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These Popular Antidepressant Drugs Can Make You Violent -- Avoid Them

Prescription DrugsSome medications have been linked to an increased risk for violent, even homicidal behavior. A recent study identified 31 drugs that are disproportionately linked with violent behavior.

Time Magazine lists the top ten offenders:

  1. 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
  2. Fluoxetine (Prozac): This drug was the first well-known SSRI antidepressant
  3. Paroxetine (Paxil): Another SSRI antidepressant, Paxil is also linked with severe withdrawal symptoms and a risk of birth defects
  4. Amphetamines: (Various): Used to treat ADHD
  5. Mefoquine (Lariam): A treatment for malaria which is often linked with reports of strange behavior
  6. Atomoxetine (Strattera): An ADHD drug that affects the neurotransmitter noradrenaline
  7. Triazolam (Halcion): This potentially addictive drug is used to treat insomnia
  8. Fluvoxamine (Luvox): Another SSRI antidepressant
  9. Venlafaxine (Effexor): An antidepressant also used to treat anxiety disorders
  10. Desvenlafaxine (Pristiq): An antidepressant which affects both serotonin and noradrenaline
Dr. Mercola's Comments:

How legal drugs affect your mental state is a very important issue that is not getting the attention it deserves. In recent years, prescription rates for antidepressants and related drugs have skyrocketed.

About 230 million prescriptions for antidepressants are now filled each year, making them one of the most-prescribed drugs in the United States. But despite all of these prescription drugs being taken, more than one in 20 Americans are still depressed, according to the most recent statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The statistics alone should be a strong indication that what we're doing is simply not working, and that instead, these drugs are contributing to other serious health problems—and play a significant role in senseless acts of violence.

Depression (which from a more holistic perspective can be described as un-repaired emotional short-circuiting) can 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.

Now, a study by The Institute of Safe Medication Practices has identified 31 commonly-prescribed drugs that are disproportionately associated with cases of violent acts. Topping the list is the quit-smoking drug Chantix, followed by Prozac and Paxil, and drugs used to treat ADHD.

Chantix is a whopping 18 times more likely to be linked with violence compared to other drugs, with 408 reported incidents.

These figures were collected from the US FDA's Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS), and it's well worth noting here that only an estimated one to 10 percent of all side effects are ever reported to VAERS. So the fact that 408 acts of violence were linked to the drug and then actually reported is pretty amazing, considering the fact that the vast majority of side effects, regardless of what they are, are blamed on something else and connections are brushed aside as "coincidental."

Time Magazine also makes sure to state that these facts and figures do not mean that the drugs cause you to become violent. Rather we're to believe that depressed people are a naturally violent bunch and they take these drugs to control their destructive moods in the first place, so (apparently) the drug just didn't work for them.

Personally, I believe that's wishful thinking at best and irresponsible justification to protect profits for dangerous drugs at worst.

In all, five of the top 10 most violence-inducing drugs are antidepressants and two are commonly-prescribed ADHD drugs. When you consider that these are among the most prescribed types of drugs in the US, the fact that so many of them are linked to increased rates of violence should be cause for pause...

Antidepressants PROVEN Ineffective—Why are they Still the Go-To Solution?

It's interesting to note that while many alternative and complementary medical strategies are currently under heavy fire for being "unproven," we still continue to prescribe drugs that have been scientifically proven to be as effective, or less, than a placebo...

For example, alleged "safety concerns" over herbal medicines and questions about whether or not homeopathic remedies "actually work" have sparked a renewed drive in Europe to get many of these products off the market.

Meanwhile, various studies through the years 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 also quite clear that most of these drugs increase your risk of suicide and violence.

Trying to reason this through logically is futile because it's not based on logic. It's based on money. Depression and ADHD are near limitless gold mines for pharmaceutical companies. There is no diagnostic test for either of these problems, and literally anyone who exhibits, or claims to have, certain symptoms can be labeled depressed or ADHD and be given drugs to treat the symptoms.

This too is a very important point: antidepressants are modifiers, not cures. They do not in ANY way whatsoever treat the root cause of depression. These drugs act as sedatives or stimulants—they're NOT actually "correcting" an underlying imbalance.

Most of you have probably heard that depression is due to a "chemical imbalance in your brain," which these drugs are designed to correct. Unfortunately for anyone who has ever swallowed this marketing ploy, this is NOT a scientific statement.

Medical journalist and Pulitzer Prize nominee Robert Whitaker explained the background of this oft-used but deceptive claim in my interview with him last year:

"The low serotonin theory arose because they understood how the drugs acted on the brain. But it was just a hypothesis borne to try to explain why the drug might be fixing something. They investigated whether people had low serotonin…[But] in 1983, NIMH concluded that there is no evidence that there is anything wrong in the serotonergic system of depressed patients...

So there was never any evidence that people with depression characteristically had low levels of serotonin."

I think that we need to take a step back and remember that when you're facing life's ups and downs there's nothing wrong with feeling blue now and again. It's a part of normal life, and in some cases depression is a sign that your LIFE is unbalanced, not your brain!

Accepting your feelings, whatever they may be, is one of the reasons why the Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) works so well.

The Many Dangerous Side-Effects of Antidepressants

Increased risk of suicide and violence are not the only risk factors to take into account when considering taking an antidepressant. They can also harm your immune system, and raise your risk of type 2 diabetes by two to three times in high-risk groups.

Worse yet, they can CAUSE or worsen actual mental illness, and can lead to mental decline with long term use...

Robert Whitaker discussed this at length in my interview with him and you can also read more about this in his new book Anatomy of an Epidemic: Magic Bullets, Psychiatric Drugs and the Astonishing Rise of Mental Illness in America:

"There are two side effects or risks that really need to be addressed, and that everybody should be thinking about, that show up in the scientific literature," he said.

"The first risk is that you'll convert from unipolar depression to bipolar depression.

… One of the things we've seen with the use of the SSRIs is this incredible, extraordinary boom in bipolar diagnoses, and that is definitely tied to the widespread use of antidepressants.

Now, in kids, something like 25 to 50 percent of all kids placed on an antidepressant, who stay on that antidepressant for five years, will convert to bipolar illness. With adults, it seems like about 25 percent of long term of users that begin with a diagnosis of unipolar depression will convert to bipolar.

... The second real risk is that there is a lot of evidence compiling [showing] that if you stay on antidepressants for five, ten, fifteen years, there is some real worry with cognitive decline associated with that long term use."

How to Treat the Root Cause of Your Problem

Like many of you, I have been personally affected by depression. Someone very near and dear to me made several unsuccessful suicide attempts several years ago. It was devastating. Medications and inpatient care were a terrible failure as they never addressed the underlying cause of the depression. This happened just as I was beginning to learn about energy medicine.

I'm quite confident I would have been able to help reach a more favorable outcome, more quickly, if I knew then what I know now.

Ultimately, it was energetic techniques that assisted this person to make a full recovery from depression. A very advanced form of cranial osteopathy was administered by a skilled physician. My favorite tool is energy psychology.

Learning how to use an energy psychology tool like the Emotional Freedom Technique can make an enormous difference if you suffer from depression or any other kind of emotional dysfunction. It's one of the most powerful methods I know of, and really is a crucial element of a successful treatment program.

For serious problems, it would be prudent to contact a health care professional who is trained in the technique.

I strongly believe that energy psychology is the single most important tool to resolve depression, but its effectiveness will certainly be significantly improved if it can be combined with a healthy lifestyle. Overcoming depression is usually a matter of integrating key natural therapies into a treatment program that feels right for you.

Here are four key factors to consider:

  1. Optimize your diet—Tailoring your diet to your nutritional type to ensure your body is getting the appropriate nutrition it needs to thrive, along with drastically reducing or eliminating most sugars and grain from your diet will help form a firm foundation for both physical and mental wellness.

    Eating according to your nutritional type and abstaining from sugar/grains will optimize your insulin and leptin levels naturally. Remember that insulin resistance (which is caused by too much sugar/fructose and grains in your diet) is not only a primary factor in diseases like diabetes and heart disease, it’s also a significant risk factor for depression.

    Researchers have discovered a positive connection between higher levels of insulin resistance and severity of depressive symptoms in people with impaired glucose tolerance, even before the occurrence of diabetes. Based on these findings, it was suggested that insulin resistance could be the result of an increased release of counter-regulatory hormones linked to depression.

    According to one 2004 study, sugar suppresses activity of a key growth hormone in your brain called BDNF. BDNF levels are critically low in those suffering from depression and schizophrenia. To learn more, please see my article, The Links Between Sugar and Mental Health.

    Keep in mind that abstaining from sugars and grains also means avoiding sodas, sweetened beverages of all kinds and processed foods of all types as high fructose corn syrup is a staple ingredient in most processed foods and sweetened beverages.

    You’ll also want to avoid artificially sweetened “diet” foods and beverages. Artificial sweeteners like aspartame have also been linked to depression and behavioral disturbances.

  2. Exercise!—Regular exercise is one of the “secret weapons” to overcoming depression. It works so well because it helps to normalize insulin resistance while boosting “feel good” hormones in your brain. Again and again, researchers have confirmed that physical exercise beats antidepressants in terms of effectiveness and long-term stay-well rate.
  3.  Optimize your vitamin D levels—Getting safe sun exposure, which allows your body to produce vitamin D, is a natural mood booster, and vitamin D deficiency has been linked to a significantly increased risk of depression. One study found people with the lowest levels of vitamin D were 11 times more prone to be depressed than those who received healthy doses.

    Ideally, you’ll want to optimize your vitamin D levels by getting regular exposure to sunlight, but you can also use a safe tanning bed or take a high-quality vitamin D3 supplement.

  4. Take high quality animal-based omega-3 fat daily—Not getting enough omega-3 fats is known to change the levels and functioning of both serotonin and dopamine (which plays a role in feelings of pleasure), as well as compromise the blood-brain barrier, which normally protects your brain from unwanted matter gaining access.

    Omega-3 deficiency can also decrease normal blood flow to your brain, an interesting finding given that studies show people with depression have compromised blood flow to a number of brain regions. Finally, omega-3 deficiency also causes a 35 percent reduction in brain phosphatidylserine (PS) levels, which is relevant considering that PS has documented antidepressant activity in humans.

    Omega-3 fats such as those in krill oil have actually been found to work just as well as antidepressants in preventing the signs of depression, but without any of the side effects. I can also attest to this, as throughout my years of medical practice many of my patients were able to eliminate their antidepressants once they started taking omega-3 fats.

Depression can be a very serious condition, but antidepressants are rarely effective, and the side effects can be just as deadly. I urge you to consider the natural treatments suggested above—ideally with the support and guidance of a knowledgeable natural health care practitioner.

If you or someone you love is currently struggling with depression, I also highly suggest reading Dr. Gordon's book Unstuck: Your Guide to the Seven-Stage Journey Out of Depression. It is packed with valuable insights to help you feel better and regain control of your physical and mental health.