiatric drugs can cause psychiatric symptoms. In my late teens I was having a difficult time so got my hands on some antipsychotics (not my prescription) to try and forget what was troubling me. Well, they sent me loopy and made me hallucinate, for which I was thrown involuntarily into a mad house where they gave me, you guessed it, psychiatric drugs to treat my psychiatric drug induced psychosis (specifically antipsychotics for antipsychotic induced hallucinations). Cause that makes total sense.

    I’ve said it many times before.
    Psychiatrists don’t treat the insane. They are the insane.

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  8. The points made are all good ones, particularly the one about prisons, in which iatrogenic violence perpetrated by drugged prisoners is considered a disorder and the newly violent, drugged prisoners are “treated” with more drugs.

    In the words of Dr. Lucire:

    “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?”

    I don’t know, but when can we start charging drugmakers who fake their drug trial data with crimes? Civil suits are impossible to pursue, for most Americans.

    [There are problems with some uses of the word “iatrogenic” in the article. All effects of medication are, by definition, iatrogenic. Iatrogenic means “originating in therapy” (of any kind). A sentence that begins “another area where the iatrogenic effects of medication are seen…” means “another area where the medication-caused effects of medication are seen…”]

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  9. There was an old lady who swallowed a fly.
    I don’t know why she swallowed that fly,
    Perhaps she’ll die.

    There was an old lady who swallowed a spider.
    That wriggled and jiggled and wiggled inside her.
    She swallowed the spider to catch the fly.
    But I don’t know why she swallowed that fly
    Perhaps she’ll die.

    There was an old lady who swallowed a bird.
    How absurd, to swallow a bird!

    There was a small child who swallowed some Vyvance…
    I don’t know why they put healthy children on drugs…

    But it gave him some anxiety so they gave him some Clonodine to catch the anxiety…
    I don’t know why they put healthy children on drugs…

    The Vyvance and Clonodine wriggled and jiggled inside of his brains…. So they called it bipolar and gave him more more drugs…
    How absurd creative energetic children on drugs.

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  10. As the second poster to Mention Dr Peter Breggin that Medication Spellbinding effect causes people to keep taking the drugs, keep asking for them instead of looking back and remembering they were much better off before they began.

    In the drug and alcohol treatment field I have met so many people in the grips of the iatrogenic effects of psychiatric drugs and having lived it myself and knowing what its like I ask them what they were like, what life was like before contact with psychiatry cause I know that that Medication Spellbinding effect made them forget and they are all focused on how they feel at the moment.

    Life was OK before psychiatry you only had some minor anxiety and insomnia, then you took all these pills that created a nightmare and you want more pills to fix the nightmare ?

    The best I can do is to get them to at least start questioning.

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  11. The author of the research underestimates the adversity here… the abuse CAN, in fact, go on forever, and it is one of a number of processes in our culture and medical regime that sustains itself precisely because people lack professional accountability for their profession’s failures while all the time insisting that expertise will solve people’s problems and they are the ones with this expertise. The model has given us a minimum of 150 years of bad science, flawed analysis, terrible abuses and liberties with the idea of cause and effect, and lastly, such a disregard for the patients and their right to life that they have electrocuted them and stuck ice picks and knives into their brains to disable what they term “negative symptoms.”

    This horror, despite it categorically indicting the incompetence of this profession, has not resulted in their removal, it has generated instead a successively more insidious “expert” regime of drugs and rationalizations to end the lives and brain functions of “their clients” (sic) … and do so even more legitimately and do so in a way largely accepted by the public and many of the patients themselves. Add to this behavior modification and the creation of etiologies based on creation of “behavior objects” and things like gas-lighting, the invalidation of perception and thought, and encouraging the belief that problems require expert intervention based on flawed diagnostics… and no, it is a long way from being over. If over at all. Psychiatry can read too… and even the most well meaning are unable to keep from invalidating and intervening with persons who they have no business judging, must less subjecting to their idea of a “cure.” It is possible they will find new or less toxic drugs, though it is less likely they will find a different institutional social role that does not entitle them as experts to solve “problems” of others, with the various forms of coercion — fear, force, fraud (false science, rationalization, or outright lying to the client to gain compliance), or … friendship (exploiting the trust of those seeking help). Even with results that have a recovery rate that is less than societies that have *no* psychiatric systems at all… we still lack the scientific and humanitarian will to throw off the regime of experts who are the anti-thesis of medicine’s Hippocratic Oath of “do no harm”…

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  12. The psychiatrists who want to stand up against pharma should resign their medical licenses like resigning from a cult.
    All of the “treatment providers” of all stripes (all titles) who see what’s happening and want it to stop should resign en masse.
    Enough is enough.

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