by Gary Null, Ph.D
April 1, 2014
Twenty-six years have passed since
Prozac, the antidepressant drug,
was introduced to the US market and quickly achieved the label of a
In the decade that followed, other antidepressant
...would be released, creating an
entire class of medications known as selective serotonin reuptake
Since hitting the shelves, the popularity of SSRIs has skyrocketed. Today, 1 in every 10 Americans reaches for
This ratio jumps to an incredible 25%
among women between the ages of 40 and 59. Approximately 5% of
children ages 12 to 19 are also taking antidepressants.
Worldwide, mental illness is now the leading cause of disability
Active members and veterans of the US military have become
especially dependent on psychiatric meds. Today, about 1 in 6
service members is using antidepressants, sedatives, and other
psychiatric drugs in an attempt to cope with post traumatic stress
disorder and other afflictions.
From 2001-2009 alone, psychiatric
drug use in this demographic rose by 76% and in 2010 alone, the
Pentagon spent more than $280 million on psychiatric drugs. 
Along with the rise in antidepressant use in recent years, we have
witnessed the creation of many new clinical diagnoses in the field
of psychiatry. What would have been considered just a few years ago
to be rebellious behavior among teenagers is now termed Oppositional
Defiant disorder; what was once looked upon as a child not wanting
to do math homework is now classified as Mathematics Disorder.
the psychiatric establishment increasingly asserts its importance by pathologizing normal human behaviors, tens of millions of Americans
are popping pills in an attempt to find mental wellbeing.
Big Pharma is making a killing: in 2010 alone, SSRI sales
topped $70 billion.
Considering how widely SSRIs are prescribed, you would be forgiven
for thinking that this class of drugs is highly safe and effective.
In point of fact, these drugs come with a host of devastating and
sometimes deadly health implications.
Examining the state of the
medical industrial complex deeper still makes one thing abundantly
Psychiatry is NOT a science but a massively destructive
unscientific experiment fueled by a medical industrial complex that
values profits over human life and wellbeing.
Let's break it down:
FACT - Psychiatric Drugs are Dangerous
Volumes of solid scientific evidence collected over the last
quarter-century demonstrate that SSRIs carry serious and sometimes
deadly side effects. These adverse effects include akathisia (a
condition in which a person feels compelled to move about),
permanent neurological damage, bone fracture, birth defects, sexual
dysfunction, suicide (especially in children and teenagers) and acts
of violence.    
Shockingly, evidence indicates
that SSRI use in patients can, in fact, increase the length of bouts
of depression and significantly promote relapse.
Especially concerning is the alarming link between suicides and
psychiatric drug use. At present, 22 US veterans commit suicide each
day. In fact, more active-duty American soldiers are ending
their own lives than are dying in combat.
Could it be that the
rising rates of suicide among members of the US military are
actually being fueled by SSRI and other psychiatric medicine use? A
body of research suggests that the answer is yes.
A meta-analysis appearing in the British Medical Journal, which
pooled data from more than 700 studies and 87,650 patients, found
that that there exists an,
"association between the use of SSRIs and
increased risk of fatal and non-fatal suicide attempts"
researchers stated in their conclusion that methodological
limitations may have caused them to actually underestimate the real
risk of suicide attempts.
It has been ten years since the FDA required SSRI manufactures to
place a black box label on their drugs stating suicide as a side
effect of taking this class of drugs. How many more deaths have to
occur before the FDA bans these dangerous pills?
- Psychiatric Drugs are NOT Effective
Numerous studies show that SSRIs are generally no more effective
than a placebo (sugar pill) in treating depression.
of a 2008 meta-analysis examining the effectiveness of using SSRIs
in patients with depression remarked that:
"These findings suggest that, compared with placebo, the
new-generation antidepressants do not produce clinically significant
improvements in depression in patients who initially have moderate
or even very severe depression, but show significant effects only in
the most severely depressed patients"
Upon closer investigation, it's little wonder that these drugs
Psychiatric authorities still contend that
mental illness has its roots in "chemical imbalances" in the brain
(particularly related to levels of serotonin) that may be mediated
through pharmaceuticals. The only problem with this is the fact that
no compelling evidence exists to confirm this hypothesis.
body of evidence actually debunks the chemical imbalance theory
Further still, studies have proven that SSRIs
disturb normal brain function, ultimately reducing the brain's
ability to respond to serotonin. This is a possible reason that
individuals on SSRIs are more likely to suffer from depression for
longer periods of time, and relapse more frequently.
- Psychiatric Diagnoses Have No Basis in Science
The American Psychiatric Association's Fifth Edition of the
Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) is the
definitive guide for psychiatric diagnoses.
Of the nearly 300 mental
disorders outlined in the DSM-5, not one of them is based on
objective data drawn from double-blind, placebo-controlled studies.
Rather, the criteria for determining mental illness are based solely
on subjective described behaviors. There are no blood tests, no
brain scans or urine samples- not one biological marker to validate
the existence of these so-called conditions.
The flawed nature of mental health diagnoses has been pointed out
In a 2010 opinion piece for the LA times, Allen Frances,
chairman of the taskforce that created the DSM-4, commented on the
absurdity of the ever-expanding pool of mental disorders stating the
The first draft of the next edition of the DSM, posted for comment
with much fanfare last month, is filled with suggestions that would
multiply our mistakes and extend the reach of psychiatry
dramatically deeper into the ever-shrinking domain of the normal.
This wholesale medical imperialization of normality could
potentially create tens of millions of innocent bystanders who would
be mislabeled as having a mental disorder.
industry would have a field day - despite the lack of solid evidence
of any effective treatments for these newly proposed diagnoses.
Even more damning was a deathbed confession in 2009 by the eminent
child psychiatrist, Dr. Leon Eisenberg.
In his final interview,
Eisenberg reportedly revealed that,
"ADHD is a prime example of a
The bombshell came at the end of
Eisenberg's long career developing foundational theories in modern
psychiatry that led to the creation of ADHD and other mental
Given the lack of scientific rigor with which the APA concocts new
disorders, it shouldn't come as a surprise that the DMS-5 even
outlines "caffeine use disorder" and "internet gaming disorder" as
conditions that warrant further study.
The bottom line is that
psychiatry's diagnostic handbook has as much credibility as a comic
- The Psychiatric Establishment is Bought and Paid for by Big Pharma
Like the other branches of the medical-industrial complex,
psychiatry is infested with conflicts of interest.
One of the most
outspoken critics of the pharmaceutical industry's extensive
influence over modern medicine is Dr. Marcia Angell, the former
editor-in-chief of the New England Journal of Medicine who now
serves as a senior lecturer in social medicine at Harvard Medical
In an essay written for The New York Book Review, Dr. Angell
recounts the systemic corruption that has plagued the field of
As psychiatry became a drug-intensive specialty, the pharmaceutical
industry was quick to see the advantages of forming an alliance with
the psychiatric profession.
Drug companies began to lavish attention
and largesse on psychiatrists, both individually and collectively,
directly and indirectly. They showered gifts and free samples on
practicing psychiatrists, hired them as consultants and speakers,
bought them meals, helped pay for them to attend conferences, and
supplied them with "educational" materials.
When Minnesota and
Vermont implemented "sunshine laws" that require drug companies to
report all payments to doctors, psychiatrists were found to receive
more money than physicians in any other specialty.
pharmaceutical industry also subsidizes meetings of
the APA and
other psychiatric conferences.
About a fifth of APA funding now
comes from drug companies.
Dr. Angell goes on to describe how pharmaceutical companies
manipulate study results to maximize profit streams from their
…drug companies make very sure that their positive studies are
published in medical journals and doctors know about them, while the
negative ones often languish unseen within the FDA, which regards
them as proprietary and therefore confidential.
greatly biases the medical literature, medical education, and
Upon further investigation we find that not only are unflattering
study outcomes concealed while positive ones are publicized, but Big
Pharma has become embroiled in scandals involving fabricated study
It surfaced in 2009 that Scott S Reuben, a Massachusetts
anesthesiologist and researcher, had faked data for 21 studies on
major medications. Several of the drugs reviewed in Reuben's
studies, including Wyeth's antidepressant,
Effexor FX, were shown in
a favorable light.
Evidence suggests that Reuben is not alone in his dishonesty. A 2013
article appearing in The Economist titled "Unreliable Research:
Trouble at the Lab" covers the work of Dr. Daniele Fanelli of the
University of Edinburgh, who has studied the flaws of academic
research outcomes. The article explains that
Fraud is very likely second to incompetence in generating erroneous
results, though it is hard to tell for certain.
Dr Fanelli has
looked at 21 different surveys of academics (mostly in the
biomedical sciences but also in civil engineering, chemistry and
economics) carried out between 1987 and 2008. Only 2% of respondents
admitted falsifying or fabricating data, but 28% of respondents
claimed to know of colleagues who engaged in questionable research
Collusion and deception have become hallmarks of the medical
establishment. Here are some additional examples of psychiatry's
corruption by the pharmaceutical cartel.
A 2012 study carried out by psychologist
Lisa Cosgrove and her
colleagues examining the conflicts of interest in
DSM panel members
revealed how the stranglehold of Big Pharma on psychiatric medicine
has only increased in recent years.
The authors of the study noted
"69% of the DSM-5 task force members report having ties to the
pharmaceutical industry. This represents a relative increase of 21%
over the proportion of DSM-IV task force members with such ties (57%
of DSM-IV task force members had ties)."
Cosgrove goes on to point out that panel members are eligible to
help create the DSM as long as they are not paid more than $10,000
from drug companies per year (through consultancies and other jobs).
In addition, members are permitted to have up to $50,000 in stock
holdings in pharmaceutical firms and still serve in their
The American Psychiatric Association meets in secret to develop the
DSM. All task force members are required by the APA to sign
This practice has been assailed by many,
even former DSM chairman Robert Spitzer, who stated in an interview
"When I first heard about this agreement, I just went
bonkers…transparency is necessary if the document is to have
In March 2009, The APA made an announcement that it would phase out
the practice of accepting contributions from pharmaceutical
companies for medical education seminars and food provided at
The pledge was short lived, however. Less than two
months later the organization accepted $1.7 million from Big Pharma
for its yearly convention in San Francisco.
Groups such as the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) and
the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA), which were
allegedly founded to advocate on behalf of people with mental
disorders, have since been exposed as nothing more than front groups
created to push Big Pharma's profit-driven agenda.
In the 1970s and 1980s, leaders at the National Institute of Mental
Health played a key role in helping found these groups, which have
effectively lobbied lawmakers in Washington and state capitols to
fund more research into psychiatry.
These organizations have enjoyed
a steady stream of generous financial support from drug makers for
Congressional records reflect that from 2006-2008, the
pharmaceutical cartel poured $23 million into NAMI coffers,
accounting for about 75% of its donations.
Given the overwhelming evidence implicating modern psychiatry as a
sick and twisted farce designed to profit from human suffering,
could it be that this issue doesn't receive any substantive media
Why hasn't this been exposed by The New York Times,
Dateline, and 60 Minutes?
Could it be the hundreds of millions of
dollars in advertising that the corporate media receives from Big Pharma each year?
Perhaps this could lead to self-censorship.
The Dangers of SSRIs
We will now take a deeper look at the dangers of associated with
SSRIs, particularly Prozac. This new drug consists of the single
active isomer of Celexa. 
The most controversial issue
surrounding the use of SSRIs - a possible connection to suicidal
thoughts and behavior in some users - made news in mid-2003 when the
Food and Drug Administration recommended that Paxil not be used to
treat depressed children and adolescents because regulators were
reviewing reports from clinical trials of an increased risk of
suicidal thinking and suicide attempts in young users of the
Zoloft, Paxil, and Prozac were the top-selling antidepressants in
the US in 2001, and antidepressants themselves were the largest
category of prescription drug that year, with US retail sales of
Prozac was the leading antidepressant worldwide
in 2000, but its share of prescriptions has been declining since the
mid-1990s due to competition from other drugs and from generic fluoxetine.
Eli Lilly's US sales of fluoxetine products fell 73%
in 2002 following the introduction of generic fluoxetine here in
August 2001. Generic paroxetine and fluvoxamine also are
available in the US market.
Although the Prozac era has ended for Eli Lilly, the availability of
less costly generics means that fluoxetine may be more affordable
for tens of millions of uninsured people.
And in addition to
gaining approval for Prozac for indications besides depression
(obsessive-compulsive disorder, bulimia nervosa, and panic
disorder), Eli Lilly now markets two Prozac-related products that
have their own patents: Sarafem is the version of Prozac approved in
2000 for the treatment of premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD).
was the first prescription drug in the US with this indication. The
second drug is Prozac Weekly, intended for the longer-term treatment
of depression when symptoms have stabilized. It was approved in
2001.  
IMS Health has noted a trend toward "lifestyle indications" for
In addition to major depression and OCD, both
Paxil and Zoloft are indicated for panic disorder, posttraumatic
stress disorder, and social anxiety disorder. Zoloft also is
approved for premenstrual dysphoric disorder, while Paxil also is
approved for generalized anxiety disorder. 
their part, prescribe SSRIs for a wide range of conditions, such as
headaches, substance abuse, eating disorders, back pain,
impulsivity, upset stomach, irritability, hair pulling, nail biting,
premature ejaculation, sexual addictions, and attention deficit
One growing market for SSRIs is their use with children, even though
some studies have found that antidepressants are no more effective
than placebos in these patients.     
study in the Journal of the American Medical Association in 2000
found that psychotropic medications prescribed to preschoolers had "increased dramatically between 1991 and 1995″ in the three sites
An analysis of prescription claims among young Medicaid
patients in North Carolina found that the use of Ritalin-type
stimulants and Prozac-type antidepressants among children rose
dramatically in the 1990s and that more were taking both drugs at
In 1998, 10.7% of children aged 6 to 14 were receiving
stimulants and 1.7% were receiving SSRIs (30% of these also took
Lead author Jerry Rushton, MD, MPH, stated,
consistent increase in SSRI use and in dual prescriptions is
especially surprising. We need further information about whether
this is due to new unrecognized mental disorders, substitution for
other therapies, or overprescription."
Serotonin and side effects
Prozac relieves depression by affecting the level of serotonin, a
neurotransmitter that connects receptor sites and fires nerve cells.
Joseph Glenmullen, MD, a clinical instructor in psychiatry at
Harvard Medical School, explains in his book Prozac Backlash that
the drug inhibits the reuptake of serotonin - a process in which a
cell that releases this chemical messenger reabsorbs any unused
portion of it.
By blocking the reuptake of this neurotransmitter,
Prozac boosts the level of serotonin and prolongs the serotonin
signals in the brain.
Dr. Glenmullen points out, however, that neurotransmitters like
serotonin, adrenaline, and dopamine are connected by complex
circuitry and function interdependently. Changes in one
neurotransmitter can set off changes in another. Thus, the idea that
Prozac-type drugs work "selectively" on serotonin is an illusion.
When the level of serotonin is artificially increased, the primary
reaction in the brain is a drop in dopamine - a powerful secondary
effect that was not understood when the new class of serotonin
boosters was introduced.
The severe effects of the SSRIs are thought
to be caused by the connections between the serotonin and dopamine
"Drugs producing a dopamine drop are well known to cause
the dangerous side effects that are now appearing with Prozac and
the other drugs in its class," Dr. Glenmullen writes.
His term for
these compensatory reactions in the brain is "Prozac backlash."
Peter R. Breggin, MD, also reports in Talking Back to Prozac: What
Doctors Aren't Telling You About Today's Most Controversial Drug,
that Prozac acts as a stimulant to the nervous system.
Therefore, it can produce side effects that mimic those of
amphetamines and are exaggerations of the desired effects of Prozac
in relieving depression.
According to Dr. Breggin, the FDA psychiatrist who wrote the
agency's safety review of Prozac stated that the drug's
effects - including nausea, insomnia, and nervousness - resembled the
profile of a stimulant drug rather than a sedative.
notes that nearly all of the Prozac side effects listed in the
Physician's Desk Reference "fit into the stimulant profile."
others, these stimulant symptoms include,
excessive sweating 
adds in The Antidepressant Fact Book that all of the SSRIs can cause
insomnia, anxiety, agitation, and nervousness. These same effects
and others are caused by the classic stimulants:
A drug that acts as a stimulant also can over-stimulate the body
In Talking Back to Prozac, Dr. Breggin offers the example
of a person who takes Prozac to relieve depression (the beneficial
effect) and suffers from agitation and insomnia (the negative
These adverse ,
"are inherent in the stimulant
effect that produces feelings of energy and well-being," he writes.
"In this sense, the difference between 'therapeutic effects' and
'toxic effects' are merely steps along a continuum from mild to
The Food and Drug Administration has received approximately 45,000
adverse reaction reports on Prozac.
It is not unusual for
serious adverse effects to surface after a drug has hit the market,
perhaps requiring that a major new warning be added to the label or
that the drug be withdrawn. The FDA informs doctors, but not the
public that the approval of a drug does not mean it is safe.
An analysis of 548 new drugs approved between 1975 and 1999 was
published in the Journal of the American Medical Association in
2002. It found that 56 of the drugs acquired a black box warning or
were withdrawn (16 drugs) from the market. There was a 20% chance
that problems will arise with any given drug after its approval.
researchers conclude that serious adverse drug reactions commonly
emerge after FDA approval.
"The safety of new agents
cannot be known with certainty until a drug has been on the market
for many years." 
Dr. Glenmullen says that popular psychiatric drugs follow a
"10-20-30 year pattern" in revealing their dangerous effects and
falling into disfavor:
About 10 years after their debut, the
earliest signs of problems appear.
At 20 years, there is enough data
for the problems to be undeniable and a significant number of
physicians to voice their concerns.
At 20 years (or more),
professional organizations and regulators actively work to stop
overprescribing of the drug.
At this point, drugs have become passe
and lost their patent protection, and the manufacturers move on
to more profitable drugs,
"that can be promoted as 'safer' because their
hazards are not yet known." 
Comparisons of efficacy
The SSRIs have no more specific effect on depression than do other
antidepressants, including the tricycles and monoamine-oxidase
inhibitors (MAOIs), according to Charles Medawar.
As he explains in "The Antidepressant Web," patients generally respond to
antidepressants in about 60% to 70% of cases, while the typical
response to placebo is 30% to 35%.
Therefore, the popularity of SSRIs is due to the fact that most experts believe they are safer or
otherwise more acceptable than the alternatives.
And, in fact,
promotional messages for SSRIs state three advantages: the drugs
produce fewer unwanted side effects, are more acceptable to more
patients, and are safer in overdose.
Despite the safety-related claims made in the medical literature,
"the evidence overall does not suggest that SSRIs show any
great and decisive safety advantage over alternatives in day to day
use," says Medawar.
Consider the results of trials comparing SSRI
efficacy and safety with that of other antidepressants:
independent meta-analyses, each starting with a careful search of
the literature to identify all properly controlled trials, have
reached broadly similar conclusions - the SSRIs do have the edge on
alternatives, but not by much."
One analysis of 62 trials found
a 49% dropout rate for SSRIs versus a 54% rate for tricyclic
A second analysis of 63 trials (16 comparing an SSRI with a nontricyclic) found that 3% fewer people stopped taking
an SSRI because of the side effects. 
Other recent reviews also have found that the newer antidepressants
are no more or less effective in treating depression than
In a government study conducted by
Dr. Cynthia Mulrow and colleagues, the researchers analyzed more
than 300 randomized controlled trials and concluded there were no
significant differences in efficacy between newer and older agents
or in overall discontinuation rates.
Fewer people taking SSRIs
stopped treatment due to adverse effects than those taking
first-generation tricyclics (the rate difference was 4%). More than
80 studies did find that newer antidepressants were more effective
than placebo in treating major depression in adults.
rate was 50% for the drugs, versus 32% for placebo. 
A more troubling conclusion was reached by Dr. Irving Kirsch and
colleagues who analyzed data sent
to the FDA for approval of the six
most commonly prescribed antidepressants between 1987 and 1999: 
analysis found that the response to placebo was almost as great as
the response to the antidepressants. The mean difference on the
Hamilton Rating Scale for Depression was two points, according to a
report in Psychiatric Times.
The difference was statistically, but
not clinically, significant.
The article states,
"More than half
of the clinical trials sponsored by the pharmaceutical companies
failed to find significant drug/placebo difference, and there were
no advantages to higher doses of antidepressants."
The authors add,
"The small difference between antidepressant and placebo has been
referred to as a 'dirty little secret' by clinical trial researchers
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Marketing of Madness - The Truth About Psychotropic Drugs