Health Impact News Editor Comments: The article below was written by Dr. Mercola prior to the recent shooting incident in Ohio, as was the Fox News story above on school shootings and antidepressant drugs which was filmed in 2007. As the details from the current school shooting in Ohio become clearer, will there once again be a connection to antidepressant drugs? News sources are reporting that this student shooter “was not a student at Chardon High School. He attended the nearby alternative school Lake Academy in Willoughby, which serves at-risk students. Students may have been referred to the school because of academic or behavioral problems.”
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 tolook 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[/*][/list]
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.
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