Prescription drugs can cause violent or aggressive thoughts, acts, and behaviors, or can trigger behaviors like alcohol misuse or other substance abuse that ends up in violence, or can cause a disinhibition that leads to violence.
It is important to find out if there is a connection between these thoughts and your prescription so that adjustments can be made.
In the case of drug-induced violence, there are two victims – the person injured and the person on treatment. Recognizing the drug induced component to an act of violence is important as it may offer an absolute defense against a criminal conviction. But very often, judges and juries may find it hard to accept that your drug abolished your responsibility for what happened.
Dr. Dee Mangin, Data Based Medicine’s Chief Medical Officer and a Professor in the Department of Family Medicine at McMaster University in Canada says, “Violence has not traditionally been seen as a medical problem, but the range of drugs now linked to violence has grown, including drugs used in smoking cessation, dermatology, asthma, weight loss, insomnia, and behavior.”
Dr. Mangin says some drugs can also cause vivid, frightening dreams. “It’s important to find out if there is a connection between violent dreams or thoughts and your prescriptions so that adjustments can be made before you act on them.” See our blog post – Night of the Living Cymbalta: B’s Story.
You might not be familiar with the term “akathisia”, or you might have heard it incorrectly described as a “movement disorder”.
Symptoms of akathisia include strange and unusual impulses, often of an aggressive nature.
Featured blog posts
Below is a selection of violence-related blog posts.
“Over a 3-week period, I changed completely from being a loving, caring and nurturing father of 2 beautiful children to taking the life of my beloved son Ian, in a calm, organized state of delirium-psychosis.”
“I visited a private psychiatrist who said I was depressed and prescribed an antidepressant called escitalopram. I had no idea that this and other antidepressants can cause a psychotic reaction.”
Johanna Ryan explores the link between antidepressants and violence.
Although not related to violence, there is another blog post about the same medication, varenicline, that might be of interest. See Smoke & Pfizer Get In Your Eyes.
“The news from Washington this week … of another shooting where the shooter has been on psychotropic medication – this time trazodone – raises once again questions about the interaction between violence and medication.”
This post outlines new 2023 guidelines that make clear people with an alcohol problem should not be given a serotonin reuptake inhibiting antidepressant, and if they are on an SSRI when the problem develops, you should suspect the SSRI and stop it.
Related posts show how one person went on to get a criminal record because this was not recognized. Several other people have had much worse outcomes and jail terms because the problem was not recognized, but a clear recognition of the issues can be powerful evidence in court, so this is something to be aware of.
Antidepressants and Mass Shootings/Murder Suicide. An interview with Dr. David Healy.
Hearts and Minds: Psychotropic Drugs and Violence. A talk by Prof David Healy from the Institute of Psychological Medicine and Clinical Neurosciences at Cardiff University. The talk was presented at the Cardiff University School of Psychology on 30 April 2013.
Enter the name of a medication in the box below to see a list of violence-related adverse events that have been reported to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
We have more tools to look up adverse event reports on our Drug Search page.
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