Spiral of violence blamed on Prozac

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Prozac, the world's best-selling anti-depressant, is being blamed for turning healthy, placid people violent. It is thought to have led to crimes that include murder. Clinical research to be published soon will show that up to one in 10 adults who take Prozac can become belligerent and pose a risk to others and themselves.

The study is the strongest vindication yet of mental health campaigners, who claim dozens of people have been wrongly imprisoned because of the effects Prozac has had on their behaviour. In the US, school shootings have been linked to number of children given Prozac and other anti-depressants.

In the first clinical trial of its kind, Dr David Healy, director of the North Wales Department of Psychological Medicine at the University of Wales, gave Prozac to a volunteer group of mentally healthy adults and found even their behaviour was affected. He said: 'We can make healthy volunteers belligerent, fearful, suicidal, and even pose a risk to others.'

Healy says between one in 20 and one in 10 people who take Prozac can be affected by akathisia, whereby they become mentally restless or manic and lose all inhibitions about their actions 'People don't care about the consequences as you'd normally expect. They're not bothered about contemplating something they would usually be scared of,' he said.

The study is a potentially devastating blow for the US drug company Eli Lilly, which has made millions from Prozac. In a statement last night the company said: 'Since its discovery in 1972, Prozac has become one of the world's most studied drugs. An extensive review of scientific evidence has demonstrated no causal link between Prozac and aggressive behaviour.' Previous studies linking Prozac to violence have been discredited because aggressive behaviour could be caused by patients' personality disorders, not the drug. Healy's study is the first to show Prozac can affect even healthy individuals.

Pam Armstrong, co-founder of the Counselling and Involuntary Tranquilliser Addiction helpline, said: 'I have come across a huge number of cases, from bizarre behaviour to aggression.'

Stephen Bryson, a surgical nurse, was prescribed Prozac after a close friend died, and his associates were alarmed by his increasingly bizarre behaviour. 'I was swearing, touching friends up in private parts and would pick arguments for the sake of it and threaten their lives. I ran around town stark naked and ran up debts of #10,000. I became quite violent,' said Bryson. 'I had no awareness of ... right from wrong. I was high as a kite.'

Bryson eventually attacked his partner with a knife. 'He was saved by the bell. If the phone hadn't rung, I would have killed him.' Bryson was given a 12-month jail sentence. Three months after ditching Prozac, he was 'back to my old self'.

Ramzia Kabbani, who set up the Prozac Survivors Support Group a year ago, said: 'People are going to prison for what amounts to medical negligence. If they're throwing the book at vulnerable individuals, they should be throwing the book at the doctors who prescribe the medicine as well.'

In the US, the widespread use of anti-depressants and easy availability of guns is thought to be responsible for mass killings. Eric Harris, 18, from Columbine High School in Colorado, who last year shot 12 fellow students and a teacher, had been taking Luvox, similar to Prozac. In 1998 Kip Kinkel, 14, killed his parents before going on a shooting spree at his high school in Springfield, Oregon, killing two and injuring 22. He took Prozac.

Last month a US judge in Connecticut acquitted a bank robber who blamed his behaviour on Prozac. In what is thought to be the first ruling of its kind, Superior Court Judge Richard Arnold freed Christopher DeAngelo, a 28-year-old insurance agent, because the defendant was unable to appreciate his actions were wrong. Defence lawyer John Williams said: 'This was someone who was driven to commit crimes because of prescription drugs.'

Eli Lilly said it has been successful in helping defeat 70 other cases where alleged criminals blamed their behaviour on Prozac. However, Healy said: 'Eli Lilly is legally trapped. They might like to admit that Prozac causes violence, but they could open themselves up to all sorts of claims.'

(UK 'Observer', 12 March)

-- Risteard Mac Thomais (uachtaran@ireland.com), March 13, 2000


For the last 20 years we've ben told that Ritalin is the most "studied" drug....not prozac.


-- NH (new@mindspring.com), March 13, 2000.

I thought the ritalin thread was interesting, and posted there as well. I did mention antidepressants there as well. I know a 'few' folks on prozac. Was actually smacked by the one who is crazy as a bed bug!!! The 28 year old insurance agent is self explanatory, being an insurance agent myself, I can relate!!! Anyone else care to respond 'if' they know of others on prozac? Weight gain, and crazed seems to be the summarization of those I know...anyone else?

-- consumer (shh@aol.com), March 13, 2000.

I have a close friend who has spent a few intervals on that 'med' over the years. Our kids were quite close when they were younger & in the same school district. Her inability to control her temper while she was 'under the influence' caused me to make sure that I NEVER left my child alone in her care at that time.

-- flora (***@__._), March 13, 2000.

I've been on Ritalin for ten years now, for ADD. I haven't had a problem with it. Ritalin is the most studied drug because it was originally engineered as a diet drug; it was found to have a good effect on people suffering from ADD (then it was know as "minimal brain dysfunction").

As a LCSW, I have many clients who are on Prozac. I, myself, am not able to dispense drugs, FYI, just to provide counseling services. I haven't encountered anyone nor even heard of anyone who has had violent episodes due to Prozac specifically. Those whom I know to have had violent episodes had the episdoes before they started the drug.

You should be aware that the Church of Scientology is opposed to psychiatric drugs, and psychotherapy in general, because their beliefs preclude beinging those people into their clut for the purposes of scamming money from them The Church of Scientology uses several satellite organizations that are affiliated with the church that spread lies and disinormation about psychotherapy and psychoactive drugs. For more information, check out http://xenu.net/.

-- Anonymous (onritalin@knowsaboutprozac.com), March 13, 2000.

no its due to LL

and rightly so

-- slimyoldgit (oldgit32nd@notoldgit.com), March 13, 2000.

I think what these anti-depressants do is take away the fear and the doubt, and perhaps the conscience; So the fear and doubt about harming someone is not there and the fear of the ramifications of commiting murder is gone as well (in some cases, of course). Your conscience is what stops you from following through with thoughts of that nature.

I remember reading about that well-known comic/actor from saturday night live (I forgot his name) whose wife shot him and herself both. A friend who was interviewed said that the wife had been taking (I think) Zoloft, another anti-depressant similar to Prozac. She believed this medication to be the cause of the wife following through with the murder.

Yes...this Prozac is a scary thing. I doubt the results of any test would be truly accurate considering this is the biggest money-making drug of all time.

Money has a way of swaying the truth, doesn't it?

-- cin (cinlooo@aol.com), March 13, 2000.

Good obs cin. I've seen dozens of severly depressed people helped by Prozac or its analogs. Works especially well on those that worry a lot. Seems there can be little demons prowling in the back of a mind that can be just somehow made to seem less important.

Unfortunately these have become the drugs de jour in our never happy enough society and misdiagnosises abound. As you point out it seems sometimes the little demons banished are the ones planted in childhood to make us worry a little about right and wrong.

-- Carlos (riffraff@cybertime.net), March 13, 2000.

There is a known dangerous period of time when a severely depressed person starts taking anti-depressants. Up until the time the combination of medication and psychotherapy starts making the person feel better about his/her life situation. In general, severely depressed people are drained of energy, have very low self-esteem, feel hopeless and lack motivation. They ruminate dark thoughts in their minds, contemplate suicide, and/or murder (as in murder/suicide cases), or mass killings (as in "going postal" for revenge). Such people must be closely watched when started on anti-depressants, making sure they keep up with regular concelling. The anti-depressants can give them just enough energy and motivation to carry through what they didn't have the courage or energy (and even mental focus) to do before.

As an RN, I've seen the benefits of anti-depressants in people a great deal. When I read "studies" such as this, I take it with a grain of salt and look for other reputable research studies to compare and see what's going on. Do I think anti-depressants are over-prescribed in the general population and with kids? Well, if you knew just how many teens contemplate, attempt and actually commit suicide,( and the age is getting lower, below adolescence) you might have a different perspective. The real issue is why so many people and kids are at that point. Until we can cure the cause, we're left with treating the symptoms with anti-depressants.

Prozac and its cousins (Zoloft, Paxil etc.) are also often prescribed in conjunction with Ritalin for ADHD/ADD, not only to treat the often accompaniying depression such kids suffer due to difficult family, school and peer interactions, but also they've been shown to improve concentration (wether this is due to the medication having a direct effect on neurotransmitter responsible for concentration or treating the depression which itself causes diminished concentration is not clear to me.)

I'm very aware that the Church of Scientology has been very active in spreading negative propaganda on such medications; in Usenet newsgroups for as long as I've been on the internet, and published materials.

When your loved-ones' lives are at stake, you owe it to them and yourself to look into this issue with an un-bias eye, and weigh the pros and cons carefuly. Simply dismissing this whole issue to pharmaceutical corporate greed is extremely narrow-minded.

-- Chris (!@#$@pond.com), March 13, 2000.

Why do you need to take such medication in the first place, its obvious all drugs have side effects

there must be alternative treatments for depression etc that don't involve prescription drugs

I get depressed by the sort of people you get on this forum (no names no packdrill) but I don't have to resort to prozac, I just take to the bottle

I vcan think of many ways that depression can be treated and I don't have any medical qualifications or connections with drug companies

-- Sir richard (richard.dale@onion.com), March 14, 2000.

There must be alternative treatments for depression etc that don't involve prescription drugs

Yes, there are. Chris you have a good point about not closing one's mind to the benefits that are clearly there for some people. Also people owe it to themselves to look into natural treatments. The trouble is often times it can take much trial and error to do this. A drug has more of a "silver bullet" effect, which makes it easier for the doctor (and suffering patient wanting results).

Nutritional and metabolic deficiencies and excesses are complex, highly individual, usually take time to test, diagnose, and correct, and it is hard to design studies proving their efficacy, so they are not nearly as well known. Most doctors don't have a clue how to do it, but the results can sometimes be as good as any psychoactive drug, plus you are correcting real imbalances, not masking them.

(I wish alternative medicine and mainstream medicine could get together on this better instead of ne'er the twain shall meet - like "pollies" and "doomers.")

However I would question if someone has to stay on Prozac for 5, 10 years or more as some people seem to do. I tend to think of Prozac as a "band aid" which allows healing of one's life which can't occur under the weight of the depression, but hopefully the band aid can be removed after a time.

-- Debbie (dbspence@usa.net), March 14, 2000.

I wish alternative medicine and mainstream medicine could get together on this better instead of ne'er the twain shall meet - like "pollies" and "doomers."

Yes why not, but its mainstream science that dismisses alternative treatments, I've known a number people who've been killed effectively by drug treatment.

Every time I have consulted my GP I've seen patients enter the surgery (a bit depressed, that word again) then come out clutching a prescription looking happy. I've often discontinued treatments for minor ailments when they've been ineffective.

I have tinnitus and years ago was prescribed pills (dunno what) by a GP, no word of explanation about the complaint (ie that its incurable etc) just a bottle of pills, threw them away.

-- Sir Richard (richard.dale@onion.com), March 14, 2000.

Yes why not, but its mainstream science that dismisses alternative treatments, I've known a number people who've been killed effectively by drug treatment.

Your observation is borne out - the 4th leading cause of death is pharmaceutical drugs. (Classen DC, Pestonik SL, Evans RS, Lloyd JF, Burke JP, Adverse drug events in hospitalized patients. Excess length of stay, extra costs, and attributable mortality. JAMA 1997; 277:301-306.)

-- Debbie (dbspence@usa.net), March 15, 2000.

thanks for the info. debbie

why isn't anything done about it

-- richard (richard.dale@onion.com), March 15, 2000.

Painkillers cause 2,000 deaths (in the UK) yearly:

('The Guardian', Wednesday March 15)

Popular painkillers such as aspirin and ibuprofen used to treat arthritis and back pain are killing 2,000 people in Britain a year, a study yesterday suggested. Doctors behind the research said 2m people in Britain were at risk of preventable deaths from the pain-relieving drugs.

Doctors have known for some years that the so-called non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs can cause serious gastro-intestinal bleeding and other complications, but this is the first time a figure has been put on the number of deaths resulting from their long term use.

Researchers in Oxford and Switzerland stressed that people using the drugs for a limited time to relieve pain should not panic. But those using them continuously for more than two months should consult their doctors.

The report's co-author, Andrew Moore of the Oxford chronic pain clinic, said side effects and treatment arising from the drugs were costing the NHS between #170m and #350m a year.

Twenty-one per cent of patients taking the drugs for more than two months have ulcers diagnosed and 12% of them will die, co author Martin Tramer of university hospital in Geneva, told a medical seminar in central London yesterday.

The department of health said it was aware of the concerns posed by the drugs and would be studying the report.

-- Risteard Mac Thomais (uachtaran@ireland.com), March 15, 2000.

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