Many patients know about the black box notice on antidepressant drugs warning that young people may want to kill themselves when first taking these FDA-approved medications. But there is also a shocking risk of increased violence against other people:
- A review of the FDA’s Adverse Event Reports “identified 31 drugs responsible for most of the FDA case reports of violence toward others, with antidepressants near the top of that list.”
- Time magazine posted an article entitled “Top Ten Legal Drugs Linked to Violence” in which five of the top ten are SSRI antidepressants: fluoxetine (Prozac), paroxetine (Paxil), fluvoxamine (Luvox), venlafaxine (Effexor), and desvenlafaxine (Pristiq).
- The website com has compiled a jaw-dropping list of school shootings, spree killings, murder attempts, and other violent actions, together with the particular antidepressant medication the perpetrator was using (or had just withdrawn from).
- In 2006, the peer-reviewed journal PloS Medicine published an article outlining a series of medico-legal cases involving antidepressants and violence. They note that many of the court cases appear not to have considered the possibility that a prescription drug may induce violence.
- Peter Breggan published a study in Ethical Human Psychology and Psychiatry discussing the risk of antidepressant-induced suicide, violence, and mania in our military personnel.
Still no black box warning for violent behavior!
Despite the shocking evidence of these drugs’ propensity for causing violence, FDA does not include violent behavior on its black box warning labels.
ANH-USA has filed a Citizen Petition to the FDA asking them to expand the current black box warning on antidepressants to include the danger of violent actions toward other people, in addition to the current suicide warning. This request has so far fallen on deaf ears. We have also mounted a letter-writing campaign to get consumers to ask the FDA for the expanded black box warnings for SSRI.
More in-depth analysis
ANH-USA has researched dozens of the most high-profile cases of violent crimes over the last few decades. We found that in just under half of the cases (eleven out of twenty-three), the perpetrator was documented to be taking, or had recently stopped taking, some form of antidepressant or antipsychotic medication.
In another seven cases, the killer had been on these medications earlier. We suspect that number is even higher, but the information is either not publicly available or not known. Mother Jones looked at all mass shootings from 1982 through 2015—and more than half of the perpetrators had shown signs of mental illness prior to the crime.
Important research has shown major drugs like Paxil and Prozac to be linked with violence at a substantially higher rate than other drugs—users of Paxil are 10.3 times more likely to do violence to themselves or others, while users of Prozac are 10.9 times more likely to commit acts of violence.
Other evidence shows that people who have exhibited no propensity for violence or aggression can develop violent behavior soon after beginning antidepressants. (You can find still more evidence of the link between antidepressants and violence in our previous coverage of the topic.)
Other warnings for SSRIs
Suicide and violence are just two side effects of antidepressants. There have been a total 134 warnings from regulatory agencies in eleven countries including:
- 30 warnings that antidepressants cause heart problems
- 21 warnings that they cause birth defects
- 6 warnings that they cause anxiety
- 5 warnings that they cause mania or psychosis
- 4 warnings that they cause death
- 4 warnings that they cause hallucinations or delusional thinking
- 4 warnings that they cause involuntary movements
- 2 warnings that they cause sexual dysfunction
A recent news story told of new protocols and training at the University of Virginia Medical Center, preparing staff for the possibility of a gunman on a shooting rampage, which the Emergency Manager Coordinator views as an “unfortunate inevitability.” The irony of this is completely lost on the hospital staff. They see no connection whatsoever between the drugs they are prescribing and the “inevitable” shooter they are preparing for.
Antipsychotics—even for patients with no psychiatric problems
In the past decade, doctors have been prescribing FDA-approved antipsychotic drugs to people who have no business taking them, in many cases as a form of behavior control.
According to a study in Pediatrics, foster children are being prescribed cocktails of powerful antipsychotic drugs, even if they’re not mentally ill and don’t have any psychiatric symptoms. In fact, they’re given the drugs just as frequently as some of the most mentally disabled youngsters on Medicaid.
And now even toddlers, children two years old and younger—and not from broken homes—are also being prescribed these same schizophrenia and bipolar drugs! The New York Times reports that in 2014 alone, 20,000 prescriptions were written for drugs like Risperdal, with an additional 83,000 prescriptions written for Prozac.
These drugs are reportedly being used to “treat” violent or withdrawn behavior, despite a complete absence of any published evidence that would support using the drugs in that way or at this age. One of the doctors interviewed by the Times noted that, because the brain in young children is undergoing rapid transformations, it is incredibly risky to expose it to powerful, mind-altering drugs. For these reasons, the medications have never been subject to clinical trials in infants and toddlers.
We won’t subject them to clinical trials because they are too dangerous—but we will give them the drugs without conducting clinical trials. How can that make any sense?
These same drugs are being used on veterans. According to mainstream medicine, there is no “specific treatment” for mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI) and the related persistent post-concussion syndrome (PPCS). Instead, doctors attempt to allay symptoms through the use of dangerous migraine drugs, antidepressants and anti-anxiety medications, including the off-label use of antipsychotic medications. This means that the drugs are being used to treat a condition other than the one it was prescribed for. Vets with mTBI/PPCS need hyperbaric oxygen therapy, not toxic and addictive psychotropic drugs.
Antipsychotic drugs are responsible for many of the suicides among our soldiers. In fact, medications were involved in one-third of the record 162 suicides by active-duty soldiers in 2009. These drugs are extremely difficult to stop, because withdrawal often causes psychotic breaks. (That’s right, antipsychotic drugs can cause psychotic breaks.)
In addition to soldiers and vets, antipsychotic drugs are also being given to seniors—again, off-label. The Government Accountability Office (GAO) found that in 2012, nearly one-third of older adults who spent more than 100 days in a nursing home, and nearly 14% of those living outside of nursing home care, were given antipsychotics through Medicare to treat the behavioral symptoms of dementia—despite “specific warnings that they not be given to patients with dementia due to an increased risk of falls or death”!
The US Food and Drug Administration should not be approving—let alone defending and promoting—such wantonly dangerous mind-altering drugs.