From A Colorado R.N.: Why I Left Psychiatric Nursing

“It is a mistake to pathologize life [to represent it as a disease].  All of us get angry, sad, depressed, overjoyed, and excited at times.  There are times that any of us might lose control of any of these emotions with the challenges that life presents.

“Unfortunately, losing one’s temper in public might earn a person a stay in a psychiatric hospital.  Anger, especially, is not tolerated inside the psychiatric department of a hospital.  It can be diagnosed as “dysphoria” [unpleasant emotion, agitated, depressed], “hypomania” [speeded up, agitated behavior], or a “personality disorder.” The patient — adolescent and adult alike — can be disciplined with restraints, isolation, and involuntary medications.

“Isolation and restraints are legally allowed ONLY when the patient is threatening others or viewed as a danger to himself.  However, as a former psychiatric nurse, I have witnessed these methods used for reasons other than safety.  I have seen them used to discipline a patient for his temper or simply to gain control over him, even when there was no threat to anyone’s safety.  They were used to break down the individual’s will so that he will comply with the system inside the psychiatric unit, which imposes a milieu structure [a structured environment] with medications prescribed for questionable diagnoses.

“Anger is in itself not a disease.  It is a symptom that something is not right.  Anger can escalate when it is not listened to.

“While working one evening a few years ago in a small Colorado psychiatric inpatient unit, I was asked by our staff psychiatrist if I thought a 16-year-old boy there had “bipolar disorder.”  The adolescent had expressed anger toward his mother, who was continuing to date a man who had literally beaten the boy up.

“Recognizing that this young patient had a lot reason to be angry, I asked the doctor why he thought the boy had “bipolar disorder.”  The doctor explained that the patient’s mother had reported an increase in the boy’s appetite the week before, when he had an extra chili dog for dinner.  The boy then went outdoors to play basketball with his friends.  The doctor surmised that these two occurrences of normal behavior must be interpreted as “mania” because they were not typical for this boy.

“As the doctor was writing out prescriptions for three psychiatric medications, including an antipsychotic drug, I voiced my opinion that perhaps this boy’s behavior might be normal or just a sign of getting well.  The doctor instructed me to observe him over the weekend for unusual behaviors and symptoms.

“Later that night, as I was passing out bedtime medications, I found myself with an antipsychotic medication in my hand with a physician’s order to give it to this boy — a child who was not mentally ill.

“My license said I had to give it.  I left the psychiatric setting a few months later.  Unfortunately, this scenario is all too common in psychiatric facilities.

“What is needed is empathic [with empathy] listening, understanding, validation and acceptance to feel what we need to.  In my experience, I found that acceptance and caring about how my patient felt was always calming.  A therapeutic conversation could then take place.  Empathic listening and validation are key to healing.”

–Colorado R.N., a former psychiatric nurse

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A Question of Medical Ethics: Researchers Conclude Antidepressants Do More Harm Than Good

 

Image by George Hodan
Image by George Hodan

A team of researchers reviewing previous studies into the effects of antidepressants have concluded that the drugs are doing patients more harm than good, according to a research paper published yesterday in the online journal Frontiers in Psychology.

“The thing that’s been missing in the debates about antidepressants is an overall assessment of all these negative effects relative to their potential beneficial effects,” says professor Paul Andrews, an evolutionary biologist at McMaster University in Canada and lead author of the study. “Most of this evidence has been out there for years and nobody has been looking at this basic issue.”

Most antidepressants alter the level of serotonin naturally produced by the human body in an attempt to alter mood.  But serotonin also regulates other important functions in the body, including digestion, reproduction, and the blood clotting to seal a wound.

“Serotonin is an ancient chemical,” said Andrews.  “It’s intimately regulating many different processes, and when you interfere with these things you can expect,  from an evolutionary perspective, that it’s going to cause some harm.”

Quoting from his research team’s paper:

“Because serotonin regulates many adaptive processes, antidepressants could have many adverse health effects….  Antidepressants can…cause developmental problems, they have adverse effects on sexual and romantic life, and they increase the risk of hyponatremia (low sodium in the blood plasma), bleeding, stroke, and death in the elderly.  Our review supports the conclusion that antidepressants generally do more harm than good by disrupting a number of adaptive processes regulated by serotonin.”

The full paper can be read here.

 

Proven risks outweigh questionable benefit

Following on the heels of other research on both the ineffectiveness and the risks of adverse effects of antidepressants, this latest research raises serious questions about whether physicians can ethically prescribe antidepressants for their patients.  After all, a cornerstone of medical ethics is that it may be better to do nothing than to risk causing more harm than good.  Antidepressants now have been shown in a growing number of research studies to cause proven harm, while providing questionable benefit.

For example, in an explosive report that aired recently on CBS’s 60 Minutes, an expert on placebos said that the difference between the effects of antidepressants and sugar pills is clinically insignificant for most people. (see “Expert Finds Antidepressants No More Effective Than Sugar Pills”).  Another recent study shows antidepressants can considerably worsen depression (see “Antidepressants can cause chronic and worsening depression”).  An earlier study published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 2006 linked antidepressants to an increased risk of major birth defects.

(For international studies and warnings on the side effects of antidepressants, go to CCHR International’s psychiatric drug search engine.)

Professor Andrews believes his research shows the critical necessity of reevaluating the use of antidepressants.

“It could change the way we think about such major pharmaceutical drugs,” he says. “You’ve got a minimal benefit, a laundry list of negative effects – some small, some rare and some not so rare. The issue is: does the list of negative effects outweigh the minimal benefit?”

 

WARNING: Anyone wishing to discontinue antidepressants or other psychiatric drugs is cautioned to do so only under the supervision of a competent medical doctor because of potentially dangerous, even life-threatening withdrawal symptoms.

If you or someone you know has experienced harmful side effects from an antidepressant, we want to talk to you. You can contact us privately by clicking here or by calling 303-789-5225. All information will be kept in the strictest confidence. We welcome your comments on this article below.

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Columbine: A Permanent Reminder That Psychiatric Drugs Can Turn Kids Into Killers

The 13th anniversary of the shooting rampage at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado, is a time to remember the real lesson of Columbine: psychiatric drugs can turn kids into killers.

Read more here.

 

 

 

 

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Patient Beware: Negative Results Of Psych Drug Tests Were Not Revealed To Your Doctor

 

Image by Petr Kratochvil
Image by Petr Kratochvil

Analysis of articles published on the outcomes of clinical trials of psychiatric drugs found that many unfavorable results never appeared in the professional journals doctors rely on to make informed decisions for their patients.

A new report published in PLoS Medicine found that drug companies seeking FDA approval for eight newer, so-called atypical antipsychotic drugs performed a total of 24 studies.  But four of the studies were never published in professional journals – and all four of those studies had negative results for the drugs in question.

Three of those unpublished studies showed that the new drugs were no better than sugar pills.

Lead author Erick Turner, M.D., a former drug reviewer for the FDA and now at Oregon Health & Science University and the Portland VA Medical Center, called the results of the analysis “unsettling” and called on the FDA for greater disclosure of drug trial results.

Doctors subjected to aggressive marketing by pharmaceutical companies, but not getting full disclosure of negative clinical trial results, are fueling the skyrocketing use of these expensive antipsychotic drugs, increasingly using them for purposes for which the drugs have not been approved.  A study published last year found that off-label antipsychotic prescriptions doubled between 1995 and 2008, from 4.4 million to 9 million.  Sales of the drugs exceeded $16 billion in 2010, according to IMS Health, a data tracking firm for the health-care industry.

And antipsychotic drugs were not the only psych drugs for which negative clinical trials were squelched.  In 2008, Dr. Turner and his colleagues found an even greater publication bias for antidepressants.  Nearly one of every three clinical trials of antidepressants by drug companies produced troubling results that were never revealed in professional publications.

Without access to this negative information, doctors do not get the complete picture of the dangers and ineffectiveness of the psych drugs they may be prescribing to their patients – and both doctors and their patients need to know this.

 

WARNING: Anyone wishing to discontinue psychiatric drugs is cautioned to do so only under the supervision of a competent medical doctor because of potentially dangerous withdrawal symptoms.

If you or someone you know has experienced harmful side effects from a psychiatric drug, we want to talk to you. You can contact us privately by clicking here or by calling 303-789-5225. All information will be kept in the strictest confidence. We welcome your comments on this article below.

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Expert Finds Antidepressants No Better Than Sugar Pills

In an explosive report just aired on CBS’s 60 Minutes, an expert who has studied the effects of placebos (dummy pills) for 36 years stated that antidepressants are no more effective than sugar pills for the vast

Image by George Hodan
Image by George Hodan

majority of depressed individuals.

Irving Kirsch, Associate Director of the Placebo Studies Program at Harvard Medical School, says his research shows that the difference between the effects of antidepressants and sugar pills is clinically insignificant for most people.

He reports that it is not the chemical ingredients of antidepressants that make people feel better, but rather their expectation that taking a pill will make them feel better, such that taking a dummy pill with no drugs in it alleviates their symptoms.  This is known as the placebo effect.

In addition to its reported effectiveness in handling depression, a placebo has none of the dangerous side effects of antidepressants.  (Information on the harmful side effects of antidepressants and other psych drugs can be accessed through CCHR International’s psychiatric drug side effects search engine.)

View a video clip about the 60 Minutes report.

WARNING: Anyone wishing to discontinue antidepressants or other psychiatric drugs is cautioned to do so only under the supervision of a competent medical doctor because of potentially dangerous withdrawal symptoms.

If you or someone you know has experienced harmful side effects from an antidepressant, we want to talk to you. You can contact us privately by clicking here or by calling 303-789-5225. All information will be kept in the strictest confidence. We welcome your comments on this article below.

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Parker Man Who Killed Ex-Wife, Then Committed Suicide Had Taken Psych Drug

Part of the ongoing series: Killers On Psych Drugs –
Psych-Drugged Accused Or Convicted Killers

 

Image by Raki Halder
Image by Raki Halder

A man who shot and killed his ex-wife outside a McDonald’s in Parker last December and then took his own life had taken the antidepressant nortriptyline, according to an autopsy report.

Royer reportedly was having emotional and financial problems at the time of the double killing.  So how does a depressed individual turn violent?

Antidepressants have long been linked to violence.  Nortriptyline is known to cause hostility, aggression, agitation, confusion, hallucinations and delusions.

It also can cause worsening depression, suicidal thoughts, suicide attempts and suicide.

Research studies, warnings from international regulatory authorities, and reports to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration on the harmful side effects of antidepressants and other psych drugs can be accessed through CCHR International’s psychiatric drug side effects search engine.

WARNING: Anyone wishing to discontinue antidepressants or other psychiatric drugs is cautioned to do so only under the supervision of a competent medical doctor because of potentially dangerous withdrawal symptoms.

If you or someone you know has experienced harmful side effects from an antidepressant drug, we want to talk to you. You can contact us privately by clicking here or by calling 303-789-5225. All information will be kept in the strictest confidence. We welcome your comments on this article below.

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Government Needs To Improve Oversight of Psychiatric Drugging of Vulnerable Populations

Federal lawmakers received two major reports last week on the troubling lack of oversight at the federal level of the prescribing of psychiatric drugs to two of our nation’s most vulnerable populations:  foster children and the elderly in care facilities.

A Government Accountability Office (GAO) report on the massive psychiatric drugging of foster children recommended that federal health officials do more to monitor how state agencies oversee Medicaid doctors’ prescribing of powerful, mind-altering drugs to children who end up in the state’s care after being abused, neglected or abandoned.

Sen. Tom Carper, D-Del., requested the GAO investigation after receiving numerous complaints about the quantity of drugs being prescribed and the adverse effects of the drugs experienced by foster kids.

The GAO recommended that the US Department of Health and Human Services  come up with guidance for states on how to oversee the prescribing of psychiatric drugs for foster children.

In a separate investigation, government inspectors called on Medicare officials to do more to stop doctors from prescribing powerful psychiatric drugs for the elderly living in care facilities.

In particular, antipsychotics are given to hundreds of thousands of elderly nursing home patients to sedate them and make them more manageable.

But the drugs carry an increased risk of death for seniors, which led the FDA to issue warnings against prescribing the drugs to the elderly.

Despite repeated government warnings, the unapproved practice has continued.

The HHS Inspector General told the Senate Committee on Aging that Medicare should begin penalizing nursing homes that overdrug with antipsychotics .  Medicare could force nursing homes to pay for drugs that are prescribed wrongly and bar the facilities from the Medicare program.

If you know a foster child or nursing home patient who has been harmed by psychiatric drugs, we want to talk to you. You can contact us privately by clicking here or by calling 303-789-5225. All information will be kept in the strictest confidence. We welcome your comments on this article below.

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ABC News Reports Shocking Use of Psychiatric Drugs With Foster Children

Citing the fact that foster children are given powerful, mind-altering psychiatric drugs at an alarming 13 times the rate of other children, ABC News rolled out a series of reports based on a year-long investigation into the use of these drugs – antidepressants, antipsychotics, psycho-stimulants and other psychotropic drugs – with American foster children.

The investigation found that these children, who have already been traumatized by abuse, neglect, and abandonment, were prescribed heavy-duty psychiatric drugs in shocking amounts, in combinations considered too risky even for adults, and for disorders they don’t have.  It found kids who have taken these drugs say they are in a kind of chemical prison.

In response to the shocking findings, ABC reporter Diane Sawyer asks:

“Is there something else we owe these kids who have already endured so much?”

The ABC News reports coincide with the release of a report by the US Government Accountability Office (GAO), which revealed foster kids are prescribed psychiatric drugs more often than non-foster kids and at higher doses – often at doses higher than the maximum levels approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).   The report also found a significant number of foster children were prescribed five or more psychiatric drugs at the same time despite no evidence supporting the use or safety of this number of psychiatric drugs taken simultaneously.

You can listen to the stories of these kids by clicking on the links to the ABC News reports here:

New Study Show US Government Fails to Oversee Treatment of Foster Children Prescribed Mind-Altering Drugs

Doctors Put Foster Children at Risk with Mind-Altering Drugs

Foster Kid Felt Like “Guinea Pig”

20/20:  Overmedication in Foster Care

If you know about a foster child who has been harmed by psychiatric drugs, we want to talk to you. You can contact us privately by clicking here or by calling 303-789-5225. All information will be kept in the strictest confidence. We welcome your comments on this article below.

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GAO Study Details Massive Psychiatric Drugging Of Foster Children

A report by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to be released tomorrow reveals that American foster children are drugged with powerful, mind-altering psychiatric drugs at many times the rate of non-foster children.

The GAO’s report, based on a two-year-long investigation, looked at five states — Florida, Massachusetts, Michigan, Oregon and Texas.  Among the key findings:

  • Foster children were nearly five times more likely to be prescribed psychiatric drugs than non-foster children.
  • Overall, nearly one-third of the foster children in the five states under investigation were prescribed at least one psychiatric drug.  (Other studies have shown that as many as half of foster kids in other areas are on psychiatric drugs.)
  • Thousands of foster children were being prescribed psychiatric drugs at doses higher than the maximum levels approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in these five states alone, and hundreds received five or more psychiatric drugs at the same time despite absolutely no evidence supporting the simultaneous use or safety of this number of psychiatric drugs taken together.
  • Foster children were more than nine times more likely than non-foster children to be prescribed drugs for which there was no FDA-recommended dose for their age.
  •  Foster children less than 1 year old were twice as likely to be prescribed a psychiatric drug as non-foster 1-year-olds.

When U.S. Senator Thomas Carper, D-Delaware, lead requestor of the GAO report, first learned of the report’s findings, he said:

“I was almost despondent to believe that the kids under the age of one, babies under the age of one were receiving this kind of medication.”

Carper requested the study after receiving numerous reports of waste and abuse in the prescribing of psychiatric drugs to foster children.

Taxpayers foot much of the bill.  Medicaid spends more than $6 billion per year on psychiatric drugs, or nearly 30 percent of its entire drug budget, more than double what was spent in 1999, according to the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services.

The report has already raised calls for states to report pharmacy claims of the psychiatric drugs given to foster children for more transparency on the issue.

ABC News was given advance access to the GAO report.  The ABC report can be accessed by clicking here.

If you know about a foster child who has been harmed by psychiatric drugs, we want to talk to you. You can contact us privately by clicking here or by calling 303-789-5225. All information will be kept in the strictest confidence. We welcome your comments on this article below.

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Denver Psychiatrist Disciplined For Exploiting Intimate Details of Patient’s Life

Denver psychiatrist Roy S. Lowenstein has been disciplined by the Colorado Medical Board for taking the intimate details of a traumatic event a patient had experienced as a child and turning it into a short story that was published without the patient’s knowledge or consent.

Lowenstein treated “patient S.P.” for approximately five years.  According to the Board’s letter of admonition to Lowenstein, recently posted on the Colorado Division of Registrations website:

“Throughout the course of treatment, S.P. related to you details of a traumatic event that she experienced as a child.  In 2009, you published a short story based on the traumatic event in S.P.’s life in a literary publication, without S.P.’s permission.  You then told S.P. about the publication.”

The Board concluded that Lowenstein’s “exploitation of S.P.’s confidential information without her prior consent” and his “failure to deal with sensitive therapeutic issues with respect for the dignity of S.P.” constituted unprofessional conduct under the Colorado Medical Practice Act.

The Board’s letter of admonition can be read in its entirety by clicking here.

If you or someone you know has been harmed by a psychiatrist or other mental health worker, we want to talk to you.  You can contact us privately by clicking here or by calling 303-789-5225. All information will be kept in the strictest confidence. We welcome your comments on this article below.

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