Dependence on Antidepressants and The New York Times

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April 17, 2018 | 41 Comments


  1. Just maybe president Trump has had some influence on reporters – by cracking down on
    the legal prescribing of opioids he made sure it got public attention so now the Times is more confident about reporting a mega story about anti depressants. It would be interesting if some study could be carried out to see what effect the publicity is having, if any, to see if AD prescribing is going down rather than increasing either by people declining to take them or by fewer prescriptions and whether there is an increase in honest informed consent for those who choose to take them despite the risks. Shame the psychiatrist in Southampton mentioned in the N Y Times is only being funded to set up online tapering advice when what is desperately needed is research into who should not be prescribed ADs in the first place and into the causes of the adverse effects , they could even claim the Rxisk prize – I guess the cynically minded can think of a few reasons why that is not happening.

  2. I cannot really comment on tapering from ADs but can offer a few pointers from observing my son tapering from an antipsychotic – one that is also now used as an antidepressant I believe.
    To anyone tapering, I would say – things will get worse before they get better. This, in my son’s case does not happen as he’s tapering but a couple of weeks further on, while he’s recovering before his next taper. He has a spell of 10 – 14 days which are far worse than anytime that he was on the full dose. However, following that difficult time, he slowly improves and more of the real person is seen than has been visible for a very long time.
    When tapering, in his case at least, ‘slow’ takes on a whole different meaning! He has been tapering now for over two and a half years and has a long way to go yet. One reduction of 25 mg. takes at least 3 months from the first taper to the last drop and on through the rough patch. He then takes a few weeks’ break before the next cut. Liquid form of the drug plays a very important part here.
    The greatest need, in my opinion, during this whole process, is support. This covers family, friends and professionals – all being essential to making the whole journey possible.
    If my son’s experience is in any way following a ‘normal’ course, I would say to anyone thinking of withdrawal or already in the throes of it – stick to it, you may well be surprised at your own determination and be rewarded with spells of feeling better than you did for many a year.
    (I fully appreciate that this will not run true for ALL cases – but without trying, no one would ever know the possibilities.)

    • If I may make a suggestion: It sounds like decreases of 25mg are a little too drastic for your son. He may tolerate decreases of 10mg better.

      (If you have been tapering by 25mg from the beginning, the percentage of the decrease has been getting larger as the dosage is getting smaller. Further decreases of 25mg are likely to become more difficult as more precipitous drops in dosage.)

      If he’s taking an antipsychotic because he once displayed symptoms labeled “psychotic”, it’s very important that he avoid destabilizing his nervous system while tapering. If he displays withdrawal symptoms that might be called “psychotic”, he will be re-medicated.

      • Thanks for your comment. I should have explained in more detail. The ’25mg drop’ does NOT happen in one go – far from it! he transfers from 25mg to 5ml of the liquid and stabilises on that. He then decreases 0.1 ml at a time – staying for a good few days on that dose before dropping the next 0.1 ml. This is why it takes such a long time to complete a 25mg drop. He did his first ever reduction as a 25mg removal all in one – never again! Sorry for the confusion and thanks for drawing my attention to it – my head knows how it goes; the reader obviously does not!

  3. We all have our own experience of ‘withdrawal’ and how we did it or did not do it.

    I was like so many others, I just wanted to get off Paroxetine, coolly, calmly, competently and completely

    The advice one every other day for two weeks was given by the GP.

    This was terrible advice.

    GSK, in their leaflet, suggest, drop 10%, over the course of two weeks.

    You could say the GP misinterpreted the 10% idea, but being dropped from 20 mg., was like being dropped in to the abyss..

    So, the terrible idea was overseen and the following year, now on 40 mg, I have the year long programme of dropping over a year.

    You wouldn’t think a couple of ml., which is minute, would devastate the nervous system like it did.

    The devastating side effects were a replica of the year before, but, this was from a couple of ml. and not from a sudden drop of 20 mg. You probably won’t try and kill yourself from a drop of 10 ml.

    Aka GSK.

    There seems to be block at the last couple of ml.

    Why not, after your long, slow, taper, work backwards..

    If you feel absolutely stultified, tweak it up, just a tiny bit, for a couple of days or so, if you don’t see any improvement, a tiny bit more, until you reach that little oasis where things are slight more comfortable.

    Sit on that and try it again and again and again ..

    You might hack it, you might not..

    I was absolutely determined to crack it and this meant months in a state of delirium and psychosis, in bed, total darkness, no sounds, no light. No radio, no books, no nothing …

    No doctors .. I couldn’t risk any setbacks, any more drugs, any more unwelcome criticism, any more interference ..

    I slowly crawled back in to the light .. but not without substantial damage ..

    You could say my ‘self imposed’ exile from the world for those months meant I had cracked it, or, you could say, was it worth it?

    • If I had know what was to happen to me when I stopped taking Paroxetine I would never had done it . It started a chain reaction that there was no turning back from it’s been 13 years now and I still have enduring symptoms that very much interfere with my life.

  4. We got some interesting first-person comments via Twitter. This one is from @kwardvancouver:

    I stopped taking psych meds over a year ago. A rotating cast of anti-depressants, a mood-stabilizer, eventually antipsychotics ~✺ a bipolar deal, autism spectrum, accumulated trauma. Withdrawal symptoms were rough but manageable.

    The return of actual feeling was unexpected and amazing … NYT article below is well done.

    Another (extended) comment, from @swollespirit:

    Was given #Paxil when I was 15 after one psych session. There was no follow-up & I wasn’t warned how awful SSRI withdrawal is. (My brain LITERALLY shook in my head.) Informed consent matters, along with alternatives to drugs & support for those looking to get off.

    Seriously, the worst withdrawals I’ve ever experienced have been from SSRIs. Meth is dreamy compared to #Paxil, but which drug gets all the hand-wringing & hysteria? And the way psychs mystify withdrawal-pain as the “reappearance of illness symptoms” is SO unethical & dishonest.

    I hear ALL THE TIME from illicit drug-users who’ve been punished for refusing SSRIs as part of their “treatment,” even though we KNOW how terrible these drugs were for us. People have a right to decide what pharmaceuticals they take AND to refuse substances.

    Granted, the negative effects of SSRIs are particularly intense on women, as compulsory thinness/sexuality & being emotionally tuned-in are all gendered. I feel for the women who benefit from these drugs, but are also pressured for not performing femininity “correctly” on them …

  5. Dr. Peter Kramer, bestselling author of Listening to Prozac (a 1993 love-letter to SSRI’s) as well as Against Depression and Ordinarily Well (two passionate defenses of SSRI’s) weighed in as well. His theme was the standard one: This article (even though it comes from responsible folks) may do harm by scaring away vulnerable patients who need these drugs so badly:

    Re: #antidepressant #withdrawal / #discontinuation symptoms: It is good to be consulted by @NYTimes & @bencareynyt. I am accurately represented—thanks. But I worry that the article exaggerates the problem & will discourage those in need from seeking help.

    This particular theme always gets under @RxISK’s skin, and provoked us into replying to Dr. Kramer with a wee bit more drama than usual:

    We have suffered much at the hands of MDs who seek to “protect us from the facts” about the drugs they prescribe. Perhaps worst is being taught to blame our own biology for the harms we suffer, and to see ourselves as incurably ill “despite” treatment. @nytimeswell @gebeloffnyt

    A few more Tweeters with “lived experience” of this problem took him on in more detail, including Greg who has written for our blog (“Greg’s Dilemma”). Kramer actually engaged in the debate with Greg—but then, alas, he deleted all his tweets. (Except the one accepting Greg’s apology for having stooped to a bit of name-calling.)

    Courage. They don’t call it a cardinal virtue for nothing …

    • NYT.

      I was astonished to read in the PsychiatricTimes ( April 2018 . Volume XXXV. No4) : –

      Online Communities for Drug Withdrawal: What Can We Learn?
      (Joseph Witt-Doerring et al).

      There is discussion of the complexity and severity of antidepressant withdrawal.

      “It is interesting to note that the patient narratives from these websites are generating early clinical data that researchers are using to learn more about unexpectedly difficult withdrawal symptoms and syndromes”.

      — “The message is that physicians have been unprepared for the withdrawal disorders and are unable to treat or even guide patients through complicated withdrawal from these substances”.

      —-“Recognition that a patient has incurred an iatrogenic complication is essential in the recovery process”.

      —-“Given the current state of our understanding of complex withdrawal syndromes, increased awareness of these syndromes among providers is of the utmost importance. These syndromes need further research, or more patients will continue to turn away from the medical establishment to look for support from other patients on the internet”.

      The Psychiatric Times is marketed as the magazine “that psychiatrists read from cover to cover”.

      Has Peter Kramer missed this welcome gesture of humility, and the author’s courage to apparently recognise the possibility that patients have a far greater knowledge and understanding of the vast repertoire of SSRI/SNRI severe adverse drug reactions, and a detailed awareness of the long-denied withdrawal syndromes which cause such protracted iatrogenic misery?

  6. oh, this just keeps going on and on and on with the mainstream resisting the truth…it’s tiresome to say the very least.

    I’m still healing and still sharing ways to get through the protracted withdrawal…and yeah, activity and exercise etc is great IF and WHEN it’s possible…it’s not always — as you suggest. I ended up bedridden some years ago for a few years. I got up out of bed slowly by doing yoga…in bed…starting with a leg up and turning my foot in circles…an arm up and turning my hand in circles…slowly, slowly until I started walking and moving more and more….learning to pay attention to our broken nervous system in mindfulness slowly brings about healing.

    I loved that you mentioned knitting and it reminded me of a friend of mine who wrote an article some years ago now because she found it so profoundly meditative…I loved it:

    “A crafty recovery: knitting as therapeutic and meditative vehicle” – Everything Matters: Beyond Meds

    bottom line is there are as many ways to recover as there are human beings…for better or worse this is an opportunity to get to know ourselves and to learn to trust that which helps us feel better.

    thanks for continuing to educate folks on how pysch drugs harm.

    • Monica

      Thanks for this comment. Its great to hear from you. You and Altostrata have done so much to keep this issue in the public domain and in particular for keeping hope alive among people. Perhaps actually its because you been someone who has struggled with the issues is where the hope for others comes from. The same messages from professionals who either haven’t struggled with the issues or don’t admit to having – don’t carry the same weight.


  7. This observation is potentially incredibly useful to reorient our very (naturally) biologically-minded medical practitioners: “This anxiety may be coming from the body and not the brain. There is very little serotonin in the brain – it’s mostly in the body. There is a strong chance the problem links to a disturbance of peripheral nerves around the body with the brain reading abnormalities in the transmission of signals from the body as anxiety – a completely different kind of anxiety to the original problem.”

    Please reply, or post, with published article references in regard “There is very little serotonin in the brain – it’s mostly in the body” as data in regard this (evidence-based I’m sure) observation may prove very helpful indeed with GPs/psychiatry trainees. Many thanks indeed, Rob Purssey

  8. So Long and Thanks for all the Serotonin

    April, 27, 2015 | 29 Comments

    Data Based Medicine @RxISK • Apr 25

    1/ Lots of reactions, pro & con, to @DrDavidHealy BMJ article on myth of “low serotonin” — but only one makes the @RxISK crew angry:

    Data Based Medicine @RxISK • Apr 25

    2/ “Well yes, in general you’re right .. but you mustn’t say that where vulnerable patients can hear.” That is a betrayal of our trust.

    ‘The discomfort that David Healy’s editorial in BMJ caused reflects a general embarrassment at the emptiness of current research in mood disorders. The yield has not been commensurate with the billions of dollars thrown at the problem – to the point where most corporations have exited the field out of a healthy self-interest.

    Little wonder, then, that the movers and shakers and wannabes are now throwing the book at Dr. Healy for stating the obvious.’

    ‘It is only going to change from the bottom up.’ ..

  9. By Benedict Carey

    April 17, 2018

    In a widely read article on antidepressant withdrawal published on April 8, The New York Times invited readers to describe their experiences coming off the drugs. More than 8,800 people responded — teenagers, college students, new mothers, empty-nesters retirees.

    Dozens did write in to say the drugs had been lifesaving, literally so. “You fail to acknowledge that mood disorders can be lifelong, debilitating diseases requiring lifelong medical treatment,” wrote Rachel S., of New York.

    A different kind of reader query would likely have attracted thousands of responses of gratitude for drugs that offered relief to tens of millions of people with chronic mood problems. Some doctors chimed in, too, more than one calling our focus on withdrawal irresponsible and unduly alarming to those who might benefit from antidepressants.

    The volume and diversity of the other responses painted a different picture …

    For now, no one has good answers for them. The drugs are a brand new cultural development, historically speaking, and their diffuse biological effects — especially in the developing brain — are largely unknown.

    Whatever their ages, all of us are part of Generation Rx — a huge, uncontrolled experiment with little precedent and few guideposts.

  10. There seems to be a deliberate effort to block open debate, dissent and rightful criticism as David points out . Apologies that I can’t give the link but here is another case in point. There is a proposal to update the Mental Health Act with the mental health alliance -being chaired by simon wessley (who does have a bit of a record of blocking communication himself.) There is anxiety being expressed that the proposal may be seeking to increase powers of coercion. Duncan Double , founder member of The Critical Psychiatry Network wrote in July to the chair of the Alliance but has still not received a reply. He has put a lot of further information on his Critical Psychiatry blog including links to responses from coll of psychs and others ref ‘Opposing Increased Coercion in the Reform of Mental Health Act.’ They made a huge mistake in increasing coercion in the past which even Tom Burns who no longer actually practices in the so called community, has apologised for, He was one of the then government advisors promoting the proposal for increased powers in ‘the community’ The college has blocked communication from it’s own members and many other legitimate communications have received rude responses stating no communiction will be responded to as highlighted on the blog previously re the issue of anti depressants .

  11. This prominent article in the New York Times was a bit of a surprise. NYTimes actually runs an article on psychiatric drug withdrawal once or twice a year but this one got a lot of attention and seems to have spawned a lot of other publications to run similar stories, which is good.

    I’m glad Surviving Antidepressants got some love. If our content gets only a few thousand people to taper more slowly than their doctors recommend, that will save a lot of nervous systems.

    It is true that nervous system destabilization by going on and off psychiatric drugs is a far more serious injury than medicine recognizes so far. However, on, we do see people re-stabilize on reinstatement of very low amounts of the drug. They can taper off by tiny amounts some time later.

    The trick is to find the right amount. Nervous systems sensitized by adverse drug effects or withdrawal cannot tolerate “normal” dosages. Paradoxical reactions plague the treatment of withdrawal syndrome; often less is more. Depending on the drug, we suggest 1mg-5mg (and sometimes even less) to start.

    Generally, we find that a 10% reduction per month, calculated on the last dosage (the amount of decrease keeps getting smaller) is sufficient to avoid withdrawal symptoms. Occasionally, people will find they need to go off by even smaller amounts, even less than 5% per month. A minority of people are in agony with any change.

    Several years in, my severe paroxetine withdrawal syndrome did respond well to micro-doses of lamotrigine (0.5mg-1.5mg). Even so, the effect was subtle and gradual over a couple of years. The idea was to provide the nervous system with a little support, not clobber it into submission, so via neuroplasticity, it would find its way back to a normalcy.

    I was working with a psychiatrist who is a lamotrigine expert. He recognized that the hyper-sensitive nervous system needs calming. Lamotrigine, an anti-seizure drug, dampens nervous system reactivity. It does act on the calcium channel but its action is not entirely defined (as is the case with a lot of psychiatric drugs).

    Lamotrigine is also tricky to dose: Too much and it will cause a paradoxical reaction, which is why it’s widely despised — generally, it’s dosed too high. Psychiatry tends to clobber, dosage-wise, as though it’s attacking a pernicious germ.

    As a layperson, I view withdrawal syndrome as a condition of nervous system dysregulation that cannot be traced to any particular neurotransmitters. It universally affects all the neurohormonal, hormonal, and regulatory systems of the body. Other than microdoses of this or that, I’m not sure there will ever be a predictably effective drug treatment for it.

    The best way to reduce the risk of withdrawal syndrome is 1) Avoid the prescription of drugs that cause it; 2) Limit the length of time the drugs are taken to less than 6 months; 3) Taper off very gradually at the rate of individual tolerance, while monitoring closely for withdrawal symptoms.

    Withdrawal symptoms are not trivial and not always short-lived, they represent a nervous system in high distress. This is medicine’s foundational error regarding withdrawal.

  12. Re The Guardian – my newspaper of choice except for its health coverage and particularly anything to do with psychotropics. It is beyond woeful – just abysmal – spineless and mostly plain wrong – which makes me wonder about kow towing to advertisers (GSK?) or worse. I keep threatening to initiate a boycott in this house. I’m ashamed of it.
    And knitting is really interesting: I found early on that making Lino cut prints helps enormously; focusing on cutting away a design is enormously soothing and restorative – it always feels like I’m using a different part of my brain and giving all the sore bits a rest. It’s hard to describe how therapeutic it is. It would be interesting and helpful to hear of other activities that others find useful. Embroidery? Woodwork? Music as David says. My guess is it needs to be something one can almost do on autopilot – I like gardening very much but that is less soothing for some reason. Maybe too much moving about? Good bit of exercise and fresh air but less calming to literally frayed nerves. Ditto cooking – which I quite like too but makes me jangled. Brings to mind basket weaving in the old asylums – as occupational therapy. Possibly not as boring and pointless as I’d always assumed?!!
    This bloody business of how to taper, when to slow down and if to stop tapering at some point… all big unknowns. Not helped by the fact that getting liquid formulations is virtually impossible in the UK . I wish people had complete control over how they choose to manage it but we don’t on so many fronts, not least being utterly dependent on some medic to prescribe what we need along the way. We lived in the Middle East for some months back in 1980 and you just went down to a pharmacy (basically a hole in the wall) and bought what you wanted, from antibiotics to laxatives. sounds risky but was in fact astonishingly stress free. Take medics out of the whole business of controlling access to drugs and we might get somewhere ? Something I think you’ve pointed out a number of times David

    • Sally – you ask for more ways of coping ,I’m not taking psych drugs after one horrendous experience decades ago but I found photography helps depression.The activity of looking and concentrating on taking the photo is the main thing and adds a mission to a walk which can be as long or short as I feel up to. Added pleasure is looking through them later .I bought a very simple cheap camera at first to see if the interest would stick.

  13. Sally hits the nail on the head here when she says activities that help and distract need to be those that can be done on autopilot. I was briefly on valium at the age of 27, given to counter problems caused by a wrongly prescribed hormone. I remember trying to cope with the intricacies of a sewing machine back then and weeping because my mind couldn’t deal with the intricacies of it. I couldn’t even read the instruction book. But starting to embroider a tree on a piece of fabric, going from bottom right hand corner, chain stitching up the trunk, out into the branches, adding leaf after leaf like I was on autopilot, led to a collage embroidered picture which grew before my eyes and, daft though it must sound, gave me a creative daily purpose. It eventually became a picture on my second son’s bedroom wall when he arrived, covered in little animals. My time had not been wasted. That thought alone aided my recovery.

    After I lost that son so many years later, it was knitting that saved me. Suddenly all my years of struggle to help him had come to nothing. I was awake most of the night. I did not want to get out of bed. I had pictures of him on the table beside me. I wanted to curl up beside them and escape. But I started knitting. ( I’d learnt as a child when I went into hospital to have my tonsils out, and having been afraid of that beforehand, it was my first attempts at knitting a scarf for my teddy bear that distracted me from the fear of the unknown). Now, all these years later and lost in misery and shock, I couldn’t do complicated stuff, it was autopilot stuff like Sally suggests. I did triangles in various colours and I did one each morning when I woke. Then I made myself get out of bed, put it in a box, and start the day. I established a creative routine. A triangle is easy – you cast on 20 stitches and you knit simply along the row and cast one stitch off at one chosen end. It’s automatic.

    I collected these triangles in beautiful colours till I had hundreds. As I started to feel better i sewed them into throws, cushion covers and blankets. I also did French knitting, again automatic, round and round four nails stuck in a cotton reel, but using variegated rainbow wool. It held my mind, hand, eye and thoughts. It was my meditation process I guess, but at the same time it made me feel I wasn’t sitting back watching time pass and doing nothing of value. Whilst I had to hope I was getting better, I was laying up stores of something I could use/sell in the future.

    I can’t bear feeling incapacitated and beaten down and lost. Particularly by the cruel havoc that Big Pharma and its unwittingly stupid prescribers have caused. I have to be in control of my mind and body in some tangible way, however small. I still knit every day. Dare I say, it is almost addictive. But it unfailingly calms my mind.

    I can imagine the controlled process of Lino cutting, gouging out the grooves in a controlled way to create an image, can be similar, as Sally recommends. All these things draw your mind, eye and hand into a unity of process whilst, can it be, that neurotransmitters normalise again? For this reason, wanting to do something to change The System and wanting to help people currently in situations like our son was, we are completing a Creative Centre that he started, at our home, where we will teach these simple crafts and many others, in the hope that we can help anyone withdrawing from antipsychotic meds and offer understanding uplifting company and constructive help if asked for. (Today we are doing the roof). From tragedy, hopefully, will come something hopeful and helpful. So, yeah, knitting is cool, try it, it works…..

    • In reply to your comment Heather and to Sally’s above, I would suggest that you have both hit the nail on the head as regards the increase in youth anxiety/depression and worse. Our education system works wonders for youngsters who enjoy ‘being educated’ in a ‘bookish’, passive, ‘listen and learn’ way but does very little for those who find that type of education difficult. Bring back plenty of the practical activities as described by both of you and it’s my guess that there will be far less need for prescriptions of ADs and ADHD drugs for our youngsters – and many lives will be saved.

      • It sounds like something very beautiful came out of your therapeutic knitting Heather – and the photography. I have to add that part of the therapeutic process with the lino cutting for me when I started, back in 2012, was creating scurrilous and almost certainly libellous images of medical people who’d particularly annoyed me. Plus text, which I added later. Not at all beautiful – but a highly satisfactory personal method of getting my own back, privately. I christened it ‘Revenge Art’. I have a couple of the prints up in my study but have to hide them when the grandchildren come. One friend suggested I send a particularly robust (and recognisable) image to the subject – a neurologist – for him to put in his ‘patient feedback’ file. I didn’t.
        When I was in and out of psychiatric hospitals between 1998 and 2002 any attempts at occupational therapy had disappeared – I guess a funding problem. It was such a shame – many of us would have jumped at the chance to paint or mess about with clay, or sing, or take photos – anything that helped with the distress and probably the akathisia which we all had, although none of us knew. There was literally nothing to do except sit round and smoke – which was also probably an instinctive way of dampening agitation and restlessness.

        I guess, thinking about it, that knitting, embroidery and so on are non-verbal activities which don’t require logical reasoning but do need concentration.

        • Oh for the utter joy of REVENGE!
          This is wonderful stuff Sally. I think DH ought to use one of your Lino cut images as a Blog illustration. I LONG for revenge, I imagine in what ways I could deliver it; I have many alternative methods. As I drift off to sleep at night I see my victims, usually my son’s loathsome psychiatrist and sometimes the retinue of directors of the company that manufacture the acne drug which, in my view, killed my son. And GSK who made the wretched Seroxat that changed his mind forever and took away his resilience. I think it would be inappropriate to describe my methods, just like you hide your Lino cuts at certain times.

          The knitting was maybe also a way of taking myself back to the freedom of being a child, with all my life ahead of me and no inkling of the horrors to come. I sat in my little hospital bed, aged 8 (restricted parental visiting in the 1950s) and got absorbed in my knitting. I hardly noticed anything else. But reading the link Monica gave earlier on this string about the psychological and physical benefits of knitting, I have realised there is a lot more to the process that I realised.

          There is nothing offered apparently in our local hospital except colouring in books for mentally unwell patients. Just like Sally says. How tragic that OT support and inspiration is now cut so that we can fund the massive debt of the PFIs, the interest from which mostly goes to the funders, who are mostly, it seems, the big banks. I think I need to add them to my parade of mentally viewed potential victims.

          • Heather R -Show the revenge art and it will most likely be passed off as simply the work of mental illness, or ‘therapy/therapeutic’ self generated or not it maybe to some extent but it is also a graphic way of showing the massive degree of not just anger but hurt which never ends as you so painfully describe. ‘Outsider art’ has now become trendy !! But they don’t own the galleries.One of the reasons many of us hold back is the potential and reality of revenge in the reverse direction, especially if the ‘services’ which have been abusive in the first place are the only ones available if help is unavoidably needed. So many have experienced the deceit ,collusion, closing ranks , use of the the mentally ill tag to undermine the truth from being exposed , So many have exposed it and suffered the consequences .A truly shocking but no longer surprising fact is that those who are/have been at the top of hierarchies are complicit. Older people have seen it carry on all through generations of professionals who carry on the status quo and then retire with wonderful accolades praising integrity, wisdom blah blah blah,

          • To cope with ’empty nest syndrome’, a friend of mine knitted and ‘felted’ dolls to represent each member of the family ( plus their partners and offspring) and has them all sitting on a shelf. She has found this works extremely well for her. She admires them, rearranges them and chats to them and it all gave her great comfort at that hard time.
            I suggest, Heather, Sally and all other knitters, that you knit dolls of all the offending persons in your life. Tell them your deepest regrets for the way that you were treated – even rearrange them, as YOU are the one in power now that they are on YOUR shelf! Perhaps, get your pincushion out of your needlework box from time to time ….


    14 mins ·

    Hon fick Zoloft när min hennes man dog för 28 år sedan. Hon kan inte sluta …
    Så är det även för svenska riksdagsmän, poliser och lärare … De går på en drog som de helst skulle slippa.

    She got Zoloft when my husband died 28 years ago. She can’t stop…

    It is also for Swedish police officers, police officers and teachers… they go on a drug that they would rather not.

  15. I have just completed the 2018 Brighton Marathon this sunday supporting the Rxisk Prize to get to $100,000.

    I made an article and a vlog about it and updated the campaign supporting the rxisk prize at Run Against Castration too.

    Please share widely all material if you think it will help!!


    Vlog Completed Marathon Update:

  16. Off topic but I have noticed today that my submission to the Scottish government petition has been removed. Not only that but going into my gmail account the sent email of my copy and two emails from the clerks have been deleted from my gmail account without my knowledge or permission. Now why has this happened and who has got google to remove it from my account on it’s servers. Very suspicious and chilling.

    • Damian, that is VERY worrying indeed. Please share when your investigation is complete so that we’ll all know what to look out for if it should happen to any of us.

    • That’s very weird Damian – are you going to follow it up? I know there is a thing where certain ‘buzz words’ are used to identify potentially unsafe e mails eg to do with authorities looking to intercept terrorist mailings etc. Have you got any other copy of your submission – there would be a date to prove you sent it ..when i deleted something on hotmail by mistake someone said there was a way of bring up deleted messages but I don’t remember how you do it .

  17. Susanne, I think you make a very good point about not showing Revenge Art, and indeed about being more generally covert about these things. I think I was hasty in my suggestion, and it was unwise. I hadn’t thought it through carefully enough and I’m grateful for your input. As DH implies, many of us do feel a longing for revenge for what has been done to us and our loved ones, but in the end, karma will have its result.
    I think my dearest wish, (if we really can’t get those making policy to change tack and act with feeling and responsibility at last) would be for every single one of them, especially Gerarda and Wessley, to suffer long term akathisia with all it brings, raging terror, shaking, being unable to sleep peacefully without nightmare dreams, physical and mental damage of so many kinds, so that they would be shown exactly what thousands and thousands of those badly affected by antidepressants and other psychotropic medications, are feeling every day. I know not everyone believes in karma, but I personally do, and I will have to resign my need for revenge to that. But I love the suggestion that art can help tangibly, for some innovative people like Sally, even though it should remain their private means of coping.

    As to Damian’s latest comments – wonderful achievement and film, but yes, very concerning about the strange things which have been happening to his gmail account. We have had various strange things happening over time to our system, and have never been able to get to the bottom of it. It is, as Damian says, suspicious and chilling. It has caused us to feel very unsafe at times. I guess it partly bears out Susanne’s point, that keeping covert is possibly wise, ridiculous though it seems in a so-called free world. Don’t forget the film The Constant Gardener. We cannot afford to be complacent or to assume that we are of no consequence when we rattle cages, even though each in our own small way. There is always the Butterfly Effect.

    • As a non-believer in karma, I think invoking karma is a mug’s game. I don’t know that there can be much harm in letting people know when you feel like killing them.

      Some time ago when I had difficulties with the Health Board here and the GMC, I had very vivid fantasies of revenge and was aware of how many others here had similar fantasies. I suggested unless the powers that be got their act together some manager would end up dead. And of course we recently had the Martin Watts case where a medic stockpiled guns and planned on killing some of those who he perceived as having treated him shamefully.

      One shoot out is unlikely to be seen as much other than the action of one deranged individual. Making the powers aware there are tens of thousands of us who feel murderous in response to the violence they have inflicted on us might be much more effective. Anyone committing anything to print in public has a perfect defence – provided they are not advocating violence – which is that expressing feelings in this way is a recognized way to defuse the risk of a violent act.

      When people are scared to bring a RxISK report to a doctor, when clinical psychologists, nurses and others are scared beyond belief to talk up about the adverse effects of meds, I conclude there is a lot of violence embedded in clinical situations – they are clinical diktat situations rather than clinical care. In such situations it is those who do not have revenge fantasies who are abnormal. Telling people it is risky to mention their normal feelings is a further indication of just how violent things are beneath the veneer of what used to be a caring profession.


  18. David

    We will have to agree to disagree about karma.

    I’m not saying people should not express their fantasies about revenge, but at the same time, maybe it’s better for those still reliant on the medical system for their healthcare and feeling vulnerable, to do something more lasting and covert, until they can really shock the world into sitting up and listening. We have only to think of the way Katinka Blackford Newman’s book ‘the Pill that Steals Lives’ has made an impact through media exposure and here on RxISK etc. Your own books, showing the truth behind what has been going on pharmacologically have been groundbreaking. I urge people to write of their experiences, the more books that appear out there, the better. Anyone can write a book. Self publishing is cheap. Print a few copies digitally and send them to media people who have open minds. Tell your story and tell how desperate for revenge it makes you feel. Flood the market.

    These Blogs are chock full of brave people writing about what has happened to them and they all write well, because they are driven by a need to get the truth out there. OF COURSE most of them will feel like killing those who did these dastardly things to them and theirs and keep on getting away with it. But again you have to see that if you have once been branded as having been ‘mentally ill’ a lot of people will disregard what you say. This is not something someone like Robert Whitaker (the Anatomy of an Epidemic) or, with greatest respect, you yourself, have had cause to be labelled with. But others reading this will know exactly what I mean. But in a book you can give the entire picture, put it all into context, carry your audience along as they empathise with you. . The reader then GETS the whole picture, not just a snapshot. They can identify with you themselves. Your story could be their story. Self help books are very popular, but our books are not just that, they are revelations of huge injustice which is waiting to burst to the surface, and hence our delight at seeing the NYT coming out with some of it. We need to jump on the bandwagon and keep feet to the fire. I think the pen is mightier than the sword, and we can all tell it how it is. The very best revenge of all.

    • Heather

      The system depends on you and others to be Nice. That is to bottle up your thoughts of revenge and to let these thoughts kill you early rather than to voice them and effect change.

      Writing a book will increase the sales of drugs. Your book about Accutane might sell 100 copies. Roche will distribute 100,000 copies for free. Katinka’s book is wonderful but unless she takes and wins a legal action she will likely only have increased sales of SSRIs. Companies depend on controversy to sell drugs. The only thing you and other nice people have to derail this is to voice the way the situation makes you feel.

      At the moment you are caught in a game of cricket – the English idea of fair play – 11 against 1. You have to become a 100,000 and the only way to do that is to get some of the several millions to let the bureaucracy/establishment know how you are feeling.


      • David

        I am not Nice. After Olly died we battled NHS Trusts, NHS Locality Forums, we protested outside Roche, we battled them inside around their boardroom table, ably supported by other parents. We’ve worked with TV, Radio, Press. We’ve collectively run two information websites and Facebooks. We even battled the GMC – what a joke that was. We’ve told every man jack of them how furious we are. All of us. We have spread information to every useful outlet we can think of. I know we have saved some lives because other families tell us we have. We’ve worked with Government, got Debates, got them to make the MHRA to re-visit safety of these drugs, but like Susanne says, persistence is the only way to change The System, and Rome wasn’t built in a day. It’s taking time but it’s working and we’re definitely winning.

        I don’t swallow down and harbour revenge which can kill me, nor does Annie. I try to be pro-active rather than reactive. I feel our cause is just, and I will carry on systematically spreading the word till I die. I have written my son’s rather boringly tragic tale endless times on these Blogs and on countless other website blogs too, voicing my fury, so no one can be any doubt how wild what happened to him makes me feel.

        But I also remember Olly’s intelligent and measured way of doing things, and I prefer to run with that, as what I do I do mostly for him and others like him. He was, as Annie recalls, ‘very nice’ but no, Annie, not soft, he was tough as old boots, AND kind (one can be both) but he was also steely and driven and he set his eyes on what he needed to achieve, and he went for it and he mostly got there. He had a brilliant mind. If he were here now he’d be tackling this problem by thinking outside of the box, and that’s what I’m trying to do. And not wishing to blow my own trumpet here but in my own defence, as a prize winning author since 1984, (albeit in a different genre), I have sold millions of my books with mainstream publishers, so I don’t think I’d be too content this time round with selling just 100….

        Sure, we could try suing Roche, , as have countless others before us, and either been bought off after years of legal hassle, or financially ruined in the process, but what resources I have I want to use to help people like Olly, not pay a load of uninterested lawyers. And by the way, my book is not about Accutane, although it does play a small part. It is far far more than that, and well researched over the last 5 years. It is about people and lives and Medicine, its changed attitudes over the last few decades, and the havoc it has wreaked on those who trust it. It’s about how creatively together we can improve things. It’s about changing The System.

        So, how else do you suggest I get the 100,000 to know how I’m feeling?

        I’m with Annie when she says ‘ I don’t want to be wound up with other people’s aggression’. She’s dead right, we do have some more thinking to do. And Susanne makes a lot of good points too. When I was trying to prevent my son’s death in the summer of 2012, as a concerned relative the more I raised hell, wept, protested, begged, made a fuss, tried to get some action, the worse the psychiatrists took it out on him and drove him to his end. If I’d been more covert and clever, he might be here spearheading this for us now.

        This whole thing is a filthy business, and as Tim often terms it in the excellent and well researched comments he makes on this Blog, its the Fourth Reich. Collectively we are chipping away at it, using all the intelligence and skills we have. If you have any better ideas about what else we can do, please don’t hesitate to spell them out.

    • Heather – To add a quick apology to you for forgetting to thank you for responding to my comment so thoughtfully. You are indeed a ‘nice person’. Also I was too quick to dismiss your belief in Karma as I am too impatient to wait for it! But that was a misunderstanding or ignorance on my part it seems as you are obviously not hanging around passively for Karma to happen but are living a very activist life. Ultimately we need change not revenge – bringing people to book is a call for justice. If /when things do change they will just become redundant and then there will be a spate of academic books about the long period of shame in the mental ‘health’ professions. Ok I’ll shut up now.!

  19. Revenge has become interesting..

    What some of us have tried to do is to Catch Them Oot …

    When they make ridiculous assumptions, coming back with some evidence of how they are Just Plain Wrong or Leading Us Up the Garden Path..

    ‘Revenge’ is perhaps not quite the right word.

    It implies a mode of thought, that although one has done harm to another and got away with it, exacting this powerful expression seems rather aggressive, and it is aggression that we have to get away from.

    Although we accepted aggression from others, it was the medication which could have made us aggressive.

    Heather, you paint a lovely picture of Ollie as soft, kind, very nice, and, you did mention that Ollie said once that he would like to kill them.

    I have never had thoughts like these. I don’t have an ounce of aggression in my make up, until Seroxat came along, and even then, I was always extraordinarily polite to the medical fraternity.

    My GP was extremely aggressive from the moment she dropped me from the drug, and, even with out medication being involved, she really took the biscuit for quite vicious remarks and three entirely damning referrals which shredded our unit to the point of destruction.

    Would I like to kill them.


    I would like a national embarrassment, a public shaming, backed up with Data and Evidence.
    That is how my mind works.

    All these twitter blockings that are going on, proves revenge doesn’t work when people start pushing too hard.

    The ‘Enemy’ just gets fed up and clams up completely and so it backfires, even less dialogue..

    It becomes them and us and then war breaks out.

    Some people on twitter are extremely rude and I don’t really want to be a part of that.

    I don’t want to be collectively involved in other peoples aggression even though I can see where they are coming from..

    I also don’t want to be wound up by other people’s aggression.

    This doesn’t mean I am meek and feeble, I would just rather both sides, if that is what it has become, thought about tactics and strategy before jumping in head first, leading to alienation.

    Being blocked on twitter by a Medical Professional means you have got their back up and how does that help.

    I made a few strident criticisms which got me nowhere, these medicals can write long letters and send emails and make telephone calls with the Brush Off coming out Loud and Clear ..

    Frustration sets in, big time, as I did everything I could as an individual and the more I did it, the worse it got in return..

    Its enough to drive you bonkers reading the drivel coming from senior British Psychiatrists and I just feel embarrassed that these are the people supposedly in control of me and you…

    We have some more thinking to do ..

  20. Heather R and David – I don’t honestly believe in Karma rather that persistence will more likely change things .although not possibly in everybody’s lifetime. Please Don’t misinterpret my views though-I haven’t suggested people don’t speak out – i have -but for many there is a need to take care Of course vengeful thoughts are normal but can be skewed by those with an agenda,For many it ‘is risky to reveal feelings of revenge. They can and have been twisted as court cases describe and many others not brought to light will have had their feelings documented on medical files which colour how they are treated – including with covert threats of ‘treatment’ .Some have to keep quiet when they have families to look after and fears of intrusion by social services. Print stuff and we don’t all have lawyers to defend us – Even on this blog people are wise to write anonymously if they feel vulnerable. It is still not possible to name those who have abused and harmed those who write on blogs here and elsewhere . I am not suggesting that we act ‘covertly’ but to make considered decisions. I have been scared and isolated by whistleblowing myself – I had none of the support you had from friends and colleagues David – but even they will not speak openly always. I carried on nevertheless and won to some extent for others as well as myself – but never underestimate the lengths those who have been exposed will go to to undermine you , It has been wonderful to come across some decent and moral people nevertheless whose support – usually behind the scenes though – I will always be grateful for. I agree the underbelly of medicine contains much violence – but I can only hope that they are exposed as what they are and what they stand for and are replaced by decent human beings one day. Right now it’s not happening. To end on maybe a surprising note – I did send paintings to express what I felt about some of them years ago – I couldn’t care less if they were offended. And yes it was risky.

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