Once We Were Warriors Tackling Prescription Drugs

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August 16, 2021 | 6 Comments


  1. “There is no point standing at the bottom of a mountain and thinking, ‘Wow that is a big mountain’. You have to think, ‘How are we going to get up there?'” he insists.

    Soldier turned MP Johnny Mercer: It’s time to talk about mental health

    HIS MAIDEN speech to the House of Commons silenced the normally rowdy chamber with the power and clarity of its message about the importance of mental health provision.


    PUBLISHED: 07:37, Tue, May 8, 2018 | UPDATED: 08:07, Tue, May 8, 2018


     from his first-hand experience.

    But at that time, he says, there was little public talk about mental health and he had never heard of obsessive compulsive disorder. “I just thought I was mad,” admits the MP for Plymouth Moor View. Tending to his obsessions, in particular praying many times a day, left him exhausted.

    He was prescribed antidepressant fluoxetine at an Army mental health hospital and underwent cognitive behavioural therapy. But the greatest catalyst for recovery came in Afghanistan where he served with 29 Commando Regiment Royal Artillery.

    The Edge of Reason


    Johnny Mercer, a Conservative MP and former British Army captain, spoke out in 2015 to advocate an end to its use.

    ‘I’ve had a letter about once or twice a week,’ he said at the time, ‘from not only constituents but people all over the UK who have suffered or know someone who has suffered, they believe, as a result of taking Lariam.’

    ‘Courage under Fire’ …

  2. Around the middle of the last decade, perhaps not far from the time that Johnny Mercer was elected as MP for Plymouth Moor View; a Professor of Forensic Psychiatry was interviewed on mainstream UK radio on the subject of ‘Voluntary Chemical Castration for Sex Offenders’.
    I believe he wrote the following:
    A common side effect of the SSRIs is a negative impact on various aspects of sexual functioning, including loss of libido, erectile dysfunction and delayed ejaculation. SSRIs can be of benefit in the treatment of sexual disorders (and sexual offenders) through two mechanisms: their effects on sex drive and sexual function, and their ability to lessen the intensity of sexual ruminations, intrusive fantasies, sexual urges and apparently compulsive sexual behaviours.

    We afford utmost concern and respect for those who serve, and who endure battle. The words: “There is no such thing as an unwounded soldier” may indeed apply to those who have endured combat. How many of those of his friends who Captain Mercer recognised as suffering from Battle-Shock have been treated with the same drugs referred to above? Were they told of this potentially devastating Adverse Drug Reaction?

    New Statesman. 9th February 2018. ‘He said that he entered politics with a view to improving the care of Veterans’.

    It is a compelling concept for an MP of this background, a man of courage and conscience to join Professor Healy and apply genuine evidence based ADR medicine to increase public and professional awareness. To begin to prevent the tragedies such as SSRI induced AKATHISIA, DISINHIBITION, EMOTIONAL BLUNTING, VIOLENCE AGAINST OTHERS AND SELF; as well as POST SSRI SEXUAL DYSFUNCTION, PGAD, and the remainder of a very long risk-list of toxicities. This concern is not only for Veterans, but also for OUR CHILDREN, OUR LOVED ONES and for everyone who has had a life destroyed or ended via the decades of refusal to debate, to measure, monitor, record and analyse these prescription drug induced tragedies.

    Mr. Mercer, Warrior, M.P. for Plymouth Moor View, please pick up this gauntlet.

    We need a man of courage. We could invest faith in you.

  3. I have written again today to Jonathan Leach (with link to this blogpost), who I wrote to 2 years ago.
    I see that he is co-author of this 2019 article:

    “4. Medication is not usually required
    Within primary care, many patients with PTSD may not require medication and in broad terms CBT or EMDR are recommended first. However, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) such as sertraline or venlafaxine may be offered if the patient wishes. The use of other medications (e.g. antipsychotics) should only be initiated in specialist settings. It is important to note that the use of benzodiazepines should be avoided in patients with PTSD.7,11 ”

    UNFORTUNATELY it is abundantly apparent that the reality GPs almost invariaby prescribe SSRIs & SNRIs …. and then all manner of other drugs for the #effects ..

    I will post here if I get any response.

    • So… I did get a response from Jonathan Leach, after prodding, on 8 Sept 2021:

      Dear Marion
      Sorry I did look at this and sorry I did not reply.
      As we have discussed previously, there is a place for medication, however we are very clear that the use of other treatment methods are very important and as NICE has said, more important. We continue to expand Op Courage and you may have seen the additional £2.7M we have received to provide additional capacity for those affected by recent news from Afghanistan. I also know that there is work to look at expanding other welfare support, all of the above should reduce the need for medication, which I agree with.
      Thanks for sending this across.
      With best wishes

      Dr Jonathan Leach OBE

  4. Thanks for this & your perseverance to raising awareness of the harms from prescription drugs across the board Marion brown. In theory NICE reports seem credible but that one statement says it all “ However, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) such as sertraline or venlafaxine may be offered if the patient WISHES!.” Sadly public knowledge & media bias conflict to blame patients who have no INFORMED CONSENT. Pill popping illustrated in films for decades encourage those in need to think they actually help rather than harm. I am Meeting veterans where not only those traumatised by war etc but their spouses & even teenage family are all on SSRIs courtesy of the GP -who has insufficient knowledge to cope – exacerbating the initial plea for help by poly pharmacy when symptoms of adverse drug reaction ( Akathisia) are misunderstood as a relapse rather than a symptom of increasingly common drug reactions! Thus must be tackled now Even though we know that pharmaceutical companies are fighting hard to keep their domination of world markets at the expense of those needing help – WARRIORS are needed to fight this dangerous foe that is numbing, mentally damaging & causing suicidal behaviour in our brave warriors who seek & deserve support. Johnny Mercer please see & accept the support of many experts (who have been voices in the wilderness of mislabelled suicides.& illness)to fight a very real campaign .
    Those who suffer deserve more than just desperate volunteer peer supporters who also struggle.

  5. Having collected some important relevant information with the help of UK Charity PTSD Resolution, https://ptsdresolution.org/, I have written again to Johnathan Leach.

    Dear Jonathan

    Further to communications below, we have now carried out a piece of work to identify what antidepressants etc. people who are accessing psychotherapy via PTSD Resolution may be taking.
    Attached is a ‘Snapshot’ of basic information logged by PTSDResolution Charity, for anonymised cases open as at 13 September 2021.
    It confirms our impression of what people are trying to deal with: medications with lots of unpleasant effects, some of which can interfere with effective psychotherapy – and effects which can lead to medication-induced suicidality and suicides. (see Missd.co and AkathisiaAlliance.org).

    My associate Beverley Thomson’s new book “Antidepressed” is due for publication soon – and contains an informative chapter about Armed Forces and veterans … Antidepressed by Beverley Thomson: 9781578269235 | PenguinRandomHouse.com: Books . An information sheet about te new book is attached.

    We have been most alarmed at the recent Media reporting of the ANTLER study – including a very misleading interview about antidepressants with GP Dr Ellie Cannon on ITV This Morning 11 October 2021.
    My Rapid Response about the ANTLER study was published by BMJ: Re: Half of people who stopped long term antidepressants relapsed within a year, study finds | The BMJ

    Kind regards

    Marion Brown

    COPY OF Word ATTACHMENT sent with email pasted below:


    “a useful piece of work might be to audit the medication that patients are taking as they are referred into our services.” Jonathan Leach 6 June 2019
    Project Clinical Lead, Chair NHS England Armed Forces and their Families Clinical Reference Group

    October 2021

    PTSD Resolution Charity UK
    About Us (ptsdresolution.org)

    Reference group: Cases comprise anonymised clients (men & women) who contact PTSDR wishing to engage in the Charity’s free (to clients) counselling/psychotherapy service offered for PTSD symptoms. Key Facts (ptsdresolution.org)

    SUMMARY from Pragmatic Tracker spreadsheet information:
    PTSDR case records as at 13 Sept 2021
    332 anonymised open cases:

    Approx 50% of open cases report, on PTSDR Pragmatic Tracker intake, being on prescribed antidepressants.
    A few are on more than one antidepressant + benzo (eg diazepam) &/or antipsychotic (eg. olanzapine) &/or Z-drug (eg zopiclone) &/or other eg. propanolol, gabapentin, lamotrigine etc.)

    Of these people, spreadsheet record indicates:
    50 sertraline, 36 mirtazapine, 22 citalopram, 19 fluoxetine,
    8 venlafaxine, 5 duloxetine, 1 paroxetine
    5 sertraline + mirtazapine
    2 fluoxetine + mirtazapine
    2 venlafaxine + mirtazapine + lamotrigine
    1 mirtazapine + sertraline + venlafaxine + zopiclone + propanolol ….
    Remainder on unspecified or assorted “prescribed antidepressant medication” (incl. tricyclics & trazodone)

    Of these people on medication, 65 individuals indicate an acknowledged current risk of self-harm/suicide (rated low, medium or high)

    With thanks to Tony Gauvain and Trustees of PTSDR resolution,
    Bill Andrews and Leanne Compton, Pragmatic Tracker, for providing an anonymised spreadsheet ‘snapshot’ record from which this information has been extracted.
    PTSD Resolution Charity for UK Forces Veterans Mental Health

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