Case of Xanax and Prozac mania: Bank Robbery
- March 31, 2008
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Another Case of Xanax and Prozac Mania
In October 2000 in Georgia, a 47-year-old man diagnosed with major depression and anxiety disorders had been taking Xanax (benzodiazepine tranquilizer) and Prozac for six years. One year before this man's criminal acts, Klonopin (another benzodiazepine) was added to his regimen. Six weeks prior to the acts, two significant medication events occurred. His Prozac was doubled and he began to take an over-the-counter stimulant, ephedrine.
Over a few days, this individual developed a manic state in which he committed a series of bizarre robberies while wearing a Halloween mask and brandishing a pistol. As if oblivious of the consequences of his actions, he joked with his victims and tried to make them feel better. He also showed no judgment, for example, parking his car in front of a store he robbed so that his victims could stand on the porch while he drove away, and then phoning them later in the day to see if he was "in trouble." He hid in an unoccupied home and then held two school children hostage when they returned from school. He chided them for not helping their mother keep the house clean and set them to work on chores. He gave them bullets as presents and mementoes of the day. When the mother arrived home, he showed surprise at how distraught she was, tied her up loosely, and eventually fled without physically harming anyone. Only when removed from the medications in jail did he grasp the enormity of his crimes. Although he had no previous criminal record and no history of violence, he faced extremely serious charges with multiple counts of robbery and kidnapping.
Dr. Breggin diagnosed the individual as suffering from a Prozac and Xanax-induced Mood Disorder with Manic Features. He said he had evaluated several cases in which this specific combination of medication led to manic behavior involving robbery and/or violence. Both drugs are known to cause mania and when combined the blood levels of Xanax can become increasingly elevated. (Another example was the highly publicized DeAngelo case in Connecticut in which a man taking Prozac and Xanax robbed his wife's own bank driving his easily identifiable vintage blue sports car. In response to a report by Dr. Breggin and a second confirmatory psychiatric report, the judge found him not guilty due to a Prozac- and Xanax-induced mental disorder. See this website (www.breggin.com) for details.
In the Georgia case, the attorney for the defense was originally skeptical about the role of drugs in the crimes but was convinced by Dr. Breggin's report. The prosecutor was similarly convinced by the report and the case did not go to trial. After a plea bargain, 9 counts of robbery and 4 counts of kidnapping were dropped. He could have remained in jail for the remainder of his life. Instead, he received 15 years with the possibility of parole in three years. As a part of the agreement, the defendant was able to serve the time in a rehabilitation facility. The defendant, the family and the attorney considered the outcome very favorable.
The defense attorney was George W. Weaver of Jasper, Georgia.