Podcast

Digital Deliverance/

Robert Whitaker: America's Prescription Drug Epidemic

Not only do we take too many drugs, they're making us sicker
Monday, April 30, 2018, 12:13 PM

The United States has one of the highest rates in the world of prescription drug use, especially for the psychiatric and anti-anxiety drug classes:

  • 1 in 6 Americans takes a psychiatric drug
  • Over a 130,000 U.S. toddlers, children between zero and five years of age, are prescribed addictive anti-anxiety drugs including the wildly-addictive and difficult to stop using benzodiazepines
  • A very high proportion of the school shootings in the U.S. were committed by young adults on such drugs.

The benefits of these drugs are marketed to us daily, but what about the downsides? What about the side effects? More importantly, do they even work? What does  the data tell us?

To answer these questions, we talk this week with Robert Whitaker, an American Journalist and author who has won numerous awards as a journalist covering medicine and science. In 1998 he co-wrote a series on psychiatric research for the Boston Globe that was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for public service. His first book, Mad in America, was named by Discover Magazine as one of the best science books of 2002 and his book Anatomy of an Epidemic won the 2010 investigative reporters and editor’s book award for best investigative journalism. He's also the publisher of MadinAmerica.com.

The irony is this. Before you go on an antidepressant, you have no known serotonergic deficiency with that system. But, once you go on and you have this drug that perturbs normal activity, it actually drives the brain into the very sub-serotonergic state hypothesized to cause depression in the first place.

This problem is called 'oppositional tolerance' within research circles. It means that basically what every psychiatric drug ultimately does is drive your brain in the opposite direction of what the drug is trying to do.

For example, anti-psychotics block dopamine function, but they do that by blocking the receptors in the post-synaptic neurons. Which made researchers hypothesize that maybe schizophrenia and psychosis is due to too much dopamine. While they didn’t find that in a matter of course in those disorders, once you’re on this drug, it will actually increase the density of your dopamine receptors.

So, conceptually, here’s the thing. We’re told these drugs fix known chemical imbalances in the brain. What science tells us is that we don’t know the biology of these disorders, the drugs perturb normal activity, and at the end of the compensatory process the drugs have induced the very abnormalities hypothesized to cause these disorders in the first place. That’s the scientific story(...)

The drugs may have efficacy in clinical trials over the short term (meaning they beat placebo in those studies ), but the evidence is overwhelming that over the long term the medications of *whatever* class of drugs does is increase the risk that a person will become chronically ill, functionally impaired, and end up on disability (...)

When we talk about drugs that worsen outcomes over the long term we are saying in the aggregate. In other words, you look at the spectrum of outcomes in the medicated group and you compare that the spectrum of outcomes in the unmedicated group in every study you can find the spectrum of outcomes are better in the unmedicated group.

Humans have a resilience within them and psychiatric disorders so often can be episodic in nature. I mean, that’s the natural course for most depressive episodes and including the majority of the first psychotic episodes and obviously with anxiety and these sort of things. So, one of the reasons you see that drugs have worsening outcomes in the aggregate because actually there’s such good natural recovery rates. That’s what lost from this conversation is what the capacity is to recovery from a depressive episode and anxiety episode and even psychotic episodes without drugs and with other support

Click the play button below to listen to Chris' interview with Robert Whitaker (45m:06s).

Transcript: 

Chris Martenson: Welcome everybody to this Peak Prosperity podcast. I am your host, Chris Martenson, and it is April 2, 2018. Now, out of the eight forms of capital that are essential to leading a full and happy life today, as well as being resilient during a possibly turbulent future, is emotional capital. Staying alert and happy and fulfilled is especially difficult when your larger cultural narrative is being revealed as unworkable or possibly even fraudulent.

In the United States where everything from cat food to fear is professionally marketed to, or maybe I should say, at us, we discover some of the highest rates in the world of prescription drug use especially for the psychiatric and antianxiety drug classes. These statistics are gripping. One in six Americans takes a psychiatric drug. Over a hundred and thirty thousand U.S. toddlers, children between zero and five years of age, are prescribed addictive antianxiety drugs, including the wildly addictive and difficult to stop using benzodiazepines. Disturbingly, a very high proportion of the school shootings in the U.S. were committed by young men on such drugs.

The benefits of these drugs are marketed to us daily but what about the down sides? What about the side effects? More importantly, do they even work? What’s the data tell us. To discuss this with us today is Robert Whitaker, an American Journalist and author who has won numerous awards as a journalist covering medicine and science. In 1998 he co-wrote a series on psychiatric research for the Boston Globe that was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for public service. His first book, Mad in America, was named by Discover Magazine as one of the best science books of 2002 and his book Anatomy of an Epidemic won the 2010 investigative reporters and editors book award for best investigative journalism. He is the publisher of Madinamerica.com, welcome Robert.

Robert Whitaker: Well, thank you for having me, Chris. It’s a pleasure to be here.

Chris Martenson: Now you’ve spent a long time now investigating the use of psychiatric drugs and now run a website and an organization called Mad in America. Tell us, Robert, how did you get involved in this story and how it ultimately became your mission?

Robert Whitaker: You know, I got involved in a very back door way. I actually had very little interest in psychiatry. I had been a medical reporter for newspapers for a long time and actually did a piece of time at Harvard Medical School as a director of publications. Anyway, I had done this series, co-wrote this series, on abuses of psychiatric patients in research settings. At that time I had a completely conventional understanding of modern psychiatry. My understanding was that we were discovering the biological causes of depression and schizophrenia and that they were due to chemical imbalances and that we had these drugs that fix those chemical imbalances like insulin for diabetes, and that’s an incredible story of progress. But while I was doing that series, I came upon some research that belied that story of progress. One, there were studies done by the World Health Organization that twice found that outcomes for schizophrenia patients were much better in the poor countries of the world, specifically India and Nigeria, than in the U.S. That was surprising to me.

Two, in those studies the best outcomes were in countries where they used antipsychotics acutely, for a short period of time but not chronically and not as maintenance drugs, which went completely against what the standard of care his in the United States. Then I also came upon a study by Harvard Medical School researchers that said that outcomes for schizophrenia patients rather than having improved over the last twenty years, had actually deteriorated and they were now no better than in the first third of the twentieth century. So, all this belied that story of progress and that put me on this long journey of trying to find out what’s going on here. We have one public story but what does science really tell us about: do these drugs fix chemical imbalances, and are they improving outcomes? Really, in some ways I’ve spent the last twenty years in one manner or another writing about the huge gap between what the public is told and what he science actually shows about what we know about mental disorders and the effectiveness of psychiatric drugs.

Chris Martenson: Now Robert, it’s a fascinating arc because in my own story follows a similar arc. I came across some data that I thought I was just going to tell once and it took on a life of its own. Because once you really get in there and you are involved with the data and it begins to tell you something that is completely different from the dominant narrative. I understand how it can become really compelling to want to do something with that and let people know. Because these are really important things. It affects people’s lives and livelihood total outcomes.

I noted from your website Mad in America opens its mission statement with this quote, “Mad in America’s mission is to serve as a catalyst for rethinking psychiatric care in the United States and abroad. We believe that the current drug-based paradigm of care has failed our society and that scientific research as well, as the lived experience of those who have been diagnosed with a psychiatric disorder calls for profound change.” Now, I want to hold that mission front and center while we work through this data and this podcast. You touched on this a bit, Robert. Let’s begin to build a case for this need for a profound change and I want to start here. How much do we actually know about the biology of mental disorders?

Robert Whitaker: That’s a great first question and it can be answered very quickly; virtually nothing.

Chris Martenson: Oh, okay. Next.

Robert Whitaker: There are some. Some psychiatric symptoms are secondary to physical illnesses, right? Parkinson’s, for example, often leads to psychotic symptoms and there’s infections that can. Inflammatory problems and viral disorders. But, what happens is once you identify those illnesses that can produce secondary symptoms, they fall out of the realm of psychiatry. Then you get a diagnosis of Parkinson’s or whatever it might be. So, within the field of what we call depression or schizophrenia, anxiety and ADHD, it’s just a mystery. The biology of these disorders remains unknown. Undoubtedly there’s many, many pathways to these symptoms and that’s the part of the first sort of big betrayal of the American public. It’s that we were told that the biological causes had been discovered, they were due to chemical imbalances and that we had drugs that can fix them.

But you actually find when you research that story: it was a hypothesis born in the 1960s based on an understanding of how antidepressants and antipsychotics acted on the brain and then researchers hypothesized that maybe the disorder was due to the opposite problem. So, for example, if antidepressants up serotonergic activity, they hypothesized that people with depression had too little serotonin activity. But here’s the amazing part of that. Then they had to investigate. Do people with depression in fact have low serotonin before they go on these medications, antidepressants? As early as 1984 the National Institute of Mental Health said when we do studies in depressed patients who haven’t been on these meds, we’re just not finding a problem with their serotonergic system.

Then there was a lot more research and in 1999 the American Psychiatric Association’s own textbook said this: We’re just not finding any evidence that people with depression have low serotonin. Then they sort of made fun of the whole hypothesis. They said there’s no reason that, quote, “the pathology of a disorder should be the opposite of the mechanism of action of a drug.” So, that’s what the science was saying. That’s what in fact psychiatry was reading in their own textbook. Yet at the same time you can find that the American Psychiatric Association is putting out public material saying we now know that depression is due to low serotonin and that we have drugs that can fix them. They said this in magazines and they put out press releases to that effect and once they had their website up they put that on their website. That’s what I mean between this gap between what the science shows and what the public is told. Just think what a betrayal that is to the public.

Chris Martenson: You know, Robert, this reminds me. Medical science does go off the rails from time to time and perhaps most alarmingly in areas where they go simplistic and it’s actually a complex system. I’m thinking now of the early 90s when they said wow people are getting fat. Let’s cut fat out of the diet. That must be it, right? If people are getting fat, it must be they’re eating fat. It turned out that the advice that came forward has resulted in one of the largest obesity epidemics ever seen, and it really is. Now we understand that oh, it’s about insulin and it’s calories and there’s this whole other complex system. Actually, it’s carbohydrates. Much more complex than we thought but it took decades to begin to unravel that first insult, which was a bad connection. It was a poor hypothesis and it got ran with. Does that sound like a similar story here?

Robert Whitaker: Absolutely. There’s two parts to this. The human body is so complex. So, bodily functions are complex. In other words, how we take calories in and how our bodies metabolize it and how we convert that into energy. Then there’s nothing more complex than the brain, right? How consciousness arises. The sort of arrogance and the hubris that you could figure out which molecule caused depression in the brain and fix it. There’s so much arrogance and hubris and I think it’s similar to what you talking about with the fat theory about what causes obesity.

The other thing is amazing. Once you have some sort of medical truth so to speak, promoted to the public it’s hard to dislodge that idea. There’s still plenty of people around the world that think chemical imbalance is that low serotonin is the cause of depression, even though all the researchers now said no we didn’t find that. I don’t know about this. I’m not as well versed in diet but I’m sure there’s plenty of people who still think that the fat is the problem at least in the obesity epidemic.

Chris Martenson: Yeah. It’s once those ideas get lodged but this is crazy here. So, the mechanistic process here was they said well, okay, we have these synaptic clefts, right? So, there’s an axon and a dendrite and the neurons are talking to each other and sometimes they use dopamine as the neurotransmitter and sometimes it’s serotonin. Hey, if we can just muck around with that, maybe we can increase the amount of serotonin or other things. Just very quickly so people understand the mechanism because I think it’s helpful. What’s actually happening with these antidepressants at the synaptic level?

Robert Whitaker: Yeah. I think this is important. It’s a little complex. So, as you said, the way neurons communicate with each other. You have a presynaptic neuron which will release a neurotransmitter, a chemical messenger, like serotonin into that tiny gap between neurons, which we call the synaptic cleft. Then that molecule, serotonin, will bind with receptors on the receiving neuron, which we call the postsynaptic neuron and we say that the molecule fits with receptors like a key into a lock. That’s the way messages are passed from neuron one to neuron two. If you have a messenger like serotonin, it causes that second neuron to fire.

Now, in order to have a crisp messaging system, the brain has to have a way to remove that chemical messenger, that serotonin from the synaptic cleft and the way it does is two ways. Either it goes up, the serotonin goes back up into the presynaptic neuron via reuptake channel and it’s stored there later for reuse, or an enzyme comes along, metabolizes the serotonin and the metabolites are carted off as waste. Now, the primary mechanism of removal is that reuptake mechanism. So, what does Prozac do? What do SSRI, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, do? They block that reuptake process. That means serotonin stays longer in the synaptic cleft than normal so theoretically you’re upping serotonergic activity. Once they understood that’s how the drugs worked they said oh maybe depression is due to too little serotonin but then they actually had to study it and they didn’t find that to be so.

So, the first point of this is that antidepressants, and this is true of all psychiatric drugs perturb, interrupt some normal functioning of the brain in this passaging of messages. Now, the second part of this that is so key to this whole question is, well, how does the brain respond to this presence of this drug? The brain being this extraordinary neuroplastic organ with all sorts of feedback loops immediately begins to say uh-oh, I’ve got a problem. Serotonin is staying too long in the synaptic cleft. So, now what do I have to do? I have to down regulate. I have to decrease my own serotonergic activity. So, what it will do in order to compensate for the presence of the drug, in order to maintain what researchers say is a homeostatic equilibrium, meaning normal functioning, the presynaptic neurons will begin to put out less serotonin than normal. Now, that compensatory method may break down after a while. Then on the postsynaptic side they actually will decrease their density of receptors for serotonin. They’re trying to become we call it down regulating.

So, here’s the way to think about this. The drug acts as an accelerator and now your brain puts down the break on its own serotonergic system, the physiology of that system. So, the final irony is this. This is, I think, almost hard to imagine. Before you go on an antidepressant you have no known serotonergic deficiency with that system. But, once you go on and you have this drug that perturbs normal activity, it actually drives the brain into the very sub serotonergic state hypothesized to cause depression in the first place. This problem is called oppositional tolerance within research circles. This problem means that basically for every psychiatric drug, what it ultimately does is drive your brain in the opposite direction of what the drug is trying to do. So, for example, antipsychotics block dopamine function but they do that by blocking the receptors in the postsynaptic neurons, which made researchers hypothesize that maybe schizophrenia and psychosis is due to too much dopamine. While they didn’t find that in a matter of course in those disorders, once you’re on this drug it will actually increase the density of your dopamine receptors.

So, conceptually, here’s the thing. We’re told these drugs fix known chemical imbalances in the brain. What science tells us is that: we don’t know the biology of these disorders, the drugs perturb normal activity and at the end of the compensatory process the drugs have induced the very abnormalities hypothesized to cause these disorders in the first place. That’s the scientific story.

Chris Martenson: So, they’re creating the very thing that they are supposed to be treating.

Robert Whitaker: Yes.

Chris Martenson: And dialing that up. Now, Robert, I went through an entire slide deck of yours titled: “Anatomy of an Epidemic.” It’s simply fantastic. It can be found on your website, Mad in America. I’m going to link to it and in fact I’m going to send it to a lot of people I know because it’s really very enlightening and also infuriating. I actually got angry when I was going through it. Maybe I read this wrong and please correct me if I have. Where the data that you present and there’s a lot of data in there, it seems to sum up to this. Current psychiatric drug treatments actually lead to measurably worse outcomes especially over the long term. Lots of data seems to say that. Have I been selective and unfair in how I read that data?

Robert Whitaker: No, not at all. I mean, the drugs may have efficacy in clinical trials over the short term, meaning they beat placebo in those studies. But the evidence is overwhelming that over the long term the medications, of whatever class of drugs, they increase the risk that a person will become sort of chronically ill, functional impaired and end up on disability and that sort of thing. Now I know people are going to be saying: “Oh I love my drugs. They helped me.” When we talk about drugs that worsen outcomes over the long term we are saying in the aggregate. In other words, you look at the spectrum of outcomes in the medicated group and you compare that the spectrum of outcomes in the unmedicated group in every study you can find the spectrum of outcomes are better in the unmedicated group.

Really what this is pointing to is that there is a nature and you began your program with sort of the emotional capital. Humans have a resilience within them and psychiatric disorders so often can be episodic in nature. I mean, that’s the natural course for most depressive episodes, and including the majority of the first psychotic episodes and obviously with anxiety and these sort of things. So, one of the reasons you see that drugs have worsening outcomes in the aggregate because actually there’s such good natural recovery rates. That’s what lost from this conversation is: what the capacity is to recovery from a depressive episode and anxiety episode, and even psychotic episodes without drugs and with other support? This is not like just leave them alone. It’s actually quite good. Unfortunately, medicated outcomes are not nearly so good.

Chris Martenson: You had a really interesting version of the Hippocratic Oath I hadn’t heard in that slide deck which says in order for a treatment to do no harm it must improve unnatural recovery rates. What you’re saying now is that the natural recovery rates for things like depressive episodes and things like that are actually made measurably worse when people are on long term psychiatric drug use. Is there any other way to read the data at this point?

Robert Whitaker: No. Unfortunately no. Let’s talk about depression. First of all, I think that’s really important about the Hippocratic Oath because we often think the Hippocratic Oath is “do no harm.” Don’t make my patients worse, right? It’s not what it means. What Hippocrates was really saying was there is a natural capacity to recover, and in order for your treatment to not do harm on the whole you have to improve on those natural recovery rates. So, for example, imagine you’re a doctor and whatever the illness is, people come in, you cure half the patients and the other half stay the same. No one gets worse, right? You have a doctor saying like, I have a pretty effective therapy. Hippocrates would say well, you don’t know because what’s the natural recovery rate, natural cure rate?

So, if the natural cure rate is let’s say is seventy-five percent and twenty-five percent stay the same, what you’ve done with your therapy is knock down the recovery rate from seventy-five to fifty percent. So, you’ve worsened outcomes. That’s what you see with the psychiatric drugs. So, for example, the NIMH did a study about what is the one-year recovery rate for untreated depression. They’ve done several of these studies and anyway, it’s as high as eighty-five percent. Which, by the way, is even what you used to see in old hospitalized patients before the antidepressants. As early as 1970 researcher were saying boy it’s going to be hard to beat that natural recovery rate. All we can really hope to do is speed up recovery from a depressive episode. But what do you see in long term? Like one year outcomes and two year outcomes and three year outcomes for medicated patients. Well, honestly with real world patients you see one year remission rates meaning, they’re not depressed anywhere from like ten to fifteen percent. Whereas in the unmedicated we’re seeing like eighty-five percent of people at the end of one year aren’t depressed.

Now, there’s some studies where it’s a little closer. There was one World Health Organization study where the people who got treated, fifty percent were depressed at the end of one year versus twenty-five of those who didn’t take an antidepressant. But the difference in one year well rates, remission rates, are dramatic for depression. You see it with other disorders as well. Even with psychotic disorders over the long term it’s always the unmedicated group that has higher recovery rates. So, yeah, this is the big problem. You’ve got the risk that you’re going to become more chronically symptomatic. You have the risk, too, that you’re going to move to a more serious disorder. So, you’ll see that there’s an increased risk if you take an antidepressant that you’ll become bipolar and there’s an increased risk that the impairments associated with it will lead you on to disability.

Chris Martenson: So, very quickly, Robert. Can you define bipolar for us?

Robert Whitaker: Of course not. I’m laughing but listen, what you used to have was something called manic depressive illness. It meant you had a time of mania that was so severe that you were hospitalized for it and you had a time of depression so severe you were hospitalized for it. It was a very rare disorder. You see different prevalence studies that it might affect one in one thousand adults in a year or one in three thousand adults. It was a rare disorder. It was also seen as episodic. That either the depression or mania would clear up over time.

So, what happened was, ever since 1980 when the American Psychiatric Association published the third addition of its diagnostic manual, it began expanding the boundaries of different disorders and making it easier to diagnose, and now you can get a diagnosis of bipolar if you just have a couple days of hypomania, which means you’re a little bit happier than normal. You don’t have to be hospitalized for depression, either. So, basically, bipolar suddenly was being applied to people who had mood swings, as opposed to having been hospitalized for these two poles. Now, if you see what is driving our disability numbers in the U.S. and elsewhere, it is the effective disorders. So, our number of people on disability due to mental illness has risen from about 1.25 million adults in 1987, which is when Prozac came to market to more than five million today. It’s really being driven by mood disorders, with bipolar a major cause of that increase. So, what is bipolar? It used to be an old sort of organic thing that happened rarely to people and now it just means mood swings.

Chris Martenson: Now, I want to talk now about some of these side effects because I have to be honest. As a consumer in this culture, I’m only told about how these drugs can really help and of course we’re marketed to and you’ve got those beautiful pharma ads with people walking through fields with sunlight and all that. But I’m looking here, Robert, now at a study in PLoS Medicine which reports that young adults between the ages of fifteen and twenty-four were nearly fifty percent more likely to be convicted of a homicide, assault, robbery, arson, kidnapping, sexual assault or other violent crime when taking an antidepressant than when they weren’t taking a psychiatric drug first. Is this correlation or causation because that’s a pretty shocking statistic.

Robert Whitaker: So, what the research shows on this is that you take some risk that a depressed person is going to commit a violent act, right? What the data shows is that you’re going to increase the risk that it will happen if you’re on an antidepressant. So, that’s the first thing. In any individual one case you can’t say the cause is that person was on an antidepressant. All we can know is that the risk of it for that individual was, well, the risk generally is increased by fifty percent that you’ll have a homicidal or suicidal or aggressive act. Now, here’s the thing. It’s that there is also data that shows that this can happen in people who were never aggressive before, or never had a homicidal thought before.

There seems to be with antidepressants a couple of mechanisms that could be to blame. One is these drugs can stir something known as akathisia. Akathisia is an incredible inner agitation. People will pace, they can’t sit down and they’ll want to get out of their skin. That is known to be associated with increased risk of violence and suicide both, and aggressive behavior. By the way some of the people you can interview who’ve done a horrible act.

Like, there was a man I was spending some time with recently named David Carmichael. He was just a person who was a working father, a pretty successful guy. He goes on an antidepressant and eventually he murders his son. If you talk to him today, he’s like, I never had a homicidal impulse and his thinking just went completely crazy. Anyway, the point is it increases the risk and it can stir such feelings and thoughts that were never stirred before in that person. So, it’s causative in the sense that it definitely increases. If you pour antidepressants into a society the way we do you can expect some increasing violence and homicide in the same way you can with alcohol. I mean, we know drinking is associated with increased aggression and that sort of thing.

Chris Martenson: Well, indeed. So, I’m interested in why is this really never part of the mainstream narrative when discussing things like school shootings. Are parents really made aware of the risks when they put their children on these drugs? In fact, are the doctors prescribing them or psychiatrists prescribing them actually even aware of these risks?

Robert Whitaker: The answer is no. So, the question is why isn’t this part of the discussion, then? Why can’t we at least have a national inquiry into it? Because we’ve had all these school shootings. As you said in the beginning if you actually look into the history of the people involved in this, the shooters, so many of them are either on drugs or had just come off drugs, and either one can be problematic or drug related.

So, why don’t we have this? Well, one of the things that American psychiatry, in collaboration with the pharmaceutical industry, did very successfully, and this goes to this very topic was say that people who raise this issue, were Scientologists or they’re flat earthers. They’re nonscientific. Go all the way back to 1992. I think that was the first hearing. There were people at MGH, including a guy named Jonathan Cole. Now Jonathan Cole was the first head of the psychopharmacology service center at the NIMH. So, this is sort of the father of American psychopharmacology. Anyway, he collaborated in a study in the early 90s where they gave Prozac to individuals, and some of them became homicidal or suicidal, and they sort of did a challenge rechallenge thing if I remember. So, this was really a worry that Prozac could cause homicidal or suicidal actions.

By the way, it showed up in the clinical trials, as well. There was something like fifty people that had a psychotic episode and you had this sort of aggressive behavior. So what happened then? This is a key moment. There was a hearing and, believe it or not, the FDA did not even call Jonathan Cole to testify, a hearing on this very question. Can Prozac cause suicidal aggressive behavior? At that time the pharmaceutical industry in collaboration with academic psychiatrists came up with a strategy. They basically said these are Scientologists raising this. Once they raised that successfully with the media, it was a way to delegitimize criticism and inquiry. Because no media wants to say like, oh we’re just repeating whatever the talk of the Scientologists is. So, that’s what they did. They basically put this inquiry out of bounds by associating with Scientology and nonscientific thinking and it’s kept that way. Remember the Sandy Hook shooting a few years back?

Chris Martenson: Sure.

Robert Whitaker: So, this was while Obama was president. Under Obama you had this thing where you could put up a petition on the government’s website and if you got like twenty-five thousand signatures, then the White House would take it up four inquiry. Someone put up a petition and wanted an inquiry into: Can we just have an investigation to see if there’s some drug link between all these school shootings and use of other antidepressants and other psychotropics; and for some reason that petition was removed very quickly. All I can say is pharmaceutical companies. They’re big lobbyists. Anyway, they have managed to squash this whole inquiry. It’s pretty rare when a newspaper will even address this possibility.

What’s so frustrating, Chris, to me, is the data’s there. The data show these drugs can increase the risk that someone will have a suicidal or homicidal ideation. We have all these incidences. You mentioned the PLoS study. There’s been all sorts of reports to Medwatch. Someone did a study on the number of homicides. There were a number of homicides associated as caused by the drug, and yet we can’t have a public discussion about it.

Chris Martenson: In fact I was at the CCHR International org website and they have the facts here. One fact quoting from their website says at least thirty-six school shooting and/or school related acts of violence have been committed by those taking or withdrawing from psychiatric drugs, resulting in a hundred seventy two wounded and eighty killed. In other school shootings, information about their drug use was never made public and neither confirming or refuting if they were under the influence of prescribed drugs. So, that’s astonishing. If you said that we had thirty-six school shootings, resulting in a hundred and seventy two wounded and eighty killed after kids had gone onto an ISIS website, we’d be pretty concerned, right?

Robert Whitaker: Yeah. Or even after they had taken some illegal drug, we’d be very concerned, right?

Chris Martenson: Very concerned.

Robert Whitaker: If we saw that linked. Yeah, I mean, I sometimes don’t totally understand this and how this has been kept out of the media and been kept off limits to public inquiry because the data is there. But it’s interesting. You just mentioned that that’s on a CCHR website. Now, I’m sure if you went down, they could point to you where they got the information for that because that group tries to be accurate in its website. But it is associated with Scientology, so our very problem is that where this information is being presented is on a website that to the public at large is seen as discredited, and as part of a cult.

So, this sort of shores up the problem. Now, we at Mad in America have done writings about this, okay? So, we do sort of explore this. But the problem is do you see it in the New York Times. Do you see it in mainstream magazines? By the way, in the past I tried to pitch a story on this to magazines, and they just won't do it.

Chris Martenson: Probably for the oldest reason in the world which is they don’t want to upset a major advertiser.

Robert Whitaker: Oh yeah. The magazines, forget it. They’re so heavily reliant on pharma ads that they’re not going to upset that and the same with TV. I’m not quite sure why newspapers won't but I really think it’s because newspapers bought the larger narrative that drugs are good. They help people, side effects are fairly rare and the critics really come from Scientology, this delegitimized perspective. That’s the problem we have. That’s the narrative that has driven the public understanding and reporting on this for now twenty-five years, at least.

Chris Martenson: Yeah. So, in that CCHR article, I actually went down and looked at where they got their data from and what the facts were and could we source that. It seems there’s, to me, at least and unless this gets disproven somehow, there’s pretty strong evidence that a lot of these school shooters were on or withdrawing from psychiatric drugs. Of course, getting back to the PLoS study if you say you’re fifty percent more likely to be involved in some violent crime and then you multiply that across millions of people taking this, of course there are going to be some episodic violent acts that happen as a consequence of the drug use. That just seems like statistics, right?

Robert Whitaker: Yeah. That is just statistics. I just means, just as you said, you put a lot of people on these drugs and you have a fifty percent increase. Even if the risk is small, it’s going to lead to some notable increases in violent episodes. Then there’s even, by the way, just so you know, some research coming out of New Zealand and Australia related to. . . You see that about ten percent of the population has a certain, I forget what, the CY or something or other, for metabolizing these drugs that allows the serotonin to build up and it’s that group that seems to be at an increased risk of a violent episode. So, there may even be some biological understanding of which group of people are at risk.

Chris Martenson: Yeah. Now I want to turn here now to this idea of really our times and the times that we’re living in. Because a lot of people are reporting increased levels of unhappiness, depression and things like that. In fact, I’ve been reading more and more about what is being termed depression today should more accurately be termed demoralization. Unlike depression, demoralization is resistant to treatment.

I’m going to quote now from an article by John Schumaker that really caught me and I’ve been sharing this around. It’s entitled the demoralized mind and the quote is this. “Rather than a depressive disorder, demoralization is a type of existential disorder associated with the breakdown of a person’s cognitive map. As it is absorbed, consumer culture imposes numerous influences that that weaken personality structures, undermine coping and lay the groundwork for eventual demoralization. Its driving features: individualism, materialism, hyper competition, greed, over complication, overwork, hurriedness and debt; all correlate negatively with psychological health and/or social wellbeing.”

The quote that comes to mind here for me now, Robert, is from Christian Murdy which is “it’s no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society.” In many cases I feel like our culture is driving us to states of unhealth and the easy solution is well can’t we just take a pill to fix that. I mean, it feels like that’s what we’re trying to solve.

Robert Whitaker: Honestly I think that’s brilliant and I think that’s a really brilliant sort of description of what’s happening. If you go back to depression by the way, people hospitalized for depression in the 40s or 50s, a real depressive episode hurts like hell. You’re just in pain and it’s a really severe thing. That’s not what’s happening to the vast majority of people being diagnosed today and taking antidepressants. It’s just as you say. I think that is putting a finger on exactly what is the problem. So many people are demoralized. They’re demoralized because life and for all the reasons you said. Maybe they’re struggling with bills, personal connections or lack of personal connections. Lack of connections to community and on and on.

Then, one of things that our current paradigm of care does is it puts all the problems for a society that causes to people to be demoralized on the individual. So, the problem is inside the person’s head, as opposed to reforming society and creating a society that is more sustaining for people. Think about how silly it is that you can fix demoralization with a pill. When the problem is the person’s living in a way and in a social structure that is in fact demoralizing. I absolutely think that’s what’s happening over and over again. So, ADHD, right? So, we have an increasing number of our kids getting diagnosed with ADHD. We say oh the problem is the kid can’t pay attention and we got to give him a stimulant in class. Well, you can find schools that instead of blaming the kid, rearrange their school day or rearrange their school structure, and by the way also try to rearrange diet and bring exercise into play and that sort of thing. Their ADHD went away. So, in other words, they changed the environment.

I know, for example, I also know a psychotherapist, and the way he treats his patients who are I think really demoralized he requires them to volunteer two hours a week. He said, well, they get out and now they’re helping other people. That makes them feel good about themselves and they’re socializing. So, this actually, I think, is the problem of why we have this huge increase in depression and anxiety, etc. is that our society, and I believe the way we eat, the way we work, the way we communicate, the lack of socialization and all is demoralizing. The idea that a pill is going to fix that is just ridiculous.

Chris Martenson: Well indeed, and so for people who are finding themselves either in a demoralized or even a depressed state. If I was going to summarize what I’ve taken away from the data as I see it is that I would personally avoid taking antidepressants as a first course of action. It would be very, very far down on my list. Up on my list would include changing my patterns and making sure that I’m exercising. Exercise seems to correlate very well with good outcomes, surprise. Changing my nutrition. There are a lot of things that I would consider frontline treatment. Would you agree with that?

Robert Whitaker: Yeah. Absolutely. I mean, I think what you’re doing is you’re flipping the concept, this concept here. Rather than think of how you’re going to treat your illness or treat the symptoms, you should ask yourself how I can build a healthier life. What’s a path to wellness and you just gave it. I mean, I think obviously diet’s important. Exercise by the way it even sort of correlates with aerobic capacity. As you increase your aerobic capacity, you see some rise in moods and out of depression. Then you want to look at am I happy in my work. What is my social life like? The reason for that is what we all need to be well. Well we do need for a start we need shelter. We need food, and hopefully good food. We need someone to love or someone to love us. We need meaning in life. Without those we all start becoming demoralized, right? Go lose your job. Go get divorced or feel bad for a while or eat crap all the time.

So, really, the focus should be rather than trying to take a pill to fix that symptom, which by the way isn’t very effective over the short term, in terms of helping you improve your mood. It’s how do we stay well and ask yourself that question. What’s the path to a better, healthier life? Yoga or whatever it might be. There’s plenty of evidence that of course is long lasting improvement. By the way, there was a study done by the NIMH, a six-year study, in the 1990s. They said what is the natural course of untreated depression, and it was a six-year study. What they found was that people who did not take an antidepressant six years later had actually improved their lives. A lot of them had been through divorces and lost jobs. But six years later, now they were in a better social situation and also they were making more money than when they first had the depressive episode.

This gave some thought to that a depressive episode can actually be a signal or sort of an evolutionary signal that you need to make change. It may be rough for a while but you need to make a change in the way you live in order to stop being demoralized. In a society that sort of encourages it, maybe it takes extra effort to do so.

Chris Martenson: Well indeed, very well said. Robert, first, I want to thank you so much for your work and opening this up. This has really given me a lot of the information that I need to take forward and have conversations with people I know and love and the data is really compelling at this point in time. I want to thank you for your work, your dedication and your time today. But, please tell people how they can follow your work and contribute to your mission.

Robert Whitaker: Well, the website that you mentioned is where we are trying to create a community for these very issues. It’s called Madinamerica.com and we have bloggers from around the world. The bloggers come from everything. We have psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers, family members, people with lived experience and the one commonality is they think we need to make changes. Then we have science there that reports on the scientific research that you generally don’t see in the mainstream media because it goes against the conventional narrative. Then we have other resources. Resources for parents and that sort of thing. People, as you mentioned, can also go on, I guess it’s the about section; you’ll see my name there, Robert Whitaker. You can click on that and you can get access to slide presentations and source documents I’ve used in my books. You can also do that through the resource section as well.

So, really that’s the place that today we’re trying to create this international community for people to rethink psychiatry and search out new solutions. It’s really interesting in that we now have affiliates in other countries. I travel quite a bit and every single country that has adopted this paradigm of care and this belief system has seen the burden of mental illness in a society go way up among children and adults. So, there really is sort of an international effort to rethink things, right now. We even just had a United Nations report where the report said we need a revolution in mental health. This old paradigm has failed. The only thing is replacing that old paradigm. That’s a very profitable paradigm and it gives a lot of power to people, so it really is a big struggle.

Chris Martenson: Well, absolutely. As it’s often quipped science does progress one funeral at a time. Well, with that, Robert, thank you again so much for your time today. This has been absolutely fascinating and we’re going to have a great conversation about this at our website Peak Prosperity so thank you for your time today.

Robert Whitaker: Thank you. It really was an enjoyable interview. Thanks so much.

Endorsed Financial Adviser Endorsed Financial Adviser

Looking for a financial adviser who sees the world through a similar lens as we do? Free consultation available.

Learn More »
Read Our New Book "Prosper!"Read Our New Book

Prosper! is a "how to" guide for living well no matter what the future brings.

Learn More »

 

Related content

55 Comments

jerryr's picture
jerryr
Status: Silver Member (Offline)
Joined: Oct 31 2008
Posts: 157
MindFreedom

I also highly recommend the Eugene-based activist organization, MindFreedom International, founded by David Oaks.

http://www.mindfreedom.org/truth/mfi-truth-200907.pdf

Quote:

Does Your
Mental Health Care Need A
TRUTH Injection? 

Your local mental health system may have a serious problem.

Your mental health provider is supposed to provide clients with accurate mental health information.

Instead, many mental health professionals routinely provide clients, their families,
the media and even elected officials with misinformation that can increase reliance on prescribed psychiatric drugs.

These myths discourage people from believing they can learn to help themselves overcome problems. These myths increase passivity, hopelessness and the risk of suicide. 

 

Rodster's picture
Rodster
Status: Bronze Member (Offline)
Joined: Aug 22 2016
Posts: 40
They Wanted To Prescribe Antidepressants To Me

A few years ago during a doctors visit, I had the nurse doing the interview asking me all kinds of leading questions to try and get me to take antidepressants. Such as: do you want to hurt yourself, do you want to hurt others, do you want to kill yourself, do you want to kill others? My response to them was an emphatic NO, and I furthered that by saying, it's normal to feel down/blue sometimes. It's actually normal because you snap out of it and then you feel happy. It's all part of the normal human cycle.

I'm no Doctor, but just as we have seasons, 4 times a year, I have no doubt that humans have body clock seasons. You naturally feel up, then down then back up again all by itself without any medications. People should not be happy 100% of the time like they're on "Puppy Uppers".

KathyP's picture
KathyP
Status: Bronze Member (Offline)
Joined: Jun 19 2008
Posts: 87
Mad In America

Thank you for this discussion with Robert Whitaker.  I have been following his work since 2011 since I ran across a review of Anatomy of an Epidemic in The New York Review of Books. 

https://www.nybooks.com/articles/2011/06/23/epidemic-mental-illness-why/ 

Also reviewed in the same article was The Emperor's New Drugs: Exploding the Antidepressant Myth and Unhinged: The Trouble With Psychiatry—A Doctor's Revelations About a Profession in Crisis.  The review is well worth a read.

Ian Welsh captures where we are so well in his short essay, The Culture of Meanness

http://www.ianwelsh.net/the-culture-of-meanness/

No wonder we think we need antidepressants.

Yoxa's picture
Yoxa
Status: Gold Member (Offline)
Joined: Dec 21 2011
Posts: 285
Quote:  because you snap out
Quote:

 because you snap out of it

The essence of being ill is that you -can't- snap out of it.

That said, I agree with you that mental illness is often diagnosed too facilely. Sometimes, the insanity resides in the situation, a lot more than the individual.

dryam2000's picture
dryam2000
Status: Gold Member (Offline)
Joined: Sep 6 2009
Posts: 292
Correlation does not equal causation

I must preface my comments by stating I am a internal medicine physician with a slant towards having an interest in psychiatric care. I have mixed emotions about this discussion. The discussion was all over the place:  depression, schizophrenia, bipolar d/o, ADHD, etc.  At the beginning it felt as though Mr. Whitaker and Chris were talking well beyond their knowledge base…which they were.  These type of discussions should be talked about in a very cautious fashion as they can be easily misinterpreted by uninformed readers. Mental illness is a very complicated topic, and can have very serious consequences if not addressed appropriately.  

 

Taking a step back it is very clear Mr. Whitaker appears to have very sincere intentions and is trying to advance psychiatric care in the United States.  I admire him for this as he is a rarity. Mental illness oftentimes is treated as the little dirty secret that no one wants to talk about, and most people want to sweep under the carpet and pretend that it’s not much of a problem.

 

First, correlation does not equal causation. There are various possibilities of why many of the school shooters are on psychoactive medications.   My personal hypothesis is that parents and others around the children clearly recognize that something is screwed up about them...they torment kittens,etc.  Thus, the parent brings the child to the doctor. The doctor talks to them them for a few minutes and quickly realizes that the patient is screwed up but lacking a very specific diagnosis other than a deep seated personality disorder.  The doctor doesn’t know what to do so he prescribes some sort of sedative.  The doctor feels like he has done something which makes him feel good, the parent goes away thinking they have been helped, and the young patient is less apt to do whatever bizzare behavior he had been doing such as torturing cats or whatever while he is sedated. Thus, in the short run it’s a win all the way around. A Band-Aid has been put on a more serious situation and the root of the situation goes completely unaddressed.  The probable underlying truth is that there issomething in the parents behavior that has contributed to the maladaptive behavior of the child.  There may be some deep seeded unaddressed issue from the early years which have gone address. The bottom line is the real problems oftentimes require lots of intensive work when it only takes 2 minutes to write Prescription.  The medical system is so overburdened, especially when it comes to psychiatric illness that all the various modalities of treatment are not possible.  Also, most of the time anyone sees a doctor for an ailment & the doctor doesn’t have a prescription or other specific treatment, patients go away very displeased.  Have you ever seen an extremely overprotective mom come to the doctor thinking her child needs an antibiotic, but the doctor does not believe one is warranted?  It’s not a pretty scene.  Many times the toughest thing for a doctor to say is I’m not sure what is going on, but I do not believe medications are the solution.

 

Simply saying exercise, eating healthy, socializing should be picked for the first go-to options for depression is a bit naive.  Yes, if there was an exceptionally motivated patient with depression this would be great advice.  Unfortunately, this is would be very rare patient.  Most people want a simple pill to help them.  It’s like when someone comes for high blood pressure, new diabetes, or obesity most of the time they want a simple pill to “fix” things and go about their lives without much change.  If I told them here is a prescription for daily walking for 45+ min/day 5 days a week, and another prescription for eating large salads without unhealthy stuff thrown on top, and no deserts, they would look at me like I was crazy.  For depressed patients without jobs  I’ve often wanted to write a prescription for “one full job” as I knew that would far exceed the benefits of what any medication could do.

 

Mental health is very complicated.  Prescribing medications is complicated.  ALL medications have side effects.  Heart medications do great things but for a minority of patients they can have bad side effects.  Read the package insert for any medication.  They all have nasty side effects.  The potential benefits always need to out weigh the risks.  The simplest meds have risks.  I’m not surprised there are side effects to the antidepressants which lead to suicide or homicide.  It’s a risk.  If my main coronary arteries are blocked I’m going to pursue bypass surgery because I know my chances are greater having a successful surgery than dying on the OR table.

 

I would caution those who don’t know much about psychiatric disease from speaking very definitely about it.  Manic episodes can literally ruin people’s lives, psychotic people are killed by police on a routine basis (because they “didn’t follow commands” & the police shoot them. The police haven’t gotten the memo that psychotic people are in their own realities & hearing their own voices.  One last personal note, a friend of my from high school had post-partum depression after her 4 child.  She was the nicest person.....homecoming queen, gorgeous, down to earth farm girl, nurse, and all around great person.  They decided to not get medical help, and tried to fight this on their own.  4 weeks after delivering her 4th child she was found hanging in the garage. Psychotic depression is nothing to fool around with.

 

Lastly, way too many psychoactive meds are prescribed to kids these days.  There was no ADHD in our family because the discipline was fierce at times, and I’m happy it was.  We were taught to pay attention when it was absolutely required.  Much the disciplinary mindset of the past few decades has gone to the wayside.  

 

I could go on & on about these broad topics.  However, speaking about psychoactive medications in such a conspiratorial fashion in regards to what’s “been held back from the public” is inaccurate & not helpful.

 

cmartenson's picture
cmartenson
Status: Diamond Member (Offline)
Joined: Jun 7 2007
Posts: 5727
Let's try some data...
dryam2000 wrote:

I must preface my comments by stating I am a internal medicine physician with a slant towards having an interest in psychiatric care. I have mixed emotions about this discussion. The discussion was all over the place:  depression, schizophrenia, bipolar d/o, ADHD, etc.  At the beginning it felt as though Mr. Whitaker and Chris were talking well beyond their knowledge base…which they were.  These type of discussions should be talked about in a very cautious fashion as they can be easily misinterpreted by uninformed readers. Mental illness is a very complicated topic, and can have very serious consequences if not addressed appropriately.

 

(...)

 

I could go on & on about these broad topics.  However, speaking about psychoactive medications in such a conspiratorial fashion in regards to what’s “been held back from the public” is inaccurate & not helpful.

 

You know, here's the thing I've learned the hard way in my life; never trust authority.  I've always done better for myself by getting to know an issue all by myself before I turn to the so-called experts.

This goes for lawyers, doctors and especially psychiatric practitioners.

It turns out that we're all humans and some of us are smart and diligent and some off us are not, no matter what degrees we hold or how long we've been at something.

My go to response is always to go to the data and see what it says.

My personal observations from knowing a lot of people who've been on psychiatric drugs is that they are generally not a good long-term solution.  And you know what?  The data backs that up.

Robert Whitaker has spent countless hours diving into the data and that makes him quite believable to me.

So why don't we have a data based discussion and see where that gets us?  I've no interest in trying to establish whose got more authority based on their chosen profession and/or interests.  Yours is internal medicine with an interest in psychiatry, mine is pathology with an interest in mental and physical healing/transformation.  We're both trained in the medical sciences, and I assume that we both share the passion for finding out what works best for the person(s) needing and deserving treatment and support.

Here's a data-packed slide deck that Robert Whitaker has put together.  It's all sourced, and referenced. 

Anatomy of an Epidemic

And here are two slides from it.  The first shows the Xanax results used to prove efficacy.  It shows that compared to control (placebo) after four weeks of use Xanax reduced the incidence of panic attacks from 6 to 2, while the placebo only reduced them from 6 to 4.

Success, right?  

Not so fast.  Robert has shown that the rest of the study was excluded from that "result" and as everybody in the fields of science knows you can cherry pick the results.

What happens if we then look at the rest of the study that shows a longer-term patient response?  

Then we see this:

Oops!  According to this data the use of Xanax only provide marginal benefit through week 8 and then placebo was by far the better choice ever-after.  In fact if we're to take this at face value, going off Xanax made things worse than they ever were.

So what are we to make of an industry that promotes the sale and use of a drug that for many people commits them to either permanent use of the drug or a tapering regimen that's worse than how they were in the first place?

This is just what the data says and we don't have to get too wrapped up in how complicated psychiatric issues around panic attacks are are and all of that, because we are perfectly capable of reading these charts for ourselves.  Xanax doesn't seem to be the right choice for this patient population.  

Now did Robert cherry pick this data? Is there other believable data showing something different?  Then we can talk, and I'd welcome that.

As I said in my intro:

The statistics are gripping; 1 in 6 Americans takes a Psychiatric drug. Over 130,000 US toddlers, children aged 0 to 5 years old, are prescribed addictive anti-anxiety drugs, including the wildly addictive and difficult to stop using benzodiazepines.

Xanax is a benzo.  And it's wildly addictive and it turns out it's a super poor choice for long-term care in nearly every instance where I can get data for it.  We've put 130,000 toddlers on such meds.

That's just  data too.  My opinion about that is we're taking the easy route and using drugs to mask symptoms rather than spending the time to figure out what's actually wrong.  

I have no qualms about having such an opinion because I truly do not believe that the "experts" placing so many kids on such cocktails are doing the right thing. Something is definitely wrong, but it ain't broken brain chemistry....more likely the environment in which we've placed these children, and adults, is simply not life affirming and it runs against our circuitry in ways that show up as "mental health issues."  

Young boys unable to focus at the age of 6 for hours at a time in boxes under 60 hz lighting ... you know... it may just be the box, not the kids?

Uncletommy's picture
Uncletommy
Status: Platinum Member (Offline)
Joined: May 4 2014
Posts: 569
A world of entitlement?

"Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend" -  Melody Beattie

Perhaps we should focus on the other 99.999% of the stuff we put into our bodies as the potential source of the problem (diet).  We're constantly in search of the magic elixir to fill the void. In an "instant society", disappointment is rampant. I think I'll go and have a nice "healthy industrial" snack to make myself feel better!



 

AKGrannyWGrit's picture
AKGrannyWGrit
Status: Gold Member (Offline)
Joined: Feb 6 2011
Posts: 465
A World of Sorrow

Uncle Tommy’s I suspect you know that Cheerios has among the highest levels of glyphosate in our processed foods.

Below is a great video by a woman who holds several advanced degrees from MIT.  Dr. Stephanie Seneff says that Autism used to be 1 in 10,000 and now it’s one in 36.  An interesting video.

 

thc0655's picture
thc0655
Status: Diamond Member (Offline)
Joined: Apr 27 2010
Posts: 1613
An old, old slogan from Alcoholics Anonymous

One of my favorites: "Most doctors think alcoholism is caused by a Valium deficiency."  wink  Pretty sharp for a bunch of drunks.  

Grover's picture
Grover
Status: Platinum Member (Offline)
Joined: Feb 16 2011
Posts: 839
Don't forget the glyphosate
Uncletommy wrote:

"Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend" -  Melody Beattie

Perhaps we should focus on the other 99.999% of the stuff we put into our bodies as the potential source of the problem (diet).  We're constantly in search of the magic elixir to fill the void. In an "instant society", disappointment is rampant. I think I'll go and have a nice "healthy industrial" snack to make myself feel better!

Cheerios is gluten free. USDA allows farmers to use glyphosate (the active ingredient in RoundUp) as a desiccating agent (dries the oats for harvest.) Farmers can spray RoundUp on non-GMO oats to kill the oat plant to allow the farmer to harvest the oats on a predetermined schedule. (Your health isn't the primary concern. Sorry.) As long as residues are within legal tolerances, everything's fine. (I've seen the limit cited as 20 ppm - 30 ppm.)

USDA allows products in the food system to contain pesticide/herbicide residues. Did you know that there is an official limit to the number of rat hairs in the average candy bar? As gross as that sounds, it is reality. There is no reasonable way to completely exclude any of these common items from our food system. If there wasn't a limit, you could literally (legally) have a matt of rat hair masquerading as your favorite candy bar. Yum!

https://www.fda.gov/Food/FoodborneIllnessContaminants/Pesticides/ucm583713.htm

Has the EPA established tolerances for safe use of glyphosate?

EPA has established tolerances for glyphosate on a wide range of crops, including corn, soybean, oil seeds, grains, and some fruits and vegetables, ranging from 0.1 to 310 ppm.

Glyphosate disrupts the Shikimate pathway. Here is an excerpt from Wikipedia...

This pathway is not found in animals, which require these amino acids, hence the products of this pathway represent essential amino acids that must be obtained from bacteria or plants (or animals which eat bacteria or plants) in the animal's diet.

Since the pathway isn't found in humans or other mammals, we can theoretically tolerate relatively high doses. Unfortunately, the microflora and microfauna that inhabit our guts and help us digest our food are susceptible to glyphosate. If they aren't there to help digest the food, the food residues that aren't digested become toxins to our internal system. Got food allergies? It could be that your gut bugs can't digest portions of that food. Does that affect your overall health? What does that do to mental health?

http://www.americanherbalistsguild.com/sites/default/files/the_shikimate_pathway_gut_flora_and_0.pdf

Since GMOs were introduced in 1996, the percentage of Americans with three or more chronic illnesses went from 7% to 13% and we have witnessed an unprecedented rise in autism, food allergies, digestive disorders, and reproductive issues. GM foods are believed to be contributory to the diabetes and obesity problems in the population, now seen at epidemic levels.

<... snip ...>

- Beneficial Enterococcus bacteria antagonize pathogenic Clostridia. Enterococci are extremely vulnerable to glyphosate.

- When there are less Enterococci, Clostridia and Salmonella thrive.

- There are multiple strains of Clostridia and Salmonella, the pathogenic strains are known  to have the most resistance to glyphosate.

<... snip ...>

Autistic children show elevations of Clostridia in their feces.

<... snip ...>

Glyphosate is thought to directly affect the synthesis of tryptophan, an essential amino acid. The depletion of tryptophan results in decreased serotonin and melatonin production in the brain.  Serotonin is an important neurotransmitter whose depletion leads to overeating, especially of carbohydrates. Thus, increased obesity is associated with impaired tryptophan metabolism, and diabetes and many cancers are associated with obesity.

Unfortunately, glyphosate usage is so ubiquitous that drift and over spray along with other normal insect and mammal movements contaminate organic products as well. We really can't get away from it. As long as it is profitable, it will be used.

Here's an older article about Quaker Oats comments about glyphosate (Note that Quaker Oats' website used to carry this information. I can't find it now.) :

http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2016/10/fda-testing-finds-weed-killer-residue-in-honey-instant-oatmeal/#.WugR2IWcFZU

Quaker, which was bought by PepsiCo in 2001, stated that it does not add glyphosate during any part of the oat milling process, although the chemical is “commonly used by farmers across the country who apply it pre-harvest.” The company also noted that it “thoroughly cleanses” all oats it receives for processing.

“Any levels of glyphosate that may remain are trace amounts and significantly below any limits which have been set by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as safe for human consumption,” Quaker stated on its website.

“It’s important to put this into perspective,” the Chicago-based company added. “The typical consumer would, on average, have to consume approximately 1,000 bowls of oatmeal a day to even come close the safe limit set by the U.S. government. We proudly stand by the safety and quality of all of our products. Producing healthy, wholesome food is Quaker’s number one priority and we’ve been doing that for nearly 140 years.”

That bolded part may be true for humans in an isolated system. It isn't true when we consider its impacts to our microflora and microfauna. Of course, we're not the ones with all the lobbying money to throw around. Until the economics changes, expect it to get continually worse. Side effects such as health degradation should get worse. We're the modern Beta testers for everything. Just be thankful that we have subsidized health care (sick maintenance) to keep us limping along. There's got to be a better way.

Grover

dryam2000's picture
dryam2000
Status: Gold Member (Offline)
Joined: Sep 6 2009
Posts: 292
cmartenson wrote:dryam2000
cmartenson wrote:
dryam2000 wrote:

I must preface my comments by stating I am a internal medicine physician with a slant towards having an interest in psychiatric care. I have mixed emotions about this discussion. The discussion was all over the place:  depression, schizophrenia, bipolar d/o, ADHD, etc.  At the beginning it felt as though Mr. Whitaker and Chris were talking well beyond their knowledge base…which they were.  These type of discussions should be talked about in a very cautious fashion as they can be easily misinterpreted by uninformed readers. Mental illness is a very complicated topic, and can have very serious consequences if not addressed appropriately.

 

(...)

 

I could go on & on about these broad topics.  However, speaking about psychoactive medications in such a conspiratorial fashion in regards to what’s “been held back from the public” is inaccurate & not helpful.

 

You know, here's the thing I've learned the hard way in my life; never trust authority.  I've always done better for myself by getting to know an issue all by myself before I turn to the so-called experts.

This goes for lawyers, doctors and especially psychiatric practitioners.

It turns out that we're all humans and some of us are smart and diligent and some off us are not, no matter what degrees we hold or how long we've been at something.

My go to response is always to go to the data and see what it says.

My personal observations from knowing a lot of people who've been on psychiatric drugs is that they are generally not a good long-term solution.  And you know what?  The data backs that up.

Robert Whitaker has spent countless hours diving into the data and that makes him quite believable to me.

So why don't we have a data based discussion and see where that gets us?  I've no interest in trying to establish whose got more authority based on their chosen profession and/or interests.  Yours is internal medicine with an interest in psychiatry, mine is pathology with an interest in mental and physical healing/transformation.  We're both trained in the medical sciences, and I assume that we both share the passion for finding out what works best for the person(s) needing and deserving treatment and support.

Here's a data-packed slide deck that Robert Whitaker has put together.  It's all sourced, and referenced. 

Anatomy of an Epidemic

And here are two slides from it.  The first shows the Xanax results used to prove efficacy.  It shows that compared to control (placebo) after four weeks of use Xanax reduced the incidence of panic attacks from 6 to 2, while the placebo only reduced them from 6 to 4.

Success, right?  

Not so fast.  Robert has shown that the rest of the study was excluded from that "result" and as everybody in the fields of science knows you can cherry pick the results.

What happens if we then look at the rest of the study that shows a longer-term patient response?  

Then we see this:

Oops!  According to this data the use of Xanax only provide marginal benefit through week 8 and then placebo was by far the better choice ever-after.  In fact if we're to take this at face value, going off Xanax made things worse than they ever were.

So what are we to make of an industry that promotes the sale and use of a drug that for many people commits them to either permanent use of the drug or a tapering regimen that's worse than how they were in the first place?

This is just what the data says and we don't have to get too wrapped up in how complicated psychiatric issues around panic attacks are are and all of that, because we are perfectly capable of reading these charts for ourselves.  Xanax doesn't seem to be the right choice for this patient population.  

Now did Robert cherry pick this data? Is there other believable data showing something different?  Then we can talk, and I'd welcome that.

As I said in my intro:

The statistics are gripping; 1 in 6 Americans takes a Psychiatric drug. Over 130,000 US toddlers, children aged 0 to 5 years old, are prescribed addictive anti-anxiety drugs, including the wildly addictive and difficult to stop using benzodiazepines.

Xanax is a benzo.  And it's wildly addictive and it turns out it's a super poor choice for long-term care in nearly every instance where I can get data for it.  We've put 130,000 toddlers on such meds.

That's just  data too.  My opinion about that is we're taking the easy route and using drugs to mask symptoms rather than spending the time to figure out what's actually wrong.  

I have no qualms about having such an opinion because I truly do not believe that the "experts" placing so many kids on such cocktails are doing the right thing. Something is definitely wrong, but it ain't broken brain chemistry....more likely the environment in which we've placed these children, and adults, is simply not life affirming and it runs against our circuitry in ways that show up as "mental health issues."  

Young boys unable to focus at the age of 6 for hours at a time in boxes under 60 hz lighting ... you know... it may just be the box, not the kids?

Most good doctors don’t have to do a “deep data dive” to know Xanax is a bad drug.  There are good docs & bad docs.  Anytime someone does to a doctor they need need to take some responsibility in vetting the doctor, doing their own research, and taking personal responsibility.  No good doctor should be blankly trusted.  I had 4 unsuccessful surgeries before I finally did my own research & found about 6 surgeons across the country that could do what I needed.  

i would highly caution “looking at the data” without having a strong background in psychiatric disease when it comes to very serious illness such as schizophrenia & bipolar disorder.  “Outcomes” was mentioned several times during this podcast. However, what an outcome meant was never defined.  Outcomes for mental illness are nebulous.  Does that mean mortality?  Homicides?  Did they hold down jobs?  Did they have to be hospitalized, etc?   Thinking that data can be analyzed and solid conclusions can be arrived at on very complicated topics without having a wealth of context to place that data is probably not wise.  I caution anyone who hears podcast like this to still very much with the medical community, ask lots of questions, do their own research, and not walk away thinking the government & the medical community is working against them.  There are many problems with medicine & society in this country ranging from lack funding for mental health, corrupt pharmaceuticals (NOT all drugs are bad though), the breakdown of families & sense of community across this country......in days of old communities were tight knit and everyone knew everyone.  If someone had mental illness, everyone would help out if there was a problem, schools were in closer communication with families if there was a problem, etc....a culture that is clearly less resilient than than the past, etc., etc.

By the way, the federal government incentivized doctors to prescribe feel good drugs such as Xanax in the name of “patient satisfaction”.  Doctors felt pressure prescribing them when angry patients demanded them.

if you want a very articulate & knowledgeable speaker on your podcast I’d recommend ZDoggMD.  He has a very popular YouTube channel.  Do a search.  He’s a well trained, smart internist who is widely knowledgeable about medicine and sorting out fact from fiction.  He’s a great guy & very entertaining as a bonus.  His goal is to reshape healthcare into something that makes sense.  By no means is he about the status quo.

Chris, don’t get me wrong.  Bringing up mental health is great because it receives virtually no attention & the care in the US right now is awful.

 

 

treebeard's picture
treebeard
Status: Platinum Member (Offline)
Joined: Apr 18 2010
Posts: 603
Wrong Model for the Universe

This (medical insanity masquerading as science) is what you get when you have the wrong model for the Universe.  The mechanistic world view is falling apart along with all the cultural constructs associated with it. The sad thing is that we have irrational association, mechanistic world view = scientific world view, when in fact the opposite is true. Science and its foundation, the scientific method, have long since proved the world is not a machine, but its key characteristic, is that it is conscious, that it is in fact alive.  It seems that we are slowly discovering that the stupidest thing stumbling around the universe is man, our own bodies are a lot smarter than we are.

Those on the "woo woo" side of things do the most damage here because they create easy targets for those desperately trying to keep the mechanistic construct alive.  Fact is we need people with both hemispheres of their brains functioning if we are going to be able to solve any of the major issues of the day, from agriculture, medical "science", free markets, you name it.

Great topic, great article.

jisaac's picture
jisaac
Status: Member (Offline)
Joined: Apr 22 2018
Posts: 5
Quote:Uncle Tommy’s I
Quote:

Uncle Tommy’s I suspect you know that Cheerios has among the highest levels of glyphosate in our processed foods.

Below is a great video by a woman who holds several advanced degrees from MIT.  Dr. Stephanie Seneff says that Autism used to be 1 in 10,000 and now it’s one in 36.  An interesting video.

The diagnostic criteria has changed over the decades to include more people, just as the diagnostic criteria for bipolar and depression has become more broad.

While the pattern of behaviors and symptoms has become more common, possibly due to environmental factors, autism is being over-diagnosed.

There is no diagnostic test for autism, autism is not a condition in itself, it's a label for social deficits/sensory processing problems.

davefairtex's picture
davefairtex
Status: Diamond Member (Offline)
Joined: Sep 3 2008
Posts: 5408
wrong models

treebeard-

Yeah I agree, wrong model for the universe is definitely the problem.

Bruce Lipton has said that the medical schools were still promoting the newtonian/mechanistic view of the universe that was discarded by physics long ago - but they just haven't caught up yet.

He used to be an instructor at a medical school, so presumably he actually knows.

All those drug studies work so hard to get rid of the placebo effect.  How much effort do we spend actually studying that placebo effect?  If we could discover how to engage it, repeatably, just think.  No side effects.  Its nearly free.  And it gives people agency over their condition.

For that Xanax trial: "I'll take the placebo, thanks."  It materially improves patient outcomes.

If the "healthcare system" was about health, understanding the actual mechanism behind that placebo effect would be at the top of the list...and I'm not talking about tricking people with sugar pills, I'm talking about finding a teachable, repeatable method of harnessing the power of consciousness and belief, because even untrained, unconscious belief is pretty darned effective...

treebeard's picture
treebeard
Status: Platinum Member (Offline)
Joined: Apr 18 2010
Posts: 603
Bruce Lipton

Dave,

I am familiar with his work, he writes great stuff. One of many people trying to get us out of an 18th century scientific world view.  It is astounding how long this mechanistic world view has persisted despite scientific evidence to the contrary.

AKGrannyWGrit's picture
AKGrannyWGrit
Status: Gold Member (Offline)
Joined: Feb 6 2011
Posts: 465
What’s Your Label?

“While the pattern of behaviors and symptoms has become more common, possibly due to environmental factors, autism is being over-diagnosed.

There is no diagnostic test for autism, autism is not a condition in itself, it's a label for social deficits/sensory processing problems.”

Labels are like pets.  Lots of people like their labels, they fuss over them, talk about them, compare their label to others labels, carry it around and are happy to share all the details about their label.  Feed it, water it, medicate it and make it a constant companion.  If you say “hi how are you” that means “ how is your label”?  It often defines them.  It’s very sad.  

AKGrannyWGrit

jisaac's picture
jisaac
Status: Member (Offline)
Joined: Apr 22 2018
Posts: 5
AKGrannyWGrit wrote: “While
AKGrannyWGrit wrote:

“While the pattern of behaviors and symptoms has become more common, possibly due to environmental factors, autism is being over-diagnosed.

There is no diagnostic test for autism, autism is not a condition in itself, it's a label for social deficits/sensory processing problems.”

Labels are like pets.  Lots of people like their labels, they fuss over them, talk about them, compare their label to others labels, carry it around and are happy to share all the details about their label.  Feed it, water it, medicate it and make it a constant companion.  If you say “hi how are you” that means “ how is your label”?  It often defines them.  It’s very sad.  

AKGrannyWGrit

I agree.

It's even more sad when the label is forced on people and they're told they're disabled due to a neurological condition and will need supports for the rest of their lives. With no brain scan or way to prove it.

It used to be that only severely affected individuals (think being nonverbal) were given an autism label.

dryam2000's picture
dryam2000
Status: Gold Member (Offline)
Joined: Sep 6 2009
Posts: 292
ZDoggMD on Ativan - same class as Xanax

Here’s two sample videos from ZDoggMD.  The first is his humorous way to criticize the overuse of Ativan, the short acting version of Xanax, which is used more in the hospital but still used commonly outside the hospital by patients at home.  He often uses parody to make points.  The second video is more of his usual serious discussions.  This one happens to touch on mental health.

He talks about all sorts of medical topics and our messed up healthcare system on his YouTube channel.

SagerXX's picture
SagerXX
Status: Diamond Member (Offline)
Joined: Feb 11 2009
Posts: 2236
My homie, the placebo effect.
davefairtex wrote:

If the "healthcare system" was about health, understanding the actual mechanism behind that placebo effect would be at the top of the list...and I'm not talking about tricking people with sugar pills, I'm talking about finding a teachable, repeatable method of harnessing the power of consciousness and belief, because even untrained, unconscious belief is pretty darned effective...

I'll pop in here (tips hat to davef and treeb) to tout the awesome health benefits of a regular Tai Ji practice.  I mean (as some aver), Chinese-style Placebo Effect.

People diss Qi Gong and Chinese Medicine because qi can't be weighed or seen on an MRI.  Okay, that's cool.  I'll just assert that two Tai Ji classes a week (and the little life changes one makes when one starts to internalize a system of thinking/acting) keep my mind (relatively) serene, my body (esp my legs) toned, and my [vital energy/qi/mana/prana/you name it] flowy and stoked (in the sense of stoking a furnace, and not surfer "stoked")...

I last was sick enough to miss a workday (my usual metric, hey is my American-ness showing?) when the swine flu came thru the northeast about a decade ago.

So -- whenever I get into a discussion of qi (and the cultivation/application thereof) with a sciency person, they usually end up scoffing about mysticism and unmeasurables.  

So, uh:  go ahead, call qi (and the cultivation/application thereof) a placebo effect.  I'll be over here being healthy and happy-er-ish for having done my Tai Ji (in a social setting with people I like and who care about my well being, too).  Let's not forget:  time spent doing Qi Gong and Tai Ji are also time NOT spent ingesting Netflix or Prime or [insert other screen-based hypnotic technodrug]...

I mean, there's nothing better than some good genes, a smart set of eating habits, 7+ hours of sleep a night and lots of water and movement.  But when my homie the placebo effect stops by, I always open the door...

yagasjai's picture
yagasjai
Status: Martenson Brigade Member (Offline)
Joined: Apr 18 2009
Posts: 62
Having My Mind Fully Makes All Else Possible

Summary: Before my involvement in the mental health system I was a straight-A student, an accomplished musician on two instruments, and a fit athlete in 3 sports. After my involvement with the mental health system, I struggled to finish school and keep a job while being drugged for 23 years. My life is infinitely better now since I stopped taking the drugs 6.5 years ago.

My story: Everything looked really good for the first 13 years of my life. I was a good student, musician, and athlete. The prospects for my future were bright. People really believed in me. However, I was carrying a lot of hurt from having been sexually abused when I was little and I never got to heal from that hurt because I had to hide it. Despite my best efforts, the hurt did begin to show and developed into some rigid patterns of behavior. Eventually those patterns received a label from the mental health system (OCD) and with the label came drugs. Within 6 months of starting the drugs, I was in a psychiatric hospital for 3 months, and was then drugged heavily for 23 years. My confidence in myself eroded as I struggled to finish school and keep a job. The understanding of myself that I was smart and capable was slowly replaced by the idea that I was fragile and things were too much for me. I kept trying to move forward without even realizing that I was missing something- the internal reference point of who I am.

It took me a long time to unlearn the misinformation promoted by the system and to understand that not only that the drugs were interfering with my ability to function, but they were what had caused the “breakdown” in the first place. Haldol is, as a friend of mine likes to say, is a “lobotomy in a pill.” Once I realized that the drugs had caused the hospitalization, I wanted them out of my body immediately. Fortunately I had people in my life who helped me figure out how to taper slowly, so that I could handle the resurgence of feelings that often come with withdrawal.

As I tapered, I found that when I was down to the last 50 mg, things started to change that I hadn’t expected. I had spent decades struggling to sleep on a regular schedule which made it hard to show up for school and for work. But suddenly my sleep schedule normalized on it’s own. I could also feel connected in my heart again. It is so much more than the intellectual understanding I had relied on for so many years. And the joy of learning returned. My mind made leaps and connections in a way I didn’t realize was possible.

6.5 years later, life is infinitely better without the drugs. I don’t pretend that this is easy. It’s not. But I have built a support network of over 30 people over the last 9 years. I am working full time. I have my own apartment. I am working on my health project, which is digging myself out of the physical consequences of the drugs, which included a 200lb weight gain. Turns out that SSRIs interfere with the brain’s ability to synthesize serotonin, and guess what helps the brain synthesize serotonin? Sugar. It’s not a mistake that I became addicted to sugar. I am down 60 lbs, and have a ways to go, but have discovered that I enjoy distance swimming and up until a recent knee injury was swimming a mile regularly a couple times a week.

For me, the central piece of building resiliency in my life has been reclaiming my mind and body from the effects of the oppressive systems with which I have had contact. I may not be wealthy in the sense of having a huge bank account. I may still be a large woman, and to look at me you wouldn’t probably think much of me. But having my mind fully makes all else possible. If we want to be able to steer the collapse of society in the direction of liberation, or as Chris likes to say “create a world worth inheriting,” we actually need as many people as possible to have our minds.

KugsCheese's picture
KugsCheese
Status: Diamond Member (Offline)
Joined: Jan 2 2010
Posts: 1447
Looking at the longterm Xanax

Looking at the longterm Xanax graph I kept thinking about RoundUp.  Monsanto's supplied science was cherry picked too.

cmartenson's picture
cmartenson
Status: Diamond Member (Offline)
Joined: Jun 7 2007
Posts: 5727
Thank you Yagasjai
yagasjai wrote:

Summary: Before my involvement in the mental health system I was a straight-A student, an accomplished musician on two instruments, and a fit athlete in 3 sports. After my involvement with the mental health system, I struggled to finish school and keep a job while being drugged for 23 years. My life is infinitely better now since I stopped taking the drugs 6.5 years ago.

What an amazing, honest and vulnerable story you've shared.  I'm so sorry you got "drugged" and I know it must have been very hard to taper off and re-claim your life.

Kudos for doing so!

Your story perfectly illustrates what I consider to be a profound form of malpractice.  Instead of discovering and resolving the core issue, the trauma, which was perfectly addressable, you got mauled by a system that wanted to try and treat the symptoms (despite having mounds of evidence that this does not really work).

I'm glad you've gotten yourself out of that trap, and so sorry you were stuck in it for so long.

We now know that traumas are not just memories in our minds, but encoded experiences within our bodies.  To really address them and re-integrate the parts that split off as a result, we need to work with the whole person and especially their body reactions.

That's what my studying and personal experiences have discovered and confirmed.  Suzy Gruber can say a lot more about that than I can, but I've read and re-read Healing Developmental Trauma 4 or 5 times and given copies to a dozen people and recommended it to many more.

We now have a road map that combines what we know about the psychology and the neurochemistry of the mind-body interactions.  It turns out we are an integrated system...not a body and a mind.  

SagerXX's story above is another reflection of that.

Part of the reason I've not really pressed a college experience for my kids is that the subjects they are interested in are the exact sorts where college is a decade or several late to the game of current understanding.  The field of emotional health and transformation is one such area.  

suziegruber's picture
suziegruber
Status: Silver Member (Offline)
Joined: Dec 3 2008
Posts: 215
Internal Reference Point

Hi Yagasjai,
Thank you for sharing your story with us.  For me, what stands out for me from your words is this:

I kept trying to move forward without even realizing that I was missing something- the internal reference point of who I am.

You name it took you a long time to unlearn what you had been told.  It sounds like your unlearning was a gradual process and I am curious if there were any key pieces of information, writers etc that contributed to this journey for you.

For me, the key to any healing journey is recovering our own internal reference point in not just the mind but also the body. This leads to a total reclaiming of our own sense of agency ("I can") and autonmomy. Tracking and witnessing our thoughts is a beginning point for many people.  Bringing that into literally occupying our own body is key which is what I believe Qi Gong offers,  We have to address both our thoughts which are indicative of our identities and survival strategies as well as our absence from our bodies. As Chris alluded to above, Larry Heller, creator of NARM and author of Healing Developmental Trauma, has figured out how to facilitate this real-time mind-body integration with people. A bunch of us aorund the world are really running with what he has created to do everything we can (training practitioners, doing research, expanding the modality) to reach as many people as possible.. 

Larry measures well-being by asking us to consider how much our well-being is dependent on what's happening in our environment.  Am I dependent on the environment around me to feel okay?  Peak Prosperity offers another way of approaching that same question.  Resilience has many components and a sense of agency and choice in the face of anything that happens is the foundation to that resilience.

I will be at the Peak Prosperity seminar this weekend and I look forward to many rich conversations in this realm.

jisaac's picture
jisaac
Status: Member (Offline)
Joined: Apr 22 2018
Posts: 5
impact of diet on

impact of diet on depression:

 

 

http://mikhailapeterson.com/

rheba's picture
rheba
Status: Bronze Member (Offline)
Joined: Apr 22 2009
Posts: 71
Tricky subject

I wonder how many people listening to this podcast are on drugs that keep them calm enough that they are able to stay at home with their families instead of being incarcerated? I hope that they will not flush the pills away based upon what they have heard on this podcast.  For some families the choice is keeping their family members (mostly male, by the way) on some sort of drug or turning them over to the criminal "justice" system. Hey, you nice middle class people, did you know that there is no mental health system? Not really. Just as prison guards are one click away from the inmates, most shrinks are one click away from their patients. And they are all hooked up with the insurance companies and the police. I for one am thankful that there are calming drugs. They are better than nothing. I am very hopeful that the de-criminalization of MJ will allow many stressed out, alienated men and women to get off of the SSRIs. In the meanwhile, be careful what advice you hand out. Please.

dryam2000's picture
dryam2000
Status: Gold Member (Offline)
Joined: Sep 6 2009
Posts: 292
rheba wrote: I wonder how
rheba wrote:

I wonder how many people listening to this podcast are on drugs that keep them calm enough that they are able to stay at home with their families instead of being incarcerated? I hope that they will not flush the pills away based upon what they have heard on this podcast.  For some families the choice is keeping their family members (mostly male, by the way) on some sort of drug or turning them over to the criminal "justice" system. Hey, you nice middle class people, did you know that there is no mental health system? Not really. Just as prison guards are one click away from the inmates, most shrinks are one click away from their patients. And they are all hooked up with the insurance companies and the police. I for one am thankful that there are calming drugs. They are better than nothing. I am very hopeful that the de-criminalization of MJ will allow many stressed out, alienated men and women to get off of the SSRIs. In the meanwhile, be careful what advice you hand out. Please.

Wise words.  The realm of psychiatric issues/disease is extremely wide & deep.  Some issues are organic such schizophrenia & they are very difficult to deal with on many, many levels.  Medications absolutely without any doubt whatsoever play a critical role in managing this non-curable lifetime catastrophicly debilitating illness.  Same goes for true bipolar disorder if tts accurately diagnosed, although people can lead highly productive lives if managed well.....Lincoln had it, so did Churchill & folks like the second man to,walk on the moon Buzz Aldrin.  By the way, diseases like bipolar disorder & schizophrenia can be somewhat prevented from developing in the first place by recognizing someone has a genetic family history which has  predisposed them.  By this recognition people may then be very aware that any forms of stress, anxiety, street drugs, sleep deprivation, etc. should be absolutely minimized as all of these things are triggers for manifesting these diseases in the first place.  Once people get through the critical time period of the teens & 20’s they start to become less at risk, and after 40 new onset bipolar or schizophrenia is virtually unheard of.  That’s real preventative care.  But I digress, our current mental health system is dreadful.  In addition, our so-called criminal system is equally corrupted as a huge number of people locked away in prisons have very serious mental illness.  No one, and I mean virtually no one speaks up for them.  They are sent away to prisons not receiving hardly any psychiatric care when they really should be in a (good) psychiatric facility as opposed to the ones that masquerade as being mental health facilities when they are anything but.

I absolutely agree with many here, too many sedative type drugs are prescribed for conditions that don’t have clear indications for these medications.  These meds are the “easy button” meds for lazy & poorly trained doctors who only care about getting a fat paycheck every month. 

I really enjoy PP quite a bit.  There are a lot of good minds here & a lot of folks that are striving for this world to be a better place.  However, occasionally there are times when these podcasts & such start veering off the road a tad too much.  I agree with a lot of what folks in this thread have said in regards to the more psychologically based issues & a very holistic & much less medicated route, but to mix those issues up with these other very clearly serious & potentially serious diseases not fully responsible. 

 

 

cmartenson's picture
cmartenson
Status: Diamond Member (Offline)
Joined: Jun 7 2007
Posts: 5727
One more attempt
dryam2000 wrote:
rheba wrote:

I wonder how many people listening to this podcast are on drugs that keep them calm enough that they are able to stay at home with their families instead of being incarcerated? I hope that they will not flush the pills away based upon what they have heard on this podcast.  For some families the choice is keeping their family members (mostly male, by the way) on some sort of drug or turning them over to the criminal "justice" system. Hey, you nice middle class people, did you know that there is no mental health system? Not really. Just as prison guards are one click away from the inmates, most shrinks are one click away from their patients. And they are all hooked up with the insurance companies and the police. I for one am thankful that there are calming drugs. They are better than nothing. I am very hopeful that the de-criminalization of MJ will allow many stressed out, alienated men and women to get off of the SSRIs. In the meanwhile, be careful what advice you hand out. Please.

Wise words.  The realm of psychiatric issues/disease is extremely wide & deep.  Some issues are organic such schizophrenia & they are very difficult to deal with on many, many levels.  Medications absolutely without any doubt whatsoever play a critical role in managing this non-curable lifetime catastrophicly debilitating illness.  

(...)

 

I really enjoy PP quite a bit.  There are a lot of good minds here & a lot of folks that are striving for this world to be a better place.  However, occasionally there are times when these podcasts & such start veering off the road a tad too much.  I agree with a lot of what folks in this thread have said in regards to the more psychologically based issues & a very holistic & much less medicated route, but to mix those issues up with these other very clearly serious & potentially serious diseases not fully responsible. 

Again, Dryam, you are slinging about very sturdy opinions, beliefs and at the end there an assertion bordering on an accusation....all without bringing a single piece of data along for the ride.

I personally know someone who had a very serious schizophrenic episode, lasted nearly two years, ended up living under a bridge and refused all family help and wouldn't take any drugs.  Fully recovered, and has been living the life of a family man with there children and no problems since.

Now that I know what I know about his experience and its resolution and what I can find in the data about the issue, I am 100% glad he was not medicated.

And here's some data along to go along with that anecdote:

What data are you operating from?  It must be vastly different?  Is this a completely untrustworthy journal?  A really bad study?

What's wrong with bringing this information up for discussion?  What possible benefit do you think there is for hiding this data from people?  

Seriously, nobody here is giving advice or saying that mental health issues are not complex and we agree that they are poorly supported in the US culture.  Given that, how is it irresponsible to share the data like adults and discuss it?

By the way this topic is very much on the reservation for this site, especially given the levels of stress and discomfort on the way...wouldn't you agree?

My reason for bringing this up is precisely because we have so-called experts saying we should not have a discussion about all this, that they need to be the gatekeepers and that we should trust them, when in fact many of them have violated the most basic precept of the Hippocratic Oath: they have applied treatments that have not accelerated the natural rate of healing.  

I love the idea of preventive care, and also fits in here at PP perfectly.  Don't mask the symptoms, roll up your sleeves, figure out what is actually wrong (or might go wrong), and then treat that.  

To me that's a lot more responsible than hiding the conversation and then providing easy pills.  

dryam2000's picture
dryam2000
Status: Gold Member (Offline)
Joined: Sep 6 2009
Posts: 292
Agree on several points, but

As I mentioned very early on in this thread it’s great that this topic is being talked about.  Discussion is good.  However I do have an issue with people talking in a very definitive fashion about something they may have done a fair amount of research on but clearly have limitations in their expertise.  

You bring up the man with “Schizophrenia”.  Well, schizophrenia is actually a spectrum of disease that comes in many different flavors and there’s actually some crossover to bipolar disorder.  Again, I’m not a psychiatrist so I can’t speak with 100% clear certainty, but a likely explanation is that there are multiple mechanisms which cause these illnesses.  So, for a broad swath of patients they have the more run of the mill within the bell curve variety of schizophrenia & most behave the same without treatment & respond very similarly to various forms of treatment.  Their diagnoses are going to be closer to slam dunks.  Then, you have the people who the outliers outside the bell curve.  Their flavor of disease is going to be different, it’s probably going be less or more episodic, and needs to be treated in a completely different fashion than the majority of the mainstream patients.  Their symptoms may only be consistent with a smaller subset of symptoms than the mainstream group.  Remember, these diagnoses are from clinical symptoms, not specific blood tests or CT scans; meaning it can be a fuzzy science when it comes to diagnosing someone & mistakes are trgoing to happen.  There are other similar diagnoses such as schizoaffective disorder, etc.  To keep things simple people tend to think about Schizophrenia in a very black & white way when the reality is there is every shade of gray in between

As time goes on there have efforts to break down these spectrums of disease for bipolar disorder & schizophrenia into multiple subtypes.  However, the reality is the spectrums are broad and subtle, trying to quantify the differences from one patient to the next is nearly impossible.

So, schizophrenia is not schizophrenia is not schizophrenia necessarily, and same thing goes for bipolar disorder.

My point with all of this is that comments regarding possible stopping of medications without clearly prefacing the comments by saying confer with your physician after you’ve done your research is not wise IMHO.  In all do respect to your guest, I clearly get the sense he knows a fair amount about mental health care and has a fair knowledge of psychoactive medications, he appears to have great intentions, but he doesn’t know as much as he purports in this podcast.  Usually this not a problem, but sometimes people hear these things & think it is best to stop medications for some of these very serious illnesses on their own volition.  That’s what I have problem with.  I’ve seen first hand & the results can be devastating, no exaggeration.

yagasjai's picture
yagasjai
Status: Martenson Brigade Member (Offline)
Joined: Apr 18 2009
Posts: 62
No Sudden Changes Up or Down

rheba, 

I hear you. What I can say from my own experience and from knowing others is that the slower you go the easier it is on the mind and body. I don't think anyone is advocating that people flush their pills. I personally know several people who have killed themselves because of irresponsible sudden changes to their dosages. The point is not to stop taking the drugs suddenly. Anyone looking for more information about how to taper slowly may want to start here.

https://withdrawal.theinnercompass.org/

As you point out, we live in an oppressive system which sets people up to not have any other options. When the system can blame the biochemistry for people's problems, it distracts us from noticing and organizing together against the systemic forces that are crushing people. It's convenient for the system to get us all to think that something is wrong with us or our neurotransmitters. It keeps us confused about the real issues that need to be addressed. That is why I appreciate that CM and others are raising this issue. What would have to be true if the drugs were not necessary? What are the implications about our society that would have to change?

yagasjai's picture
yagasjai
Status: Martenson Brigade Member (Offline)
Joined: Apr 18 2009
Posts: 62
Resources that Were Helpful to Me

Suzie,

You asked what key pieces of information, writers, etc contributed to this journey.

1) Having someone in my life who stopped taking psychiatric drugs (she had been on 2 for 3 years) and could hold the perspective that the drugs were not necessary without beating me over the head or being urgent about it. 

2) Reading the book, "Your Drug May Be Your Problem" by Peter Breggin. Key points:

 

  • The drugs cause side effects which can look like new symptoms that can seem to require more drugs. 
  • When the drugs are withdrawn there is a "rebound effect", which often scare the doctor and patient into concluding that the drugs were necessary in the first place or that more are needed now. 
  • The combination of these two things can trap people on drugs for life.

I still didn't think I would be ok without the drugs after reading that book but did understand that any movement I could make in that direction would be a good thing. I did slowly taper from 300 to 50 mg over about 3 years.

3) Reading another book by Peter Breggin called, "The Anti-Depressant Fact Book: What Your Doctor Won't Tell You about SSRIs." That book gave me a better picture of how all of these different side effects had been ascribed to there being something wrong with me. And it was in the midst of that reading, that I finally understood that the "breakdown" had been caused by the drugs. Once I got that, there was no turning back. 

4) Building resource. This one is hard for those of us who are/were on psychiatric drugs, because most of us end up involved with the mental health system because we are isolated and don't have any other resource in the first place. But when you dial down the drugs, you have to dial up connection. For me this has meant being involved in community projects, playing piano, doing peer counseling, and moving my body. It will be different for each person, but the withdrawal symptoms don't lend themselves to making friends. It's best to set up as much support as possible well in advance of the taper. 

davefairtex's picture
davefairtex
Status: Diamond Member (Offline)
Joined: Sep 3 2008
Posts: 5408
data

dryam-

I don't mean to speak for Chris or anything, but I think he's asking to have a discussion based on data.

Usually data comes in the form of a table, or a chart.  If you aren't providing a table or a chart, it is unlikely you are bringing this "data" to the discussion, and instead are relying on argument-by-anecdote and/or an appeal to the authority of your credential.

And I definitely got the sense Chris was suggesting that, instead of starting on a drug regimen, you might want to consult the data yourself, rather than relying on the current crop of professionals who appear to rely on poor data which - accidentally, I'm sure - just happens to benefit the bottom line of the drug companies.

Lastly, I got the sense Chris was suggesting that, if you had an issue, you might want to try - first - getting to the root cause of whatever problem you're having, rather than jumping right into covering up the symptoms with the mind-altering, addictive, and highly profitable medication.

Which from what I can see (and here comes an anecdote rather than actual data) appears to be the current standard of care at this point in time.

Of course, once you're addicted to the mind-altering meds - that's another thing entirely.  And I don't think either Chris, or the guest, were rendering an opinion on what you should do at that point.  I do think its a fair point that simply quitting cold turkey could lead to all sorts of problems.  As many of the others here have pointed out.

What a quagmire.  I still can't believe we've prescribed this stuff for babies, whose brains won't be fully formed for another 20+ years.  Heaven only knows what this stuff does to kids.  Perhaps, like the tobacco companies, they want their "customers" to start as young as possible.

 

dryam2000's picture
dryam2000
Status: Gold Member (Offline)
Joined: Sep 6 2009
Posts: 292
Discussion is all over the place

Now we’re introducing the topic of giving babies psychoactive drugs????  Who in the world is a proponent of that?

There are a lot of highly intelligent people on this site including you Dave, Chris, this guest speaker, etc.  I totally get your “data-centric perspective.  I live a data-centric professional career in medicine for the past 22 years.  It’s called evidence based medicine.  If I don’t have strong evidence from solid studies, typically double blinded randomized studies with a fair number of participants, then I don’t do it.  Unfortunately not everything in medicine has or can be studied in this fashion.  Most good doctors have practiced medicine this way over the past 25+ years.  We are not just shooting from the hip based of anecdotes.  TTrying to have a “data” based discussion on pretty much the entire realm of psychiatry in a forum like this is fruitless.  Data is absolutely essential.  All I can is that some people here simply don’t know what they are talking about, and I don’t mean that in an offensive way.  All I can tell you is I have many years of practice in internal medicine & we see an extraordinary amount of psychiatric disease, my family has had many direct experiences with severe psychiatric disease, and I’ve had a personal interest in psychology/psychiatry going back 25+ years.  I honestly don’t have time to argue “data” on this topic.  I’ve only had 4 days off in the past 6 weeks from work the past 6 weeks, as in 38 out of the past 42 days.  The only reason I chimed in at all is because of genuine concern not because I was trying to beat my chest & show I know more than anyone else.  This is an issue that I hold dear to my heart.  I must go to work now.

Btw, if you want to have that “data” discussion with a highly knowledgeable, articulate, highly compassionate doctor, who is extremely entertaining as a bonus, who’s goal & passion in life is the reshape our terrible healthcare system, then invite ZDoggMD for a podcast.  He’ll give you plenty of data, context for that data, nuances in what that data means or doesn’t mean, and on & on.  But, if you want these discussions limited to non-medical people you can do that too.  It’s your website.  I very much think your subscribers would enjoy it.

RoseHip's picture
RoseHip
Status: Silver Member (Offline)
Joined: Feb 5 2013
Posts: 150
Kelly Brogan

Here is a podcast talking with Kelly Brogan as she is a practicing Psychiatrist that is practicing with the knowing that prescribing meds in a traditional sense is malpractice, and just bad for patients.

https://charleseisenstein.net/podcasts/new-and-ancient-story-podcast/kel...

1. The quantification of symptoms (they are bad) 2. Diagnosis of the neurochemistry imbalance (you feel this way because we've discovered what chemical isn't in balance and it is wrong and for you to get better this one or two values needs to be changed) 3. Treatment thru pharmacology (Forcing the body into a different reality based on some quantifying beings (scientist) determination that it is better to change things with drugs rather than with experience or environmental influence) 4. Follow up applications with more pharmaceuticals (because now to stay within the guidelines the use of more pharmaceuticals is required to deal with symptoms that arise from the use of pharmaceuticals. 5. The patient is now better because the consciousness has been decreased to the point where they have stopped complaining, yet living mostly with the same experiences. 6. Celebrate and pat yourself on your back for breaking a person down into discernable parts where each one can be measured manipulated and made to work how our expectations are of them. 

My suggestion for you is if you don't want to follow this script - choose a medical practitioner that prescribes new experiences pared with new and better information as the primary medicine.

AKGrannyWGrit's picture
AKGrannyWGrit
Status: Gold Member (Offline)
Joined: Feb 6 2011
Posts: 465
Data Only How Limiting

 

It seems to me that there are three problems with a website that promotes and requires that  discussions be backed by only DATA.

First, with the advent of the internet data can be cherry picked.   Just google climate change and there is data supporting both sides.

Second when the discussion narrows to a data only thread, we all lose as it becomes a win-lose contest —see my data is better!

Third, what is often lacking are conversations where deep thinking takes place and IDEAS are discussed.  These types of discussions are much more difficult and time consuming.  They are not the I win you lose quick and easy ones and a bonus would be a greater variety of people could participate than just data geeks.

Lastly I have no doubt I will get blasted by group-think.   But remember no one has cornered the market on the truth and everyone has a different perception.   I  find discussions are often unwelcoming here.   

AKGrannyWGrit    

cmartenson's picture
cmartenson
Status: Diamond Member (Offline)
Joined: Jun 7 2007
Posts: 5727
Why this is important...
davefairtex wrote:

dryam-

I don't mean to speak for Chris or anything, but I think he's asking to have a discussion based on data.

Usually data comes in the form of a table, or a chart.  If you aren't providing a table or a chart, it is unlikely you are bringing this "data" to the discussion, and instead are relying on argument-by-anecdote and/or an appeal to the authority of your credential.

And I definitely got the sense Chris was suggesting that, instead of starting on a drug regimen, you might want to consult the data yourself, rather than relying on the current crop of professionals who appear to rely on poor data which - accidentally, I'm sure - just happens to benefit the bottom line of the drug companies.

Lastly, I got the sense Chris was suggesting that, if you had an issue, you might want to try - first - getting to the root cause of whatever problem you're having, rather than jumping right into covering up the symptoms with the mind-altering, addictive, and highly profitable medication.

(...)

This is exactly right...data is not the be-all and end-all, but it is a means of avoiding the argument-by-anecdote and/or the appeal to authority.  Neither are useful as both shut down the sharing of ideas before they have a chance to get going.

This particular topic, unlike a conversation about spirituality, is ripe for using lots of data.  It's the same as a conversation/debate about nutrition.  We have tons of data, and decades of malpractice to counter.  

What if we had an internist stopping by for our nutrition conversations saying "Whoa there, this is a tricky area, no one size fits all, and decades of experience and many professionals working on this.  It's irresponsible for laymen to think they can dabble in this without causing serious harm."

I'll call BS on that, and counter that I have every right to look at the nutrition data myself and make up my own mind.

This arena of the overuse and dependence on psychoactives is no different.

I keep trying to use data as the starting point because at least that avoids the two cul-de-sacs outlined above.  

Further, I trust my audience to be able to read a chart.  The data I've presented so far says two things (1) before starting a new psychoactive drug regimen you should consult the data, understand the risks and side-effects, and consider other options very seriously and (2) once you are on them, getting off is perilous and tricky business (that's what the Xanax chart very clearly says).  

If I have a fault it's that I trust people to be intelligent with information and do not consider it my duty to protect people I don't even know from misinterpreting something and self-harming as a result.  A core value of PP is self-responsibility.  I trust the people here to handle firearms, plant gardens, tailor their diets, and interpret drug data and side effects.

If anything, the medical and drug industry has a lot of self-reflection it should undergo as it has foisted really bad, malpractice-y junk science on a lot of trusting people.  Diet and drugs being two areas where data was ignored, and long-term outcomes ignored.  

Sorry if that ruffles any feathers, but that's what both my personal experience and the data I can marshal are telling me.

So that's why the data is important.  It provides a neutral space from which to begin opening up a very big and painful area.  I know this is personal for many of you as it is for me.  People I love have been harmed, deeply harmed, by the for-profit drug industry coupled with ignorant and/or uncaring (or overworked, etc) doctors.  

So I care about this topic a lot, and will resist every effort to shut down the conversation because we are judged to lack the proper credentials.  Far from it.  There's an entrenched belief system in play and the best way to cut through the BS is with data.  

rheba's picture
rheba
Status: Bronze Member (Offline)
Joined: Apr 22 2009
Posts: 71
One more thought.

I think that there is a special stigma surrounding mental health problems. Most people who are taking drugs are ashamed and desperate to get off them and often do not admit that there is anything wrong. They are constantly mocked, especially by the more libertarian bloggers, for being on Prozac etc. There also are side effects as we all admit. Because of all this I am of the opinion that a responsible mental health practitioner should be very careful to not join in the derision. I thought that there was a derisive tone to the presentation. The speaker did say "Don't do nothing" but only in passing.

This in not as innocent as telling people to stockpile food and advising them on emotional resilience. It is not even like discussing whether  people should eat only fat or give vaccinations to themselves and their children. We can agree or disagree about all or some of those things. But mentally ill people are especially vulnerable to the opinions of people they respect and discussion is hard for them or they would not be in this situation in the first place. (Just for your information, you have at least one listener who is off his meds as a result of this podcast.)

One hundred years ago people were locked away for their whole lives in madhouses because of their inability to behave themselves. Say if you will that society should be more tolerant. It should. And some people should not have been locked away (many of them women) But a lot of behaviors really are intolerable. (I am not talking about children here but about adults. ) As a result of anti-psychotic drugs many people are able to lead relatively normal lives. I know a lot of them. I hope that some of you have read the Professor and the Madman. Here is the description from Amazon "The Professor and the Madman, masterfully researched and eloquently written, is an extraordinary tale of madness, genius, and the incredible obsessions of two remarkable men that led to the making of the Oxford English Dictionary."

 

davefairtex's picture
davefairtex
Status: Diamond Member (Offline)
Joined: Sep 3 2008
Posts: 5408
more data

If the data tells us that, long term, people do better with placebo than with the drug, I think that's a really important thing to know.

And if for some reason that chart isn't saying what we think its saying, that would be good to talk about.

Ideally, we should have this kind of information for all drugs that someone proposes that we take for years at a time.  What are the long term consequences?  What percentage of people experience them?  How well does it work?  Does it work at all?

Aren't these reasonable questions to ask?  Perhaps - to demand?

It is our life, after all.

In my experience in dealing with the healthcare system, they don't tend to supply data.  At least, it hasn't happened yet.  I live in hope that someday, I'll engage with a healthcare system where the doctor plugs in my stats into an app, and then shows me a chart and says "here's what we've seen this drug do for people like you" both short term, and longer term, and then lets me make the decision.

And if we can have that side by side with "placebo" as well as "no medication", then it would just be perfect.

"So can I get a prescription for some of that 'placebo' stuff?  It looks mighty good to me..."

And whle we are imagining a real health care system, why not add in things like exercise, diet, and meditation while we're at it?  Some conditions (probably) won't benefit from these types of interventions, but others presumably would benefit a lot.

If you take a pill, you get this range of outcomes - and these side effects.

If you exercise and meditate (relatively faithfully), you'll get these range of outcomes, and no side effects.

And that's just restricting ourselves to "the mechanical universe" range of options.  We could add in prayer.  Rumor is, that helps outcomes too.  And then we can add in the range of woo woo treatments too.  Why not?  Shouldn't they get equal billing?  If they don't work, we should find out.  If the DO work, then for sure we should find that out too.

Wouldn't it be fun to build a system like that?

dryam2000's picture
dryam2000
Status: Gold Member (Offline)
Joined: Sep 6 2009
Posts: 292
Shutting down conversation?

“Shutting down conversation”?

I have not read anyone say that here and if you think that is my intent, that would be incorrect.  I think this is a great topic & quite happy it was brought up, like I’ve mentioned before.  Mental illness & the so-called Mental Healthcare system is quite poor.  I’m all about pursuing changes.  

Btw, I’m an internist and have been quite happy with the discussions on diet, importance on overall health, the neglect of the healthcare system has given to diet.  Most thoughtful doctors are totally onboard.

Comparing a topic such as nutrition to mental health is just plain wrong.  I will respectfully agree to disagree with you.  I mean no disrespect in any of my comments.  Again, I think PP is one of the best websites on the web.  

Btw, I don’t take ideas counter to mine personally.  My feathers are not ruffled.   

Keep up the conversation, by all means.

Mohammed Mast's picture
Mohammed Mast
Status: Silver Member (Offline)
Joined: May 17 2017
Posts: 170
Pfizer

I believe you worked for Pfizer. What was your job there and what are your experiences working on the "other side"

Mohammed Mast's picture
Mohammed Mast
Status: Silver Member (Offline)
Joined: May 17 2017
Posts: 170
States of consciousness

Interesting thread. I did not listen but have read many of the comments.

Having traveled extensively in the East I can attest to the fact that their are highly advanced souls who would be put in mental institutions in the West ( if we had them of course) or at minimum heavily medicated. They function in an entirely different level of consciousness.  In the West these states are considered a pathology. In the East they are considered high spiritual states. One in particular in India , Tajuddin Baba was actually thrown in an insane asylum for waliking across a tennis court naked. The British ladies and gentleman were horrified. He spent something like 14 years inside. He was revered by the local populace so much that thousands would be outside the facility in devotion. It created so many problems they finally let him out. His samadhi is still a place of great devotion and pilgrimage almost 100 years after his passing.

In the West we do not even have the vocabulary to describe these states. In the East there are terms such as Majzoob, Rasool, Brahmin Bhoot, Jivanmukta etc, Each has different characteristics and are very different from what one in the West would consider normal consciousness.

Would anyone consider drugging Temple Grandin? She is autistic and has made many contributions to animal husbandry and certainly her particular consciousness is anything but considered normal. 

So we are now in the position of placing our faith in the hands of "experts" to decide whether someone should be medicated or institutionalized. Then of course we have the government ( Cia etc) using all kinds of drugs on unsuspecting guinea pigs and "kubarking" those they do not like. And all this ultimately in the name of normalcy.

Tude's picture
Tude
Status: Bronze Member (Offline)
Joined: Apr 1 2017
Posts: 25
Mohammed Mast
Mohammed Mast wrote:

Interesting thread. I did not listen but have read many of the comments.

Having traveled extensively in the East I can attest to the fact that their are highly advanced souls who would be put in mental institutions in the West ( if we had them of course) or at minimum heavily medicated. They function in an entirely different level of consciousness.  In the West these states are considered a pathology.

So we are now in the position of placing our faith in the hands of "experts" to decide whether someone should be medicated or institutionalized. Then of course we have the government ( Cia etc) using all kinds of drugs on unsuspecting guinea pigs and "kubarking" those they do not like. And all this ultimately in the name of normalcy.

It's a tragedy. My father was one of those people. I don't know all that was done to him before I was born, but he became a heroin addict around the time of my birth and was targeted and tortured by the state most of his life and ended up disappearing onto skid row 20+ years ago. When I came to SF I was originally a social worker and thought I was going to solve homelessness (having been homeless at times myself). Some of the most amazing people I've ever met were out on the streets. We never talk about that. Some people simply cannot integrate into our deeply sick society and we no longer have a place for them. As I get older and I am less able to handle the soul crushing expectations of a corporate job, I find myself in a constant state of anxiety and fear of what will happen if I cannot emotionally manage to make it to retirement age (I am now 48). It's no wonder so many people blow their brains out in middle age. That, or how about this pill for your "mental illness"?

LesPhelps's picture
LesPhelps
Status: Platinum Member (Offline)
Joined: Apr 30 2009
Posts: 788
Demoralized

For several years now, I have occasionally described myself as mildly depressed over the path humanity seems bent on taking.  I have even wondered if mild antidepressent medication might be in order.

When Chris made the distinction between depression and demoralization, I had a profound eureka moment.

I've never really felt that depression accurately described my state of mind.  Now I know why.

Thanks.

Stabu's picture
Stabu
Status: Silver Member (Offline)
Joined: Nov 7 2011
Posts: 100
A topic that cuts close to home

Psychiatry and associated disorders is a topic I've always felt highly controversial towards. On one hand I've seen similar charts as posted above on how medications are typically worse than the alternative and read a book by the psychiatrist Thomas Szasz, who believes that the concept of "mental illness" is mostly a control tool. On the other hand, I have a few close relative experiences that I've followed over several years and I've listened to psychologist Jordan Peterson's explanations (who seems to have surprisingly many sound views in general) on how psychiatric medication can truly be a life savior particularly in the short run. Before I mention my anecdotes, let me emphasize that the little I've read of the psychiatric literature seems to indicate that there's no such thing as a "normal" person. We all simply deviate from the average behavior in the societies we live in, those who deviate more than that are considered "eccentrics" and those who deviate even more than that typically fall in the "insane" or even "criminal" category. Where these lines are drawn is highly subjective.

Chris and some others in here who have actually met me face-to-face might recognize me in this, but I've been struggling with some forms of mental disorders for about 20 years on top of being labeled both as having ADHD and dyslexia as a child (never medicated for either). The terms mental health professionals have attached to my (claimed) disorder have been mild bipolar, neuroticism, highly functioning depression, melancholy, and simply calling me someone who is "barely socially functional". I've been told to try ADHD medication, anti-anxiety medications and antidepressants, but never dared to take any due to possible side-effects, which is why I gave up on seeing therapists some 15 years ago. The only "treatment" that I've found to work is to take on so much actual work, yard work or similar activities that my days are so exhausting that I can't spend too much time ruminating on things, which stops me from finding my mind in very dark places.

My wife and I have four kids and every time she has given birth she has gotten pretty bad postpartum depression (all her pregnancies and births have been very easy and without complications). This seems to starts about 2-4 weeks after delivery and go on 'til about 9-12 months. Her symptoms have been extreme anxiety. For example, she may refuse to leave the house, she reads every bad online/verbal comment that relates to her far more critically than she should, she may randomly burst into tears from seemingly minor things such as breaking a glass, she may feel so inadequate to become confused how to safely operate household appliances etc. After our first child we went through this and it was horrible. After our second child we knew what to expect and tried supplements such as deep ocean fish oil to balance epa/dha and niacin (a type of vitamin B), which we read had helped others. Her symptoms were better, but the situation was still very bad. After our third child her postpartum worsened until the child was about 3 months old to the point that my wife had to be committed because she frequently left the gas accidentally on in the kitchen etc. During her short stay in psychiatric care she was put on the mildest possible dose on sertraline (typical brand is Zoloft) and stayed on it until the child turned one. She withdrew from it in a month or so, during which she was slightly more irritable than normal, but the situation was overall blissful compared to what I witnessed before. For our fourth child she ended up getting a prescription in advance and took it 2 weeks postpartum when her typical symptoms started to kick in. This halted the symptoms in 3 days and she was fine the entire year. The withdrawal was a bit tricky again due to the irritableness, but far better than what I would have expected to go through without it.

One of my brother-in-laws was diagnosed as a schizophrenic in his late teens. Every time he is on antipsychotics (don't know exactly which) he's a functioning person who can maintain a job, pay his taxes, live in a house, take care of himself, i.e. function as a pretty regular adult. If he forgets just two doses he stops taking his pills altogether, because he claims they're hurting him, and goes off the deep end that includes bizarre delusional fantasies of e.g. Jeff Besos wanting to start a new business with him or Miss America wanting to marry him etc. and while he's not dangerous in this state, he does erratic things such as empty his bank account and buy a one-way ticket to Washington state just to meet with Besos (who my brother-in-law of course never meets). This situation then ends up with the police finding him and taking him into custody. The unfortunate thing is that every time my brother-in-law stops taking his antipsychotics it takes longer and longer for us to get him back to the normal adult stage and when he stopped taking his drugs the last time (about 10 years ago now) we have not been able to get him back at all (with or without drugs). I've been looking to some drug-free group homes where he could live with regular caring adults who have jobs in the hopes of bring him back into normalcy. Unfortunately this sort of arrangement is very expensive, so my borther-in-law is currently roaming around looking to start a family with Miss America or whatever his current delusional fantasy is...

jisaac's picture
jisaac
Status: Member (Offline)
Joined: Apr 22 2018
Posts: 5
The drugs certainly have

The drugs certainly have their place and help some, but they're over-used and can make things worse. Looking at the odds of making things worse vs making things better, on average it's more likely that the risks don't outway the benefits.

Quote:

 Every time he is on antipsychotics (don't know exactly which) he's a functioning person who can maintain a job, pay his taxes, live in a house, take care of himself, i.e. function as a pretty regular adult. If he forgets just two doses he stops taking his pills altogether, because he claims they're hurting him, and goes off the deep end that includes bizarre delusional fantasies

The drugs cover up symptoms and don't heal the underlying cause of the chemical imbalance or the trauma causing the symptoms. And long term can cause neurological damage (movement disorders) and diabetes, heart problems.

 

The definition of success shouldn't be superficially "functioning" on the surface but being well and having a good quality of life. The definition of success of a treatment shouldn't be maintaining a job and paying taxes -> those only matter because of the way our society is set up.

Can function "normally" (whatever that means) on the surface but be miserable, dead inside, have horrible side effects. Being on medication for the rest of life is suboptimal and I'm sure diminishing cognitive function, makes people feel detached.

So the claims of being "hurt" by the drugs should be taken seriously rather than dismissed and perhaps e alternative solutions sought out so he can live without the drugs should he choose. 

 

 

 

sand_puppy's picture
sand_puppy
Status: Diamond Member (Offline)
Joined: Apr 13 2011
Posts: 1884
Another Tangent: Medicalizing Emotional Crisis

I appreciate much discussion on this topic including peoples stories.

One aspect of this I see as an ER doctor is that emotional crises are often "medicalized."  That is, people in emotional crisis are brought to the emergency department for medical "help."

1.  A woman is brought in by 4 relatives because she "can't stop crying" after her husbands death a week earlier.  "Can't you please give her something to calm her down?"

2.  A shy and petite 12 yo is brought in after cutting her legs with a razor blade and telling her parents "I want to die."  She has no psychiatric history, meds, suicide attempts and is not using alcohol or medications/street drugs.  It turns out she is being bullied and ridiculed at school.  Her behaviors are a communication of overwhelming stress at a situation she does not know how to deal with and that she needs help from the adults in her life.  She does not have psychiatric disease at all.

3.  A 19 yo man comes into the ED with depression and sadness and "I was thinking about suicide yesterday, but not today."  His friend has started an untrue rumor about him that was very hurtful and he felt betrayed and emotionally wounded.   However, saying the magic word "suicide" gets you a medical work up, a consult with the psychiatrist via a telemedicine monitor before being discharged with instructions to call the county mental health office for an outpatient counseling appointment the next week.  $1,000 of lab work, 6 hours in the department, $500 ED doctors bill and about the same for the psychiatrist's 20 minute consult.

4.  A young adult comes to the ED during the busiest hours late Saturday night complaining that he is "overwhelmed with anxiety."  He is "shaking inside" and "jumping out of his skin."  This is a horrible sensation.  Not the time or place to learn the coping skills of cognitive behavioral health or mindfulness based stress reduction.  In fact, the doctor needs to spend less than 3 minutes with this patient.  We give him ativan, recheck in 60 minutes, then discharge with the phone number for a counseling service.

5.  Some people truly are in great distress and need protective psychiatric hospitalization so that they don't act out a suicide impulse while they are feeling severely down.  And the ED does a real service for these folks.

 

jisaac's picture
jisaac
Status: Member (Offline)
Joined: Apr 22 2018
Posts: 5
Killing one's self is a

Killing one's self is a personal choice that should be respected, just like euthanasia for physical conditions.

Grover's picture
Grover
Status: Platinum Member (Offline)
Joined: Feb 16 2011
Posts: 839
Medical Industrial Complex

dryam2000, sand_puppy, and others involved with the medical industrial complex,

I just watched this 60 minutes segment https://www.cbsnews.com/news/the-problem-with-prescription-drug-prices/ that started with a problem in Rockford, Illinois. Rockford self insures medical expenses for their 1,000 employees and dependents. Because of drug prices (astronomical) increase on one drug in particular (Acthar,) it caused the city to severely downsize other key functions to pay these costs. (That one drug was used on only 2 dependent babies.)

It is presented in typical 60 Minutes fashion, expertly guiding the viewer toward a specific result. This statement pretty much sums it up for me. Of course, I'm on the outside looking in. What does it look like from the inside?

Dr. Peter Bach: The underlying problem we have with prescription drugs in this country is that every single actor has the potential to make money when drug prices go up. Remember that for drugs that doctors give to their patients, they make more money when they give expensive drugs than less expensive drugs. It's true of hospitals, too. It's true of pharmacies as well. And so this ever-expanding pie is serving everyone.

Please note that the video is a bit wonky. They get supported by advertising and will interrupt the 14 minute video for "important messages." Ironically, I had a medication for rheumatoid arthritis presented to me before I shut off the video and just read the transcript below the video.

Grover

dryam2000's picture
dryam2000
Status: Gold Member (Offline)
Joined: Sep 6 2009
Posts: 292
Grover,I have not personally

Grover,

I have not personally seen how docs make more by prescribing more expensive meds (I only work within the confines of a hospital & drug reps are not allowed to meet with, give us lunch, etc.)

The problem with docs though is that they are slanted towards writing a prescription for every little ailment that comes their way.  Part of this problem results from unreasonable expectations on the part of patients.  Here’s what happens.  A patient presents with a particular problem(s).  A large majority of the time patients have expectations of receiving some type of (immediate....because that’s the world we live in today) help for the problem.  The “easy button” for many docs is to whip out their prescription pad & provide some perceived immediate help.  The patient feels good because they walk away with something they believe is going to help them, and the doc either feels like he/she truly helped someone or they know all along that they really had no idea how to provide relief and wanted to simply give the perception that they are an all knowing doctor & making the patient walk away somewhat satisfied.

our culture is all about immediate relief, societal expectations are many times unrealistic.

Many docs find saying things  “I don’t know” to be the hardest thing & rarely say it.  Many physician-patient interactions should probably end by the doc saying “I’m not really sure how to help you, and going through the process of writing a prescription and subjecting you to all sorts of side effects makes no sense”. When this occurs patients walk away disgruntled because they spent time, energy, & money to here a doc say “I’ve got nothing”.  Patients typically don’t like spending money to be told their chronic shortness of breath, fatigue, and depression stems mostly from obesity & they need to pursue some type of activity/exercise program & eat a lot of salads, vegetables, nuts, some fruit, and cut out most cakes, cookies, sweets, candies, processed food, etc.  Some of these conversations go ok, but many not so much.

 

What I do see from the medical indrustrial complex is that docs are being forced to progressively cut down on patient interaction times by fresh out school business types who follow very closely how long the average interaction takes.  They want to shave these times down from 8.3 minutes to say 6.4 minutes because that helps the clinic make a lot more many.  The losers in this is the patients.  Docs only time to do a superficial assessment write a prescription that’s simply a bandaid for the real problem that unaddressed because lack of time.  And what happens to the docs who don’t get their patient interaction times down?  They led out the door by the pencil pushers because to them it’s all about the bottom line & nothing else.  People things every growing medical systems are a good thing.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  The larger the medical system the more that their only focus is on the bottom line.  Their advertising about they deeply care about each & every patient is a total crock.  They deeply care how much they are going to make off every patient.

dryam2000's picture
dryam2000
Status: Gold Member (Offline)
Joined: Sep 6 2009
Posts: 292
More thoughts

Somewhere it appears this conversation got a little off the tracks. I agree very much that way too many prescription meds are precibed in general, and particularly psychoactive meds.  That’s not to say many medications are absolutely essential & play an important role in providing good medical care.  Many tomes it just wouldn’t go over well saying “you are suffering from the crap of life, so I’m going to prescribe one full time job, daily exercise & exposure to sin, more socializing, less electronics, less alcohol/smoking, & eating lots of salads, vegetables, nuts, healthy smaller portions of meat, and cut out almost sugars & empty calories”.

Anytime a medication is being taken it means the lesser of two evils is being pursued.  There’s the evil of the ailment & the potential evil adverse reactions to the new drug.  The two evils have to be weighed a then pick which path has the best risk/benefit ratio for either pathway.  Look at any package insert for single medication.  Even the simplest med can have severest traction including death.  All chrinic medications should be evaluated at least once a year if not more freakishly & there should be a reassessment whether it should be stopped or not.  The reality is people’s medication list tend to just keep growing & growing over time because docs are afraid of stepping on the toes of another doc who originally started a medication several years ago, and so the med gets carried over for years & years,

I agree with some of the posters above that “good outcomes” means different things to different people.  Everyone & every decision maker has to take in the potential risks & venefits for every treat option.  These are very individuals decisions.  Unfortunately, the time limitations on doctors works against thoroughly going through all these options in very thoughtful manner by healthcare professionals.  This, there’s a quick writing of a medication on a prescription pad, & telling the patient to follow up in a couple of weeks.

Our healthcare system is extremely sick & screwed up, and many of these problems are issues the public is very oblivious to.  

I really enjoy my job, but I’m completely disgusted & disillusioned by the industry I work in.

 

 

Grover's picture
Grover
Status: Platinum Member (Offline)
Joined: Feb 16 2011
Posts: 839
Kickbacks

dryam2000,

Thanks for your thoughtful response. I can only guess how busy you are and I appreciate the time you took to write down your thoughts. I have no doubts that you haven't benefited directly from the pharmaceutical industry. I'm not so sure about the bean counters who just want to speed up the operations (pun intended.) Is there a list - formal or informal - of "preferred" medications that might be more expensive than cheaper alternatives?

When I was working as an engineer, I knew engineers who would go out of their way to design the work so that certain specialty contractors would be needed during the design and/or construction. At first, I thought the engineer's bag of tricks was pretty limited. Over time, I suspected that kickbacks were involved.

I was evaluating a landslide near one of our projects that was being constructed. One of these specialty contractors was doing some work and I wanted to get my feel for their work. It just so happened that the company owner was on the project at the same time as I was. He came over to see why I was poking my nose where it didn't really belong. When I explained that I didn't quite understand the intricacies of their process, he explained it. (The problem they were correcting could have been corrected much more inexpensively with a different solution.) When I mentioned the alternate solution, he told me why his solution was superior. (It was basically a sales job with some underlying truth.)

After I had seen enough, I thanked him for his time. He asked me if I would ever consider using his company. I responded by saying that I would when the situation warrants his expertise. Then, he hinted that it could be lucrative for me. At the time, his comment didn't seem out of place. On the drive back to the office, in my mind I replayed the odd way that conversation ended. I realized that he just opened the door for me to get a kickback if I were so inclined.

Kickbacks cause an asymmetrical benefit/cost condition. Both the groups involved in the kickback (giver and receiver) get the benefit while those not involved get added costs. It doesn't matter if it is medicine, engineering, or politics (or any other profession where kickbacks are involved.) If the product can compete without resorting to bribes or kickbacks, there's no need to resort to bribing (other than to counter some other company's bribes.)

Statistical analysis is a wonderful way to identify anomalies. It doesn't mean that those anomalies aren't justified, just that they are repeatedly used. It takes experts in the field to determine if something fishy may be happening. For instance, repeatedly telling patients to take 2 aspirin and call in the morning doesn't mean you're getting a kickback from the aspirin manufacturers consortium. On the other hand, a doctor who prescribes a $10,000 treatment when a $100 treatment would satisfy most of the same conditions would be suspect. That's where experts come into play.

Someone familiar with statistics and computer databases could develop a lucrative business identifying these anomalies and at what level in the hierarchy those anomalies persist. All I'm missing are the skills and the motivation to learn the skills.

Grover

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.
Login or Register to post comments