Bruce Springsteen: Born with an Inner Restlessness

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October 17, 2016 | 48 Comments


  1. An amazingly familiar description. Our son suffered long episodes like this, inter spaced with periods of hope and almost happy normality, through 11 years, whilst we watched with fear for him. He told us in detail what he was feeling. Communication between us is something we’d always been pretty good at. But the doctors just dismissed his feelings as attention seeking and told him he shouldn’t worry us by talking like this to us. If Bruce hadn’t had Patti, where would he be now? Olly’s problems began with RoAccutane/isotretinoin, then Seroxat on top, for his new terrifying feelings of ‘deadness’ or ‘blackness’ in mood. He asked if it could be the drugs and was categorically told, as were we, that it couldn’t be. A suicide note he wrote in 2002, when we had begged him to promise not to take his life, starts ‘I’m so sorry I broke my promise, but I don’t understand what is happening to me’. He goes on to say (as he’s been assured) that he knows it can’t be the drugs, so it must be a failing in him. He hid this note and went on battling these intermittent feelings, peppered with more courses of the medications he’d been told were safe and blameless. If he was ill, only he was to blame. ‘He had brought it on himself’ (!). My question is…did they REALLY not know it was the Seroxat, escilatopram and the rest. How could they let such a trusting decent guy carry the can? And how dare they berate him for confiding in the mum and dad who had loved and cared for him from birth.

  2. It’s not absolutely clear but this looks like treatment induced akathisia rather than agitated depression.

    The nightmare…

    Seroxat…off/on/off/on/off/on/14 times in two weeks; this was the hastily given advice by the woman gp who had not met me before in our rural surgery.

    Taking my mind back……I was panting like a dog, hyperventilating, rapid breathing, faster and faster and faster, so fast I thought I was going to explode.

    I started to panic, for the first time in my 51 years, and called up the doctor.

    She came in to my bedroom. I was sitting cross legged in the middle of the bed, still in my pyjamas.
    It was around 11 o’clock in the morning.

    “Pull yourself together” she shouted, at me.

    I had stopped taking Seroxat three weeks previously and had restarted as the brain zaps, nightmares, nightsweats, sheer unadulterated hell of overpowering symptoms of drug induced stress had almost overcome me.

    I then spent 7 weeks off Seroxat constantly calling the doctor and sitting in the waiting room about to explode. Sobbing, crying, screaming through a hell hole of fog.

    After 7 weeks, I could go on no longer like this, so I restarted Seroxat.

    Akathisia kicked in so fast, I didn’t know what had hit me.

    Straight in to see her, again……driving myself to the mental hospital…..driving myself home from the mental hospital…..and then Wham.

    That was it.

    The wham.

    This is how it happens if doctors discriminate mistaking akathisia for some sort of personal, undrug meltdown.

    Its a wonder I kept my mind thru the benzo/propanolol/misprescribing as all this went on and on and on….

    Bruce may not recognise akathisia as he is confusing some issues, but, I did and discovered David Healy in 2002 and have spent 14 years following anything and everything to do with it.

    It was a long and tumultuous sickening affair and it didn’t just suddenly right itself after all that; but, what I did find was menial, physical work, outside, pushing myself really hard, curbed some of the akathisia excesses………

    All those persons misjudged over the years, as Akathisia is responsible, and, corruptly downplayed by the likes of GlaxoSmithKline who simply gloss over the one side effect that hopefully will pull them down..

    • MSSD Foundation website has info on Akathisia. (Founder is Wendy Dollin whose husband suffered from akathisia when prescribed Seroxat. Website is in his memory.) Also have a short video on Vimeo which, again is on akathisia and is excellent – animated, short and to the point. David – you say that you wish everyone considering using an SSRI could be shown this video first. Additional to your comment, I wish that every doctor in the land could be forced to watch and take note of its contents, thereby causing them to stop and consider how a patient in front of them may present at further appointments, before they print out their initial prescription for an SSRI!
      Maybe it’s time to stand outside our doctors’ surgeries handing out cards advertising this video. Come to think of it, we’d need to stand outside CMH centres too – as their knowledge also seems rather lacking in such areas.

  3. Bruce describes the hell of acute tormented restlessness aka akathisia so precisely – it accords exactly with what I experienced and assumed was agitated depression at the time. Does the fact that Klonopin (clonazepam), a benzo, helped him through support the idea that he was enduring akathisia?

    I’ve been thinking a lot about the bargain with the devil around calming agitation at the cost of creativity….I’m deeply sceptical about the current epidemic of bipolar and even more about retrospectively diagnosing every dead poet, writer, artist and musician with manic depression. But. Extreme creativity does seem to come at a price …a heightened state of awareness which I guess can crash into depression. Witness the number of writers who drank seriously dangerous amounts which may have both fuelled the creative flames – and helped quench them sometimes. Someone I know was a painter, whose paintings reached an apex of beauty as she was becoming increasingly psychotic. Things reached a crisis, she was hospitalised and stabilised on antipsychotics (very willingly, as the psychosis was terrifying for her). Unfortunately, in tune with the times, she was told she would have to remain on a cocktail of antipsychotic plus antidepressant plus sleeping pills for the rest of her life. She has – and has never painted another picture like it since. Put a pre-meds painting of rich browns and reds and a touch of gold next to the only one she’s tried since – a flat lifeless landscape and you’d never think they’d been painted by the same person. So, seems to me that the drugs restored my friend to sanity at a tremendous cost to her artistic expression. Of course – had she been tapered off the sulpiride at the right time, maybe some months later, and, arguably never taken an antidepressant (she was mad, but not depressed) then the wondrous capacity to paint might not have been extinguished. I have no way of knowing but juggling the need not to tip over the edge versus retaining creativity must be a tightrope.

  4. The only comment that I can add here is that it worries me that ‘adding Klonopin’ seemed to do the trick for Bruce. The very thing that many doctors seem to rely on (which I detest) – adding more, rather than removing, medication – has worked in his favour. Possibly not what we’d like many doctors to read?!
    Akathisia – in its severest form as described here, I have not witnessed. I have seen the pacing, the inability to remain ‘on-task’, the racing thoughts and the despair it all brings – culminating in massive rage attacks – but didn’t really link them all together at that time.
    Since so much is now known about this condition, isn’t it high time that doctors were better informed, not only in its detection but also how to deal with the suffering patients? They cannot possibly say that it’s all new to them, surely, because I can tell you that suffering from allergies give you very similar symptoms in a VERY mild way – that, doctors will have regularly seen and often comment on ‘an intolerance to certain elements in food or atmosphere’. Knowing that, why can’t they accept the next step – that akathisia is a severe intolerance to the poisons they provided?

    • Well put Mary. The allergy similarity is very marked. At its worst you get anaphylactic shock which is almost like a seizure. I had one, having had iodine dye injected before an investigation process. Olly had a seizure-like attack when on antipsychotics. We assumed it was high blood sugar due to having had a sugary fizzy canned drink in the car on the way home, after a hospital OP appointment. If only we’d known then what we know now.
      I was recently sent for heart investigations. I had two tests which were fine, but the final one was to have radio-active die injected and then an MRI, whilst on a treadmill. I explained to the (very nice) cardiac Consultant that I have had anaphylactic shocks with iodine dyes. He said there were various other dyes they can use, and anyway, ‘there is always a Crash team ready in case of trouble’. Yes, I thought, and they may give anti- histamine or steroids, adrenalin etc, and for me, the reaction to any of those can mean almost a year trying to get my normally functioning anxiety free mind back. So I’ll take my chance with the heart thanks all the same. I’ve never smoked, drink very moderately but stopped even that 3 months ago. I take nothing but the occasional paracetamol. I go for regular walks. Even if I died, it would for me be preferable to akathisia and roaring mental terror, not being able to read, watch TV, listen to music, sit still, stop shaking, all of which I’ve had following steroids and slightly, following anti histamines.

      • Yes Heather, -…..following steroids/ antihistamines (and antibiotics in my case – yours too?), as we’ve both said here before, we are not the safest people to be around – certainly not the most pleasant! Knowing the feelings that we’ve experienced and also having witnessed our sons’ suffering (very many times magnified of course), it follows that we can certainly imagine their torment and how ‘being dead’ was the lesser of two evils. Following a massive overdose, our son was in a coma for three days during which they did not give him any of his medications. When he came out of it but was still in the ICU, they still did not give the medications. About a week later he had an appointment with the community MH team and medications were re-introduced. Thinking back now, I wonder if, had they given therapy appointments instead of meds., would his mental health have slowly improved? As it was, the previous cycle of increased doses and psychiatric in-patient stays continued. I can recall his nervousness at not having his meds. during that week but I cannot recall any mention of ‘the voices’ which have periodically plagued him ever since his introduction to Seroxat. Maybe his three days in a coma would have cleared the situation had the meds. ( to deal with the voices apparently!) not been re-introduced? This last part, I’ve just realised, feeds well into your comment of 19/10/16.
        Your 18/10 comment about Olly in the car, irresistible urge etc. matches our son’s rage attacks so closely. He too is a gentle, quiet and pleasant lad. The difference here is that he DID drive his car – right into the foyer of the local psychiatric unit, where he’d gone for help ( no doubt, as you say, realising that these feelings were getting beyond his control).

        • Olly used to hear voices after starting Seroxat. He said they went on and on in his head, telling him he was worthless and he must kill himself. Then he got the ones saying he was needed in heaven as there was important work there for him to do, so we mustn’t be sad without us. Then when the first psychiatrist added higher doses and more meds, the voice began telling him he was the Devil. That lad was in mental torment from the moment all these chemicals were given to him, but he was an absolute delight, funny, clever, east to get along with, before. The worst thing is the Stockholm syndrome element to it (as mentioned by Walter K in a recent comment). “Please don’t make a fuss Mum, it’s not the drugs, it can’t be, the doctors say so, it’s me, I am an immature loser who can’t cope with life, I am not worth caring about.”

          The Victoria Derbyshire programme (We’d 19 Oct at 9.00 am) with input from Dr David Healy, Katinka, Dr Linda Gask and others, had input too from a GP. Very subtly, she mentioned towards the end of her comment that we must remember that patients reporting these ‘rare’ side effects ‘may well have had other complex problems too’, in other words, we can’t take what they say too seriously as they may be a bit deluded due to their mental state.

          Those few words on TV from a plausible GP will have been enough to sweep away the concerns of the watching audience. In her book ‘The Other Side of Silence’ Dr Linda Gask writes candidly about her own struggles with her mental health difficulties, sparked by the death of her father. But she had an enormous amount of psychotherapy, and as a psychiatrist herself, must have had a lot of insight into her own problems anyway. Jo Public doesn’t get all this support, they just get the pills, after maybe a bit of a sympathetic 10 minute chat with their GP. Dr Gask was fairly measured in her comments in her book about using anti depressants. She was more forthright in her advocacy of them on the Victoria Derbyshire show. She came across as nice and well balanced. They helped her. But the psychotherapy appears to have helped a great deal more. If SSRIs are removed from the doctors’ armoury, what are they going to offer anxious patients? In 10 minutes? My heart sinks because I can see no way out of this mess, and Big Pharma must be chortling to themselves with total glee. It appears that we are stuffed. And Annie shows us in an astute recent comment on these blogs, that in 2003 Parliament was asked to get the MHRA to look at the same problems with Seroxat and other SSRIs as this week, 13 years later, they are asking again. Round and round the mulberry bush……

          • Heather, forget about what GPs are going to do with anxious patients if SSRI’s are removed from their armoury. What are they going to give out for ‘Work related stress’ which is what they had on my sick line when they hit me with the armoury. An armoury, off course contains weapons and weapons are things with injure, kill and mame other people. These drugs do indeed come out the Armoury.

  5. At least he isn’t a man in charge of a country with a grudge. I wonder how different history might have been if Adolf Hitler had never become a victim of the Doctors and their drugs? It’s worth pondering…

  6. The trouble is, the drug companies are onto a winner. They can’t lose. The winner excuse for them, against criticism of their handy products is that the effects we are describing here are perceived as mental illness. The public are terrified by, and shy away from, mental illness. If you report what Annie, Bruce, Olly and all the others do, you are not believed, ‘because maybe you are mad’. The perfect cover for the drug companies to brush our concerns away.

    We hear on today’s BBC News that Sussex Mental Health Trust have apologised and ‘offered their condolences’ to the families of 10 who have been murdered by ‘mentally ill patients’. For those of us ‘in the know’ alarm bells start ringing at once. Were the patients on prescribed anti depressants and anti psychotics, probably not regularly monitored closely, probably with no safe refuge of hospital care? We KNOW what these meds can do. Do the doctors really NOT know?
    It is reported that relatives pleaded to have their warnings taken seriously, again and again, but those in positions of power did nothing. Oh, haven’t many of us been there too, again and again! Even our very gentle Olly, about whom a psychologist acquaintance said ‘his attitude to people and ethics is so honest and caring that he would do well in the priesthood, (but he wasn’t conventionally religious so he wouldn’t have fancied that), even he reported seeing a curtain of red fury descend over his eyes once when driving, and he had an almost irresistible urge to drive his car off the road into people walking on the pavement. He stopped the car and breathed slowly, absolutely terrified by these alien feelings that had swept over him. He was then terrified that he must be raving mad. Bruce didn’t recognise his akathisia cos he didn’t know the term. Annie, Olly and others went through, literally, a living hell for years, cos they didn’t know the term. And even if they had known it, who would have listened to them, reassured them, offered enlightened treatment?

    So right, what do we do now? How many lives have been and are still being ruined by these meds? The poor suffering patient or murder victim who may have died, the family grieving but with impotent fury and anyway, these mourners are so broken, shocked and sad, they can’t take on the drug companies, the still alive patients are weakened and hanging on by their finger tips, and the dead maybe can’t do much either. So, lucky old drug companies, on to a winner as always. Only the DH’s of this world fighting the battle. Who is really listening and caring? It takes a celeb like Bruce Springsteen to awaken some public interest, maybe? But even he put it down to his own possible madness, and worries about a future recurrence.

  7. Brilliant interviews with DH and Katinka Newman this morning on the Victoria Derbyshire programme. Sadly GP plausible but playing down the horror of the damage from these drugs, sweeping it away as though a relatively rare thing. Others will comment more on this, but I have one question for the medical experts.

    In both Pauline’s account in the programme, and many others’ and very noticeably too in Bruce Springsteen’s book, ‘sleep is the only respite’. Given that akathisia is an almost unbearable agitation, would one assume that the toxicity from the drugs is making the body and mind behave in a terrifying way? So to clear the system would seem to be a first step to recovery, but as we know, this can be almost worse than taking the drugs. Back in the late 1960’s sleep, or narcosis, was a treatment given to some severely agitated patients. Mattresses were put on hospital floors and patients kept lightly asleep, woken gently for loo trips, little walks round bed to keep muscles working, and fed soups and other easy to digest food, like Complan etc. ; after 3 weeks of this, they were slowly woken, feeling rested, presumably their system clear of medication, and at the same time their worries faded and their cortisol levels reduced. To aid with the hell of withdrawal symptoms, could this procedure not be introduced again? Or does it still exist? One patient mentioned on Katinka’s site went into a coma after a suicide attempt, his family kept watch to see that no drugs were given, and when he at last awoke, he was OK again. Could DH comment about narcosis and whether it could make withdrawal bearable?

    • Could I ask again about NARCOSIS and whether it is still offered in in-patient treatment to make the hell of akathisia less painful for the patient. If it IS no longer used, could we have an explanation for this? Surely it is less invasive than ECT. Is it that more time and nursing hands-on care is needed per patient, and thus it is more expensive for the NHS to provide?

      To explain, we are talking about putting mattresses on the floor and sedating the patient into a prolonged sleep for two weeks or so, maybe using catheters and making sure they take in fluids and possibly something like Complan liquid food, gently turning them regularly and moving their arms and legs so muscles do not become weak.
      Springsteen says HE escaped into sleep. It was the only relief for him from what reads to us like he had Akathisia. I wonder how many suicides are not intentionally so, they are just people going through the hell of Akathisia wanting to escape into peace by sleeping long and deep for a while. Bruce is quoted as saying that for him 14 or 15 hours was not enough.

      The circle of pain of withdrawal leading to capitulation back into the taking of the drug, is seemingly endless. For narcosis yes, you would have to use A drug, presumably, to keep them sedated, as is used in induced comas for those with physical brain traumas, but at least the psychotropic ones could be stopped or tailed off by infusion, and the patient saved from the initial agony. They used it in the 1960s. So why not now. Anyone know the answer to this?

  8. Dear Annie,
    Thank you for providing an interesting overview about the dangers of antidepressants.
    David Healy, hit the nail on the head when he stated that he believes:
    “one in four people become more anxious, rather than less”.
    “Some people become very agitated and some go on from that to become suicidal,” he says.
    “The drugs can become the problem that they’re then used to treat.”
    It is important that David states his clinical findings as evidence because important key factors that pharmaceutical companies fail to mention is that:
    1. one can be a at risk of suicide (it is not only isolated to teenagers)
    2. damaged to good health can occur
    3. permanent brain injuries can result
    4. Withdrawal symptoms can be very dangerous
    It is a known fact that these medication can damage the ‘regulatory thermometer’ of the brain.
    From my experience, if the blood brain barrier is damaged and the drug stays permanently stuck in a section of the brain, it can be a ‘living hell’ for the person living with negative symptoms they never had before they ingested the drug.

    It is important to stress these drugs can cause permanent damage to the brain and we who have been impacted are not trying to deter people who want to ingest them from taking them.
    People have choices however, consumers also have the right to be informed about the risks, also.
    ~ It just makes common sense before you embark on a journey of taking these type of medications. Anything we do in life, never comes with a glowing guarantee that everything is going to be rosy. Things happen in life, that we never anticipated.
    I believe that people have a right to know that damages can occur to the delicate brain especially, if combined with other cocktails of medicine’.
    It is also important to stress that it can induce other medical issues, if taken without other medication, also.
    No one is immune to the harm these medications can induce.

    Impressive article, with meaningful depth to a topic which is considered ‘taboo ‘for those who proclaim it has saved their life or done wonders for their mental health.
    We also, need to be mindful of the risks involved when ingesting these medications because if they are not highlighted, anyone can be put at unnecessary risk.
    ‘We cannot pretend that problems can occur. It can happen to anyone”.
    Thank you Claire, for your brave story. You just reinforce what many others have horrendously been through however, have never been believed.
    I believe, that clinicians have a moral responsibility to tell patients about the risks involved.
    ‘The benefits outweigh the risk’ model is clearly outdated and consumers need to explore other alternatives before the ‘trusty pill’ is prescribed.
    Many consumers are vulnerable when they are down and out however, it does not mean that clinicians have a right to further damage some lives because they failed to inform their patients about the risks associated with ingesting these medicines.
    There are always two sides to a debate and those who believe that it can never happen to them just need to hear our stories before they take that ‘leap of faith into the unknown.’

  9. Dear Carla

    Borne in the USA

    “Our culture teaches us that doctors can’t possibly screw up.”

    Bradford October 20, 2016 at 4:06 pm

    Well, Dr. Healy, I *kinda* *sorta* get what you’re saying here, but, then, I’m also a subject matter expert, with lived experience of the lies of the pseudoscience drug racket known as psychiatry. So I have to say, as to this too-short article: *WTF*?…. Seems there’s at least a few paragraphs missing to wrap up and get to the point. Did something get lost in the editing / posting of this article? No offense meant. I’m still thinking about a WaPo article I read today, about the dozens of so-called “mental patients” who’ve been euthanized in Belgium & the Netherlands, in the past few recent years…. Yes, European psychs are actively involved in KILLING some of their “mentally ill” “patients”…. So, what’s a little Study 329 fraud and deception in pursuit of a superior race, social economy, and greater PhRMA corporate profits….????….

    Well, Dr. Healy..

    “so, what’s a little Study 329 fraud..

    Over to you, I guess..

  10. It is very sad to see how people get treated once they are prescribed these medications.
    Very interesting articles that highlights how some medical professionals can mistreat, misdiagnose and maltreat patients once they put their patients on these dangerous mind altering drugs.
    The poor man who killed himself whilst incarcerated, clearly had no voice.
    The remaining family deserve everything they got for what the drug did to him.
    As for those, who demonstrated ‘deliberate indifference’, to hell with all of those individuals who failed his duty of care.
    The people who failed their ‘duty of care’ are no different to murderers.
    You don’t deserve to be in your field if you miserably failed to care for someone who was in need of some help.
    In a world of technology, there are still problems where the medical history of patients are ‘overlooked’.
    The paxil suicide verdict article, should give many hope for how these dangerous medications have impacted their good health and lives.
    It should also make medical professionals ‘think twice ‘, before they embark on a journey of maltreating their patients.
    It is about time the judicial system recognises that these meds are harmful to the brain.
    For those people who are not dead, I am sure we will all have our day of victory, especially in the area of explaining how these harmful drugs damage the brain, once they put you in a ‘gridlock’.
    The poor man who was incarcerated should have never died in these tragic circumstances.
    He developed severe headaches, hypertension and his chronic stomach problems worsened once they took him off his regular medication. The poor man was going into horrible withdrawal symptoms.
    I have a few questions to ask to the people who were in his care.
    How can all his symptoms be overlooked?
    Why didn’t the person who prescribed paxil not look into his medical history?
    If the patient is exhibiting symptoms that were completely ignored and the LPN failed to communicate all her findings, then I believe there is a clear -cut case of malpractice.
    There was no follow up on the prescribers end and the LPN failed to disclose critical information to the psychiatrist.
    Which brings a vital point to my story.
    This is a common practice that still occurs today.
    One would think that with modern technology, everyone would have access to patients medical history. Too many loop holes in the system. It is still dysfunctional!
    If professionals are failing in the area of misdiagnosing or proper clinical evaluation, a patient’s life can be put through unnecessary risk.
    If more meds are added to the equation, without thorough scrupulous attention, severe medical errors can occur.
    The article went on to say that the psychiatrist:
    ‘The psychiatrist’s actions were worse than practicing medicine negligently—he was not practicing medicine at all. He was more like a vending machine. I further testified that this was callous disregard, especially since he admitted to knowing that the drug had dangers associated with it, including suicide, and yet asked no information about the patient, did not come in to see him, and ordered no special supervision.’
    I hope this article raises an awareness to all medical professionals out there to be more vigilant in regards to how they treat their patients. I hope it makes the medical professionals aware of the dangers of these meds.
    Consumers need to be better informed before they embark on a serious regime of these types of meds. They need to be informed of the risks.
    Let the crack in the dam open.
    Some medical professionals need to get understand the consequences to their negligent actions.
    The pill can cause much harm but when you fail in ‘duty of care’ this is another grey area that needs to be closely looked at.
    If one is ‘unlucky’ to ingest a flawed batch, this is another darker shade of grey that needs to be taken into consideration. No pint sweeping it under the carpet!

    • I now hold the view that what was done to myself should constitute Criminal Negligence. Citalopram for work related stress, that was what was on the sick line(a legal document) by a GP who had never met me so cannot claim that he had any kind of real handle on my character. Then, after I withdraw myself from citalopram after 3 months of daily suicidal thoughts(no impairment to my normal daily routines during this period) as GP is claiming ‘depression not responding to treatment’ I ask the question how can something be an illness if it does not in any way effect a persons normal day to day living. The common cold has far more impact on my day to day living than the depression that the GP claimed I was experiencing. I experienced a withdrawal reaction from citalopram which was attributed to re-emergence of original condition(my original condition was couldnt stand my job anymore, but every other area of my life was brilliant ie money, sex etc) and puts me on venlafaxine by claiming he would have to hospitalize me if I didnt improve in a week(Otherwise known as ‘Bullying’ does the medical profession use a different term for it? The person who signs that sick line ‘work related stress’ did have considerable power over me at that time and wasn’t afraid of abusing it) Again, stuck on venlafaxine without any proper assessment. By proper assessment I mean a standard mental health assessment form. I believe that the medical profession does have such things in their possession, I have viewed them, in fact I read them regualrly as part of my own job. Any proper on paper assessment would have shown that their were no issues in my life of any significance or concern apart from me hating my job. Solved the issue by getting a different job. Non medical solution to a problem that was never medical, then venlafaxine turned rather nasty and nothings been right with me since, 8 yrs ago.

      Now if a construction company were to build you a new house without having done a proper site survey, which is off course essential to ensure that the ground is suitable to build on, that would be Criminal Negligence. The site survey is a legal requirement, essential-the reason self explanatory-they need to know whats under that ground before they build on it, for the SAFETY of the builders and the SAFETY of those who will occupy said house when built and submit said survey to Building Control at the Local Authority who will then grant the appropriate certificate for construction to go ahead if they are happy.

      IF we use the above house building analogy, I was twice in the space of 4 months stuck on anti depressants without the essential survey work being done. So if it’s criminally negligent to build on land without getting the appropriate surveys done ie on paper, how come it isn’t with GPs for prescribing ADs without having done any kind on on paper mental health assessment beforehand?

      OK, GPs dont want the hassle of doing formal paperwork, guess that just shows that they are the exact same as the rest of us.

      By the way a civil engineer cant tell by walking about a proposed building plot whats actually under the ground, they need to look at maps(check for old mine shafts, a real issue in a lot of parts of Britain) and digs a few holes and few other things to find that out.

      No more prescribing of ADs by GPs until they’ve done the appropriate survey first. They might not be so quick to give them out to people that dont need them in the first instance when it becomes a little bit of hassle for them to like erm spend half an hr doing a proper on paper assessment with the person. Given their level of training I do firmly believe that your average GP in the British Isles is capable of doing a basic on paper mental health assessment and I think they should do them just little bit more often than they do. Oh wait, doing proper on paper assessments is what CPN’s, Social Workers and other kinds of professionals do. I’ve even heard of Consultant Psychiatrists doing proper on paper assessments of their patients, but how often does a GP do such a thing before prescribing an AD. Giving out ADs to people you dont know at all on the basis of a 5 min consultation. Is that not a receipe for problems in the first instance? Just exactly how accurate a handle can a GP have on a situation and a person when they have only met the person once for 5 mins? That would be malpractice in pretty much any other profession so why isnt it in medicine? It is after all just asking to do needless harm.

      • Very sensibly put Mr. Sensible! I have said for ages that these drugs are too powerful to be prescribed by GPs. Very many ( our son included) have been put on these drugs for instances similar to yours – anxiety over college coursework in his case. Cases that needed no more than a chat over the problem and a sensible way forward encouraged – complete an assignment and hand it in, then repeat with the next until all’s done. The irony is that, despite the horrors he suffered on the medication, he STILL managed to complete the assignments and got his qualification. Due to ongoing health problems resulting from that prescription he hasn’t ever been able to use his qualification and still suffers to this day.
        Why do the doctors do this? – the short answer, of course, is ‘because they can’. The ‘signs of depression’ forms etc. that you mention are not available to GPs as far as I can see – it is only when you are referred to the community mental health team that those come into play. How ridiculous – that a GP can prescribe a deadly drug but cannot complete a form, in the first place, to find out your mental state! The whole system needs a total re-think if you ask me.

      • All very well to ask for a survey – but the surveys are also flawed!

        They are subjective, and it is possible to present them in such a way so that the worst possible mental/emotional scenario is presented, and a diagnosis is achieved –

        and the drugs are still given out.

        It’s the drug companies who design the surveys, right?

        • JanCarol, what Timothy and I meant was that in the building industry, before you put anything on the ground, a surveyor looks beneath it, to see what he is adding on top of it. Timothy’s analogy struck a chord with us as this is what my husband has said about doctors and drugs for years, and he is a Quantity Surveyor so it makes a lot of sense to him 🙂

          If you dig deep into what is causing your patient so much worry, depression, whatever, you then have a better understanding on which to base a diagnosis and If really necessary, what to prescribe and monitor. We meant that in 7-10 minutes how can GPs possibly dig deep and listen long enough to know what the person is really struggling with. Typing out a prescription for SSRIs is a quick fix, which for some patients can mean their lives permanently ruined. Like a building collapsing because the foundations weren’t safely in place.

          I totally agree that ‘surveys’ like you meant the word, are a complete waste of time and money. I’d go further; the NHS have set up lots of local so-called Patient Consultation Forums in their Trusts, spewing out surveys and opinion sheets to us like confetti, but our views never get implemented and we sense the whole exercise is a bluff, to make Government think Trusts are doing what we, Joe Public want. It’s a waste of trees, and our precious time, when we should be marching on Downing St.

          • Correction, in responding here to JanCarol’s comment,I should have said ‘what Mr Sensible and I said’ in reference to surveying and buildings. I only just noticed this. Apologies for my mistake.

  11. We have just worked out the figure paid out annually for anti-depressants, according to the facts stated on the recent Victoria Derbyshire BBC2 inquiry. It comes to £284,700,000. – we could round this up to £285 million a year, for tidiness. We reckon we could start up a centre for day support in tranquil surroundings with trained caring volunteers, a place where people could rest, be creative, learn new skills, hobbies, paint, write, (out of range of mobile phones), eat well, grow plants and vegetables, and most importantly of all, be able to talk about their problems which are causing them anxiety, for about £500,000. Divide that figure into the drugs bill for anti-depressants and you could get 570 such places every year all over UK. Even if we only had 200 of such places, just imagine the effect….
    Time for Change? The present system definitely isn’t working. We all need to belong, to feel needed, to feel understood. Surely?

  12. Heather, how would pharma companies and village pharmacists be able to make money from depression and anxiety disorders if that were implemented?

    • Mr Sensible, we would not be stopping all prescribing of anti depressants and anti psychotics, we would just cut down on all the massive numbers of unnecessary ones. Pharmacies would still supply all REALLY necessary medications, we are just saying that the drugs bill is out of all proportion to the benefits to patients. If we saved some of that money, then maybe we could give doctors more time to listen to patients and tailor treatments to their real needs much better. And if they felt medication wasn’t the answer, they could offer something else.

  13. I thought I understood myself very well..

    I didn’t think I needed a Camp Carousel with art, walking, unknown pursuits to relax?

    I had all those with my child reading, endless games of Monopoly, climbing hills and mountains with the dog and talking with my pilot about boats, ships and planes..

    If only I had kept my gob shut.

    My undoing.

    In 1999, a minor psychiatrist got all excited about Seroxat. Who did the sales job on him, I will never know, but, this boring, indifferent, strange sort of man suddenly became animated with Seroxat.

    A new wonder drug on the market will sort you out, he said.
    By now, his body was on the edge of my newly recovered chair in a lovely tapestry; he was almost shaking with excitement.

    So, I was to be his guinea pig.
    With Seroxat.

    I told the gp that I wasn’t sure it was for me.

    Coercion existed.

    All fine and dandy until Seroxat splintered, cracked, spluttered in to life with its stoppage.

    I don’t buy the Happy Camps, I don’t buy the anti-depressants, I don’t buy the endless benzodiazepines and beta blockers and I don’t buy the endless bullying and lies..

    I could have accepted any form of advice albeit financial, good old common sense, a problem shared is a problem halved…… give me Seroxat, with no depressive tell tales, no tell tales of weird behaviour and no tell tales of diminished functioning…..well, they managed it..

    Well, done.

    An extremely tacky time was had by all; my caravan affords the view..

    Did anyone else notice the Seroxat mug on David’s desk in the Film……well done, for product placement Dr. DH..

    • I can’t see a seroxat mug?

      The GP at the end is the problem. The supercilious, all-knowing attitude makes me want to puke. Whereas, if you actually listen to her words she is admitting that they just throw random drugs at people until one of them seems to do something good in the 10 minutes that they actually see the patient. They then put that down to their godlike medical wisdom. Presumably the patients who don’t return are also clocked up as “medical successes”. Idiots.

      “Here, have some heroin……How do you feel now?”
      “I feel great!”
      “My God I’m a medical genius and heroin is a wonderful cure.”

      The last thing the vast majority of people in some kind of emotional distress or disturbance need, is to have assorted, unnatural, mind twisting drugs shoved into them. GPs should come with a bloody health warning.

      • To see the Seroxat mug, go as far as the point where David studies the PIL (as if he’s never seen it before!) and watch as the camera slowly moves away – and there it is, next to the Keep Calm mug!

          • Yes, very well put – or should I say very Witty! Good job we can still see the funny side of things despite all that’s happened to us.

    • Annie, sure you didn’t need a ‘place of solace’, nor should you have been used as a guinea pig for wondrous Seroxat.

      But SOME people, who have too many of life’s stresses dropped on them at once, get very anxious, temporarily lose their coping skills, want to get away from it all, let the hustle and bustle go on without them for a while, and get distracted with relaxing enjoyable things amongst people who empathise and offer help. They just need a bit of time and TLC to sort things out in peace. They don’t want to be sent off alone with a packet of pills, which can make them feel even less able to cope. We were designed to function as members of small groups – most people find the supportive company of empathic others uplifting. Loneliness is one of the biggest killers there is.

      Mr Sensible is bang on right when he uses the building industry as a comparison. No self respecting surveyor or civil engineer would sign off on a project without doing all the preliminary searches first. If the building collapsed, they would go bust too and their reputation would be ruined. Doctors are somehow different. They are unaccountable. And those who challenge them can be branded as difficult or crazy. Things have got completely out of balance, and people turn to doctors as gurus or magicians, but they are not. We can do our own magic, given half a chance.

  14. I will never forget the time the ENT prescribed Valium over the phone.
    I had a severe ear ache.
    I believe the serc he prescribed me had something to do with what I was experiencing with my ears.
    I should have waited till the severe earache subsided instead of taking that one bloody Valium.
    My husband had to go pick it up at the chemist close by to home.
    I honestly thought it was a pain killer.
    In my 32 years of life, I never knew what Valium was? ~ I am so ashamed of myself?
    The worst mistake of my life.
    Why did he have to prescribe Valium if I was suffering from a horrible earache?
    The ENT specialist did not even call me in to follow up?
    After the horrible nightmare I went through, he even had the audacity to put me through a battery of torturous ENT test which I would never recommend any living being be put through :'(
    For the love of God, who would do this to their fellow being?

  15. All I’d add in addition to Annie’s experience is, yes, I do see her point, she was fine without a place of support, but supposing she had been one of a GROUP of patients also treated by her GP or the over excited psychiatrist and they had ALL been put on Seroxat, and they started sharing their concerns about their symptoms following its use, would she not have felt more empowered when raising the alarm about what it was doing to her? It’s being isolated, having been fed the lie that these meds are totally safe (don’t read the PIL as Sarah Jarvis says, ‘they have to write down every possible reported side effect even if it’s bogus, from every patient’ – Olly’s first psychiatrist said exactly those words to me, and feeling I was a lone oddball, I accepted it). He actually ushered me out of his office saying ‘how dare you presume to raise these ridiculous concerns with me! I am a psychiatrist. What makes you think you know about this, surely you don’t take seriously the PIL?’ This was in 2002. Concerns about Seroxat were known, by those in his profession.

    There’s safety and solidarity in some groups Annie, and I know that had Olly been able to get away from his work for a while in 2012, and from people who were behaving outrageously towards him, even using social media, people who were actually much ‘sicker’ than he, (one woman in particular who had attached herself to him, although much older than he, and who he had felt sorry for and wanted to help). and had he found anyone who had told him about sudden withdrawal effects of Venlafaxine, he might be here today. But he only had the word of the guilty psychiatrist, who didn’t like drugs but at the same time, didn’t take into account the effects of prescribing sudden withdrawal from them when they were already in the patient. And Olly had only had the option of hospital, for a few days where he was out of place and where meds were the norm, or being alone at home most of the time, with his suicidal thoughts and dire withdrawal effects which he assumed were his own ‘madness’, whilst the person giving him grief kept playing ‘good cop, bad cop’ and extolling the virtues of the SSRIs, she already being on them, and telling him he must trust the psychiatrist because he knew best…..

    He needed the advice of others, like him, in a calm supportive place away from these influences, to have a chance to think. There was nowhere. My desire is to make sure those places DO exist for any like Olly who need them. We had one in our county which the NHS last year insisted they would close to save money – they put it that patients didn’t really need it – another lie – but we’ve campaigned en masse, got an MP or two to fight with us and the patients and public, and now it’s flourishing, it has a link to a local horticultural college, offers courses, grows plants to sell to the public, so visitors can come in one day a week for coffee and buying plants. We have managed to keep it open for a further year. There has been private money put in, by well wishers, and it offers a warm welcome and care to all those who go there. And, get this, the CEO who wanted it closed has recently been heard to say it is now her flagship project!! Weasel words.

    Of course we want to deal with the hell of Seroxat, but we also have to offer something to fill the gap for those who reach out for help and only SSRIs are on offer from the Dr Sarah Jarvis type GPs of this world because then we are tackling it from both ends. That’s all I was trying to promote.

    • In our area, cannot comment countrywide, such a place as described by you does already exist – they are the Drop-in centres run by Mind. They offer everything that you suggest – even down to armchair aerobics! They have morning, noon and evening meetings in order to accommodate all levels of need. They include a Saturday session which, here, is a ‘relax and chat’ rather than a ‘doing’ session. They also have a monthly Sunday lunch outing. By including the weekend sessions, they are covering the days when other Services are taking a break – filling a gap that is so necessary for those who are unable to ‘take a break’ from their problems. They are even willing to share their mobile numbers with the ‘service users’ so that there is always a friendly voice available if urgently needed.
      It is a fantastic service, provided for a very small charge, geared to give ‘Care in the Community’ an excellent, glowing report. Guess what though? The numbers attending is very low (compared to the number that must surely be suffering in this particular area). I cannot fathom the reason for this – but have a feeling that it has a lot to do with our modern ‘quick fix’ attitude to everything. A quick call to the surgery, an even quicker presentation of a prescription and a quick pop of the resulting pills seems to suit our generation so much better than the thought of a slow recovery by means of shared relaxation. The very reason which carries the medicating on and the exact problem in getting our message through to the general public. I feel that things are so much worse since the idea of ‘care in the community’ was brought about. Ideally, this should have been a fantastic step forwards but, by finding that ‘being in the community’ meant ‘get on with it alone’, in many cases all hope of ‘belonging’ was lost and with it went the understanding of the very real benefits of ‘inclusion’ in its true sense.
      I think that every doctors’ surgery should definitely have at least one person qualified in mental health nursing. That could provide a way forward in reducing the number of psychotropic prescribing – as long as that person was an ‘independent thinker’ rather than a Health Board puppet!
      A point to finish – did you know that patients in the care of CMH care co-ordinators are now neither ‘patients’ nor ‘clients? They are now ‘citizens’! Co-ordinators who are hard-working, and (in the main) often rushed off their feet now have an added point to remember – and what for? What’s in a name? Being called a citizen doesn’t suddenly heal the ‘patient’ in any way. Being able to chat freely with a co-ordinator whose mind isn’t bogged down by labels certainly can make a difference! Another box to tick by any other name……?

    • Just a little backstory..

      I was left, assigned a CPN by the PN; a stressed out, chain smoking, chocolate addict, all were on her ‘passenger’ seat of her car..00

      Four of us, always the same 4, sat in the foyer of a newly built bungalow, in the grounds of the hospital where I had spent a lovely week with my newborn (1993).
      Direction South – not North – to the mental hospital.

      Much the same age, us 4, got on great..

      We were under the same Psychiatrist..

      We asked the CPN…(!) if we were allowed (!) to meet up privately in our own homes.
      No problem with that.

      We met up once a month (2003/4) for riotous and often hilarious days oot..; these women were smart, funny and educated..

      One, from my own village, a woman who had tried to drown herself in the river (next to the mental hospital) said about The Psychiatrist. He said to me when I said to him “I don’t know how I’m going to wake up in the morning” – “Don’t be ridiculous, everyone knows how they will feel when they wake up in the morning”

      Just about summed him up; I never forgot that little gem.

      The Bungalow was available to anyone who wanted to get away ‘for a while’.

      Cook your own food – do your own thing – get the key from the CPN

      It was all v nice, very Ikea, but, unless a fellow druggy was staying it seemed a lonely retreat (and who would leave their child/dog – under the previous circumstances

      I will never, ever forget the day when the GP told me to drive myself to the mental hospital when I was beside myself from Seroxat…darling, mummy has to go to hospital…she was sitting, so small in her little white dressing gown, in the corner of the sofa, and she stared in front of her, her little face immovable and the tears ran down her little cheeks..

      The bungalow was shut, with cuts, shortly after and we all moved on…

      All Souls Day….a candle for Olly, Mary’s boy, and, all…

      • Thank you for the candle, to be lit in Scotland on 2nd November for us all, for what is happening now, for what must stop in the future, and for the memories, your little one so frightened, sitting in her white dressing gown, worrying for her mum. Parallels there with Katinka’s children who at least had each other, but have shown us on her film, what went through their terrified young minds. How awful those times must have been for you yourself, feeling so ill, and under the supposed care of such loathsome medics.

        What on earth happens during their training in the Schools of Psychiatry? Do they have all compassion brainwashed out of them, or are they recruited for this supposedly honourable profession only from those students who have an obvious natural lack of it in the first place? Is this something that’s happened in the last 40 years? How COULD that imbecile say those words back to that patient you describe, when she trustingly confided in him, when she was so vulnerable and feeling so ill.

        In the olden days, back in the 1950s and 1960s, when my dear dad was struggling with his manic depression, and we were all going through another kind of hell due to all the conflicting emotions that triggered, I can remember the psychiatrists he saw. Professor Lindford Rees and others at Bart’s and elsewhere. They were calm and kind and respectful and approachable. They seemed to understand the vulnerability of those who trusted them with their innermost feelings. What in heaven’s name has gone wrong? Is it because they have become like robots now that they feel the medications can do their job for them? So they don’t have to worry about being humane? Or do they reflect the way society generally has changed? Is this what Thatcherism began (the worst elements of it) and what we seem to be stuck with?

        I must admit, having met the three that Olly was referred to, in two different counties during his fluctuating illness spread across 11 years, my heart used to sink every time – they were either distant and inept or aggressively confrontational, arrogant, or in our family’s opinion, finally, for the last one, crackers. They shared one common factor. If they really were listening, they were doing it with a pre-formed agenda and our words just flew off them into the ether. To coin one of my father’s favourite engineering phrases “I wouldn’t have paid them in washers!”

        At least not every doctor runs with the herd and my hope is a little restored. The daughter of a school friend, who is now one, told her mum that other doctors look down on psychiatrists as the poor relations of the medical profession which makes them feel inferior…. Poor things…. So it’s a last choice for some and maybe some unhappy ones boost their inferiority complexes by bullying their clients and drugging them up so they can’t answer back? What can one say, in answer to that? God help the patients, maybe…..

  16. Dear Heather,
    Wonderful idea.
    Putting people before profits should be part of the universal ethos.
    Big pharma will eventually go ‘bankrupt’ because they failed to inform consumers of what they are capable of doing and I hope and pray that every person who has been maimed or died will be compensated.
    There will be so many lawsuits in the near future because the consumers have been misinformed.
    Your proposal sounds more humane.
    I agree that the current system is not working and there needs to be people who care and are genuinely dedicated to helping those in need, without further ruining their lives.

  17. That sounds just like what I experienced while being “treated” by a psychiatrist. I also had serious behavior change as well, not for the better. You can read my story on RxISk ” Mt Trip Through the PolyPharmacy blender”.
    Fortunately I escaped treatment with my life but my life was forever changed. Bankrupt and now going through divorce due to all that happened due to the drugging by this “doctor” of psychiatry, I now have to somehow find the will to keep going and try to make it on my own.
    One thing that has helped me to get through all of this, oddly, is prescription medication. Due to serious physical pain from spinal injuries I have been on pain meds for several years now. I know the side effects can be harmful but I am unable to function without them due to the physical pain. I have noticed that the meds also have a calming effect on emotions and that has helped me be able to cope with all of the losses, depression and lack of will to continue.
    For now I will have to settle for the status quo and hope for the best.
    Thanks for sharing your stories!

  18. Dear Rory,
    Thank you for sharing your experience with us.
    Unfortunately, these medications do not come with a warning on how they impact our lives.
    I cannot imagine the grief and the loss you must be feeling.
    I can understand the damages they have caused to your good health and finances.

    I walked away from a job that paid me reasonable wages, in 2015. I worked the hours I could.
    Once I spoke up about how a patient was being treated, everything went ‘pear shaped’ from there. I am now paying the price for speaking up.

    Once your good health is impacted, you are very limited to what you can do.
    I would love to go on with further studies however, am finding it very difficult to get motivated because of my poor health and the PTSD.
    I lack the motivation, energy and commitment to do anything positive with my life.
    Pain does prevent me from doing the things I enjoy and on my not so good days I have to be kind to myself and rest.

    I wish I had insurance for unforeseen permanent health damages.
    I am certain that my superannuation has a clause for disability impairment.
    If you do not have the money or good health to fight for your entitlements, one is left in a real lurch.
    Just the thought of being continually assessed and having your integrity questioned, just makes me cringe.
    Rory, I understand all too well the dilemmas we all face, in one way or another.
    Some have it tougher than others, whilst others struggle in silence on a day to day basis.

    Coping is one thing however, not having the proper support can really make things difficult.
    Who would of ever thought that this med could leave one with permanent disability.
    I must have been very optimistic when it nearly cost me my life and I had to drag myself out of a black tunnel.
    It has not been easy journey however, I am still alive doing the best with what I have got.
    Hang in there, Rory.
    I wish you and many others who have been impacted by these meds, all the very best.
    Hopefully, those who read our stories will think twice before embarking on a journey of meds. For some, it can be one hell of an experience if all the doors close on you.
    Sending you oceans of love, Carla.

  19. Rory, I have just read your story ‘My Trip through the PolyPharmerBlender’ which you have written so brilliantly. It is absolutely awful to think that after all your effort and research, having been so grossly badly treated with prescribed meds by, in particular, ‘the shrink’, you are now bankrupt and divorcing. To think that you were at one point on 12 meds, which you were constantly alerting the doctors to, and no alarm bells went off in their heads.

    I think the final bit of your account, where you followed up and questioned all those doctors and the pharmacist about those very alarm bells which weren’t rung until you shamed them into admitting what had happened to you, is truly terrifying, and we need to ring them out now, all of us, in the Media, everywhere. They didn’t like to question another doctor’s diagnosis and prescribed drugs, even though they admitted now to you that they were alarmed by it. ‘because the doctor or someone might sue them’ (!). ‘WOW’ you write. Wow is the word. What ever happened to their Hippocratic oath, and care for the patient? What are they in their well paid jobs for, if not to care for patients?

    I cam empathise with you about the relief you get when taking painkillers for your physical back condition. I suffered a broken neck in a car crash 11 years ago and the vertebrae are held together with titanium plate, nuts and bolts, and bone grafts. Sometimes if I overdo things the pain gets bad, and the blood supply to the brain gets less good making me feel ‘spaced out’. I find this scary, but a couple of paracetamol and a power nap, clutching a soothing hot water bottle, does the trick for me. The moment I swill back those two little caplets, my fear goes, although by then they can’t have done much to the neck. So I guess it’s in my mind really. Like a little ritual that works, so I trust it.

    Thank you for signposting to read your story on RxISK. It should be in a training manual for every student doctor. It covers misdiagnosis in both physical and mental illness, and also the role of the pharmacist, in addition to the appalling damage their prescribed drugs can do, especially synergistically. Lives are wrecked or lost because of this. In Aviation, there are procedures in place for pilots to report errors so that they are corrected for safety of all. Obviously, the pilots would go down with the plane if it crashed! Sadly, it’s the patients who go down, not the doctors in Medicine, because they are Teflon covered and they are not swallowing the same stuff. You write so well, you really should write a book 🙂

  20. A very uncommon akathisia that would allow the person to sleep for 14 hours. Sounds more like an agitated depression. I once suffered akathisia for months after quitting the damn pill-Klonopin. I paced 24 hours a day, I was only able to sleep for 2 hours every 2-3 days only.I was in a state of a panic attack 24 hours a day. I could not change my clothes, my muscles were stone like. I washed the clothes once in a while and stood at the washer/dryer naked crying for them to dry. I could not sit, lay down etc. I had intrusive thoughts, racing thouths, profund depression, burning, tics, zaps,vertigo, you name it. I was in hell. There is hell. But, perhaps different people have a different reaction, and different akathisia.

    • Anetta, I am experiencing akathisia right now and feel like it won’t end. May I ask how long it took until it went away and what you did in the meantime. I am only 25 and can’t imagine life like this. I know exactly the feeling you write here.

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