Prescription for Murder

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July 26, 2017 | 53 Comments


  1. If anyone has a link to the panorama documentary that aired on the 26th, please post a link here. I am abroad and didn’t get to see it.

    A brilliant blog page, highlighting and exposing serious flaws in the way the safety of prescription medicines are regulated.

    Change is so badly needed!

  2. Our son was given 200 mg Sertraline as a starting dose, for anxiety, having been advised by psychiatrist to stop venlafsxine cold turkey, as in his opinion he wasn’t depressed. He then suffered AKATHISIA and confusion, wrote that he had voids in his thinking processes, memory mostly gone, only way out was death. He’d lasted about 4 weeks on that Sertraline, with Olanzapine lobbed in for good measure. Seeing the film on Panorama tonight we are horrified that he was put on such a high introductory dose. We tried endlessly in those 4 weeks to get GPs ( our son’s and, in desperation, even our own) to believe us when we explained what was happening to him, what he was saying to us, the head pain and confusion he was expressing, but we were brushed off with an irritated disclaimer and told it was all down to him and he needed to sort himself out. He sure did, but not the way presumably they meant.
    Well done DH and Katinka tonight. Hopefully another film soon about other life changing side effects from SSRIs, including Katinka’s own story, maybe or maybe not involving legal system. But we were talking to an eminent QC this week who says that it is realised in high places in the judiciary that the use of these medications in prison, plus all the other problems going on in there, is going soon to produce some horrendous outcomes. It’s like a powder keg about to blow.

    • Well, Heather, that’s another new, interesting, but scary dimension to the very murky world of SSRIs etc – their use in prisons ….. I have given brief passing thought at times to how many law breakers are on psychoactive meds but not considered the likelihood of the ‘powder keg about to blow’ ….. also, I feel sure, as you confirm, that there is awareness in high places – judiciary, government etc – of the very real damage these medications cause both in prisons and the outside world, but it seems no one in these ‘high places’ is going to rock the boat because of too many vested interests. A great shame and a very great scandal!

  3. Something i should have mentioned in my Rxisk report, was when i took fluvoxamine for 5 months back in 2008, i became what i can only describe as manic on the drug.

    I didn’t have any homicidal or suicidal thoughts or urges, but i started acting in a way that was completely out of character for me.

    I became very socially confident when i am usually quite reserved. I started asking for girls phone numbers in the street, flirting with women aggressively, shouting out to people in the street from my window, and being in general much less socially inhibited than i usually am.

    I remember at the time i felt almost scared by how socially uninhibited i felt. I felt like i could talk to a crowd of 100’s of people, without feeling at all nervous, wheras usually public speaking is something i struggle with.

    Thankfully after stopping fluvoxamine, these manic type symptoms went away quite quickly.

    Looking back on some of that behaviour when i was on fluvoxamine, makes me cringe. Thank god i never did anything too inappropriate when i was on that drug.

  4. “did his mind command his actions?”

    You might be interested in reading this compilation of information about this case provided for us by Truthman.

    Of particular interest is more background from James’s parents

    Arlene and Bob Holmes sat through every day of their son’s trial but rejected all approaches to talk in public about their son out of respect for the victims and their families.

    However, a book that Arlene wrote, When the Focus Shifts: The Prayer Book of Arlene Holmes 2013-2014, gives an insight into her thoughts in the run-up to the trial in April 2015.

    “I have worked with David Healy in the past on a number of investigative films for the BBC’s current affairs programme, Panorama.

    These films revealed cases where people with no previous history of suicidal thoughts or violence went on to seriously harm themselves or others after being thrown into a state of mental turmoil by the newer generation of SSRI antidepressants, such as paroxetine and fluoxetine.

    Before meeting Holmes, Healy doubted the pills had played a part. But by the end of his prison visit he had reached a controversial conclusion.

  5. Twitter seems to be awash with debate. The main argument from the pro-pill clan seems to be the mental health stigma line.

    By using the term ‘stigma’ one wishes to enforce the idea that mental health is a serious problem that needs to be treated. The chemical imbalance theory doesn’t hold water anymore so it’s been replaced with the stigma argument. Both terms have an end goal.

    I’ll be blogging about the show later and addressing some of the Twitter arguments.

  6. This broadcast was powerful, compelling, brilliantly constructed and presented.

    The impact of quietly spoken points based on great insight, real scientific understanding, vast experience, humility and absolute integrity was immense.

    The importance of the program and the importance of this brilliant follow up analysis (above) is self evident.

    I was taught as a young consultant that: –
    “Real Science Begins With Asking The Pertinent Question”.
    Prescription For Murder, and this blog addresses this superbly.
    It appears that apart from D.H. “The Pertinent Questions” were not asked, hence the apparent absence of “Real Science”.

    How do we get Medicine, The Law and Society to accept that ” it requires a different expertise to marshal a drug related argument”?
    This question must be addressed with sincerity and objectivity as it addresses vast, intense and unrelenting human suffering in addition to morbidity and mortality which would appear to be entirely iatrogenic, and hence avoidable.

    The suffering of James Holmes parents was palpable and tragic.
    The suffering of their son is evident, yet it seems to be enfolded in the visible changes induced by undisclosed combinations of prescription psychoactive drugs.
    The suffering and devastated lives of those killed, injured and the impact on those attending the aftermath is left to our empathy and our endeavours to understand. A tsunami of anguish and torment for life in those living on.

    I am haunted by his attempts to explain the ADRs of sertraline to his prescriber, my family having lived that experience.

    “But the most pernicious of all is that The System appears to have a complete inability to appreciate when the treatments it gives becomes the problem that it tries to treat by adding in more drugs and if need be detaining us in order to do so”. D.H.
    Another life changing iatrogenic devastation experienced by my family.

    “There are recognised difficulties in communicating the adverse effects of a drug to the doctor who has put you on the drug hoping to help you”.

    When reporting psychotropic ADRs causing personality changes, bizarre behaviour, and psychological morbidity the resulting barrier of prescriber disbelief is impenetrable.

    Even the crucial importance of challenge – de-challenge – re-challenge is only identified by D.H. and subsequently is not afforded an opportunity to be presented to the court.

    How many consultations and appeals to prescribers to listen to us are dismissed when such compelling re-challenge effects are unnoticed or not understood?

    Thank you to all those whose skill and determination ensured that Prescription For Murder was broadcast last night.

  7. What a surprise that the pro psychiatry band wagon have come out in full force, promoting SSRI’s as misunderstood wonder drugs that have helped millions.

    I wanted to vomit listening to that psychiatrist from the college of psychiatry going on about how amazing and harmless they are. It reminded me of when my ex psychiatrist told me that fluoxetine was an “excellent drug”.

    I would like to see how the psychiatrist from the college of psychiatry would like it if he had to deal with PSSD for 9 years, or suffered protracted withdrawal for years, or had one of his family members take their lives because of an SSRI.

    I get so bored of hearing it. So, so, bored. Every single time people try and point out the very real dangers of these drugs, it almost always turns into a publicity stunt by the drug companies to promote the benefits of antidepressants.

    Its like impossible to win against big pharma. The voice of reason is drowned out by the big pharma drivle that is so carefully worded and measured, making anyone who says anything bad about SSRI’s, seem like a scaremongerer, who is harming people who could be “saved” by these miracle drugs.

    SSRI’s are not miracle drugs, they can cause a huge amount of damage (for reasons most of us on this site know), often they dont work, and at best put you in this strange artificial state of manic happiness, and make you feel emotionally numb, and whatever problems you had before, are still there when you come off them, but often worse.

    I seriously despair sometimes if the truth about these drugs will ever get a chance to come out. It gives me a headache!

    At the moment i am afraid to say, it seems big pharma are definitely winning.

  8. Can you clarify something David? Under M’naghten , defendants to murder are presumed sane (and responsible) unless they can prove they were suffering from a ‘disease of the mind’, which absolves them of (legal) responsibility for having killed someone. I’m a bit confused about your explanation above?

    One mega problem with drug-induced rage/disinhibition/violence etc is classifying it as a ‘disease of the mind’ – without which an insanity defence cannot work. ‘damaged mind’ yes, definitely but that won’t satisfy a judge/jury.

    As you say, sleep walking is a defence (automatism) because the conscious decision to do wrong is lacking –

    apologies if I’m being a bit thick – but am confused at the mo.

    • Sally

      McNaghten simplistically means that if you’re mad you have no defense. The old insanity defense – pre-McNaghten – was a delirium defense. The drugs make you delirious rather than insane


  9. Isn’t it a shame that, at the root of this problem lies perceived unhappiness. If we could only get a truthful and honest approach from both sides isn’t it possible that a better understanding of the whole picture might emerge? Those who shout of the benefit from these drugs seem to me to be living in fear of ‘stigma’ – if THEY feel ‘stigma’ then how much higher must be the risk of the said stigma for those who suffer adverse reactions? If the benefits that they tell us about are so marvellous, how is it that they still have to fear stigma? I can only assume that, deep down, there is a fear of the removal of this class of drugs – following which their lives would also take a turn for the worse. They praise their medication, not because their mood is uplifted but rather because they know that they are hooked and their ‘need’ must be endlessly fed.
    The never-ending denial of possible harm that the ‘harmed’ are expected to accept is cruel. It is cruel when it comes from the pharma companies, even more so when it comes from their doctors – usually in the form of throwing the problem as being to do with their ‘personality. To my mind, the most cruel turn of all is when a whole set of patients – lucky enough not to suffer severe adverse reactions – create an underclass of those unfortunate beings who, through no fault of their own, have their lives turned upsidedown simply because the truth of the situation wasn’t fully explained to them and their cries of ‘unexplained changes’ on the medications were ignored.

  10. From the angle of a Carer ( parent, close friend, whatever) the drug takes over the rational mind of the user, so however much you reason with them, they seem unreachable. They are convinced they are to blame, evil, useless, whatever. You can’t engage with them anymore, like you once did when they were just ‘feeling down’. They are intractable in their beliefs now. It’s like they have dementia. You just can’t find them ‘in there’ any more. But they are able to plan their death down to the last careful details, trying to spare everyone any pain. They are ‘rational’ enough to do that. So are they mad, or not? Can you imagine what it’s like, listening to your beloved youngster asking your permission to let him die? Knowing he’s not attention-seeking, he’s deadly serious. You run around like a mad thing, begging for help to save him. But he doesn’t want to be saved. Or should I say, his drug controlled mind doesn’t want him to be saved. AND THERE IS DAMN ALL YOU CAN DO. and then the police come into your kitchen and confirm the worst. They are so kind. Much kinder than any doctor or psychiatrist. They give you a hug. You kiss the body goodbye. It’s all finished now. Or is it? You can’t let it be, even 5 years on. I’m not writing this for sympathy, I’m telling it as it is to raise the alarm. Too late for Olly, not too late for some. Talking of killing, there’s quite a few I’d like to kill, but murder is too good for them. Sensible retribution is better. But like you Spruce, I do wonder if that moment will ever come. I do agree with your feelings about these complacent doctors. DH was shown in the film as a lone figure out in the wilds, maybe a voice on its own in the wilderness. But a voice you could believe in, unlike the others. A voice of calm sincerity and self belief. Long may he reign.

  11. I can’t understand why doctors – actually psychiatrists in general – aren’t aware that these drugs can enhance suicidal or homicidal thoughts, such as was stated by Professor Peter Tyrer. My daughter was put on Mirtazapine, a slightly different antidepressant to the normal SSRIs, despite having had at one time attempted suicide by overdose a few years before. She was only 16 when she was put on this drug and in the following few days attempted to strangle herself – fortunately she was in a CAMHS unit by then. However, despite the drug not seeming to benefit her after a couple of weeks, her dose was increased and once again she attempted suicide. Her dose was increased to the maximum adult dose, still with no benefit to her depressive condition and each time it was increased, she attempted suicide again. After 3 months she was put on Sertraline at the same time as the Mirtazapine, and after a few weeks was allowed home for a weekend visit. She stockpiled paracetamol and other painkillers and took another overdose just before returning to the unit. The staff realised something was wrong and she was taken to the A&E department of the general hospital and kept in overnight – fortunately she was ok. The Sertraline was stopped but the Mirtazapine was continued – why? I have no idea, being as it wasn’t helping. She continued to have suicidal thoughts and escaped from the unit, intending to jump off the motorway bridge. At this point she was sectioned. She appealed, writing a letter to explain why she should be allowed to leave and end her life. She was moved to a secure unit, her medication finally having been changed to Agomelatine, which did not make her feel suicidal. She eventually realised with my help that she had to take the situation into her own hands and challenged the new psychiatrist who wanted her to restart Sertraline, despite the effects it had on her before.

    To cut a long story short, she is now recovered and has been off any psychiatric drugs for 2 years now, says she feels better than she has ever felt, and definitely benefited from nutritional supplements that we had to force her doctors to let her have whilst in hospital. My feeling is that her whole problem started when she developed anorexia nervosa and the subsequent depression was exacerbated by nutritional deficiencies.

    The good news is that she is going to Exeter university in September to study Applied Psychology, she is helping support young people at CAMHS in the area where she was living and is determined to help raise awareness of the problems that drug treatment can cause.

  12. Thank you David for your efforts on the Holmes case and your continued devotion to this important issues.

  13. The Panorama program was very careful in its presentation of the evidence that James Holmes’ shooting spree was triggered by sertraline. The people who understand that SSRIs can cause serious thought distortion – even delirium/psychosis – emphasize that most of the time, the drugs do not cause suicidality or violence against others. They stress that such reactions are rare. Prof Tyrer states that when taking an SSRI correlates with declining mental state we cannot assume the drug is to blame.
    Panorama pinpointed the root problem with using drug effects as a legal defence. Nobody believes that the meds can sometimes cause serious thought distortion leading to violent behaviour. Because juries and judges “won’t buy it”, the truth cannot be presented. Those who dismiss Prescription for Murder? don’t explain why the medication guides and boxed warnings make specific reference to paranoia, aggression, suicidal and violent thoughts, sudden changes in behaviour, and other “psychiatric side effects”. If the meds can cause these things, why do we have a hard time accepting that such reactions can sometimes lead to disaster? And if the drugs cannot cause these things, then why are the manufacturers admitting to it in their literature?
    On, there are over 6,000 cases of SSRI disasters. Most are suicides. Over 1,870 are homicides. Through these news articles that actually mention medication (almost certainly a small fraction of cases that actually involve medication), it is easy to spot common themes:
    1) People take antidepressants and their mental state deteriorates dramatically. The usual presentation includes phrases like “despite taking citalopram/ venlafaxine/paroxetine/sertraline/medication for depression, X became moodier/angry/manic/more depressed etc”.
    2) People start taking antidepressants for minor anxiety or boyfriend/girlfriend worries and end up doing terrible things that are totally out of character for them. Family and neighbours line up to state their disbelief that X could have murdered his family and killed himself (or whatever X did).
    3) People stop taking their SSRI “cold turkey” and commit a violent act. In these cases there is often a reference to the person having “snapped”.
    4) People on some SSRI/SNRI have a few drinks and do some violent awful thing and the alcohol is considered to be relevant but not the medication, even though there is obviously an interaction effect.
    And so on.
    It is truly amazing that we understand that illegal drugs can be mind-altering in a negative way but not chemically similar prescription meds. But powerful drugs are poisons that have beneficial potential if used carefully. They are not necessarily harmless or even safe in all circumstances.

  14. I finished watching the panorama documentary; prescription for murder.

    Overall i thought it was well done.

    Something that slightly annoyed me about it was the message that in 99.9 % of cases antidepressants are helpful, and that it is only a tiny minority that are harmed by antidepressants. I also felt the panorama programme was in more of a pro antidepressant tone overall, compared to previous programmes.

    From my experience of taking these drugs, and from talking to a lot of people who have also taken these drugs, i really dont feel this is true.

    I would say from my experience a lot more people are harmed by SSRI’s, than are helped. I would say it is the minority that are helped, rather than the majority.

    Am i missing something here?

    • Spruce, you are probably right. It’s difficult to speak to anyone about this at all if they have a positive view of the meds. Acknowledging the positive, even if it’s an exaggeration, is perhaps a way to have a conversation.

      Thanks to the person who posted the link to program in this thread.

      I feel for everyone involved. Our society is so deeply sick. The idea that what he was receiving was “mental health care” is as troubling as how poorly he did on the medicine.

  15. Vannie’s account of her daughter’s journey to hell and back is uplifting for it’s ending but appalling in most of its content. The question she asks, ‘why aren’t psychiatrists aware that these drugs can enhance suicidal or homicidal thoughts’ is the crux of this whole nightmare. Yes, WHY? Answer, they surely must be, and Dr David Healy cannot be (apart from a few well publicised others) the only one who can say with calm certainty that Sertraline most probably did cause James Holmes to kill as he did, with precision planning. So why do they act as though they can’t do anything about this?
    Might the answer be that in today’s society, no one wants to be seen to accept responsibility for any decision. They hide in packs, behind collective groups. One can see this even with banks. You can’t speak to a ‘person’ any more. You have a telephone central number so never speak with the same person twice. Your personal circumstances are irrelevant. Letters come to you, if you raise a complaint, signed by ‘The Team’.
    Isn’t this what’s happening with so-called mental health care. Our son, over a period of 3 months of interaction with them, had 26 different flitting bees of social workers and 4 psychiatrists ‘overseeing’ or buzzing in and out of his case. He had to explain how he felt, over and over again, to different people, in limited allocated time, who were themselves stressed out in the main. Despite our best efforts, after his tragic death we could get no one to accept responsibility for the appalling treatment he received, (Trust CEO, GMC etc) except some NHS personnel who witnessed it, gave us advice from the sidelines, (even when he was still alive), met us covertly, passed us information, and who would lose their jobs if the half of what they told us came out in the open. We can’t protect Olly now but we can protect them. We need to keep them in their jobs, to protect others where they can. It’s no good telling them to whistleblow. The orchestrated denial about the effect of Sertraline and other meds, for those unsuited to taking them, is too strong and loud. And blasé psychiatrists seem to be the worst elements in this. One passes the buck to the next, under cover of collective non- responsibility.

    One other point – is there any public campaign to show that James Holmes was wrongly blamed, that the buck should be passed to Big Pharma, or is this a hopeless crusade?

  16. PS – I mean, to try to free him? Or would he be killed by the mob if released? Do people write letters of support to him? I feel so desperately sorry for him and his parents. Our son was killed by prescripticide and his death left us with lots of practical problems to sort out, but at least he only ended his life and no one else’s. But of course he devastated his girlfriend’s life at the time, who’d been with him, loving him for 9 years. We are in absolutely no doubt that the final drugs, Sertraline and Olanzapine made his vague escapes into suicidal thoughts, these brought on by an unbearable load of awful life stresses, made him act as though in a dream he couldn’t be wakened from by us, and those thoughts became a well planned reality.

  17. So it is in the product literature that Sertraline can cause violent thoughts, and thoughts of suicide, agitation , disorded thinking, sudden changes in behaviour etc etc, and SSRI’s have been linked to thousands of suicides, and almost two thousand murders (according to SSRI, and this is even up for debate??

    Of course these drugs could cause someone to become violent. A complete moron could make the connection. Almost every school shooting in America the shooters have been on SSRI’s.

    I am getting sick to my back teeth of big pharma getting rich off of our very real suffering, and lying through their teeth about the harm these drugs cause. These are real peoples lives we are talking about.

    As far as i am concerned the psychiatrists who stand by and defend these drugs saying they are safe 99.9% of the time (what idiot came up with that figure), are almost as guilty as big pharma.

    There is a very bad smell coming from big pharma, and its about time it got cleaned up.

  18. They say a picture says a 1000 words.
    The picture for this blog, is indeed, very powerful and profound.
    To me, SSRI’s and benzodiazepine are equivalent to having given me a loaded gun.
    Taking that Valium sixteen years ago, was the worst mistake of my life.
    The gun was not pointed at my head.
    As gruesome as it sounds, it was pointed in my mouth and then did the damage to my delicate brain.
    Excruciating pain and pressure to my delicate brain, was enough to make me end my life.
    I know you have read my story in previous blogs however, it is important that we discuss our experiences in the open.
    If I had ended my life and I am so glad it did not get to that stage, my story would have never been told.
    I don’t have the privilege of media exposure or a journalist publishing my story in Women’s Weekly.
    It never made the front page headlines.
    Perhaps I have not earned my stripes yet however, one thing I do know is that gracious David Healy has given me a platform here, on RXISK and this is a starting point.
    Benzodiazepine for me, was like putting my body and mind through relentless torture.
    The intense pain and pressure, lasted for 7 months and there were days when I didn’t know what to do with myself.
    Benzodiazepine ingested alone, in my opinion, can cause harm to our good mental/physical health.
    I witnessed what it did to my husband’s cardiovascular system.
    He had no other meds in his body.
    I, on the other hand, had other meds/vaccine in my system and it did more harm to my physical/mental wellbeing.
    My husband was given a reasonable standard of care.
    I, on the other hand was sent home and was told that I was depressed, prescribed an antidepressant and was given a video to educate me in regards to the benefits of another med.
    I was suffering and I did not need another med to add to my anguish!
    Luckily, I listened to my gut instincts.
    I tossed the script in the bin and told my husband to return the video back to the clinician.
    I believe I would not be here if I had followed through with the clinicians advice.
    For me, benzodiazepine combined with other meds, created a chemical fog to my brain. Similar to having dementia.
    There were times when I hallucinated to the extent where it felt like I was out of my body and looking at myself on the outside. I believe this is called depersonalisation.
    t felt like I was detached from my physical self. What a very weird feeling.
    The memory problems, never existed before I ingested benzodiazepine.
    For example: I learnt how to drive a manual and when I could stand up on my own two feet to get back to driving, I did not know how to go from 1st gear to 2nd and alternating between brake, the accelerator and clutch, was just too much for my brain to cope with. Eventually, baby steps at a time, I did learn how to drive a manual again.
    Then there are certain memories I cannot remember and if I look at a picture or a video, I would think that it would ‘ jump start’ my memory. Spark brain in the brain has been burnt out. It is like there is a shield place in front of the movie theatre of my mind that does not allow me to access these important memories, Grrrrrrrrr : (
    Other times, my brain felt like it was very swollen. On very cold days, I still experience this horrible feeling. It is akin to, when one hits a hammer on a thumb and you experience that throbbing painful feeling. Imagine when you get that throbbing feeling of the brain. ~ Some days, it is unbearable! :’ (
    Back to what I am trying to say.
    I believe these meds impact personality A and personality B individuals.
    My theory:
    Some introverted individuals become cheeky and test the boundaries. They lose all inhibitions and may take RXISKS that would not have taken otherwise. They don’t know when to put on the brakes.
    Some individuals who may be extroverted may become more aggressive, exhibit over excessive anxiety or exhibit behaviour they would be too ashamed of before having ingested the meds.
    Having experienced what the meds are capable of doing to one’s mind, is real.
    I believe chemical drugging to the brain makes one exhibit apathy, reckless, pervasive, aggressive, uninhibited, and suicidal behaviour.
    It is like cranking up the volume on your radio. As the volume increases, the chemical drugging begins to take effect. It is very similar to perhaps what recreational drugs and alcohol do to one’s brain. The neural pathways of the brain start creating unusual pathways that are not familiar to one way of thinking. It becomes distorted and irrational
    From my experience, chemical drugging to the brain is real and it can be a nightmare for some. The chemicals derange ones thought process and creates confusion and fogging of the brain especially, if the blood brain barrier has been damaged which makes it easier for chemicals to seep through to all delicate areas of the brain.
    I have had to work extremely hard to regain myself before I ingested this med. It has not been an easy journey.
    Yes, we are responsible for our own thoughts and actions however, I must stress, once you add something that one is not completely sure about, I would err on the side of caution. You never know when you are going to end up with a loaded gun that can cause harm or damage to one’s delicate brain.
    The courts have to deal with such dilemmas.
    If no one has had these meds in their blood stream, then it is a question of one’s personality.
    If on the other hand, someone has committed a crime, of any nature, whilst under the influence of these meds, we have to question if the meds had something to do with the crime.
    If we listen to stories of how these meds have impacted people’s behaviour, we have to take heed and understand that there is something larger in play here.
    A lot of people say they feel themselves, once they are clean from these meds.
    Others say it has benefitted their mental wellbeing.
    We, as a civil society, have to understand that there are two sides to story.
    Perhaps, if we have a better understanding of how these meds impact the brain, we would have a different perspective of how we view/judge things.
    No one is born a monster.
    If we challenge and expand our way of thinking especially in regards to how these meds can harm the brain, for some, we have to acknowledge that these problems (harm to the brain) can influence and distort the thought process.
    To get a better understanding of these meds, we have to talk to people who have been impacted by them.
    They understand how it has impacted them and they can tell you things that many never have never been disclosed.
    Unfortunately, for some it is too late.
    For those of us who are remaining, we have got stories to tell and if I knew my gun was loaded with a med that was going to harm me, I would have thrown the gun at sea.
    Then an experience would never be known?
    if we want to evolve as a society and push beyond the rigid beliefs, we have to demonstrate compassion for those who have suffered in the name of science.
    Good can only be achieved when we learn from past mistakes.
    If we are continuing with the rinse/repeat cycle, we have to ask ourselves this question:
    Have we evolved beyond our rigid, conformed, safe way of thinking and if the answer is No, we have got a lot of learning to do!
    Crime rates, violence, aggression and suicide is certainly on the rise.
    To better understand peoples behaviour, lets look beyond what we have been programmed to believe.
    Look at the persons prescription history. It may give one a better insight and clarity as to what is really going on!

  19. Carla thank you for a marvellous explanation of what Valium did to you, and some very interesting observations on what society is evolving into and what we could do to improve it. I think your last sentence is particularly bang on the money –
    ‘look at the persons prescription history. It may give better insight and clarity as to what is really going on!’

    And Spruce, like you say, what idiot came up with the ‘most of the time 99.9% safe’ figure for these drugs. Plucked from the air, a blasé comment made by a seemingly ‘happy to be Pharma brain washed’ psychiatrist one could assume.

    This week, and the Panorama BBC film has finally explained to me the major reason why our son planned so carefully his exit from this world. 200mg of Sertraline, accompanied by Olanzapine, for a very short period of time. All the other stresses in his life were just manageable hurdles that he was well able to deal with, even the horrific rudeness of the Home Treatment Lead psychiatrist. But Olly was in a dream. He was literally ‘away with the fairies’ and yet he appeared so calm near the end.

    The night before he died, he wanted to take his father and me out to dinner at his favourite restaurant. We were unaware of this at the time. His father called in at his flat to see him alone that evening. (We’d tried to subtly get a rota of his friends visiting during the days, despite the social worker and HT psychiatrist telling us he should be left alone to effectively ‘stew in his own juice’ as he was simply attention-seeking when he told us repeatedly that the pain in his head was too bad, his memory gone, and he wanted to die). I didn’t go with him that evening and Olly was visibly disappointed. I’d waited elsewhere as for days he’d been begging me to ‘let him go’ (die) every time he saw me, he wanted to say goodbye, and my eyes were so swollen with tears, crying, awake all night, pleading with GPs to help (to no avail) and I didn’t want him to see me looking upset in case he felt it was all due to him. In a way of course, yes it was, but no, then again, it wasn’t, it was the Sertraline skewing his rational mind, making him see things as hopeless.

    He knew we’d got an appointment to see a private neuro-psychiatrist to ask if he could get a scan to see what the unbearable head pains were. He was living on paracetamol to try to bear it, but his social worker told him ‘it was just his anxiety and he needed to address it’….. He knew where we’d be next day, but he felt it would be a waste of our time and money to get another opinion because he truly believed HE was all to blame, (thanks to the tirade of the HT psychiatrist), he’d made a Will (we later discovered), his affairs were carefully put in order, he wanted that last dinner together obviously before dying next day when we were away, but it didn’t take place because I wasn’t there.

    If I’d seen him that night, I would have realised, with a mother’s instinct, and somehow we’d have maybe tried to get him kept safe next day. But had we managed, against all the odds, to get him into hospital again, he’d have simply had more meds given to him. And felt even worse. How awful for a mother to admit this, but due to the brain damage already inflicted on him by the previously prescribed meds, in massive doses, I think he’s better off where he is now. His suffering ended. ‘First do no harm’. What happened to this epithet that Olly’s own family of doctors followed for generations before? Tim has consistently reminded us of this on this Blog. He is so right. Where did it go?

  20. This is a question for Dr Healy.

    Do you think a panorama programme done on PSSD is possible within the next few years. And if not, why not?

    • Unlikely. I have been trying to get the media interested for years. I’d have thought sex should sell. Seems like the absence of sex doesn’t sell.


  21. I.e if panorama wont do a programme on PSSD, what do you reckon would be the reasons they wouldn’t be interested in doing it etc.

    • Proposals have to go through management. And management won’t find this sexy as it stands. We have to find another angle. We will have some posts on this issue on RxISK soon that just might deliver a new angle


  22. Thats a real shame a programme like panorama isn’t interested in PSSD.

    So nobody really cares that people are being left with horrible sexual side effects that can last for many years, and might be permanent, all being caused by one of the most commonly prescribed group of drugs.

    I am disappointed and a little surprised.

    I would have thought the media would have been all over it.

    I mean what a scandal, if it became common knowledge that there is a chance that by taking an SSRI you could never experience sexual pleasure again for the rest of your life.

    If someone had told me that before prescribing me an SSRI, i wouldn’t have touched an SSRI with a bargepole.

    I would imagine if PSSD was eventually accepted as a real side effect, that can definitely happen to some people after taking an SSRI, that the sales of SSRI’s might take quite a hit.

    And people should be made aware of the risk of developing PSSD after taking an SSRI, because it is a very real risk.

    In the past there has often been a great struggle to get damaging side effects of psychiatric drugs officially acknowledged.

    It took many years for it to be accepted that tardive dyskenisia was caused by antipsychotics. For a long time psychiatrists attributed the symptoms of tardive dyskinesia to schitzophrenia and not the medication.

    It took around about 20 years for it to be properly accepted that benzodiazepines were physically addictive, and that they could often have a severe withdrawal. Again withdrawal symptoms were for a long time attributed to the return of the “original anxiety” instead of anything to do with the benzodiazepines.

    I assume something similar might have happened with SSRI’s causing suicidal and homicidal urges and thoughts, i.e it took a good while before it was accepted that SSRI’s could do this to some people. I believe the drug companies even had to include it in the side effects leaflet.

    Another question to Dr Healy;

    Do you think that like past serious effects of psychiatric drugs that i mentioned, that given enough time, PSSD might also get the official recognition it deserves by mainstream medicine?

    • If some company brings a new kind of drug, like a ketamine related drug for instance, on the market for depression, they will market the PSSD and violence caused by SSRIs – the reason benzo dependence was recognized was because there were new drugs acting on the serotonin system in the pipeline.


  23. So what you are saying is if there is a new drug that can make them just as much money, or more money than the SSRI’s, then they will finally admit to PSSD, and the other problems caused by SSRI’s, and say “look this new drug is better because it doesnt cause PSSD or cause people to take their own lives, or become violent”.

    Also they dont mind if they lose sales on SSRI’s, because they can make lots of money on the new drug?

    Is this what you mean Dr Healy?

    • Close to what I mean. The companies have already admitted to violence and PSSD etc – its written into the labels. This is done for legal reasons – so they can point to the fact that its there. But its not there in a way that most doctors would recognize. In order to get doctors to recognize it you have to market it and this might mean for instance that a company might approach me and offer me a lot of money to give a talk on PSSD. The fact that I appear on a company platform saying these things – along with someone else perhaps saying that if doctors don’t warn patients about this they risk being sued (successfully sued as opposed to now when the risk to them is minimal) is the kind of thing that causes doctors to develop a concern about something like PSSD.


      • To a certain extent this already happened in the USA about 15 years ago with bupropion, a/k/a Wellbutrin. It’s a stimulant that is marketed only as a smoking cessation drug in most countries (under the name of Zyban). But in the USA it’s an antidepressant. I guess our brains are different.

        Wellbutrin does not seem to depress libido or cause genital numbing. Some people experience a mild uptick in sexual interest. In that, it’s similar to other stimulants such as amphetamine proper. (It does, however, cause a lot of agitation and suicidality. The FDA actually has more reports of suicide attributed to Wellbutrin than to Zoloft, Celexa or other SSRI’s.)

        Wellbutrin was openly advertised as the antidepressant with “No Sexual Side Effects!” This was actually the first time I (and many other patients) were told that antidepressants could have any effects on sexuality. Yet this didn’t lead to a new epoch of “honesty” about the sexual problems caused by antidepressants. Why not?

        I think it was because of the way the message was managed by the drug companies. First, they were careful to minimize the SSRI “sexual side effects” that were discussed. Doctors and patients were led to believe that these were limited to performance problems (chiefly erections), and were entirely temporary in nature. Stop the SSRI, or substitute Wellbutrin, and the problem would go away. After all, Wellbutrin was a GSK drug — and why on earth would GSK destroy the market share of a whole class of drugs just to promote this one pill?

        The second way they managed the message was this: “It’s not so much that SSRI’s are libido destroyers, it’s that Wellbutrin is a libido enhancer!” Drug reps and paid psychiatric “thought leaders” started marketing it to doctors as “the happy horny skinny pill.” Doctors were encouraged to prescribe it for weight loss, pep and, well, renewed horniness. I’m sure a lot of the worst agitation was experienced by people who got prescriptions for these reasons.

        You see this time and again with drugs that are promoted as being free of a nasty side effect of a previous drug. A few years ago vortioxetine, or “Trintellix”, was informally promoted as being a lot like duloxetine but less likely to make patients fatigued and mentally foggy. Before long, however, Takeda was promoting it as actually improving cognitive skills that were dulled by — you guessed it — Depression Itself! It’s a win-win for Pharma: First the obvious problems of the old drug are portrayed as trivial. Then the new drug is portrayed as having amazing new virtues rather than simply having fewer side effects.

        So anyway: Yes, the advent of a new drug can sometimes influence doctors to recognize the problems of an old drug. But don’t hold your breath expecting major change via this route.

  24. Are there any ‘ketamine related drugs for depression’ in the pipeline at the moment? Or is this an example of a possible research if we could get someone interested? I do know that Liverpool Uni. are doing something regarding ‘allergic reactions’ and that my niece is really interested in having a better understanding of the possible adverse reactions to SSRIs. Sorry to be so vague – a wedding reception was not the best place for a proper full-on chat about this! My niece is a medical statistician; a senior lecturer in statistics, rather than being a ‘researcher’ as such but she was one of a group who published a paper to do with trials on ‘folic acid use in depression’ a few years ago.

    • Yes there are. Companies have two problems with ketamine. Its an old drug so they can’t make money off it unless they find some new delivery system such as intra-nasal ketamine that can be patented. The other problem is that ketamine given intra-muscularly only needs to be given once or twice to produce dramatic improvements in severe depression. But for a company to make money off it, they ideally need people to be on it daily for the rest of their lives. These are the issues that are holding it up at the moment


      • This is so interesting. You say it only needs to be given once or twice – surely the ‘once or twice’ would need to be repeated so often would they? What would happen if this became another one in use for anxiety etc. – could that lead, again, to similar problems now seen with SSRIs? I take it that it has a different name in clinical use does it – farming communities are used to Ketamine as a treatment for horses. Can’t imagine that it would be well received without a name change somehow!
        Is the ketamine of old a medication that was in use at some point? Still fairly popular in street use I understand – would that be the ‘medical ketamine’ or the vet’s equivalent I wonder?

  25. Yes–ketamine for “treatment resistant depression.” I went to a NIMH talk on this and they don’t acknowledge that depression is treatment resistant due to treatment. A whole other issue…

  26. Couldn’t it be that all the recent chatter about the gut influencing depression, and about inflammation being another link to the cause of mental unwellness, is really about Big Pharma rolling out new ‘gut etc’ treatments ready to sidestep when the shit hits the fan on SSRIs? In the same way, most of us realise we’ll never get rid of RoAccutane-isotretinoin when used for acne, but this week someone is talking about an acne vaccine being ready in 2 years’ time. Maybe that would get rid of RoAccutane. But heaven knows what else it might trigger. Or what it comprises. Might be good, might not.

  27. But psychiatrists are increasingly confident that, within a few years, things could be very different, with patients being tested to find out whether a drug is likely to work for them.

    Jerome Burne reports today .. Professor Pariante, Ketamine, now doctors have identified a surprise new treatment ..

    By Jerome Burne for the Daily Mail
    Published: 23:03, 31 July 2017 | Updated: 23:49, 31 July 2017

    This could make a significant difference to patients. ‘Half of all patients with depression fail to find an effective drug with their first prescription,’ says Professor Pariante, ‘and a third don’t benefit from any of them.’

    Exactly how this causes depression isn’t yet clear, but recent research has found that blocking it with a tranquilliser called ketamine, normally used on horses, can have a dramatic effect on long-term depression and suicidal thoughts. Nearly half of a group of 100 patients with severe depression given a ketamine injection once a week responded to treatment for the first time, according to a report in April from the Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust.

    Who better to perfect the ketamine infusion for depression than the people who discovered it!…

    What The NIH Says About Ketamine

    “Recent data suggest that ketamine, given intravenously, might be the most important breakthrough in antidepressant treatment in decades”….

    Thomas Insel MD, Director, National Institute of Mental Health

  28. Thanks Annie,

    “Are YOU one of the thousands who don’t respond to anti-depressants?
    How common ibuprofen pills can treat your low mood”. (DAILY MAIL).

    (But!) –

    FDA is strengthening an existing label warning that NSAIDs increase the risk of
    Heart Attack and Stroke.

    “Patients taking NSAIDs should seek medical attention immediately if they experience symptoms such as chest pain, shortness of breath or trouble breathing, weakness in one part or side of their body or slurred speech”.


  29. A friend of a friend has just ploughed his car into some other cars while on seroquel and alcohol He has no memory of this. The forensic assessment states that this was a deliberate act. I have just ploughed through google scholar looking for articles on violence caused by prescription drugs and have found the exact opposite – page of page of research stating antipsychotics reduce violence. Violence and psychotropic drugs is the elephant in the room – not trauma. I now relise that what passes for research is Micky mouse opinion garnered from little more than advertising and misinformation disseminated in media and on kellogs corn flake packets that pass a medical and health care education at university (taught by caniving, manipulative persons). To go against the grain of this campaign of misinformation in a scholarly and novel manner takes significant work. We know what is going on on the street. I think these drugs are deliberately precribed to cause social division and conflict – especially in families. This is a form of social engineering. It is also precribed to people with deliberate intent that they take there own lives – marked people, dead people walking. Overblown emotion and generalizations about violence and these drugs will not work. We need to start making considered counter arguments and narratives.

    • Fiona show your friends friend this

      Forensic assessments will always blame you but its down to your Solicitor/Barrister to prove their wrong. 99.9% of the time even that doesn’t work. You end up thinking its because they are all members of the same country club or something. I think they keep that 1% open just to get their own club members out safely.

      I am more and more convinced now we live in a corrupt world where we are all being deliberately harmed and set up to have our lives destroyed.

      Why else would they ignore the obvious?

      In an ideal world there would be genuine concern and calls for an investigation or something into these drugs but that will not happen I think until a new drug comes along and replaces the old and we are all dead buried and forgotten about in maybe 50 plus years time.

      • I second Anne-Marie’s suggested reading for your friend’s friend but I must warn you that the fact that alcohol was present will be the only factor that will be taken notice of – unless they are VERY, very lucky. It matters not how little alcohol there was, just having that word present means that they need not bother to look any further. It’s easy money for them. It happened to our son some 15 years ago – those present at the incident reported an ‘unearthly calmness’ about him as he got out of his car; his solicitor stated that he ‘knew this was something quite different – not the alcohol’, yet, the judge saw NOTHING beyond the alcohol. It breaks my heart to think that fifteen years have passed yet things have stood still in the acceptance of adverse reactions to psychiatric drugs.

  30. Hi Donna Marsh,
    Thank you for the interesting documentary you have put on RXISK.
    It is about time that mothers are given a voice and are able to courageously explain how these psychiatric drugs have impacted their children.
    If they are unsafe for children under 18 years of age, one has to question their safety for those above 18 years and over.
    We just don’t hear the devastating effects of how adults have been impacted by these meds and we certainly don’t hear how many people mysteriously pass away whilst they are ingesting them.
    This is an insightful documentary which creates awareness and a true understanding of what these meds are sadly capable of inducing.
    That poor forensic psychiatrist has been an advocate for children since the 90’s.
    At least we have David Healy being an advocate for everyone.
    Worse side effects just don’t happen with children.
    These drug do not discriminate.
    Sadly, it can impact anyone, from all walks of life.

  31. Are there no professionals specifically trained in mental illness in the comments? I happen to be one. The symptoms he experienced after starting an SSRI are very typical of a person who actually suffers from bipolar disorder, not unipolar depression. It’s pretty clear to me that he was misdiagnosed and given the wrong treatment in the first place. His is a very extreme example of the risk in treating bipolar disorder with an SSRI or SNRI, instead of a mood stabilizer. His example couldn’t be anymore textbook if I’d written it myself. Read the DSM-V and Stahl’s Psychopharmacology. Painting SSRIs with a broad brush is dangerous as it puts people at risk of not seeking out help when they are having thoughts of self-harm.

    • As the mental health professional who wrote the post and the definitive history of bipolar disorder and interviewed JH in the flesh, he did not have bipolar disorder. Several forensic psychiatrists assessed him and none mentioned bipolar disorder -even though in the United States there is a mania for diagnosing bipolar disorder.

      The other point to make is that healthy volunteers given these drugs become disinhibited, suicidal and aggressive. These problems clear once the drug is stopped. The most sensible explanation is the drug is causing the problem in these cases.


  32. Some have talked about the extent of the cumulative misery, even atrocities, doctors may soon have to face they played a huge part in by mindlessly following orders.

    This case alone (and many others) makes me think of the potential diameter of the pain and misery which could be caused by only a single very serious adverse effect without appropriate warning, without appropriate recognition and without appropriate treatment:

    The Diameter of the Bomb by Yehudi Amachai:

    The diameter of the bomb was thirty centimeters
    and the diameter of its effective range about seven meters,
    with four dead and eleven wounded.
    And around these, in a larger circle
    of pain and time, two hospitals are scattered
    and one graveyard. But the young woman
    who was buried in the city she came from,
    at a distance of more than a hundred kilometers,
    enlarges the circle considerably,
    and the solitary man mourning her death
    at the distant shores of a country far across the sea
    includes the entire world in the circle.
    And I won’t even mention the crying of orphans
    that reaches up to the throne of God and
    beyond, making a circle with no end and no God

  33. I have been told several times by mental health professionals that all antipsychotic meds come with a long list of side effects. That if they took any notice of them they would never prescribe. For many years I have said that anti-psychotics were causing a family member to behave aggressively, but my concerns have been repeatedly dismissed. As a result someone almost died and my relative was sectioned for over ten years. When eventually the medication was changed the aggressive incidents stopped, but they claim that is the effect of the replacement medication. They refuse to accept the person was not aggressive before starting antipsychotics.

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