Monday, March 12, 2012

395 America's mental illness epidemic - Robert Whitaker

America's mental illness epidemic - Robert Whitaker

(1) America's mental illness epidemic: It turns out that the drugs are the problem
(2) Drugs can cause a more severe form of mental illness than you started with

(1) America's mental illness epidemic: It turns out that the drugs are the problem
By Gary G. Kohls, MD

Online Journal Contributing Writer

Aug 26, 2010, 00:19

Tens of millions of innocent, unsuspecting Americans, who are mired deeply in the mental “health” system, have actually been made crazy by the use of or the withdrawal from commonly-prescribed, brain-altering, brain-disabling, indeed brain-damaging psychiatric drugs that have been, for many decades, cavalierly handed out like candy -- often in untested and therefore unapproved combinations of drugs -- to trusting and unaware patients by equally unaware but well-intentioned physicians who have been under the mesmerizing influence of slick and obscenely profitable psychopharmaceutical drug companies, a.k.a. BigPharma.

That is the conclusion of two books by investigative journalist and health science writer Robert Whitaker. His first book, entitled Mad in America: Bad Science, Bad Medicine and the Enduring Mistreatment of the Mentally Ill noted that there has been a 600 percent increase (since Thorazine was introduced in the US in the mid-1950s) in the total and permanent disabilities of millions of psychiatric drug-takers. This uniquely First World mental ill health epidemic has resulted in the life-long taxpayer-supported disabilities of rapidly increasing numbers of psychiatric patients who are now unable to be happy, productive, taxpaying members of society. Whitaker has done a powerful, albeit unwelcome job of presenting previously hidden, but very convincing evidence to support his thesis, that it is the drugs and not the diagnosis that is causing the epidemic of mental illness disability. Many open-minded physicians and many aware psychiatric patients are now motivated to be wary of any and all synthetic chemicals that can cross the blood/brain barrier because all of them are capable of altering the brain in ways totally unknown to medical science, especially when the patients are taking the drugs long-term. .

In Whitaker's second book Anatomy of an Epidemic: Magic Bullets, Psychiatric Drugs, and the Astonishing Rise of Mental Illness in America, he goes much further in advancing this sobering reality. He documents the history of the powerful forces behind the relatively new field of psychopharmacology and its major shaper and beneficiary, BigPharma. Psychiatric drugs, whose developers, marketers and salespersons are all in the employ of the giant drug companies, are far more dangerous than the drug and psychiatric industries are willing to admit: These drugs, it turns our, are fully capable of disabling -- often permanently -- body, brain and spirit.

More evidence to support Whitaker's well-documented claims are laid out in two important new books written by psychiatrist and scholar Grace Jackson. Jackson did a beautiful job of researching and documenting, from the voluminous basic neuroscience research (which is uniformly ignored by the clinical sciences) the unintended and often disastrous consequences of the chronic ingestion of any of the five major classes of psychiatric drugs. Her second and most powerful book: Drug-Induced Dementia: A Perfect Crime, proves beyond a shadow of a doubt, that any of the five classes of drugs that are commonly used in psychiatric patients (antidepressants, antipsychotics, psychostimulants, tranquilizers and anti-seizure/”mood-stabilizer” drugs) have shown microscopic, macroscopic, biochemical, clinical and/or radiological evidence of brain shrinkage and other signs of brain damage, which can result in clinically-diagnosable, permanent dementia, premature death and a variety of other related brain disorders that can mimic mental illnesses. Jackson's first book, Rethinking Psychiatric Drugs: A Guide for Informed Consent was an equally sobering book warning about the many hidden dangers of psychiatric drugs.

This sad truth is that the seemingly knee-jerk prescribing (without very much information being given to patients about the long list of serious long-term adverse effects) of potent and often addicting/dependency-inducing psychiatric drugs has become the standard of care in American psychiatry since the introduction of the so-called anti-schizophrenic “miracle” drug Thorazine in the mid-1950s. (Thorazine was the offending drug that all of Jack Nicholson's fellow patients were coerced into taking at “medication time” in the Academy Award-winning movie “One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest.”) Thorazine and all the other “me-too” early antipsychotic drugs are now universally known to have been an iatrogenic (= doctor or other treatment-caused) disaster because of their serious long-term, initially unsuspected, brain-damaging effects that resulted in a number of incurable neurological disorders such as tardive dyskinesia and Parkinson's disease.

Thorazine and all the other knock-off drugs like Prolixin, Mellaril, Navane, etc., are synthetic “tricyclic” chemical compounds similar in molecular structure to the tricyclic “antidepressants” like imipramine and the similarly toxic, obesity-inducing, diabetogenic, “atypical” anti-schizophrenic drugs like Clozaril, Zyprexa and Seroquel.

Thorazine, incidentally, was originally developed in Europe as an industrial dye. That doesn't sound so good although it may not be so unusual in the closely related fields of psychopharmcology and the chemical industry, especially when one considers that Depakote, a popular drug marketed initially as an anti-epilepsy drug but now is being heavily used as a so-called “mood stabilizer.” Depakote, known to be a hepatotoxin and renal toxin, was originally developed as an industrial solvent capable of dissolving fat -- including, presumably, the fatty tissue in human livers and brains.

Some sympathy and understanding needs to be generated for the various victims of BigPharma's compulsive drive to expand market share and ”shareholder value” (share price, dividends and the next quarter's financial report) by whatever means necessary. Both the prescribers and the swallowers of BigPharma's drugs have succumbed to BigPharma's cunning marketing campaigns, the prescribers having been seduced by attractive drug company representatives and their “pens, pizzas and post-it note” freebies in the office, and the patients being brain-washed by the inane and unbelievable (if one has intact critical thinking skills) commercials on TV that quickly gloss over the lethal adverse effects in the fine print while urging the watcher to “ask your doctor” about the latest unaffordable wannabe blockbuster drug. .

For a quick overview of these issues, I recommend that everybody with an open mind read a long essay written by Whitaker that persuasively identifies the source of America's epidemic of mental illness disability (a phenomenon that doesn't exist in Third World nations because costly psych drugs are not prescribed so cavalierly as in the US).

Whitaker and Jackson (among a number of other ground-breaking and whistle-blowing authors who have been essentially black-listed by the mainstream media and mainstream medical journals) have proven to most critically-thinking scientists, alternative practitioners and assorted “psychiatric survivors” that it is the drugs -- and not the so-called “disorders” -- that are causing our nation's epidemic of mental illness disability. The Whitaker essay, plus other pertinent information about his books can be accessed at Mad In America. A recent interview on Wisconsin Public Radio can be accessed at (at their radio archives link) and a long interview with Dr.Joseph Mercola can be heard here.

After reading and studying all these inconvenient truths, mental health practitioners must consider the medicolegal implications for them, especially if the information is ignored or if the information is dismissed out of hand by practitioners who might be tempted to not take the time to study this new information. Those people who are hearing about this for the first time need to pass the word on to others, especially their prescribing healthcare practitioners who should be equally concerned. This is important because the opinion leaders in the highly influential (for good or ill) psychiatric and medical industries have been marketed into submission without hearing the all the facts (which may have been intentionally hidden from them. If that is the case, they cannot be automatically blamed for. proceeding in a practice that some day might represent malpractice. It shouldn't have to be pointed out that is the solemn duty of ethical practitioners who are in positions of authority to fully examine potential malpractice issues and then warn others, especially their patients, of the dangers.

Sadly, it must be admitted that most of the over-worked, double-booked care-givers in medical clinics have not yet heard the news that most if not all of the brain-altering synthetic chemicals known as psychotropic drugs (which are treated as hazardous waste unless they are packaged in a swallowable capsule!) have been marketed as safe and effective -- but only for short-term use. The captains of the drug industry know that the psychotropic drugs that they present for the FDA-approval have only been tested in animal trials for days and in clinical trials for 6 weeks. They also know -- indeed they hope -- that patients will be taking their drugs for years (despite no long-term trials proving safety and efficacy) as the only “treatment” for mental ill health. They know that their brain-altering drugs are also dependency-inducing (aka addicting, causing withdrawal symptoms when stopped), neurotoxic and increasingly ineffective (a la “Prozac Poop-out”) as time goes by.

The truth is that the people diagnosed as “mentally ill” for life are often simply those unfortunates who find themselves in acute or chronic states of crisis or “overwhelm” due to any number of preventable, curable and treatable (without the use of drugs) bad luck accidents such as poverty, abuse, violence, torture, homelessness, discrimination, underemployment, brain malnutrition, addictions/withdrawal, brain damage from electroshock “therapy” and/or exposure to neurotoxic chemicals in their food, air, water or prescription bottles.

Those labeled as the “mentally ill” are just like us “normals” who have not yet decompensated because of some yet-to-happen, crisis-inducing, overwhelming (however temporary) life situation. And thus we have not yet been given a billable code number (accompanied by the seemingly obligatory -- and unaffordable -- drug prescription or two signifying we are now chronically mentally ill. Unlabeled, we are likely to remain off prescription drugs but with a label and in “the system,” it is hard to “just say no to drugs.”

The victims of hopelessness-generating situations like simple bad luck, bad circumstances, bad company, bad choices, bad government, big business, and a competitive society that generates a few winners but mostly losers. America tolerates, indeed celebrates, punitive and thus fear-inducing social systems resembling in many ways the infamous police state realities of 20th century European totalitarianism, where people who were different or just dissidents were thought to be abnormal and therefore “disappeared” into insane asylums, jails or concentration camps without just cause or competent legal defense. And many of them were and are drugged with disabling psychoactive chemicals against their will.

The truth is that most, if not all, of BigPharma's psychotropic drugs are lethal at some dosage level (the LD50, the lethal dose that kills 50 percent of lab animals, is calculated before efficacy testing is done), and therefore the drugs must be regarded as dangerous. The chronic use of these drugs is a major cause of cognitive disorders, brain damage, loss of creativity, loss of spirituality, loss of empathy, loss of energy, loss of strength, fatigue and tiredness, permanent disability and a multitude of metabolic adverse effects that can readily sicken the body, brain and soul by causing insomnia or somnolence, increased depression or anxiety, delusions, psychoses, paranoia, mania, etc. So before filling the prescription, it is advisable to read the product insert labeling under WARNINGS, PRECAUTIONS, ADVERSE EFFECTS, CONTRAINDICATIONS, TOXICOLOGY, OVERDOSAGE and the ever-present BLACK BOX WARNINGS ABOUT SUICIDALITY.

Long-term, high dosage or combination psychotropic drug usage could be regarded as a chemically traumatic brain injury (TBI) or, as drugs like Thorazine were known in the 1950s and 60s, a “chemical lobotomy.” That is a useful way to conceptualize this serious issue, because such chemically brain-altered patients are often indistinguishable from those who have suffered a physically traumatic brain injuries or been subjected to ice-pick lobotomies which were popular in the 1940s and 50s -- before the drugs came on the market.

America has a mental ill health epidemic on its hands that is grossly misunderstood because it is worsening, not by the supposed disease progression, but because of the neurotoxic, non-curative drugs that are somehow regarded as first-line “treatment.”

For more information of these extremely serious topics check out these websites:,,,,,,, www.quitpaxil, org,,, and and follow the links.

Dr. Kohls is a family physician who, until his retirement in 2008, practiced holistic mental health care. His patients came to see him asking for help in getting off the psychotropic drugs that they knew were sickening and disabling them. He was successful in helping significant majorities of his patients get off their drugs using a thorough and therefore time-consuming program that was based on psychoeducational psychotherapy, brain nutrient therapy, a drastic change away from the malnourishing and often toxic Standard American Diet (SAD) plus a program of gradual, closely monitored drug withdrawal. Dr. Kohls warns against the abrupt discontinuation of any psychiatric drug because of the common, often serious withdrawal symptoms that can occur with the chronic use of any dependency-inducing psychoactive drug, whether illicit or legal. Close consultation with an aware, informed physician who is hopefully familiar with dealing with drug withdrawal syndromes (starting with the original prescribing physician), who will read and study the above books and become aware of the previously unknown dangers of these drugs and the nutritional needs of the drug-toxified and nutritionally-depleted brain.Dr. Kohls is a member of MindFreedom International and the International Center for the Study of Psychiatry and Psychology. He is the editor of the occasional Preventive Psychiatry E-Newsletter.

(2) Drugs can cause a more severe form of mental illness than you started with

Depression Breakthrough: A Proven "Better Than Drugs" Solution with Positive Side Effects

Posted By Dr. Mercola | October 06 2010

Here, medical journalist and Pulitzer Prize nominee Whitaker discusses how the widespread use of psychiatric drugs has contributed to the increase in mental illness. ...

Dr. Gary Kohls, reviewing the books in the Online Journal ... {see above}

Dr. Mercola's Comments:

Depression used to have a very good outcome. If you came to your physician with symptoms of depression 40 or even 30 years ago, he would tell you that you could and would get better. You'd be assured that most depressive episodes run their course and terminate with virtually complete recovery, without specific interventions such as drug treatment.

But as Whitaker points out in his books, something changed in the field of diagnosing and treating depression in the last few decades, and that something has led to a 600 percent increase in persons on government (Social Security) disability due to mental illness!

Today's Approach to Mental Health = Drugs

So what happened between 1974 and today to make the prognosis of depression go from one with a positive outcome to one that essentially disables you for life?

You don't need a medical degree to figure it out.

Just turn on your TV, and what do you see?

Advertisements that all but hypnotize you into believing that this drug or that will help you feel better – especially if it turns out that you're one of the two-thirds of people on antidepressants who aren't getting better.

As Whitaker points out in his interview with me, that's the Abilify ad, which basically is telling you to step up onto the next rung on the psychiatric drug ladder and add an antipsychotic drug, because what they're giving you on the lower rung – antidepressants – don't work.

In his research, Whitaker has conclusively shown that in most cases these drugs work no better than a placebo – and can also have serious side effects, including causing even more serious mental disorders than the one you're being treated for!

I've discussed this in previous articles, such as this one in 2002. And earlier this month, I wrote about how drug companies have hidden clinical trials that showed negative effects, or no efficacy at all, as Whitaker describes in his work.

When it comes to side effects, many people are aware of the most common ones, such as sexual dysfunction and sleeplessness. And if you go back to the TV, you'll see that some of these negative effects are mentioned in the ads – albeit so quickly you don't really have time to think about them.

But did you know that some of the worst side effects aren't even classified as such?

Or that others, like substantial weight gain and increased glucose and lipid metabolism, can be so unpleasant that people on these drugs just stop taking them?

A Terrible Side Effect They Don't Publicize

In fact, a 2005 study in the New England Journal of Medicine reported that 74 percent of schizophrenic patients in one study quit taking their medication either because of its inefficacy (it didn't work); or because it had intolerable side effects, or other unwanted problems.

Another factor that is rarely discussed is the potent addictive potential of these drugs.

And perhaps the worst “side effect” of all is that they can cause you to acquire a more severe form of mental illness than you started with!

That's right – as Whitaker found during his thousands of hours of research on the topic – after what might be an initial uplift in your condition, antidepressant drug users tend to spiral downward into a chronic course of long-term depression.

You can also end up becoming bipolar, or developing various types of psychoses, meaning that you'll need to “graduate” to a new or additional medication, often an anti-psychotic drug that blocks dopamine receptors in your brain.

The cyclic effect of these drugs causing the very problems they were designed to cure is something Whitaker discusses in-depth in his book.

The Money Behind the Madness

As a result of this vicious cycle, where the drugs deepen the mental health problems they're designed to treat. Spending on psychiatric drugs has risen from about $600 million a year in 1985, to more than $40 billion a year today, while disability rates due to depression and bipolar illness have skyrocketed!

Not exactly what you would expect to find if these drugs were actually working as advertised.

How we came to this point is a story in itself, which Whitaker has explored at depth and relates with finesse.

I urge you to read both his books (Mad in America, and Anatomy of an Epidemic) to get the full story, but in short, he explains it like this: In the 1970s psychiatry as a discipline was under siege, with lots of therapists entering the field. To make matters worse, an old stand-by anxiety drug was beginning to be deemed too addictive and harmful to use.

Because of this, sales of psychiatric drugs had dropped. As a result, psychiatry did a sort of gathering of the troops, and decided that one way to save the industry as well as their jobs was to rewrite their job descriptions and the field of psychiatry itself.

This led to the creation of a new diagnostic manual, in which the definitions of mood problems such depression suddenly changed to medical disorders – thus diagnosable only by a physician or psychiatrist, and treatable by prescriptions that only those physicians/psychiatrists could write.

To sell this new idea to the public, the American Psychiatric Association (APA) decided to align itself with none other than the very pharmaceutical companies that had a financial stake in this new paradigm – and the rest, as they say, is history.

Big Pharma moved in, sponsoring so-called scientific presentations, hiring academic physicians and people major medical schools to do their sales talks, and sending the money flowing through academic grants, fellowships, and funding of studies -- all designed to “help” your mental health with the aid of their drugs.

And now, in a sad reflection of the old adage, “He who pays the piper calls the tune,” psychiatry is a vicious circle of diagnosis, drugs, and more drugs as one illness leads to the next.

The bottom line is that the real cause of the explosion in mental illness is, first, the money behind the medications, and second, a flawed system that depends on drugs that merely transforms one problem into another.

Exercise: One of Nature's Best Alternatives to Maintaining Good Mental Health

Fortunately, more and more research is coming out in support of natural, drug-free ways to maintain or achieve good mental health. Much of that research is showing that simple strategies such as dietary changes and physical activity can significantly assist your recovery.

For example:

A Duke University team studied three groups that tried exercise only; exercise plus drugs; and drugs only, to see what treatment best treated depression. They found that after six weeks, the drug-only group was doing a tiny bit better than the other two groups.

They hypothesized that the best stay-well rate would be those with drugs plus exercise.

But they were wrong!

Ten months later, it was the exercise-only group that was most successful in maintaining wellness! In fact, according to a September 22, 2000 Duke University press release:

“After demonstrating that 30 minutes of brisk exercise three times a week is just as effective as drug therapy in relieving the symptoms of major depression in the short term, medical center researchers have now shown that continued exercise greatly reduces the chances of the depression returning.

The new study, which followed the same participants for an additional six months, found that patients who continued to exercise after completing the initial trial were much less likely to see their depression return than the other patients.

Only 8 percent of patients in the exercise group had their depression return, while 38 percent of the drug-only group and 31 percent of the exercise-plus-drug group relapsed.”

While the researchers weren't exactly sure why exercise worked better than the drug used in this study – Zoloft – they speculated that active participation in their get-well program was the key difference for the exercise-only group.

"Simply taking a pill is very passive," said study leader James Blumenthal. "Patients who exercised may have felt a greater sense of mastery over their condition and gained a greater sense of accomplishment. They may have felt more self-confident and competent because they were able to do it themselves, and attributed their improvement to their ability to exercise.

“Findings from these studies indicate that a modest exercise program is an effective and robust treatment for patients with major depression. And if these motivated patients continue with their exercise, they have a much better chance of not seeing their depression return.”

That's right: In this study of 156 participants diagnosed with major depressive disorder, the researchers found that the best drug of all was the feeling that they were actively in control of determining their own outcomes!

The Duke researchers were not exercise specialists and it is likely that they overlooked exercises that work your white muscle fibers, like the Peak Fitness Techniques, which could work even better.

Yoga – A Gentle Way to Exercise Depression

Yoga is another proven way to address depression and avoid medications. Recent research confirms that yoga not only enhances mood, and has positive effects over other physical activities, but also helps increase brain gamma aminobutyric (GABA) levels.

In this study, participants who practiced yoga three times a week for an hour increased brain gamma aminobutyric (GABA) levels over another group that walked three times a week for an hour.

A similar study in 2007 reported the same thing, leading researchers to believe that the practice of yoga could be an alternative treatment for depression and anxiety, disorders associated with low GABA levels.  ...

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