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New Study Raises Safety Concerns About Psychiatric Drug Use in the U.S.

A new report from researchers analyzing psychiatric drug use in the U.S. in 2013 has added to already existing concerns that older Americans are being overdrugged.

It also suggests that many Americans may be taking psychiatric drugs because they have become drug dependent, or are not discontinuing the drugs because of withdrawal symptoms.

One in six U.S. adults aged 18 to 85 reported taking an antidepressant, an antipsychotic, an anti-anxiety drug or sleeping pills in 2013, according to the study, published online by JAMA Internal Medicine.

“I follow this area, so I knew the numbers would be high,” said Thomas J. Moore, a researcher at the Institute for Safe Medication Practices and the lead author of the analysis.  “But in some populations, the rates are extraordinary.”

For example, among adults 60 to 85 years old, one in four was taking at least one psychiatric drug.  That rate (25.1%) is more than 2½ times higher than the rate (9%) for adults 18 to 30 years old.

These 2013 statistics cover a period of time shortly after a 2011 investigation by the Inspector General of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), which found that nursing homes were giving many elderly residents powerful antipsychotic drugs that put their lives at risk, just to sedate them and make them more manageable.

The new study also found that nearly 85% of those taking psychiatric drugs had been taking them long term, having filled three or more prescriptions in 2013 or having taken the drug since 2011.  This long term use also concerned researchers.

“To discover that eight in 10 adults who have taken psychiatric drugs are using them long term raises safety concerns, given that there’s reason to believe some of this continued use is due to dependence and withdrawal symptoms,” said Moore.

Warning: Anyone wishing to discontinue a psychiatric drug is cautioned to do so only under the supervision of a competent medical doctor because of potentially dangerous withdrawal symptoms.

 If you or someone you know has experienced adverse effects from a psychiatric drug, please report it to the FDA here.  And we want to talk to you about your experience.  You can contact us privately by clicking here or by calling 303-789-5225.  All information will be kept in the strictest confidence.

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Killers On Psych Drugs News for Colorado

Suspect in Douglas County Murders Was On Drugs for PTSD

A  murder suspect who admitted slashing and shooting two people to death in Douglas County was taking psychiatric drugs at the time of the murders, according to a report in the Denver Post.

Josiah Sher, 27, had served tours of duty in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iraq between 2005 and 2009.  After returning, he reportedly was institutionalized for severe post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and was treated with psychiatric drugs – most likely antipsychotics, which have been linked to mania and psychosis, especially during withdrawal from them or when the dosage is lowered.

A research study that searched several key databases for studies on withdrawal symptoms concluded that psychotic episodes can be brought on when antipsychotics are stopped or the dosage reduced after long-term use.  (Source: J. Moncrieff, “Does antipsychotic withdrawal provoke psychosis? Review of the literature on rapid onset psychosis (supersensitivity psychosis) and withdrawal-related relapse,” Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica, June 2006.)

(Another recent study found that antipsychotic drugs widely prescribed for PTSD are no more effective than placebos (sugar pills) in treating it.  See “Urgent Message for Colorado and Wyoming Veterans: Antipsychotics Are Ineffective Against PTSD.”)

Less than three weeks before the February 23 murders, Sher was apparently also suicidal and had called a suicide hotline.  Whether he was prescribed antidepressants as part of his treatment before or after that incident is not known.  Antidepressants have been linked to violence.

Research studies, warnings from international regulatory authorities, and reports to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration on the harmful side effects of antipsychotics and other psych drugs can be accessed through CCHR International’s psychiatric drug side effects search engine.

WARNING: Anyone wishing to discontinue antipsychotics (or other psychiatric drugs) is cautioned to do so only under the supervision of a competent medical doctor.

If you or someone you know has experienced harmful side effects from an antipsychotic drug, we want to talk to you.  You can contact us privately by clicking here or by calling 303-789-5225.  All information will be kept in the strictest confidence.  We welcome your comments on this article below.

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Killers On Psych Drugs News for Colorado

Suspect In Gruesome Murder Reportedly Has History Of Psychiatric Treatment

Add another grisly killing to the long list of sudden, violent crimes committed by individuals with a history of taking psychiatric drugs.

Edward Romero, 27, is charged with killing a 16-year-old girl as she walked home from a party, after which he cut up her body and packed it away in a container in his garage.  He recently pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity to a charge of first-degree murder in Denver District Court.  According to the Denver Post, a judge had earlier ordered Romero to keep taking psychiatric medication.

While we don’t know the details of those psychiatric drugs, we do know that the current, rising wave of violence that is rocking our homes, schools, and communities parallels the soaring use of psychiatric drugs in American society.

Research studies, international regulatory authority warnings, and reports to the FDA, have linked the use of, and/or the too-rapid withdrawal from, numerous psychiatric drugs to violent behavior, including homicide.

High-profile Colorado killings with links to psychiatric drugs include Stephanie Rochester smothering her 6-month-old son in Superior in 2010.  She has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity.  She reportedly was taking the antidepressant Zoloft at the time, and had intended to take her own life.

Rebekah Amaya, of Lamar, was also reportedly on antidepressants when she drowned her 4-year-old daughter and 6-month-old son in 2003.  She was found not guilty by reason of insanity in 2004.

Of course, the granddaddy of Colorado psychiatric drug-related violence is the deadly assault on Columbine High School in 1999.  Shooter Eric Harris was taking the antidepressant Luvox at the time he and Dylan Klebold opened fire at Columbine High School, killing 12 students and a teacher and wounding 26 others before killing themselves.  Harris reportedly became obsessed with homicidal and suicidal thoughts within weeks of starting to take antidepressants.  (See The Real Lesson of Columbine: Psychiatric Drugs Induce Violence.”)

At least one public report exists from a friend of Klebold, who says she witnessed him taking the antidepressants Paxil and Zoloft and urged him to come off the drugs.  Officially, Klebold’s medical records remain sealed.

Both the U.S. FDA and Health Canada have issued warnings that many antidepressants are linked to a greater risk of suicide, aggression and violence.

CCHR International’s documentary DVD, “Psychiatry’s Prescription for Violence,” containing interviews with experts, parents, victims, and a killer himself, can be viewed online by clicking here.

If you or someone you know has had suicidal or homicidal thoughts or committed sudden violent acts while taking or in withdrawal from psychiatric drugs, you can contact us privately by clicking here or by calling 303-789-5225.  All information will be kept in the strictest confidence.   We welcome your comments on this article below.