By Dr. Mercola
A Canadian judge has ruled that a teenage boy murdered his friend because of the effects of Prozac.
The ruling will not be appealed.
The decision has revived the debate regarding the widespread prescription of antidepressants to young people.
Justice Robert Heinrichs ruled that the 15-year-old boy was under the influence of the medication when he stabbed and killed a close friend.
He was sentenced to 10 months on top of the two years he had already spent in jail.
"Prozac is meant to curb the effects of depression, but Justice Heinrich concluded it set off a steady deterioration in the young murderer's behavior," CCHR1 reports.
"He had become irritable, restless, agitated, aggressive and unclear in his thinking," the judge said.
"It was while in that state he overreacted in an impulsive, explosive and violent way. Now that his body and mind are free and clear of any effects of Prozac, he is simply not the same youth in behavior or character."
Should Antidepressants Carry Black Box Warning for Homicidal Tendencies?
In 2004, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) decided SSRI antidepressants must carry a black box warning that the drug can cause suicidal tendencies. But what about violence and homicidal tendencies? Despite mounting evidence that antidepressants and certain other drugs can induce violent behavior and has led to the tragic death of spouses, family members and friends, the FDA has done nothing to warn or curb the use of such drugs.
According to CCHR2:
"It is well documented that psychiatric drugs, particularly antidepressants, can cause a host of violent side effects including mania, psychosis, aggression, violence, and in the case of the antidepressant Effexor, homicidal ideation ... [P]eople with no prior history of violence (or suicide) became homicidal and suicidal under the influence of antidepressants. ... However, despite all the documented violence-inducing side effects of these drugs, the FDA has never issued black box warnings on antidepressants causing violence or homicide despite the fact that at least 11 recent school shootings were committed by kids documented to be on or in withdrawal from psychiatric drugs."
The expert testimony in this case was supplied by Dr. Peter Breggin, an outspoken critic of psychiatric drugs. The featured article quotes him as saying:
"These drugs produce a stimulant or activation continuum... That continuum includes aggression, hostility, loss of impulse control … all of which are a prescription for violence."
Other still feel the link between antidepressants and homicide is thin, but I can't help but wonder if that's just because they're refusing to look at the evidence and give it the attention it deserves. The CCHR website includes a helpful search feature3, allowing you to search for all sorts of reports and research relating to psychiatric drugs and their side effects. It took 13 years before the FDA finally agreed SSRI's can cause suicidal thoughts and behavior. How many decades-worth of evidence will have to mount up before the apparent link to uncontrolled violence and homicide is addressed?
Your Genes May Predispose You to Homicidal Side Effects of Antidepressants
Interestingly, in related news, a 2011 study published in Pharmacogenomics and Personalized Medicine4 has found that certain genes may predispose you to homicidal behavior following exposure to antidepressants. Both sudden withdrawal from antidepressants and continuing to take them was found to worsen the problem. According to the study's authors:
"... The results presented here concerning a sample of persons given antidepressants for psychosocial distress demonstrate the extent to which the psychopharmacology industry has expanded its influence beyond its ability to cure.
... [T]he Sequenced Treatment Alternatives to Relieve Depression (Star *D) study ... found that antidepressants were only marginally (2.7%) more efficacious compared with placebos. The same meta-analyses documented profound publication bias, inflating their apparent efficacy as well as bias in failing to report the negative results ... The authors argue for a reappraisal of the current recommended standard of care of depression." [Emphasis mine]
What they discovered is that many people being treated with antidepressants can't metabolize them due to common genetic mutations, which can cause severe drug interactions and akathisia (a movement disorder characterized by a feeling of inner restlessness). Some researchers and physicians believe that akathisia is the chief symptom that triggers impulsive violence in certain individuals who take antidepressant drugs. This is thought to be an extreme form of akathisia. Homicidal impulses and murderous behavior due to akathisia is now being called "homicidal akathisia."
Forensic psychiatrist and lead author of the study, Dr. Yolande Lucire, is now campaigning to introduce ways of minimizing over-prescription of antidepressants by taking genetics into account. Of 129 subjects, more than 120 of them were diagnosed with akathisia/serotonin toxicity caused by psychiatric medications. The authors further explain:
"They were tested for variant alleles in CYP450 genes, which play a major role in Phase 1 metabolism of all antidepressant and many other medications. Eight had committed homicide and many more became extremely violent while on antidepressants. ... All those described [in the paper] were able to stop taking antidepressants and return to their previously normal personalities."
Antidepressants Top List of Most Violence-Inducing Drugs
It's certainly worth paying heed to drug interactions such as violence and homicidal leanings, both as a patient and as a concerned parent, family member or friend. According to a 2010 study published in the journal PLoS One5, half of the top 10 drugs disproportionately linked with violent behavior are antidepressants:
- Varenicline (Chantix): The number one violence-inducing drug on the list, this anti-smoking medication is 18 times more likely to be linked with violence when compared to other drugs
- Fluoxetine (Prozac): This drug was the first well-known SSRI antidepressant
- Paroxetine (Paxil): Another SSRI antidepressant, Paxil is also linked with severe withdrawal symptoms and a risk of birth defects
- Amphetamines: (Various): Used to treat ADHD
- Mefoquine (Lariam): A treatment for malaria which is often linked with reports of strange behavior
- Atomoxetine (Strattera): An ADHD drug that affects the neurotransmitter noradrenaline
- Triazolam (Halcion): This potentially addictive drug is used to treat insomnia
- Fluvoxamine (Luvox): Another SSRI antidepressant
- Venlafaxine (Effexor): An antidepressant also used to treat anxiety disorders
- Desvenlafaxine (Pristiq): An antidepressant which affects both serotonin and noradrenaline
Is Usage of these Drugs Ever Appropriate?
Depression, or more accurately, un-repaired emotional short-circuiting, can absolutely devastate your health and life. However, using antidepressants as the primary (or only) treatment option is simply not advisable, especially if the one suffering from depression is a child or teenager. Whereas severe depression can indeed progress to suicide if left untreated, antidepressant drugs have been shown to CAUSE both suicidal and homicidal thoughts and behaviors. As mentioned in the featured report, at least 11 tragic school shootings were done by children who were either on antidepressants, or going through withdrawal...
I believe this is an enormous price to pay for what amounts to highly questionable benefits.
Studies have found that up to 75 percent of the benefits of antidepressants could be duplicated by a placebo. So not only do these drugs not work as advertised, but the evidence is quite clear that most of these drugs do in fact increase your risk of suicide and violence. Since depression can be a terminal illness, why take a drug that will actually increase your risk of killing yourself—or someone else?
Please understand that I am not seeking to diminish the impact of mental illness. It is massively pervasive and responsible for tens of thousands of deaths every year and needless suffering in millions of others.
My clinical experience leads me to believe that the only appropriate use of these dangerous medications is as a last ditch effort when the patient is at a serious risk to themselves or others. (And, of course, they must be closely monitored for lethal side effects such as suicidal and/or homicidal thoughts and tendencies!) The drugs should be continued until the condition is under control and they are out of harm's way, and then carefully weaned. This is a very similar strategy to going to the ER and seeing an orthopedic surgeon for a cast when you've fractured a major bone.
You don't use that cast the rest of your life. You use it until your bone is healed.
The REAL tragedy is that most of the drug companies do NOT view antidepressants this way. There are enormous marketing efforts to classify normal behavior as aberrant or diseased, which then requires lifelong therapy with their drug solution.
How to Address the Root Cause of the Problem
I strongly believe that energy psychology is one of the most powerful tools for resolving emotional issues—specifically a technique called EFT—and I'll be talking more about that in a moment.
But diet and general lifestyle are clearly parts of the "root" that must be healed if you want to resolve mental health issues. For example, mounting evidence tells us that having a healthy gut is profoundly important for both physical and mental health, and the latter can be severely impacted by an imbalance of intestinal bacteria. I strongly recommend addressing the following lifestyle factors if you're suffering from depression or any other mental health problem.
- Dramatically decrease your consumption of sugar (particularly fructose), grains, and processed foods. (In addition to being high in sugar and grains, processed foods also contain a variety of additives that can affect your brain function and mental state, especially MSG, and artificial sweeteners such as aspartame.) There's a great book on this subject, The Sugar Blues, written by William Dufty more than 30 years ago, that delves into the topic of sugar and mental health in great detail.
- Increase consumption of probiotic foods, such as fermented vegetables and kefir, to promote healthy gut flora
- Get adequate vitamin B12. Vitamin B12 deficiency can contribute to depression and affects one in four people.
- Optimize your vitamin D levels, ideally through regular sun exposure. Vitamin D is very important for your mood. In one study, people with the lowest levels of vitamin D were found to be 11 times more prone to be depressed than those who had normal levels.6
The best way to get vitamin D is through safe exposure to SUNSHINE. Remember, SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) is a type of depression that we know is related to sunshine deficiency, so it would make sense that the perfect way to optimize your vitamin D is through sun exposure, or a safe tanning bed if you don't have regular access to the sun.
- Get plenty of animal-based omega-3 fats. Many people don't realize that their brain is 60 percent fat, but not just any fat. It is DHA, an animal based omega-3 fat which, along with EPA, is crucial for good brain function and mental health7. Unfortunately, most people don't get enough from diet alone. Make sure you take a high-quality omega-3 fat, such as krill oil.
Dr. Stoll, a Harvard psychiatrist, was one of the early leaders in compiling the evidence supporting the use of animal based omega-3 fats for the treatment of depression. He wrote an excellent book that details his experience in this area called The Omega-3 Connection.
- Evaluate your salt intake. Sodium deficiency actually creates symptoms that are very much like those of depression. Make sure you do NOT use processed salt (regular table salt), however. You'll want to use an all natural, unprocessed salt like Himalayan salt, which contains more than 80 different micronutrients.
- Get adequate daily exercise, which is one of the best-kept secrets to preventing and overcoming depression.
- Get adequate amounts of sleep. You can have the best diet and exercise program possible but if you aren't sleeping well you can easily become depressed. Sleep and depression are so intimately linked that a sleep disorder is actually part of the definition of the symptom complex that gives the label depression.
New Research Shines Light on the Benefits of EFT
Additionally, it's imperative to address any underlying emotional issues. I have been a fan of energy psychology for many years, having witnessed its effectiveness in my medical practice and in my own personal life. EFT, as opposed to drugs and supplements, hits at the root of the problem—even if you don't know exactly what that is. This is the beauty of energy medicine in general—and anyone can learn to apply EFT to themselves, even a young child.
In the following videos, Julie Schiffman, a licensed EFT practitioner at my Center for Natural Health in Chicago, guides you through how to tap for headaches and other pain. As you will see, by simply altering your statements you can use this tapping technique to address virtually any ailment you may be experiencing at any point in time.
Unfortunately, studies have been few and far in-between as science has been trying to "catch up" with clinical experience. But all of that is changing now!
Before I go any further, I want to stress the importance of getting professional help if you suffer from depression, and that includes seeing a qualified EFT therapist. Although you can learn how to do EFT in a few minutes it can take years to apply it effectively. The best therapists are typically those with conventional psychological training who have studied this in addition to conventional methods. There are times where hospital admission may be necessary to prevent a suicide attempt and untrained therapists will not be able to discern this danger.
If the first therapist can't help you, I recommend seeking out another. Getting a second opinion is pretty standard when it comes to medicine, and this is no different. The connection between you and your doctor or therapist can have a great influence on the success of your treatment or therapy.
As for the success rate of EFT, several studies have recently been published, demonstrating just how safe and effective EFT really is. For example, the following three studies show remarkable progress in a very short amount of time for people with a history of trauma:
- A 2009 study of 16 institutionalized adolescent boys with histories of physical or psychological abuse showed substantially decreased intensity of traumatic memories after just ONE session of EFT.
- An EFT study involving 30 moderately to severely depressed college students was conducted. The depressed students were given four 90-minute EFT sessions. Students who received EFT showed significantly less depression than the control group when evaluated three weeks later.
- A study of 100 veterans with severe PTSD (Iraq Vets Stress Project) showed an astounding reduction of symptoms after just six one-hour EFT sessions. After completing six sessions, 90 percent of the veterans had such a reduction in symptoms that they no longer met the clinical criteria for PTSD. Sixty percent no longer met PTSD criteria after only three EFT sessions. At the three-month follow-up, the gains remained stable, suggesting lasting and potentially permanent resolution of the problem.
[The Iraq Stress Project is still recruiting veteran volunteers. If you are a veteran and interested in participating, you can get more information here.]
Operation Emotional Freedom
In a new documentary film entitled Operation: Emotional Freedom, directed by Eric Huurre, a number of Veterans and their families went through intensive therapy using EFT. The results were truly astounding. EFT developer Gary Craig, along with other EFT practitioners worked very closely with Veterans who recently returned home from war. They were all suffering from PTSD, depression, anxiety and a few were suicidal.
At the end of treatment, each one of them describes a new feeling of peace and hope that there is help and they were able to overcome emotional traumas experienced in combat.
This film is a close look at the current state of health care for combat veterans diagnosed with PTSD. The film is about examining the myths and misconceptions surrounding the medical/chemical approach to treating emotional conditions and why drugs are not "the answer" that pharmaceuticals promise. Instead, the story follows this group of volunteer Vets and their families on a journey from the hell of their post-war experiences through a newer vision of health and recovery for PTSD and trauma.
Visit the official website www.operation-emotionalfreedom.com to learn more about efforts to assist veterans and their families through energy psychology.
Clearly, energy psychology beats pharmaceuticals HANDS DOWN as a safer, more effective, longer-lasting treatment for stress and emotional problems. And there have been EFT successes with a wide range of other issues—both emotional and physical. EFT is easy to learn, no matter what your age—children included—so I encourage you to add it to your stress-busting tool kit.
In closing, please remember that your emotional health is intimately connected with your physical health, which is largely controlled by diet and lifestyle choices and your reactions to stress. These daily habits have enormous impact, whether you want to overcome depression or just continue enjoying great health. So please, actively investigate and consider the natural treatments I've suggested above, ideally with the support and guidance of a knowledgeable natural medicine friendly healthcare practitioner.
Important Concluding Thoughts...
I want to make something abundantly clear before I leave you. I know firsthand that depression is devastating. It takes a toll on the healthiest of families and can destroy lifelong friendships. Few things are harder in life than watching someone you love lose their sense of joy, hope, and purpose in life, and wonder if they will ever find it again. And to not have anything within your power that can change things for them. You wonder if you will ever have your loved one "back" again.
It's impossible to impart the will to live to somebody who no longer possesses it. No amount of logic, reasoning, or reminders about all they have to live for will put a smile back on the face of a loved one masked by the black cloud of depression.
Oftentimes you cannot change your circumstances. You can, however, change your response to them. I encourage you to be balanced in your life. Don't ignore your body's warning signs that something needs to change. Sometimes people are so busy taking care of everybody else that they lose sight of themselves.
There are times when a prescription drug may help restore balance to your body. But it's unclear whether it is the drug providing benefits, or the unbelievable power of your mind that is convinced it is going to work.
If you have been personally affected by depression, my heart goes out to you.
A broken body can be easier to fix than a broken mind. Depression is real. It is my hope that you don't feel judged here, but that you are encouraged and inspired by those who have been there.
- 1 CCHR December 7, 2011
- 2 CCHR December 7, 2011
- 3 CCHR International Warnings and Studies on Psychiatric Drugs Search Engine
- 4 Antidepressant-induced akathisia-related homicides associated with diminishing mutations in metabolizing genes of the CYP450 family, Yolande Lucire and Christopher Crotty, Pharmacogenomics and Personalized Medicine July 29, 2011
- 5 PLoS One December 15, 2010; 5(12)
- 6 American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry December 2006; 14(12): 1032-1040
- 7 Effects of Omega-3 Fatty Acids on Mental Health, Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Evidence Report/Technology Assessment: Number 116