The United States spends more money on healthcare than any other developed nation in the world. Yet, we have experienced an observable and exponential rise in poor mental health outcomes, disability rates, and suicide over the past several decades.
Robert Whitaker’s Anatomy of An Epidemic provides the world with alarming statistics that cannot be ignored. The rise in the number of disabled mentally ill has been especially pronounced since 1987, the year that Prozac, the first of the “second-generation” psychiatric drugs, hit the market. The number of adults on SSI or SSDI due to mental illness has risen from 1.25 million in 1987 to more than 4 million today.
I felt fortunate that I had the means to see a psychiatrist when I was 17. After my psychiatrist tapered me rapidly off Klonopin in approximately a week, my perceived luck had quickly transformed into complete and utter despair. I spent the next 15 years trying to find answers for the life-altering and persistent symptoms that I continue to experience to this present day.
My full story of iatrogenic injury can be accessed here.
The theologian Ivan Illich put iatrogenesis at the centerpiece of his ideology. He described clinical iatrogenesis as the injury done to patients by ineffective, toxic, and unsafe treatments. He described the need for evidence-based medicine two decades before the term was coined.
I could have never anticipated the life that I was about to be thrown into. When a person starts to drown, there are desperate attempts to maintain their survival and offer first aid. There are protocols including life rafts, rescue maneuvers, and CPR. All I could do was try to keep my head barely above water.
I do not know how I survived what I believe to be the most inhumane moments of my life, and I fully acknowledge that many who were iatrogenically injured by psychotropic drugs did not. When I thought I had achieved some stability from my condition, I began to experience complete abandonment from most psychiatric practices that I contacted.
Due to the support and knowledge from the layperson survivor community, I was able to finally discover a treatment protocol that could help me in my recovery process. Yet, it began to seem utterly impossible that any psychiatrist would be willing to take me on as a patient.
As a compliant and “conventional” patient, I was met with open arms by any provider. If I complied with their protocol, I would receive praise and empathy. However, on the occasion that I offered my own conjectures and insights after my many years of lived experience as a harmed patient, I was met with resistance and denial.
I frequently felt I had to prove my injury so ferociously that I started to consciously identify myself as if I were a plaintiff in an ill-fated court room trial. The odds seemed to always be stacked against me. Any solid evidence I provided to these physicians was immediately overturned. I felt completely powerless against the authoritative stance I was met with each step of the way. I was met with many of the following statements, questions, and invalidation from various practitioners of psychiatry:
- “Your case is too unconventional and complex for our practice.”
- “I have never prescribed clorazepate. Therefore, I am not amenable to your treatment protocol.”
- “Why are you taking liquid gabapentin and not capsules? We cannot provide you with what you are asking for. We cannot see you as a patient.”
- “We are not a practice that treats neuralgia or physical pain. We cannot prescribe gabapentin for your continued taper.”
- “I have never experienced another patient experiencing the symptoms you are describing.”
- “We do not treat benzodiazepine withdrawal here. Please refer to the following detox clinics listed below in this email.”
- “All the information you are reading in the benzodiazepine support communities is wrong and these groups exhibit cult-like behavior. Your withdrawal symptoms are psychosomatic in nature and evidence of underlying anxiety.”
Underground Support Communities
The support forum SurvivingAntidepressants.org received over 749,903 hits this past December. Founded over a decade ago by Adele Framer, it continues to thrive as one of the most popular support communities in the psychiatric survivor population.
The users of this support community are typically individuals who have been severely injured by psychotropic medication. They have typically seen several psychiatrists who have all denied their claims of injury from the medication and/or fired them as patients. Desperate to find answers, they rely on this website in order to look for advice on how to safely discontinue their psychiatric medications.
SurvivingAntidepressants.org provides volunteer support for psychiatric drug withdrawal while taking a harm reduction approach. It offers the following statement: “Gradually tapering off of a medication is the only known way to reduce the risk of post-acute withdrawal syndrome (PAWS).” The members on the site can fully attest to experiencing long-term symptoms, even years after the cessation of their psychotropic drug.
The founder of SurvivingAntidepressants.org recently authored a publication entitled, “What I have learnt from helping thousands of people taper off antidepressants and other psychotropic medications.” In this paper, the author describes prescriber failure to recognize, monitor, and address withdrawal symptoms as the main impetus for almost all the site membership.
In their attempts to go off the drugs, almost all patients have been sold a narrative that they have relapsed to their original condition, even many who suffered brain zaps, one of the main hallmark symptoms of withdrawal, and especially those who have had mysterious symptoms for years, consistent with psychotropic PWS. Users frequently turn to the Internet because they question this diagnosis.
The support site benzowarrior.com aims to raise awareness and provide information about benzodiazepines, side effects, iatrogenic dependence, withdrawal, and recovery. This community provides loving and healthy support to those harmed by benzodiazepines from around the world as they take charge of their health and withdraw from these medications. This group is grounded upon the development and practice of healthy coping skills to assist individuals on their journey.
Figures listed in the estimates of patients experiencing withdrawal on the main information page of the Benzodiazepine Information Coalition highlight the magnitude of those suffering from benzodiazepine withdrawal syndrome. A study by Reconnexion, a nonprofit organization in Australia offering counseling and support for benzodiazepine dependent patients, estimates that between 50-80% of people who have taken benzodiazepines continuously for six months or longer will experience withdrawal symptoms when reducing the dose.
A slow-growing minority of psychiatrists recognize the harm that psychotropic medications have caused patients. They are extremely rare to find, and it took me a great deal of persistence to encounter these medical professionals.
During my time as an administrator for Benzo Warrior Community, one of the largest Benzodiazepine support groups on Facebook, I frequently saw members inquire about practitioners who could potentially help them during their withdrawal from benzodiazepine medications. It is difficult, if not impossible, to find these types of practitioners. This is the harsh reality we face daily as psychiatric survivors.
Why Are We Being Abandoned as Patients?
By the time an individual realizes that their drug is the main cause for their unexplained symptoms, their situation has become extreme and even dire. It is not uncommon for those who have become iatrogenically injured by psychotropics to have lost their jobs, homes, families, physical health, and their desire to keep living.
When faced with an injured patient, psychiatrists often do not seem to fundamentally understand the true complexity of psychiatric medication withdrawal. They also see injured patients as a liability, individuals which may present them with further problems down the line. Furthermore, they may see injured patients as a threat to their profession: if they are to admit that psychiatric medications can and do cause harm, what would that mean for the future of their careers?
This phenomenon seems quite removed from other medical specialties. If a patient had a faulty pacemaker, it seems more than likely that a cardiologist would treat this as a serious condition. Yet, we do not see the same level of concern when patients discuss their severe and even life-threatening symptoms to their psychiatrists. They are often met with explanations that their symptoms are due to an underlying pathology and frequently prescribed further medications. When patients ask their psychiatrists about safe and effective tapering methods, they are often met with little to no guidance or referred to detox clinics.
Why are we, as patients of prescribed harm, abandoned by psychiatry? If I suffered oxygen loss and became brain-injured during a routine surgery, I would be met with compensation, sympathy, and a genuine apology. It is unfathomable that anyone would question my symptoms. As an individual who suffered grave harm from prescribed medication, I must suffer the additional burden of receiving inadequate care or, even worse, no care at all. This has become an all too commonplace and acceptable practice by conventional psychiatry.
Once a patient has been given a mental health diagnosis, their experiences are easily manipulated so they will be considered subjective and biased. Harmed patients are frequently unable to control the narrative of their own treatment and are subject to gaslighting, dangerous medical advice, and termination.
Psychiatrists on social media platforms have claimed that harmed victims are “anti-psychiatry” and just aren’t trying hard enough to find practitioners to help them. They often bully those injured by medications on these platforms and publicly deny the extent of the suffering that psychotropic medications have caused to the global population. At present, they continue to denigrate the lived experience of harmed victims.
The Experts Speak Out
In his book, Saving Normal: An Insider’s Revolt against Out-of-Control Psychiatric Diagnosis, DSM-5, Big Pharma, and the Medicalization of Ordinary Life, Allen Frances, former chair of the Duke Department of Psychiatry as well as former chair of the DSM-IV task force, cautions that the “newest edition of the ‘bible of psychiatry,’ the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders-5 (DSM-5), is turning our current diagnostic inflation into hyperinflation by converting millions of ‘normal’ people into ‘mental patients.’”
It is my sincere hope that such a text will continue to influence practitioners of psychiatry to find a different perspective. If we are to contextualize this further, becoming injured by psychiatric medication may result in losing our ability to feel normal for the rest of their lives.
Patients endure days, months, and years of exponential tapers, delayed neurotoxicity, and protracted withdrawal symptoms. If they are lucky enough to recover, they are then faced with processing the trauma of their experiences and grieving precious time they have now lost. The years during which an individual may have had their humanity trapped somewhere in the intersection of reality and a dark underworld of unrelenting symptomatology. There have been relationships dismantled, identities shattered, and emotions oscillating between periods of disassociation and extremity during and after the cessation of psychotropic medication.
Furthermore, what is to be said about the lost abilities to experience genuine connection, love, and intimacy? Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) may cause sexual side effects such as anorgasmia, erectile dysfunction, and diminished libido. Changes in mood such as “emotional blunting” could also serve as a potential catalyst for sexual side effects. These changes may never return to baseline in some patients.
While the initial statistical data concluded that this occurred in only 10% patients, this was a figure based on unprompted reporting, and thus underestimated. In more recent studies, when doctors specifically asked their patients about sexual difficulties, 83% of participants reported experiencing sexual dysfunction. Despite solid evidence from both patient accounts and science, doctors frequently dismiss the very legitimate possibility of Post-SSRI Sexual Dysfunction (PSSD).
In the United Kingdom, 7.3 million (17% of their adult population) are taking one or more antidepressant medications. The publicly funded healthcare system in the U.K. is the National Health Service (NHS). While the NHS does provide non-psychiatric patients with high-quality healthcare, they are also experiencing an alarming trend of psychiatric patients who are becoming injured and unable to find doctors that can help them safely stop their psychotropic medications.
This trend has taken a toll on physicians as well. Dr. Peter Gordon was an acclaimed psychiatrist at St. John’s Hospital in West Lothian, Scotland. Dr. Gordon suffered devastating side effects when attempting to stop taking his antidepressant medication, Seroxat (paroxetine). His story was featured in the Daily Mail.
Dr. Gordon stated, “Like millions of Britons who’ve taken prescribed antidepressants, when I tried to stop taking the pills, I suffered serious psychiatric symptoms. In fact, I felt so suicidal that I had to be admitted to hospital.” He went on to describe a complete dismissal by his colleagues after his experience, “You’d think that my colleagues would be generally sympathetic. However, I have been marginalized, ignored and vilified as a troublemaker – and a leading member of the RCPsych even wrote to my employer questioning my sanity.”
A review by the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Prescribed Drug Dependence suggested that around four million people in England may experience sleep problems, anxiety, and hallucinations when withdrawing from antidepressants. For approximately 1.8 million people, these symptoms could be severe. If even acclaimed psychiatrists such as Dr. Peter Gordon are abandoned when seeking help, how can we as patients remain optimistic for change?
Deprescribing Clinics: An Urgent Call to Action
One psychiatrist is devoting his time and expertise to changing the current narrative about deprescribing techniques in psychiatry. Dr. Mark Horowitz is a training psychiatrist with a Ph.D. on the neurobiology of depression and the pharmacology of antidepressants from King’s College in London. He co-authored an article entitled “The ‘patient voice’: patients who experience antidepressant withdrawal symptoms are often dismissed, or misdiagnosed with relapse, or a new medical condition.”
The themes identified in the publication included a lack of information given to patients about the risk of antidepressant withdrawal; doctors failing to recognize the symptoms of withdrawal; doctors being poorly informed about the best method of tapering prescribed medications; patients being diagnosed with relapse of the underlying condition or medical illnesses other than withdrawal; patients seeking advice outside of mainstream healthcare, including from online forums; and significant effects on functioning for those experiencing withdrawal.
This article highlights a ubiquitous theme amongst patients: the consistent lack of support during psychiatric medication withdrawal. One way to remedy this urgent need would be to institute a nationwide service that would specialize in withdrawal services for prescribed medications. Deprescribing clinics represent a global health necessity, as these services will improve quality outcomes for harmed individuals and potentially save the many lives lost to suicide during psychiatric medication withdrawal. Finally, the mere presence of these clinics will forcibly shift antiquated perspectives within conventional psychiatry.
You May Say that I’m a Dreamer, but I’m Not the Only One
Many doctors claim that the current prescribing and deprescribing protocols are successful for most service users. Let’s not skew reality. Are the current trends within psychotropic prescribing conducive to positive outcomes? My definitive answer would be a no.
We are witnessing an observable and exponential rise in the number of patients pleading for help from strangers in online support communities. Abandoned by psychiatry, these patients now feel heard by other group members who have or are currently experiencing the same plight. Many volunteer moderators and administrators in these groups provide excellent resources that include scientifically validated protocols, including the exponential tapering of psychiatric medications.
It is currently estimated that the number of individuals seeking aid for their psychiatric medication withdrawal online numbers in the hundreds of thousands. That figure is just the tip of the iceberg, considering it takes many patients decades or longer to realize that their medication is the source of their problems. A significant portion of patients have become so indoctrinated into believing that their adverse symptoms are part of an underlying pathology, they may abandon their efforts in seeking the truth.
Many individuals in the support communities are also active on twitter, using the hashtag #prescribedharm to indicate their status as a prescribed harm victim. These individuals frequently describe their experiences on that public platform in order to raise awareness for others. There also exists a subset of groups in the #prescribedharm community that bring attention to severe and persistent conditions. A few examples include the Akathisia Alliance for Education and Research, MISSD (Medication Induced Suicide Prevention and Education Foundation in Memory of Stewart Dolin), and PSSD is Real.
I remain cautiously optimistic for change within the field of psychiatry. I am fearful about the prospect of future populations that may become harmed by psychiatric medications. Like many, they would later be faced with the absence of real support from the medical community.
I implore all psychiatrists to listen with intent when evaluating their patients. An iatrogenically harmed patient may present as defensive, but please remember, they have likely suffered years of suffering, chronic invalidation, and isolation. Many of us began taking psychotropics with little to no informed consent about the consequences or mechanisms by which these drugs could destroy our livelihoods. We need your help and willingness to recognize harm reduction approaches in coming off psychiatric medications. Haven’t we already been harmed enough?
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.
Thank you Rose, well done.
“Why are we, as patients of prescribed harm, abandoned by psychiatry? If I suffered oxygen loss and became brain-injured during a routine surgery, I would be met with compensation, sympathy, and a genuine apology. It is unfathomable that anyone would question my symptoms. ”
I can tell you that if you were deprived of oxygen and had brain damage, all your symptoms would still be called “psychiatric”. And they would get the same drugs, and eventual abandonment.
No one in the medical community is able to be honest and admit that they don’t know, and yet are willing to “treat” people, without needed knowledge. They do know that the “treatments” are harmful yet continue on harming.
This has become accepted practice by our politicians. Everyone is in bed together.
It won’t stop either save for some tough folks.
People would be less likely to use drugs if psych admitted their drugs caused harm. The social and moral status of psych would be downgraded if they admitted the harm caused by their drugs. Instead they go with the strategy of insulting and stigmatizing the people they sold harmful snake oil to. That applies to anyone pointing it out as well.
It is interesting that the harm is downplayed with psychiatric medication to such a large extent. Every medication or procedure has the potential to cause harm, but the data seems to be much more solid in risk vs. benefit ratios in other areas of medicine. There are also clear markers for hypertension, diabetes, liver function, etc. The markers for mental illness are extremely subjective and boil down a DSM vote.
Also of note are the unholy alliances between prescribers, drug companies, the judicial/penal systems and insurance companies.
It is clear that corruption does not lead to positive patient outcomes.
Great points, Sam. Thanks for your feedback. I think that a post-surgery complication would call for a more structured evaluation of events. However, the outcome and treatments could lead to a the same polypharmacy fate.
I feel like a teacher marking school books today.
I am in unfettered accordance with everything you have written. My only proviso relates to where you say…
(“It is currently estimated that the number of individuals seeking aid for their psychiatric medication withdrawal online numbers in the hundreds of thousands”.)
It makes me question if any such patients feel put off joining websites that turn them away for being part of the system of oppression, for not dropping their pills or apparent labels swiftly enough. Swiftly enough for whom? When a movement, such as feminism, for instance, calls for a change in a paradigm, it gets beleagured and busy and sometimes has no time for the very people it is supposed to be welcoming. I am glad that this MIA movement is different. It manages to be “radically unradical” enough to never expect new folks to “radically” ditch their pills and stuff “overnight”, just to appease “a vision”. As if that vision were a deity.
When a vision needs people to stop their “free choice” to appease it, the vision is a form of blindness.
Thank you for your feedback! I think there is a falsehood that is spread that many psychiatric medication withdrawal support communities are only trying to be “anti-psychiatry” or engage in “pill-shaming”. That could not be further from the truth. There are many discussions revolving harm reduction approaches using sound protocols. It is completely up to the individual to make the best decision for themselves. I don’t think anyone is really put off by joining the communities, the vast majority end up there because they are completely desperate for help and their doctors have abandoned them. I obviously can not speak for every community out there but the well established ones that I mention in my article take a very balanced approach. These forums also suggest exponential tapering which is very slow and results in better outcomes. I do not believe in any type of dogmatic approaches when it comes to harm reduction, that would be dangerous and it wouldn’t serve any real purpose.
You see, your response to my comment only highlights what I mean. I feel there is, in just about every such website, indeed on any nook of the internet, an inertia about listening to each individual’s own rationale and feelings, and instead there is at some point an overbearing focus on “telling”. I almost feel as if you are subtly implying that I have had the dimwitted stupidity to buy into “a falsehood”.
You almost seem to present an assumption that the thousands of “desperate” all make their way to such websites with refugee starry eyed glee at gettin “saved”. It is almost evangelical or fundamentalist. I think there should be more compassion shown to those who bolt from such websites and end up in a wilderness where nobody is listening to them. But all too often in any movement there is an “it’s my way or the high way” sense of empowerment that spills over into just “power over”.
There should be a survey of past or abandonned members of any website because often in any faith the bannished heretics have the kernel of love that was the initial inspiration of any movement.
I would like to clarify that the falsehood that I alluded to has been spread within conventional psychiatry, and it was not directed towards your intelligence in any manner. If your experience in support communities has been negative, that is completely valid and I do not suggest anywhere in my article that this is the only option for those abandoned by psychiatry. However, it has become one of the best options for many as evidenced by how many members have stayed in the groups over time. If you think that there any other alternative outlets for individuals who are unable to receive medical help in psychiatric medication withdrawal or protracted withdrawal, I am more than happy to hear about them. Please remember that these groups are run largely by unpaid volunteers, many of whom are still battling symptoms of withdrawal and injury themselves. As a final note, the presence of these online communities has resulted in a high level of invaluable research now being conducted concerning the urgent need for safe deprescribing protocols.
Let’s say you go to a herbal produce shop because you are in pain. And let’s say the shop assistant comes forward to ask you what you wish to purchase. And let’s say you answer that you have pain. And let’s say the shop assistant sighs heavily and corrects you and implies to you that the word pain is not to be used in that shop because it offends the other staff and really you should use another word for your pain. Being polite, you scroll your phone for a thesaurus, hoping to find a word for your pain that will meet with the approval of the other staff in the shop, but meanwhile your valuable time is wasted on having to force your brain to learn new words, and this is occurring “while you are in agony”. So you ask to speak privately with the manager. You tell the manager that you are concerned that other shoppers who come to the shop in pain might leave if they are asked to call their pain by someone elses choice of word. You are not concerned about you. You are concerned about other people who just want shelter and a herbal tea but who are more or less told their pain word is not really approved of. You are concerned also for the shop. It is a great little shop. World famous. It is meant to offer herbal produce to those in pain. You would like to see the shop have a more humble, listening vibe, than a telling vibe. Not much of an adjustment, just a fine tuning to make it more inclusive. You voice your concern to the manager of the shop. But this is what she sort of says…
“I think there is a falsehood that is spread by various institutions that herbal tea shops are trying to shame people for using the word pain”.
(as you, the visiting shopper, stand in the herbal shop this sounds to you like a talk from the manager about your apparent hysteria about feeling nudged to use a different pain word).
The manager says…
“It is completely up to the individual to make the best decision for themselves as to whether they want to use the pain word”.
(as you, the visiting shopper wait by the honey on the display shelves this sounds to you like you are being told what your choice was before you came in the shop, as if it is your fault that the choice of pain word slipped from your grasp…silly clumsy you).
And the manager adds…
“I dont think anyone is put off joining the herbal produce shop”
(as you finger a fancy tea strainer you wonder how the manager knows this, has there been an effort to contact the people who did not enjoy giving up their own beloved choice of pain word?).
The manager continues to highlight the virtues of the shop’s herbal produce by painting a picture of satisfied customers who were once desperate…
“the vast majority end up here through being completely desperate”.
(and you stand there wondering why the manager has not clocked that you are both desperate and desperate to have the unintimidated right to use your own choice of pain word and put forward a tiny little proviso that maybe…just maybe…other people would like that sort of inclusivity too…people who may have gotten fed up and left…to go back to the iatrogenically, deadly, harmful coffee shop).
But the manger is at pains to make you see differently and says…
“If your experience of herbal shops has been negative, that is valid”.
(As you wait, you wonder how it came to pass that someone who does not know you is pronouncing your feeling “valid”…a feeling is neither valid nor invalid…a feeling is a feeling…it is by its nature not logical…come to think of it the whole talk sounds supremely logical…like there is a logic-fox running around the shop).
The manager says…
“If you think there is an alternative”.
(does this mean you are to go away and stop bothering the herbal shop?).
The manager says…
“Please remember that this shop is run by unpaid staff”.
(as you look around the shop you wonder why you have to remember anything? Is it an instruction to be tolerant of the shop assistant who preferred you stop using your own choice of word for pain. Is their sense of offendness greater than your pain? Should you have come into the shop at all if there were people in it in too much pain to lift the herbal tea off the promotions stand? Was the manager implying that you are fussy for wanting to use your pain word? Was she giving an inkling that you are selfish for not considering others. But how does she even know the contents of your heart? She has never met you before this moment. She does not know if you have just sold your last kidney to a homeless person. Maybe your selflessness is why you are in pain in the first place, and why you are in way too much pain to consult a thesaurus. You feel woozy and faint).
The manager then says…
“Please also remember that the shop staff may be battling illnesses and might be withdrawing from ghastly coffee”.
(But you are perplexed…why must you, who only popped into the herbal shop for lovely magazine articles and herbal tea and human warmth “have to” get rid of your pain word AND remember all the shop staff’s pain? Is the manager saying these herbal shops are more important than you? But you thought the shop cared about you…your feelings…your choices. Perhaps you are to sacrifice yourself for the plan of the herbal shop, change yourself into some one you are not, to comply with the shop’s standards or politics. That happens in ambitious ventures. You mabye are supposed to beat the shop drum and not your own little vocal drum. You are maybe meant to unite with the greater drum and be indistinguishable from everyone else. But you always thought oneness meant a gathering of differences, not samenesses. And so you ask for your differentness to be heard on the small matter of feeling unwelcome to use your own word for pain. But you do not know how to put it accross without doubly offending the manager and shop staff, and you have no time in your life to be all logical, logical, logical, and lean over the altar of a thesaurus swapping your eccentric words for the shop’s wordings. You do not want to undermine the fabulous work that the herbal shop is doing. Indeed you are its most fervent devotee. You have herbal shop print pyjamas, and a herbal shop milky cocoa cup, and a herbal shop tote bag, and herbal shop slippers.
You have no time to bicker or spar or spit or hiss, nor pontificate on an academic level. You do not want to trouble yourself with the current epochs global fixation of talking from a place of cold logic.
Rose, Psychiatry has imposed its self-righteous authority via the use of a bedaźzling mental bombardment of steely logic, where argument, argument, argument, argument, wrapped up in science, is supposed to be a way ofearing feelings. My sense of psychiatry is that as an institution it tries to gaslight via the deft application of logic, to the degree of overkill. When I discern any such professional, or indeed anyone, trying to immobilize me in a straight jacket of logic I know I am in somewhere that is falling into the lure of insanity.
Rose, I have nothing but uttmost praise for your article. I merely wanted to use your stance as an interesting theatre prop not a personal vindictive argument. It is not about “you”. And the quotes are my own approximations of a communication glitch and not anything more than that. And I have nothing but uttmost praise for this website. I only feel it could be even better and this excites me into pointing things out here… and there and everywhere…even in an actual herbal shop….where I was today in fact..looking to buy vitamins.
Yes, that is unusually well-written. So many people will see themselves in your account. That really does aid in healing the emotional harm.
Quote:”Many doctors claim that the current prescribing and de-prescribing protocols are successful for most service users. Let’s not skew reality. Are the current trends within psychotropic prescribing conducive to positive outcomes? My definitive answer would be a no.”
I would add that the current benzo help sites too often commit that same offence. They claim success while publishing continued suffering as success. Off the drug, yes. Recovered?
I suggest that the word, success, is often used and never defined. It was puzzling to see the 90% “success” rate claimed for the old pill-splitting routine. How could that be true when so many people write about their continued suffering? It occurs to me, now, that the author of that method defined success as having discontinued the drug, remaining off the drug. No mention was made of the continued suffering from having used a method. The author renamed the failure, Protracted “Withdrawal Syndrome”, does giving it a name explain its occurrence? Failure is not failure of the patient. It is failure of a withdrawal method.
Shouldn’t success mean having fully recovered from the withdrawal syndrome rather than just enduring an ineffective taper’s end point? “Success in what?” is the question.
Thank you for your comment. The reality is that the injury from benzodiazepine medications can be so pervasive that even the slowest of tapers cannot promise a return to baseline. Heather Ashton was truly a pioneer and unfortunately doctors did not listen to her. I disagree that benzodiazepine forums commit the same defense as the one I described in my article. There are many more success stories than not, and these forums are truly saving the lives of countless individuals. Psychiatric drug medication withdrawal is still catastrophically understudied, so until more alternatives are researched, the Ashton Protocol is the best tool we have.
Thoroughly good article.
Almost every actual problem experienced by ‘psychiatric patients’ is ignored. But with withdrawal from Psychiatric medication (aka Neuro-toxic poisons) adverse withdrawal effects (there are primarily benefits) can be and are regarded as symptoms of psychosis. Indeed, you can be veiwed as suffering relapse of an underlying condition merely on the basis of having reduced your medication. It’s happened to me and everyone was saying how great I was doing for months before and until they found out about the reduced dose.
Currently I’m experiencing excruciating physical pain while reducing, despite taking below 10% of a minimal daily dose for a condition falsely diagnosed (for over 4 months) . And that’s not the only or even worst adversity from being so demeaned by ‘diagnoistic’ mistakes.
I had the same experience. I secretly quit the drugs because they did not help. After a while of dong great I told everyone it was because I quit the drugs. The response was to pressure and harass me to start taking the drugs. Suddenly random things I was doing was assumed to be because I was “ill” and needed drugs. I got yelled at in public because my diet was too healthy. Here I thought I had accomplished something by eating healthy but my family saw it as a sign of “illness” that needed to be controlled. The response to me getting upset for being harassed was that I needed to start taking the drugs again.
It’s made me form the opinion that telling people you quit the drugs is not a mentally safe thing to do. Even if you show them the research showing the drugs have no long term benefits there is a good chance the will deny it. Not believing psychatry is according to psychiatry a symptom of mental illness and psychosis. That is flat out what their scales state.
Amazing how the exact same behavior is seen as “recovery” when they think you are taking their drugs, and the same behavior becomes “symptoms” when they realize you’re not. Pretty logical, isn’t it?
Yes, it is really is mind boggling, Steve. I remember trying to explain to one doctor about how injured I was from benzos. I went into a 15 year deep dive on various meds and how terribly they affected me. At the end of the convo, he told me that I should try Lamictal. It’s almost as if he thought my experiences were subjective and biased? I don’t even see the point of the patient consults if no one is actually LISTENING to the fundamental nature of what patients are trying so desperately to convey. Seems like they could save office space and hire an automated bot.
I was tried on Lamictal once – It made my hair fall out. And purusing my files I’ve tried to find a reason why they prescribed it – They didn’t even make one up, which is surprising considering the utterly fictional nature of the rest of the reports.
I should complain of this adverse reaction just so that when they again accuse me of imagining the adverse response to treatment I can suggest that they must be hallucinating a full head of hair!
More recently having made various requests for the team to fulfill their legal and ethical obligations, including efforts to develop social supports and letting them know that service provision was most inadequate they discharged me from the service. The very next day moves were already in place to have me detained and pumped full the drugs I should actually be getting support to quit.
I’ve been following Steve words of last summer which are ‘Do normal things which make you feel good about life.’ These are many and varied, sometimes they take alot of effort, sometimes there a walk in the park.
I’m now, probably vainly, trying to see a way to getting some of these………………persons. into court. Literally if a situation arises wherein a Barrister gets to ask some of the treating professionals in my case this question ‘What verifiable, reliable observations or valid facts that support the opinions (mascarading as medical diagnosis) expressed about my client exist?’ If they asked that question in a court of law the psychiatrists, psychologists, etc. would be obliged to say ‘there are none’.
I could even make a case based on my own observations of my own behaviour which any reasonable person would regard as a complete refutation of these ‘opinions’ and some of these are utterly meaningless other than the pejorative stigmatising nature of them, somewhat skin to the suffering which just waste my time, annoys and distresses me! Really, I’ve better things to be doing than observing my life being washed down the swany!
Thank you for reading! When withdrawal is not differentiated from pathology, the patient’s livelihood can be drastically compromised. So sorry you’re still experiencing pain. I hope that it abates soon. I applaud you for sticking this out.
You don’t say! There is more to life than pain, although sometimes it doesn’t seem that way. Not so long ago it seemed time to quit.
Thank you for writing and others like you. Some texts on this site inspire me, keep me going when it seems all is lost.
All of life, the universe and creation is awesome. Life keeps me going
There’s much more to life than pain. It’s not easy to find meaning in the suffering, but it exists in ways I couldn’t have conceptualized in the past. You inspire me too.
“And that’s not the only or even worst adversity from being so demeaned by ‘diagnoistic’ mistakes.”
There are no mistakes. The diagnosis are full of intent.
There is an ad on TV “Do you have bi-polar 1? there is a pill for it, once per day”.
Now obviously a shrink sees the ads, and any shrink would have to cringe, but he goes to work the next day and prescribes these poisons, pretending that there is such a thing as “bi-polar 1”.
Of course the drug companies are allowed to put these ads up, for desperate women and teenagers, and jerks who act like doctors.
And you are correct, the demeaning is intolerable. Because it is ALL a HUGE insult to one’s intelligence.
You know and they know, but they have the ultimate power. They cannot let go of the BS because what happens then to their profession?
Yes, it is an extraordinarily insult to one’s intelligence. This form of denial not only lengthens the course of the suffering, but also inflicts significant doubt to an individual’s competency. How is that conducive to better mental health outcomes?
The commercials make me cringe. Especially the ones that push the idea of “adding an antipsychotic to your existing medication regimen if your antidepressant isn’t working well enough alone”. They call this augmentation but this is just a polypharmacy nightmare.
SSRI’s increase serotonin and they then add neuroleptics which the most commonly used neuroleptic’s block serotonin. It is exactly like the people who take opioids or alcohol and then follow it with cocaine to counteract the negative effects of the sedating drugs.
Same thing happens with “ADHD.” They give the kid stimulants to increase their dopamine levels. They often become aggressive, lose sleep, even hallucinate sometimes. Then they give them antipsychotic drugs to DECRASE the dopamine levels that they are INCREASING with the stimulants! Why not just STOP INCREASING the dopamine by giving them less stimulants? No, that would be too simple and not make them enough money, I guess! That is REAL insanity!
The pamphlets provided to schools by pharma companies with ADHD quizzes is especially horrifying. This was direct advertising to children. There have now been studies done showing psychostimulant use in adolescents producing an increased risk factor for cocaine abuse in adulthood.
How’s this for a mistake – Newt Gingrich passing the legalized advertising of psychoactive and other drugs for diseases (real or imaginery) that should probably never be discussed outside of a clinic if anywhere and our old friend Bill signing it into law.
I don’t think it was a “mistake” – it was the usual support for their big Pharma donors at the expense of their constituents. It was effective for what it was intended for – keeping their donors happy!
Well I understand the point Sam and yourself Steve are making – ie. The individuals who profit from the misfortune of the victims don’t necessarily regard it as a mistake, maybe they are delighted at the profits they have extracted.
Likewise the Landlords whose greed has been pandered to in my city to the extent that it costs twice as much to rent a place than it does to service a mortgage on the same place if you could secure a mortgage that is, are despite the regular display of crocodile tears aiming to disarm the critics of this injustice also delighted at how their greed has been pandered to.
Of course the 500,000 dead in the opioid epidemic and the families who mourn them, the victims of various marketing campaigns pushing the use of psycho active compounds (neuro toxic poisons) who are crippled by them, and struggle sometimes for years to overcome these additional adversities might take a somewhat different – we might feel our lives have been destroyed as our lives frequently have been destroyed to gratify the greed of big pharma, the pride, vanity, sloth and cowardice of medics intolerant of our protests, deluded in their indifference to the harm caused at best and prepared to mistake agonizing withdrawals for relapse. Sometimes we the victims of iatrogenic injury mourn the loss of our lives while actually still alive.
Well said WU.
thank you for your work. The thing about psychiatry is…
they know what they’re doing. I’m not arguing for a bunch of evil geniuses, cackling with glee over all their victims’, but…
they know what they’re doing. the same drugs that a shrink pushed on you (and so many others, so generalized ‘you,’ of course) for ‘depression’ or perhaps ‘anxiety’ the same psychiatrist (or a colleague, blah blah blah) pushed on a working class kid with an attitude for ‘oppositional defiant disorder,’ or perhaps a poor non-white kid in juvenile detention, foster care…for ‘conduct disorder,’ or simply to make them more manageable.’
the same psychiatrist who smiles and has the warmth and professionalism for a respectable person/patient with good insurance or the means to go to a self-pay/cash-pay doctor has, in all likelihood, deliberately destroyed low(er) status people. drugged them, ignored TD, toxic cocktails, over billing, on and on and on…
and that’s just the pills. shock ‘treatments…’ how many victims of shock did my previous psych have a hand in destroying? operations? those are supposed to be rare, now…I”m not so sure, honestly.
on and on and on it goes. Mental Health, Inc. is a dangerous industry filled with dangerous, deceptive individuals. I highly doubt most ‘professionals’ in the industry (the talking ones, the pill pushing ones…doesn’t matter, really…) have any interest in the truth, except in cases where they can bend the truth and make more money, get more power, etc. at a larger level, this leads me back to Szasz (again) who writes that psychiatry cannot be reformed; it must be abolished. some things never change….
Thank you for your comment! I also believe that there are psychiatrists that have become so indoctrinated into believing that every symptom is a sign of mental illness, that they truly are unable to differentiate psychotropic withdrawal from a “relapse” of an individual’s original “mental illness”. This is slowly changing with an increased level of higher quality scientific research. This is not a defense for conventional psychiatry by any means, I just do believe we’ve seen some wonderful examples of those who are set on reforming the problem. I understand the push for abolition, but the reality is that millions are stuck on these pills… with no medical help. It is a Stockholm Syndrome of sorts, wanting to break free of psychiatry for so many, while still having to remain entrenched on multi-year psychotropic tapering schedules. We all were sold the same lie about the chemical imbalance theory, patients and doctors alike. The price everyone paid for the infamous chemical imbalance theory sales pitch has been purely catastrophic.
I think the main problem with psychiatry is that psychiatrists are only taught to try to suppress symptoms with patented chemicals. They are taught this approach by medical schools that receive millions of dollars every year from pharmaceutical companies –so is it a surprise to anyone that med students are taught to be pill-pushers? They’re not taught to cure anyone, just turn each patient into a psychiatric customer for life. I finally figured that out and learned how to use the “orthomolecular” approach to restore my loved ones’ (plural) mental health back to normal. When someone’s biochemistry is restored back to the normal range with biochemicals, their psychiatric symptoms disappear. It’s like being deficient in iron and getting headaches and fatigue. Of course, we would expect these symptoms to disappear once we correct the problem with the biochemistry, the lack of iron. Iron isn’t the only nutrient that runs the human body. Vitamin B-3 is extremely important for the brain. So is one’s histamine level. Orthomolecular scientists and doctors have known this since about the 1940s. Of course, our biochemistry isn’t the only system that can go haywire – so can our energy system – so we (4 of us in my family) have had acupuncture for our “disharmony” with the B vitamins. When these biochemical and/or energetic disturbances are corrected, the psychiatric symptoms disappear. –Linda from FB “A Dose of Sanity,” Youtube “Linda Van Zandt’s Mental Health Recovery Channel, and author of The Secrets to Real Mental Health. I think orthomolecular treatment should be taught to every student while they’re still in high school. Our country would be a much better place.
Thank you for your comment. I also appreciate you sharing your successful approaches with alternative methods. We can never have enough information about non-conventional methods! I will check out all the videos you mentioned.. this all sounds really interesting!
First, this is an excellent article. Second, Our mistake is that we are relying on the same people who gave us this poison to relieve us of this poison. It would like Adam and Eve who gave Eve the poisoned apple to expect the snake to save them from leaving the garden. I am not sure who can truly help us from this prescribed harm. Many of us do struggle and slosh through it on our own. I am not sure if this is acceptable for everyone, because it is still unknown as to how actually dangerous it is. However, like all things and this is the most scariest of all, probably to the prescribers, is that it is a highly individual thing. What worked for me may not work for me and may actually be life-threatening for another person. In a way, this is “uncharted territory.” But, what did they (the psychiatric/big pharma community) expect to encounter when they began to prescribe these pills. Were they so naive knowing that these pills are meant to make changes in the brain that stopping them would be easy and effortless for the patient? Were they so “blind” to these pills that they did not even consider that if these drugs were to make changes in the brain that brain damage in some form could occur? We already had legal drugs (the earlier anti-psychotics) and the illegal street drugs that we knew caused either addiction or devious side effects and damage. We have all been conned, but this con is not quite like stealing our “life savings” it is like stealing our lives. Our lives are recoverable, but the damage has been done and no matter what happens further, we become like like the civilian casualties of war; the walking wounded. We are the collateral damage that no one wants to talk about. However, as tragic as this sounds, each day we live, is a day of courage and victory, for us and our cause. Thank you.
Thank you for reading my article! Your response was eloquently stated and I the verbiage you used to describe prescribed harm victims as the “walking wounded” especially strikes me. It fills me with a lot of sadness that many who have not gone through this lack the capacity to fundamentally understand how much destruction is caused by these medications. It absolutely is akin to going through a war, with both your body and your mind. I love that your message ended up on a beautiful message for courage and victory. There is absolutely hope and eventually…victory!
Rose, thank you so much for this article. I wish there was more traction in covering this information in the mainstream media. I experienced so many of the issues you described. Rebel, you summed it up, “the damage has been done and no matter what happens further, we become like the civilian casualties of war; the walking wounded.” We are silenced. Our injuries are chalked up to an underlying illness. No one wants to criticize or question the safety of these drugs openly.
Rose you stated, “becoming injured by psychiatric medication may result in losing our ability to feel normal for the rest of their lives” – we were never warned of the possibility of the profound injury to our psyche, our minds and that taking these medications as prescribed may cause permanent injury that will affect us for the rest of our lives.
Who is responsible for this injury? Are we as patients who put our trust in doctors responsible for the injuries we received? Are we, as ones who have to live with years of unimaginable, debilitating, life changing effects supposed to remain silent and accept when we were never given warning that these drugs could cause such outcomes? Are we to accept that the only way to improve our unbearable symptoms are more drugs?
In just a few years in mid life, I was given nearly every class of psychiatric drug, at times multiple prescriptions at once, most of them given to deal with the side effects of an initial drug. I nearly died, am now obese and have health issues never had before. I am a shell of the person I was before, and I have been made to accept that it is somehow my fault for my circumstances.
Thank you for reading my article! I agree that we are silenced and there is an inherent lack of desire to critically examine the safety and effectiveness of psychotropics. The paradigm is changing, and it will hopefully provide a push for conventional psychiatry to take notice. It is absolutely not the fault of the patient. If a provider is prescribing a patient a drug, they must be just as well-informed on how to describe said drug.
I am very sorry to hear about how iatrogenic injury has impacted your life. You should never have to accept that it is your fault, because it certainly is not. We were both victims of a broken system.
I understand how you feel. I gained 60 pounds, became diabetic and in spite of it all, none of my doctors will consider removing o!anzapine. I am expected to control my numbers with diet and exercise. Whether I am doing badly or well, I’m expected to stay on olanzapine for life. I don’t even look like me anymore. All I know is I have to stroke a doctor’s ego to keep something worse from happening
That sucks! Are you under threat of re-hospitalization if you tell them to stuff it?
Although I would never rule out greed, you also have to add into the mix sloth (laziness) and stupidity. Psychiatry is really for what I admit are reasons unknown to me is the epitome of people self-actualized by the seven deadly sins.
As far as the SSRIS go, I was under the impression that the SSRIS cause for some, “psychosis and/or mania” or at least that’s what the shrinks call it; thus justifying the even more dangerous “atypical anti-psychotics.”
The reason for what I wrote to start out this comment is what happened to me towards the end of my being under the evil spell of the “psychiatrists, etc. club” I was prescribed “seroquel.” I had trouble taking it. It gave me terrific headaches amongst other things and I could no longer take tylenol, unless it was the hard to find liquid kind. So, I cut my “seroquel” in half– the prescribed amount– and my headaches did lessen somewhat. But the “psychiatrist” was furious! She wanted me to continue to take the “seroquel” at her prescribed amount even if I got debilitating headaches from that amount. She was so furious with me that she would not see me, but delivered her commandment through a snippy nurse’s aid. It wasn’t too long after that that I walked away from the psychiatrists, etc. I would consider that “walk-away” a real life-saving measure. Thank you.
The mind-numbing headaches are all too familiar for me. Sometimes getting fired as a patient is a secret blessing in disguise 😉 I am happy for your new found freedom!
The U.S. has no law requiring psych patients to be treated with synthetic drugs. The drug and talk therapy approach is what the Amer Psych Assn has CHOSEN. Why would they choose an approach that cures no one? Gee, could it possibly be because it brings in such high profits to them and their business buddies, the drug companies, while simultaneously keeping them in control of all mental healthcare? I’d say so. It’s all about the profits. In addition, according to my congressman’s aide, the US government will NEVER try to tell doctors how to treat their patients. So the APA finds itself in a pretty sweet spot, legally out of reach and free to continue its racket from coast to coast, decade after decade. Since about the 1940s, the APA has been fighting the “orthomolecular” approach which has at least a 90% recovery rate and, unlike the results of using chemical straightjackets, the recovery is real. That’s what I’ve used on my family, along with other natural treatments. It’s easy to learn and is effective, sensible, proven, low-cost and most people like how it makes them feel. –Linda from FB “A Dose of Sanity,” and Youtube “Linda Van Zandt’s Mental Health Recovery Channel,” and author of “The Secrets to Real Mental Health.”
The definition of a racket is “widespread fraud for the purpose of increased profits.” I’d say American mental healthcare fits that description perfectly. Synthetic drugs aren’t even designed to cure anyone, just suppress symptoms until the patient dies. That’s what brings in the highest profits. The APA continues to fight natural approaches regardless of how effective they are. Abram Hoffer, MD has written books about how most (around 75% of cases of psychosis or schizophrenia are caused by a severe deficiency of Vitamin B-3. That’s what he gave all his patients, along with one daily capsule of B Complex. Dr. Hoffer was a co-founder of the field known as “orthomolecular medicine.” Dr. Hoffer’s natural treatment has worked miracles for two of my relatives but not a third – because he had a histamine level that was way too high which was causing his so-called “bipolar with psychosis.” Clearly, what he really had was a histamine problem, not “bipolar with psychosis.” “Bipolar” is just a made-up label designed to be part of the APA’s smoke and mirrors approach to mental health care. It was easy to bring his histamine level back down using the “nutraceuticals,” L-methionine (an amino acid) or Sam-e, along with some other supplements. (Personally, I can’t take either one because my histamine level is naturally too low.) MY “incurable,” “bipolar” and “psychotic” relative hasn’t needed psych drugs in years. He works full time in a law office and lives a good life. American psychiatry is such crap. You’d think our lawmakers would have figured out the racket by now and would have introduced legislation to regulate the APA – but no. The APA and Big Pharma both pay for lobbyists to sit in Congress, making sure no bill is introduced that might infringe on their profits or control of the mental healthcare system. Then they make sizable contributions to our lawmakers, making them beholden to their generosity for their re-election campaigns – and the band plays on.
My psychiatrist made it clear to me about a week ago that even if I was working and conquered all the symptoms of schizophrenia he would still say I was ill and want me on olanzapine for the rest of my life
The problem is that psychiatrists are only taught to push patented, synthetic drugs – they aren’t taught how to cure anyone. I hope you’ll look into the orthomolecular approach, founded by Abram Hoffer, MD. He was a psychiatrist who restored his patients’ mental health by giving them Vitamin B-3 (niacinamide) in therapeutic doses (plus some B Complex daily) although allergic-y people shouldn’t do this treatment quite yet. Instead, they would need to get their histamine level down first. The APA has been fighting this approach since the 1940s, even though it’s very effective. I’ve used it for my own family members. We have also been muscle-tested and found to have a “disharmony” with the B Vitamins which means we weren’t getting the B vitamins from our food. The problem was corrected when all 3 of us had an acupuncture treatment done called NAET. Since that treatment, we are no longer dependent upon the B-3 to remain well. –Linda from Youtube, “Linda Van Zandt’s Mental Health Recovery Channel”
Fantastic piece Rose.
I am really glad to see someone writing about this topic and starting to address some of the very real systemic problems that are harboring and furthering our injuries.
Where is the accountability, impartiality, and ethics of the professionals that handle some of the most sensitive and important problems of our time? How and why are these people allowed to maintain their practices after being indoctrinated by paper mill educations and mistreating their patients?
Malpractice is all but impossible to get rolling in these situations and many of these Dr’s have pending lawsuits and grievances with the medical board and they are still practicing… not to mention these claims that make it to court or are actually sent to the medical board are just a very very small fraction of the real fraud, negligence, and willful harms being perpetrated.
The more we discuss the better equipped we are to fight and this discussion is paramount.
Thanks so much for your comment, James!
I agree that it is shocking that some of these doctors are still allowed to practice medicine. The level of negligence is appalling, yet legally there is little to no repercussions for harm done.
There should be very strict guidelines concerning competency of medical professionals to safely de-prescribe the same medications that they are prescribing. How many iatrogenic induced disabilities or death must occur before there is real change?
I am very thankful for the critical clinicians brave enough to stand up to a profession in crisis. But, these professionals are still in the minority and are subject to a lot of the same gaslighting that harmed patients are.
I am optimistic for change, though it will come too late for many of those with irreversible damage. There needs to be more widespread recognition of harm and solutions for healing. Finally, physicians should educate patients wholly on treatment side effects and safe tapering protocols.
We all need to understand that there is no law that requires the American Psychiatric Assoc. to use the drug approach on their patients. That’s simply their choice. Why would they choose an approach that has a proven, government-audited recovery rate of .0005%? (King County Ordinance #13974, First and Second Annual Reports, 2002, 2003). Could it possibly be the high profits from the drugs + talk therapy approach? The problem isn’t that mental illness is incurable – the problem is that the synthetic drugs don’t work. And since there is no law which allows the government to regulate which approach to use, I’m sure it’s no surprise to anyone that they have chosen the approach that brings them the most profits. I chose to find an approach that actually does work: orthomolecular medicine + NAET (acupuncture) + homeopathy. It’s a wonderful combination. It cured my anxiety disorder, cured one relative’s “ADHD,” cured another one’s “incurable” bipolar with psychosis and is now curing yet another relative’s so-called “schizophrenia.”
Great article. There are many countries who have renamed schizophrenia who found after its removal doctors and patients could more easiliy relate to one another …
Main map – https://liberation-map.michaelzfreeman.org
And unfortunately sharing the awful things that have been done to me (on this website) just led harassment from the simple minded townspeople. The Midwest is a truly awful place to live.