SSRIs: Wonder drugs From Hell
By Evelyn Pringle
Online Journal Contributing Writer
Mar 4, 2006, 00:16
The Glenn McIntosh
family has to introduce 12-year-old Caitlin, with a photograph because that is
all they has left. Caitlin committed suicide 8 weeks after being prescribed the
SSRIs, Paxil and Zoloft.
"We were told
that antidepressants like Paxil and Zoloft were wonder drugs, that they were
safe and effective for children. We were lied to," Caitlin's father said.
According to Glenn,
his daughter was a straight "A" student, an artist, and a talented
musician who loved animals and wanted to be a veterinarian.
With the onset of
puberty, Caitlin seemed to be having trouble coping, and was also having
sleeping problems due to a mild seizure disorder.
"We wanted to
help, of course," her father explains, "so we took her to our family
physician, who prescribed her Paxil."
Right off the bat,
Caitlin did not do well on Paxil, so the doctor took her off the drug. About a
week later the family went to see a psychiatrist and Caitlin was put on Zoloft.
According to Glenn,
"She then started having strong suicidal ideations, along with severe
agitation known as akathisia and hallucinations, and she was put in the
adolescent ward of a mental hospital to balance her meds."
Once she entered the
hospital, the situation got worse as Caitlin was put on more and more
psychiatric drugs to treat symptoms and behaviors that Glenn says he now
realizes were caused by the SSRIs to begin with.
When she was
released from the hospital, the downward spiral continued until the day that
Caitlin used her shoe laces to hang herself in a bathroom at school.
"Let me be very
clear about something," Glenn said, "the dramatic and severe symptoms
that led to my daughter's suicide manifested only after she started taking
pharmaceutical companies have known for years that these drugs could cause
suicide in some patients," Glenn said. "Why didn't we?"
Grieving the loss of
their 14-year-old daughter Dominique, Lorraine and Robert Slater also make the
point that, "informed parental consent is only possible as long as full
disclosure is made by the pharmaceutical companies, the FDA, and the medical
teenagers be allowed to be given antidepressants that were never approved for adolescent
consumption, only for adults?" Lorraine wants to know. "How come the
medical profession doesn't fully disclose the possible harmful and fatal
effects of medication as well as watch carefully for diverse effects on its adolescent
Shortly after she
was prescribed Celexa, Dominique attempted suicide. She was treated by several
mental health professionals after her initial adverse reaction to the first
And, each time they
met with professionals, her parents explained that the drugs seemed to maker
Dominique's condition worse rather than better. Unfortunately, as so often
happens, the adverse reactions and behaviors caused by the SSRIs, were treated
as a worsening of an underlying condition and Dominique was prescribed other
drugs from the same class.
mind and behavior were slowly being altered to the point that she became very
agitated, irrational, ultimately suicidal," her mother recounts,
"because none of the so-called medical professionals acknowledged the
drug's role in her irrational and suicidal behavior or properly withdrew her
from their suicidal effects."
On February 6, 2003,
Dominique was switched to the SSRI Effexor, and during the two weeks that
followed, her doctor doubled the dose.
The morning of
February 21, 2003, Robert dropped his daughter off at school and they said
goodbye as usual. Around 11 am, Dominique told her teacher she needed to go
outside for some fresh air. She left the classroom and never returned.
Next to nothing is
known about Dominique's activities from the time she left school on February
21, until her body was found three weeks later in the Delta Mendota canal in
California on April 14, 2003.
Lorraine is still
racked with guilt and blames herself for giving her daughter the prescribed
medication. "How can you imagine I feel, knowing now that I was slowly
poisoning my daughter every day as I was dispensing her antidepressant
medication?" she said.
Tom and Kathy
Woodward's daughter, Julie, who had no history of suicide or self-harm, hanged
herself in a matter of days after being prescribed Zoloft. "Julie began
experiencing akathisia almost immediately," Tom recalls.
But he knew nothing
about Zoloft's side effect of "akathisia" at the time. The doctor had
stressed that Zoloft was safe and had very few side effects. He never advised
Tom and Kathy about the possibility of violence, self-harm, or suicidal acts
and the information they received with the drug never mentioned self-harm or
According to her
parents, Julie was a young woman who had everything to live for. Just weeks
before her death, she had scored high on her SATs and was excited about
"instead of picking out colleges with our daughter, my wife and I had to
pick out a cemetery plot for her," Tom said. "Instead of looking
forward to visiting Julie at school, we now visit her grave," he added.
Like so many other
cases of suicides of young people on SSRIs, Julie's body apparently could not
handle the drug. "We now know from a blood test from the coroner's office,
that she was not metabolizing the drug," Tom said.
Tom and Kathy are
angry at government officials. "The FDA has placed the interests of the
drug industry over protecting the American public," Tom said. "If the
trials don't favor a drug, the public never hears of them."
"It is clear
that the FDA is a political entity," he continued, "and its
leadership has protected the economic interests of the drug industry."
Tom believes that
suppressing unfavorable studies should be illegal. "The drug industry must
be compelled to produce all of their findings and studies," he said.
Cheryl and Mark
Miller lost their 13-year-old son, Matthew, to suicide after a psychiatrist
gave him Zoloft. His parents were told that Matt had a chemical imbalance that
could be helped by a new, wonder drug called Zoloft.
"It was safe,
effective, only two minor side effects were cautioned with us -- insomnia,
indigestion," they said.
While on the drug,
Matt became agitated, could not eat, sleep, or sit still. The night before the
family was set to leave for vacation, Matt hanged himself in a bedroom closet
from a hook, barely higher than he was tall.
"To commit this
unthinkable act," Mark said, "he was able to pull his legs up off the
floor and hold himself that way until he lost consciousness."
His parents had no
warning of their son's plan to kill himself. Mark had never spoken about
suicide or threatened to commit suicide.
Mark and Cheryle
have since learned that Matt's doctor has served as "a well-paid spokesman
for Pfizer," the maker of Zoloft.
14-year-old son, Jacob, was an exceptional athlete and participated in both the
varsity and junior varsity football teams at his school.
In September 2000, Jacob
seemed to lose interest in school activities except for football, and a
conflict arose with regard to his grades and school attendance. As a result,
his parents attended a conference in October 2000, at which the school
administrator suggested that Jacob might be depressed and recommended seeking
Jacob's pediatrician and made an appointment for the same afternoon. The doctor
prescribed Prozac, and three weeks later increased the dose.
Shortly after he
started taking the drug, Jacob complained of having strange bad dreams and
shortly after the dose was increased, his mother noticed an aggressive behavior
which had not been there before. "Jacob also became destructive and
destroyed some of his favorite things," Terri said.
Jacob told his mother, "I don't know what is making me do this."
Terri wrote it off to normal adolescent behavior and did not pursue the issue
On December 5, 2000,
Terri found Jacob's body hanging from a rafter in their attic. He had hanged
himself with his own belt. He left a letter on the ladder leading up to the
attic for his parents, thanking them for giving him 14 years of a happy life.
After her son's
death, his friends told Terri that they had noticed the same changes in Jacob;
that he had become short tempered and verbally aggressive.
"Had I known
that this was a potential side effect, suicide," Terri said, "I would
have never allowed my son to take the drug Prozac."
And the sad fact is,
the FDA could have warned Terri, because by 1998, according to the FDA's
adverse reaction reporting system, Prozac alone had already accumulated over
40,000 adverse reaction reports, including over 2,100 deaths, far more than any
other drug in the history of the reporting system.
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