March 16, 2008

From FAQ: Side Effects

Psychiatric drug side effects and adverse reactions 

The following brief summaries of adverse drug reactions are very abbreviated and merely hint at the widespread and potentially devastating side effects associated with all psychiatric medications. For a more thorough examination of neurological and psychological side effects,  please consult Dr. Breggin’s books, listed below.

Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors

   (SSRIs) and Other Antidepressants

    (Prozac, Zoloft, Paxil, Celexa) 

  • Agitation
  • Akathisia (extreme restlessness)
  • Hypomania and mania
  • Suicidal ideation
  • Loss of impulse control and inhibitions
  • Violence toward self or others
  • Increased risk of birth defects
  • Manic psychoses
  • Obsessive tendencies



    (Xanax, Valium, Librium, Halcion and others)

  • Impaired mental alertness and physical coordination.
  • Potential for abuse and addiction
  • Anxiety
  • Insomnia
  • Paranoia
  • Short-term memory impairment
  • Severe withdrawal syndromes
  • Violence
  • Antisocial acts
  • Depression
  • Suicide


    (Thorazine, Mellaril, Acuphase, Risperdal, Abilify) 

  • Twitches, spasms, and other abnormal movements (tardive dyskinesia, or TD)
  • Painful feelings of inner tension and anxiety and a compulsive drive to move the body (tardive akathisia)
  • Dementia
  • Persistent cognitive dysfunction
  • Neuroleptic malignant syndrome (fever, spasms or rigidity, unstable vital signs, impaired mental function)
  • Sudden death
  • Shortened lifespan
  • Worsening of psychosis




    (Ritalin, Adderall, Concerta and others) 

  • Flattening of emotional response
  • Addiction and abuse potential
  • Appetite suppression
  • Growth inhibition
  • Depression
  • Obsessive over-focusing on rote tasks
  • Tics and disfiguring facial spasms
  • Impaired learning
The side effects of psychiatric drugs are treated in more detail in the following books:
The majority of Dr. Breggin’s books focus on harmful medication effects on the brain, mind and behavior. Of them,  Brain-Disabling Treatments in Psychiatry is the most thorough presentation of his overall views on the dangers associated with psychiatric medication, describing how the supposed positive effects of psychiatric drugs are in fact the result of drug-induced mental disabilities. Antidepressants, for example, cause emotional anesthesia and numbing or euphoria, both of which may mistakenly be interpreted as improvements. Neuroleptics or or antipsychotic drugs disrupt frontal lobe function, producing apathy and indifference. Stimulants blunt spontaneity and enforce obsessive behaviors, leading to a mistaken impression of improvement in "hyperactive" children, expecially in boring classrooms. The benzodiazepines, like alcohol, suppress overall brain function, temporarily taking the edge off anxiety, while worsening it in the long run. 
From detailed discussion of the tardive dyskinesia caused by antipsychotic drugs to treatises on memory dysfunction caused by mood stabilizers like lithium and by benzodiazepine tranquilizers, Brain-Disabling Treatments in Psychiatry offers the most comprehensive and detailed analysis now available anywhere concerning the adverse neurological and mental effects of psychiatric drugs.  It also provides the most detailed analyses currently available of of drug-induced destructive behavior, from the apathy caused by neuroleptics to violence and suicide caused by antidepressants, stimulants, and tranquilizers. It draws on hundreds of scientific studies and provides guidelines for how to more safely withdraw from psychiatric drugs. 
Medication Madness presents a collection of vivid clinical case studies of patients driven to act bizzarrely and even violently by psychiatric drugs of every class. Its final chapters are devoted to safely withdrawing from psychiatric medications.
Your Drug May Be Your Problem (co-written with David Cohen), offers a more popular and accessible discussion of the adverse effects of each class of psychiatric medication and outlines principles for safe withdrawal. It provides the non-specialist with a medically and psychologically sound program for freeing themselves from psychiatric drugs, emphasizing throughout the importance for patients to keep control over the withdrawal process. .
Selected peer-reviewed papers on: