Why Are Antidepressants so Harmful?
Recently, I discussed the dirty secret of the SSRI antidepressants — they cause psychotic violence which typically results in suicide and sometimes in horrific homicide (e.g., mass shootings). Remarkably, this side effect was discovered in their clinical trials, covered up by the drug companies, and then covered up by the FDA after the agency received a deluge of complaints (39,000 in the first nine years) once the first SSRI, Prozac, hit the market.
However, since that psychotic violence is such a distinct and alarming side effect, it motivated many of the families of those who died to sue those drug companies and get proof the pharmaceutical industry had indeed covered this up to protect the sales of their lucrative antidepressants.
As a result (because of the discovery process), we have a much clearer picture of what actually happened with the SSRIs than many of the other terrible pharmaceuticals on the market.
Note: In addition to being quite dangerous, SSRIs do not benefit the majority of patients who receive them (which makes it incredibly difficult to justify pushing these drugs). It is thus a great tragedy the need to “treat depression” with these bad drugs has been so effectively marketed to the world, while numerous safe and effective treatments for depression (discussed in the latter part of this article) have been ignored (as no one can make money from them).
Sadly, this is a common pattern you observe within the medical industry, best illustrated by numerous effective but off-patent treatments for COVID-19 being blacklisted while numerous unsafe and ineffective therapies were pushed on the world.
The Toxicology Bell Curve
In toxicology, you will typically see severe and extreme reactions occur much less frequently than moderate reactions:
Because of this, when a very concerning and unmistakable adverse reaction occurs (e.g., the COVID-19 vaccines causing sudden deaths in young healthy athletes) that suggests you are seeing the tip of the iceberg and far less severe injuries are also occurring much more frequently.
For example, one estimate found that of those vaccinated, 18% were injured, 0.93% were disabled, and 0.05-0.1% died, and another survey found 41% of those vaccinated were injured, with 7% being severely injured.
In the case of the SSRIs, the psychotic violence they can create is just the visible tip of the iceberg, and there are many less severe but still awful ways they warp your mind. For example, in a survey of 1,829 patients on antidepressants in New Zealand, 62% reported sexual difficulties, 60% felt emotionally numb, 52% felt not like themselves, 39% cared less about others, 47% had experienced agitation and 39% had experienced suicidal ideation.
Note: Other less common reported side effects (in order of decreasing frequency) in that survey included: insomnia, nightmares, ‘Fuzzy’/‘zombie,’ jaw grinding, sweating, blurred vision, constipation, disturbed/restless sleep, anxiety, heart palpitations, difficulty thinking, fatigue/exhaustion, strange/vivid dreams, stiff muscles/joints, ‘Brain zaps,’ mania, excessive yawning, panic attacks, memory loss, decreased motivation, night sweats, decreased appetite.
This list matches what I’ve seen in many similar assessments (although others like feeling agitated, shaky or anxious, indigestion, stomach aches and diarrhea are also commonly reported).
Most importantly, the respondents to that survey reported that their prescribers did not warn them about many of these side effects (e.g., the emotional numbness or their interactions with other people). As many people I know have been severely impacted by these drugs and gaslighted by the doctors they sought care from, especially when they dealt with one of the most challenging aspects of these addictive drugs — how you get off them?
General Problems With SSRIs
Note: Most of the issues described through this article apply to SSRIs and SNRIs. For ease of reading, I will just refer to SSRIs. Likewise, in some cases, “antidepressants” sometimes also refers to other classes of drugs (e.g., tricyclics).
One of the lesser known facts about the pharmaceutical industry is that more money is spent marketing drugs than developing them (this was even the case during COVID when the industry had been given a virtual monopoly because the government suppressed every off-patent medication).
In turn, you will frequently observe the industry concoct elaborate ways to make a useless (or worse) drug appear to be worth selling to all of America (in my opinion best encapsulated by the idiom “Putting Lipstick on a Pig“).
This I believe occurs because clinical trials cost so much to do and the company needs to guarantee a return on that investment. It is also because the drug regulators (who often are taking money from the industry) never hold them accountable for that behavior.
Note: Numerous whistleblowers testified that the COVID-19 vaccine trials were conducted in a fraudulent manner which deliberately overestimated the efficacy of the vaccines and concealed those who were severely injured by them. Despite this (even after receiving a formal complaint from a researcher at one Pfizer trial site), the FDA refused to do anything.
Since “depression” is so subjective, it is even easier to game its research, and as a result, when the “successful” studies of antidepressants are carefully examined, we find over and over that they actually provided minimal benefit to the recipients but severely harmed many of the test subjects (in essence exactly what happened with the COVID-19 vaccines and their predecessors, the disastrous HPV vaccines).
Fortunately, there are a few metrics you cannot cover up. One of the most well-known ones is overall mortality (how many people in total on vs. off the drug died) since you can’t reclassify death, and by this metric, the “life-saving” COVID vaccines for example failed to live up to their promise. Another is how many patients voluntarily chose to continue taking a medication:
- A review of 29 published and 11 unpublished clinical trials containing 3704 patients who received Paxil and 2687 who received a placebo, an equal proportion of patients in both groups left their study early (suggesting Paxil’s benefits did not outweigh its side effect), and that compared to placebo, 77% more stopped the drug because of side effects and 155% more stopped because they experienced suicidal tendencies.
- A study of 7525 patients, found that 56% of them chose to stop taking an SSRI within 4 months of being prescribed it.
- An international survey of 3,516 people from 14 patient advocacy groups found that 44% had permanently stopped taking a psychiatric drug due to its side effects.
- A survey of 500 patients found 81.5% were unsure if their anti-depressants were necessary.
Put differently, if patients feel worse on a medication they are taking to “feel good” then you do without it, that means the trials proclaiming the medications made patients feel better were a fraud.
Unfortunately, since there is so much money in the psych meds (as you can sell those pills indefinitely to as much of the population as you can give a “diagnosis” to), there is a vested interest to not reveal those side effects or provide resources for those suffer from them (as doing so would effectively be an admission to those side effects existed).
This in turn becomes particularly problematic when the patient develops a severe acute reaction (e.g., the psychosis that can turn violent), a permanently debilitating chronic reaction, or severe withdrawals when they try to stop using these highly addictive drugs.
“When people read other people’s stories, they realize that they’re not the only person that’s experiencing that problem. There are 6,000 relatively complete case histories [on SurvivingAntidepressants.org]. You realize it’s all the same story. It’s one story.
And each person who experiences it is so surprised that it happened to them — people go through a period of absolute disbelief. They realize that they’ve been trusting their doctors to have a certain amount of knowledge, and their doctors don’t actually have that knowledge.
And you know, this is heartbreaking. I went through this, and I felt that the world had fallen out from underneath me. There wasn’t any medical safety net. So the sociological phenomenon exists, and has not yet filtered into medicine [this is also exactly what has happened with the COVID-19 vaccines].
Medicine has its own ways of gathering information, and in psychiatry, for some reason, they keep asking each other what the truth is instead of asking their patients. The patient voice is not very well recognized in psychiatry at all.”
Note: Surviving Antidepressants is a popular website (with 500,000 views a month and 14,000 users from every imaginable demographic) that the founder was forced to make because no resources existed for those with SSRI complications. In the above interview, she highlights another common issue SSRI victims face.
Because there is so much stigma towards mental illness, when a “psych patient” shares their reaction to a medication, it is often discounted and attributed to their existing mental illness rather than the drug and is “treated” by giving more of the drug — which often has disastrous consequences (e.g., this is a common story with the mass shooters).
When Prozac was first brought to market in the mid-1980s, the pharmaceutical industry had not yet convinced the world everyone was depressed and needed an antidepressant. So, instead (given that SSRIs work in a similar manner to a stimulant like Cocaine) Prozac was initially marketed as a “mood-lifter.”
Likewise, in 1985 when the FDA’s safety reviewer scrutinized Eli Lily’s Prozac application, they realized Lily had “failed” to report psychotic episodes of people on the drug and that Prozac’s adverse effects resembled that of a stimulant drug.
In turn, the warnings on the labels for SSRIs, such as anxiety, agitation, panic attacks, insomnia, irritability, hostility, aggressiveness, impulsivity, akathisia, hypomania, and mania match the effects commonly observed with stimulant street drugs such as cocaine and methamphetamine.
Note: In the previously mentioned survey of 3,516 people which found 44% stopped a psych med due to side effects, a quarter reported this was due to the agitation they suffered.
In the previous article, I published a variety of studies showing that the manufacturers knew this violent behavior (e.g., suicide) was a common side effect of the SSRIs that was deliberately kept from the public. Since a common argument used to debunk that assertion is claiming that this behavior was actually due to a pre-existing mental disorder, I would like to cite three studies which disprove this notion:
• A Cochrane review assessed 150 studies where healthy volunteers were given SSRIs, and found approximately one third of them deliberately omitted discussing SSRI side effects and about half of the studies were never made publicly available (presumably to hide their concerning data).
Ultimately, 14 of the 150 studies were eligible for meta-analysis (since enough information existed in them for the researchers to know what actually happened), and in these 14 studies, SSRIs were found to double the risk of suicide.
• In 2000, David Healy published a study he had carried out with 20 healthy volunteers – all with no history of depression or other mental illness – and to his big surprise two (10%) of them became suicidal when they received Zoloft. One of them was on her way out the door to kill herself in front of a train or a car when a phone call saved her. Both volunteers remained disturbed several months later and seriously questioned the stability of their personalities.
• Eli Lilly showed in 1978 that cats who had been friendly for years began to growl and hiss on Prozac and became distinctly unfriendly. Once Prozac was stopped, the cats returned to their usual friendly behavior in a week or two.
Note: The FDA hypothesized that SSRIs can reduce violence in some but cause an increase in violence in others (which I suspect is linked to pre-existing genetic polymorphisms — as hypomethylators respond well to SSRIs whereas hypermethylators can turn violent on them).
Likewise a review of 84 animal studies showed that reduced aggression upon treatment with SSRI was most commonly observed, but sometimes the animals instead became more aggressive.
To illustrate what this can look like, I will share what four different patients experienced prior to killing themselves or others:
“A month later, Toran experienced a severe cluster of adverse reactions including suicidal behavior, self-harm, aggression, hostility, hallucinations, lack of concentration and impaired functioning. The symptoms were so severe that he dropped out of school. His psychiatrist’s response was to increase his dose, which worsened the adverse reactions.
Six days later, Jake had his first reaction. He walked out of an exam half-way through it and cried for about 2-3 hours that night, saying, ‘You don’t know what it’s like in my head.’ His parents thought this was from the stress of the exams. They never imagined that a drug could do this to a person.
The last two days she was just a complete zombie I have to say. She was just agitated, jumping at every noise and not making sense. I was very concerned. We were very close to Cecily. I just loved her deeply.
Shortly before his death, Woody came home crying after driving around all day. He sat in a fetal position on the kitchen floor profusely sweating with his hands pressing around his head saying, ‘Help me. Help me. I don’t know what’s happening to me. I am losing my mind. It’s like my head is outside my body looking in.'”
While these cases are extreme, I know numerous people who had less extreme versions of the above (e.g., they never committed a violent act). Each of them shared with me just how terrifying it was for them to gradually lose their mind or that their brain just never worked right after SSRIs, and I hope this article can provide an inkling of what it’s like to go through that.
Since the SSRIs antidepressants are stimulants they often trigger mania, and in turn, one of the most common problems associated with their use is bipolar disorder (a disease where you alternate from a depressed to manic state). To put this into context, in 1955, 1 in 13,000 people were disabled for bipolar and the majority of patients who presented to the hospital for a manic episode permanently recovered.
Now, bipolar affects 1 in every 20-50 people and 83% of them are severe impaired in some facet of their lives. A significant amount of data has linked bipolar disorder to SSRIs. For example:
• Yale researchers reviewed the records of 87,290 patients diagnosed with depression or anxiety between 1997 and 2001 and determined those treated with antidepressants converted to bipolar at the rate of 7.7 percent per year (three times greater than the rate for those not exposed to the drugs), ultimately resulting in between 20 to 40 depressed patients becoming bipolar.
• A survey found 60% of bipolar patients only developed their illness after receiving SSRIs for depression.
• Peter Breggin reported that of 184 patients in hospital starting Prozac, Zoloft or Paxil, 11 developed mania and 8 became psychotic, and in Yale, 8% of 533 consecutive admissions were for mania or psychosis caused by antidepressants, and two patients heard voices commanding them to kill themselves.
Note: The psychiatric field gets around this issue by claiming SSRIs “unmask” latent bipolar a patient always had — even though it likely would have never been “unmasked” had they never taken the SSRI in the first place.
Likewise, since the advent of mass psychiatric medicating, the character of bipolar has changed, becoming much harder to treat, characterized by much more rapid cycling between the depressed and manic states and much more likely to produce severe complications like dementia later on.
Unfortunately, when the foremost experts in bipolar disorder presented these findings at the American Psychiatric Association’s annual conference and urged caution in the over administration of SSRIs, they were met with boos from their increasingly upset audience.
Note: A strong case can be made that many of the disastrous complications of bipolar disorder result from the highly toxic antipsychotics the disorder is “treated” with, especially since those same drugs are often given to schizophrenic patients, a disorder characterized by similar long term complications (that are rarely seen in countries which do not use the drugs).
Unfortunately, doctors instead are typically taught to see the severe long term consequences associated with those disorders as a justification for why it is critical to “treat” the disorders, rather than to reconsider drugging their patients (which is often the actual cause of those consequences).
One of the side effects that I feel best illustrates the actual risk/reward ratio of the SSRIs is sexual dysfunction — as not being able to have sex is quite likely to make someone depressed (and as Gøtzsche shared, in some cases suicidal), hence often completely invalidating the justification for taking a SSRI to “feel happy again.”
For example, a Spanish study of five of the most commonly prescribed SSRIs found on average that the drugs caused sexual disturbances in 59% of 1,022 patients (who all had a normal sex life before they started on drug), and 40% of the 1,022 considered that dysfunction unacceptable. When Peter Gøtzsche looked at each of those side-effects he found:
- 57% experienced decreased libido
- 57% experienced delayed orgasm or ejaculation
- 46% experienced no orgasm or ejaculation
- 31% experienced erectile dysfunction or decreased vaginal lubrication
Note: Similar results have been obtained in other studies and I know numerous male and female patients who continued to experience sexual dysfunction long after they stopped the SSRI.
What I find the most amazing about this side effect is that while the psychiatrists tends to downplay or ignore it, they simultaneously market SSRIs to treat premature ejaculation — which is yet another example of the drug industry trying to have its cake and eat it (especially given that many of the SSRI manufacturers also sell drugs for erectile dysfunction).
Note: One reason this side effect is under recognized is because embarrassed patients often won’t report it unless they are specifically asked about it (e.g., in the Spanish study, while 59% of SSRI users reported sexual dysfunction, only 20% do so without prompting — something unlikely to be done by a drug trial aimed at getting a medication to market).
At the time the SSRIs began to be approved, I was not yet begun studying the regulatory process in detail, so I did not notice their issues until I started seeing them around me. The first and foremost thing I noticed was that the SSRIs dramatically altered the personality of those who took them, and often sedated a lot of people who previously had the drive to make something of their life — and in some cases, I sadly watched that derailment continue for decades.
In time, I began to hear stories of people describing how their experience of life was deadened, often in a manner not too different from how the drugs “numb” your sexuality. Some of the common stories included:
• Not having emotional responses to things you should have responses to — For example, I heard numerous cases of people being in unhealthy jobs or relationships, seeing a doctor for help with their depression,..