Making a Killing with Psychiatric Drugs … Literally

November 16th, 2009

Depressed Woman Taking MedicationMore people than ever are taking psychiatric medications, many of which have dangerous side effects. Many of these people don’t even need the medications that they’re taking, and in some cases, the side effects can be fatal or cause permanent damage that’s much worse than the original diagnosis.

Psychiatric medications kill approximately 3,000 people every month which is more than two and a half times the number of people killed by homicide. Many people who take psychiatric drugs aren’t aware of such risks, and to make matters worse, many of these drugs are just barely more effective than a placebo. Unfortunately, there’s a lot of deception and conflict of interest behind the marketing, research, and prescribing of these medications, and it’s important for anyone who is or will be taking them to be aware of it.

The Subjectivity of Psychiatry

Having been through chronic fatigue syndrome, I am well aware of the difficulty that many people face in regard to their condition not being accepted or understood. Personally, I just wanted to determine the cause of my problems, correct them, and resume living my life. I knew that how I felt was far from being right and definitely wasn’t just “in my head”. However, it was still frustrating to have others think it was. Based on this experience, I’m always cautious about questioning the legitimacy of a disease, condition, or diagnosis. However, it’s important to consider if the intent is to truly identify the underlying problem and restore proper function, or if it’s nothing more than an excuse to promote a drug or treatment. Unfortunately, the latter is often the case with the diagnosis of psychiatric disorders.

Most psychiatric disorders are believed to be caused by chemical imbalances in the brain. However, there’s no accurate way to test for this, and as such, the diagnosis of such disorders is often highly subjective. Psychiatrists rely on the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) for diagnosing and prescribing, and the disorders in this manual are identified not through scientific research, but rather by the suggestion and consensus of psychiatrists who often have financial ties to the drug industry. The DSM has grown to contain nearly 900 pages in its current version and defines so many disorders that any healthy individual could easily be diagnosed with one.

The Tremendous Influence of the Drug Industry

It’s become abundantly clear that we can’t trust the drug industry. Unfortunately, we can’t even trust the FDA whose primary purpose is to regulate the drug industry. This has especially been a problem since 1992 when Congress approved the Prescription Drug Fee User Act which allowed the FDA to collect a substantial fee from drug companies seeking approval of new drugs. Based on this legislation, the FDA is now largely funded by the very same industry that they’re supposed to be protecting us from. It’s a significant conflict of interest to say the least.

Many of the FDA researchers who approve new drugs regard the pharmaceutical companies that manufacture them as their clients and do everything they can to please them. In fact, many of these researchers also have financial ties to the very same companies that they’re evaluating drugs for. As such, the FDA has basically become a branch of the drug industry and has lost site of their true purpose of protecting public health. The approval of the antidepressant Paxil is just one of many examples that make this evident. This controversial drug is associated with an increased risk of suicide, but the FDA approved it anyway, and every single member of the approval panel had ties to the pharmaceutical industry. Similarly, Cymbalta, another antidepressant, was approved by the FDA despite 4 suicides and an additional 11 suicide attempts during clinical trials.

Unfortunately, it’s not nearly as profitable to cure people of their illnesses as it is to have them take a drug for the rest of their lives, and in most cases, such drugs do nothing more than mask symptoms. The drug industry uses a number of tactics to promote this approach. They pay psychiatrists up to a half million dollars per year to encourage other psychiatrists to prescribe their medications, and they have their drug representatives provide free samples and free gifts to the doctors and psychiatrists who can prescribe their drugs. In round about ways making it seem legitimate, they also reward the physicians and psychiatrists who write the most prescriptions with free trips and monetary bonuses. Pfizer, the world’s largest drug manufacturer, was recently fined a record breaking $2.4 billion for this type of behavior.

In addition, the FDA leaves it up to drug companies to provide the research proving that their own drug is safe and effective. This research is much too short in duration, the results are often manipulated, and the supporting data is rarely published. Once a drug is approved, drug companies even ghostwrite research papers supporting the effectiveness of their drugs and pay prominent researchers who had no involvement with the work to put their names on it. These papers are published in prestigious medical journals, which also happen to rely heavily on advertising from the drug industry. The information in these papers is also quoted and propagated by the media. In the infamous case of the painkiller Vioxx, this type of behavior caused more deaths to Americans than the Vietnam war!

Are You Participating in this Giant Experiment?

Because of the inadequate research that drug approvals are based on, the general public becomes unknowing participants in the real clinical trials that occur once a drug is released. The people who are prescribed these drugs will be the ones who identify the side effects that haven’t been identified through the approval process. This is why it’s recommended to think twice about taking any medications that haven’t been in the market for at least 7 years.

Even some so called consumer advocacy groups claiming to provide this type of unbiased information on psychiatric drugs can’t be trusted because they’re run by psychiatrists who are funded by the drug industry.

The Dark Side of Psychiatry

The advent of psychiatric drugs has earned psychiatrists much more respect and perceived importance from the general public. As such, many psychiatrists are more than happy to base their practice on the use of prescription drugs. As expected, the drug industry is more than happy to support and promote this.

Some of the medications prescribed by psychiatrists, such as Paxil, have serious side effects including an increased risk of suicide. Based on the questionable definitions in the DSM, these drugs are often prescribed within as little as 5 minutes of a psychiatrist consulting with a new patient. The drug industry influences this behavior by running television commercials and providing internet surveys that lead the average person to believe that they have a mental disorder and need treatment. These ads and surveys, as well as the disorders described in the DSM, are designed in a way that could characterize the typical ups and downs of normal life as a symptom of a psychiatric disorder.

Even children are at risk. Drug companies have a substantial financial incentive, sometimes worth billions of dollars, to conduct research on children because it can extend their patents by 6 months. The increase of bipolar disorder has been of particular concern among children. This diagnosis was made popular by Dr. Joseph Biederman who was the primary force behind the 4000% increase in the diagnosed cases of bipolar disorder in children and the associated 2.5 million prescriptions. Dr. Biederman was eventually exposed for having been paid by 25 different drug companies and having failed to disclose 1.6 million dollars in income from them.

There’s no doubt that many people are suffering from undesirable mental symptoms, but psychiatric medications are rarely the best solution. In more cases than most people realize, symptoms such as depression, irritability, anxiety, and even forgetfulness are caused by lifestyle factors. Diet in particular has an especially strong effect on mood. Other lifestyle factors that can significantly improve mental wellness include stress management, good sleep habits, regular exercise, having a positive perspective on life, living with passion, and even sun exposure. These should be among the first things considered by people who are unhappy with their mental wellness, but unfortunately, it’s rare for a psychiatrist to recommend such solutions. Instead, they prescribe drugs that often create the need to prescribe additional drugs to deal with side effects and start a downward spiral that keeps the drug industry happy and the patient at risk and in poor health.

Not every mental symptom can be corrected through healthier lifestyle habits, but many of them can. Before improving my health, irritability, discontent, anxiety, and depression were all problems for me and I’m sure that I could have easily gotten a prescription for these issues if I had chosen to see a physician or psychiatrist about them. Instead, through the benefits of living a healthy lifestyle, I’ve minimized these symptoms to the point of them not being a concern at all.

A Heart Wrenching and Infuriating Documentary

The following documentary, Making A Killing – The Untold Story of Psychotropic Drugging, provides an excellent although unsettling depiction of what’s really happening in the psychiatry field. If you or anyone you know is or will be taking psychiatric medication, this documentary is a must see.

About an hour in to the documentary, you’ll learn about:

  • A normal 17 year old girl who was diagnosed with 2 mental disorders by the TeenScreen survey that she was directed to take at school without her parents’ consent.
  • A normal 11 year old girl who was flagged as suicidal by the same TeenScreen survey and taken into custody for six months without her parents consent or knowledge and was drugged with 22 different medications.
  • How the inventor of the TeenScreen survey admitted that it incorrectly flagged 84% of all students as being suicidal.
  • Two people with loving families and no symptoms of depression who committed suicide within a short time of being prescribed the antidepressant Paxil to treat insomnia.
  • A two year old girl who was questionably diagnosed with several mental disorders, prescribed multiple psychiatric medications, and died at the age of 4.

Words cannot do these stories justice. I highly recommend that you watch them.

This documentary is produced by the Citizens Commission on Human Rights. Although some people might be tempted to discount the significance of this documentary because the CCHR is founded by the Church of Scientology, I think this would be an unfortunate mistake. I myself am not a supporter of Scientology and highly recommend that you watch the entire hour and a half video regardless of your religious beliefs. It includes interviews with a number of reputable experts and provides important information that we all need to be aware of.

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