This overfed man is the poster boy for narcissism, isn’t he? Oh well, people get the government they deserve, no? What I am afraid of is of a civil war that would disintegrate the States to Smithereens. Too much noise, as I live above them.
This overfed man is the poster boy for narcissism, isn’t he? Oh well, people get the government they deserve, no? What I am afraid of is of a civil war that would disintegrate the States to Smithereens. Too much noise, as I live above them.
Following decades of increased life expectancy rates, Americans have been dying earlier for three consecutive years since 2014, turning the elusive quest for the ‘American Dream’ into a real-life nightmare for many. Corporate America must accept some portion of the blame for the looming disaster.
Something is killing Americans and researchers have yet to find the culprit. But we can risk some intuitive guesses.
According to researchers from the Center on Society and Health, Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine, American life expectancy has not kept pace with that of other wealthy countries and is now in fact decreasing.
The National Center for Health Statistics reported that life expectancy in the United States peaked (78.9 years) in 2014 and subsequently dropped for 3 consecutive years, hitting 78.6 years in 2017. The decrease was most significant among men (0.4 years) than women (0.2 years) and happened across racial-ethnic lines: between 2014 and 2016, life expectancy decreased among non-Hispanic white populations (from 78.8 to 78.5 years), non-Hispanic black populations (from 75.3 years to 74.8 years), and Hispanic populations (82.1 to 81.8 years).
“By 2014, midlife mortality was increasing across all racial groups, caused by drug overdoses, alcohol abuse, suicides, and a diverse list of organ system diseases,” wrote researchers Steven H. Woolf and Heidi Schoomaker in a study that appears in the latest issue of the prestigious Journal of the American Medical Association.
At the very beginning of the report, Woolf and Schoomaker reveal that the geographical area with the largest relative increases occurred “in the Ohio Valley and New England.”
“The implications for public health and the economy are substantial,” they added, “making it vital to understand the underlying causes.”
Incidentally, it would be difficult for any observer of the U.S. political scene to read that passage without immediately connecting it to the 2016 presidential election between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton.
Taking advantage of the deep industrial decline that has long plagued the Ohio Valley, made up of Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, West Virginia, Pennsylvania and Kentucky, Trump successfully tapped into a very real social illness, at least partially connected to economic stagnation, which helped propel him into the White House.
Significantly, thirty-seven states witnessed significant jumps in midlife mortality in the years leading up to 2017. As the researchers pointed out, however, the trend was concentrated in certain states, many of which, for example in New England, did not support Trump in 2016.
“Between 2010 and 2017, the largest relative increases in mortality occurred in New England (New Hampshire, 23.3%; Maine, 20.7%; Vermont, 19.9%, Massachusetts 12.1%) and the Ohio Valley (West Virginia, 23.0%; Ohio, 21.6%; Indiana, 14.8%; Kentucky, 14.7%), as well as in New Mexico (17.5%), South Dakota (15.5%), Pennsylvania (14.4%), North Dakota (12.7%), Alaska (12.0%), and Maryland (11.0%). In contrast, the nation’s most populous states (California, Texas, and New York) experienced relatively small increases in midlife mortality.
Eight of the 10 states with the highest number of excess deaths were in the industrial Midwest or Appalachia, whereas rural US counties experienced greater increases in midlife mortality than did urban counties.
A tragic irony of the study suggests that greater access to healthcare, notably among the more affluent white population, actually correlates to an increase in higher mortality rates. The reason is connected to the out-of-control prescription of opioid drugs to combat pain and depression.
“The sharp increase in overdose deaths that began in the 1990s primarily affected white populations and came in 3 waves,” the report explained: (1) the introduction of OxyContin in 1996 and overuse of prescription opioids, followed by (2) increased heroin use, often by patients who had become addicted to prescription opioids, and (3) the subsequent emergence of potent synthetic opioids (eg, fentanyl analogues)—the latter triggering a large post-2013 increase in overdose deaths.
“That white populations first experienced a larger increase in overdose deaths than nonwhite populations may reflect their greater access to health care (and thus prescription drugs).”
In September, Purdue Pharma, the manufacturer of OxyContin, reached a tentative settlement with 23 states and more than 2,000 cities and counties that sued the company, owned by the Sackler family, over its role in the opioid crisis
Other factors also helped to drive up the U.S. mortality rate, including alcoholic liver disease and suicides, 85% of which occurred with a firearm or other method.
The United States spends more on health care than any other country, yet its overall health report card fares worse than those of other wealthy countries. Americans experience higher rates of illness and injury and die earlier than people in other high-income nations.
Researchers were perplexed but not surprised by the data as there existed clear signs back in the 1980s that the United States was heading for a cliff as far as longevity rates go.
So what is it that’s claiming the life of Americans, many at the prime of their life, at a faster pace than in the past? The reality is that it is likely to be an accumulation of negative factors that are finally beginning to take a toll. For example, apart from the opioid crisis, there has also been an almost total collapse of union representation across Corporate America, which has essentially crushed any form of workplace democracy. This author, a former member of three worker unions, witnessed this egregious abuse of corporate power firsthand, which is apparent by the total stagnation of wages for many decades.
Today’s real average wage – that is, after accounting for inflation – has about the same purchasing power it did about half a century ago. Meanwhile, in the majority of cases, increases in salary have a marked tendency to go to the highest-paid tier of executives.
In a report by Pew Research, “real terms average hourly earnings peaked more than 45 years ago: The $4.03-an-hour rate recorded in January 1973 had the same purchasing power that $23.68 would today.”
One needs only consider the growing mountain of tuition debt now consuming the paychecks of many university graduates, many of whom have yet to land their dream 6-figure job from their relatively worthless liberal education, to better understand the quiet desperation that exists across the country.
At the same time, the exponential rise in the use of social media, which has been proven to trigger depression and loneliness in users, also deserves serious consideration. What society is experiencing with its massive online presence is a total overhaul as to the way human beings relate to each other. Presently, it would be very difficult to argue that the changes have been positive; in fact, they seem to be contributing to the early demise of millions of Americans in the prime of life.
Taken together, abusive labor practices that ignores workplace democracy, the epidemic of opioid usage, compounded by the anti-social features of ‘social media’ suggests a perfect storm of factors precipitating the rise of early deaths in the United States. Since all of these areas fall in one way or another under the control of corporate power, this powerful agency must find ways to help address the problem. The future success of America depends upon it.
Yesterday, November 19, was International Men’s Day and in 2019, the theme is “Making a Difference for Men and Boys”.
The focus of the day is to “promote the need to value men and boys and help people make practical improvements in men and boy’s health and well-being,” Sadly, as Statista’s Martin Armstrong details in the chart below, suicide rates among men are significantly higher in most countries around the world.
You will find more infographics at Statista
Of the 25 looked at here, the World Health Organization estimates Russia to have by far the highest rate among men, at 48.3 cases per 100,000 population in 2016. For women, India has the highest rate, with 14.5 cases.
There are some exceptions however.
In China, the rate for women is 8.3 while for men it is 7.9.
While the US ranks 7th overall in the world, suicide rates are at their highest since World War II, according to federal data and the opioid crisis, widespread social media use and high rates of stress may be among the myriad contributing factors.
In 2017, 14 out of every 100,000 Americans died by suicide, according to a new analysis released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics. That’s a 33% increase since 1999, and the highest age-adjusted suicide rate recorded in the U.S. since 1942.
There are countless people throughout the US and throughout the world who have been steered away from a life of drug or alcohol addiction after a spiritual experience with a psychedelic drug. In fact, Bill Wilson, the co-founder of the alcoholics anonymous program, actually considered promoting LSD as a tool for alcoholics to shake their addiction. Wilson was a close associate with many early adopters of LSD and took numerous trips in controlled, scientific settings while he was involved with the AA program.
Wilson believed that LSD was not a cure-all for mental problems and diseases such as addiction, but he felt that it could be a catalyst towards understanding one’s own life and changing direction.
“I don’t believe [LSD] has any miraculous property of transforming spiritually and emotionally sick people into healthy ones overnight. It can set up a shining goal on the positive side, after all, it is only a temporary ego-reducer. The vision and insights given by LSD could create a large incentive – at least in a considerable number of people,” Wilson reportedly said after his first LSD trip in 1956.
In a later letter to Gerald Heard, one of his associates in the LSD scene, Wilson wrote, “I am certain that the LSD experiment has helped me very much. I find myself with a heightened color perception and an appreciation of beauty almost destroyed by my years of depression.”
Despite his confidence in the experience and the substance, Wilson was forced to stay relatively quiet about his experiments because he feared legal punishment and professional embarrassment. After rumors of his involvement in the LSD scene had begun to spread, Wilson asked the scientists that he was working with to omit his name in the records of their experiments.
Wilson feared becoming a pariah in the movement that he helped create because many people involved in AA were attached to the idea that all mind-altering chemicals are dangerous and should be avoided.
According to a paper called Pass It On, which was published by AA World Services in 1984, the movement was entirely opposed to his views on LSD.
“As word of Bill’s activities reached the fellowship there were inevitable repercussions. Most AAs were violently opposed to his experimenting with a mind-altering substance. LSD was then totally unfamiliar, poorly researched, and entirely experimental – and Bill was taking it,” the report read.
One of the ideas that permeate AA culture is that any mind-altering substance whatsoever is dangerous and could trigger a relapse back into alcohol addiction. However, this view was obviously not shared by AA founder Bill Wilson, who understood that different substances have different effects on people and that it is possible to have a safe spiritual experience on a mind-altering drug without slipping back into a life of addiction.
One of the most in-depth studies into Wilson’s LSD use and his connection with that realm is a book called Distilled Spirits by Don Lattin. The book features a number of thinkers, including Wilson, who both studied, and struggled with mind-altering substances. The research collected many letters that were written between Wilson and his associates in the LSD scene, giving a glimpse into the thoughts that he was so apprehensive to make public.
John Vibes is an author and researcher who organizes a number of large events including the Free Your Mind Conference. He also has a publishing company where he offers a censorship free platform for both fiction and non-fiction writers. You can contact him and stay connected to his work at his Facebook page. You can purchase his books, or get your own book published at his website www.JohnVibes.com.
From anger directed at celebrities for the rational belief that parents shouldn’t decide whether their three-year-old is trans, to a culture of outrage that freaks out at the most minor of offenses, transgender activists have become detrimental to my, and others’, very existence.
Not helping matters is the fact that these people are laying bombs within our language in the hope they trigger, so they themselves can become triggered. Saying ‘transgendered’ instead of ‘transgender’ can see you labeled as transphobic, as can saying ‘transwomen’ instead of ‘trans (notice the space) women.’ This is a linguistic minefield with the sole intent of catching people off guard. And those who are caught in its blast are branded as bigots.
’This concept is nonsensical, as it’s one thing to correct someone who made a grammatical mistake, but another thing altogether to get outright offended when someone makes a simple error, and that’s what is occurring. A turn of events which only pushes people away as no one wants to associate with a group of people who become so easily upset.
Hampering things even further is the fact that the once-radical portion of the left has seemingly taken control, and now no one can speak up lest they become a target for the vitriol and abuse of which this conglomerate is composed. How do I know this? Because I’m a trans person myself, and my reward for speaking with rationality is to be labeled a ‘self-loathing, bootlicking, trans-misogynistic terf.’
And if I can be called a transphobe, then your normal human being doesn’t stand a chance – especially in an era when people are pushing an agenda that suggests you better suck d**k or you’re a bigot.
I desperately wish I was making that last bit up.
In late August, journalist – or, let’s be real – outrage merchant, Ana Valens, went on a tirade over at the Daily Dot about how it was transphobic to decline sex with a trans person on the basis that they are trans. Likewise, just last week, women’s competitive cyclist Rachel McKinnon made multiple claims that are outright audacious. In one instance, she said“genital preferences are transphobic,” and in another she boldly expressed that any sexual orientation other than pansexuality is immoral.
The media warned us that the recent release of ‘Joker’ was going to lead to an incel uprising, but I don’t think they meant it quite like this.
Trans people want all the compassion and acceptance in the world, yet in many cases they’re not willing to be equally as understanding. Last year, the flames of fury flared up when a woman named Kristi Hanna filed a human rights complaint against a women’s shelter after she was forced to share a room with a transgender woman in Toronto.
Many people took it at face value and levied all sorts of hate at her, but the actual situation is more complex. Hanna is a rape victim, and her roommate was a pre-op trans woman who wasn’t yet far enough into their transition to be passable, or even fully presentable. As was described by Ms Hanna, her roommate was male-bodied with facial and chest hair.
Now maybe it’s because I’m a rape victim who battles my own forms of PTSD, but I too would be triggered by sharing a room with a complete stranger who looks like a man. I don’t care what they identify as. In regards to Kristi Hanna, that’s exactly what happened. As was reported by the National Post, the sharing of a room with someone who looked like a man caused her “stress, anxiety, rape flashbacks, symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, and sleep deprivation.” When she reported this to the shelter staff, they offered to move her to a new room, but it lacked a door, therefore allowing no privacy, so she left the shelter altogether.
Yet to the trans community, none of that mattered, and Kristi was raked over the coals. Even I was attacked for trying to defend her. Worse still is the fact that shelters which exclude trans women are now being vandalized. Never mind that they help women who need it.
To the petulant children who make up what I call the ‘pronoun police,’ all they can think of is their own selfish and self-centric world views. Few in this ‘community,’ to which I’ve been forcefully tied, seem to have any basic understanding of the various reasons why our presence may be triggering to some, especially in a women’s shelter that houses rape victims. It shouldn’t take a big brain to see why a male-looking individual with a floppy penis may not be the best fit.
A fact of reality is that I was born a boy. Even now, post-hormone replacement therapy, I have masculine traits that will never go away. When I die, if far off into the future I’m dug up, my bones will have archeologists pegging me as male, not female.
I bring that analogy up because many trans people seem to deny they were born as the gender opposite of what they identify as. But I am not 100 percent female, and I never will be. I’ll never have a period, although some smooth-brained idiots like to argue that “some women have issues that prevent them from having periods, so does that mean you’re saying they’re not women too?” No, that’s not what that means. It means I have a d**k and no potential even exists for me to have a period. Because, unlike biological women who may have conditions that effect how their bodies work, they still have the proper bodies of the sex it happens to be.
I don’t. My chromosomes are XY, and I was born a boy. I’ll never have to worry about cervical cancer, though when I’m older I will want to have my prostate checked.
None of this means trans people shouldn’t be respected as the gender they present themselves as. We are anomalies in that our brains for some reason developed on a course which differs from what our chromosomes dictate.
I’m not going to call being trans a mental illness, but it is an issue that stems from the brain. Even scans of that organ reveal people like me have brains more closely resembling the gender we present ourselves to be, and due to that, I’m a proponent of supporting transitioning, but that support comes with some caveats.
I, for one, don’t think trans women should be competing against cis women in competitive sports. At least, not outside of specialized leagues where everyone consents to trans women being allowed. In normal events, we are seeing trans people destroy records in track, weightlifting, and other events, and that is not fair to biological females.
I’m also opposed to letting kids take various meds. By all means, if your child is trans, it’s for the best to support and love them, but growing up is a confusing time, and it’s maybe not a good idea to let them begin a full-on transition.
These days it’s simply too easy to get a diagnosis of gender dysphoria, and I fear the repercussions. I have zero doubts in my mind that soon enough we will have teens and adults stepping forward who were convinced they were trans at a young age, only to grow up and realize they aren’t. Some boys are just effeminate and some girls are just a bit masculine, but today, society is going out of its way to tell them they’re trans.
A scary thought for a community that seems to already run on fear.
In 2017, the Southern Poverty Law Center sent out a tweet linking an article about transgender hate murders. In a follow up tweet, they listed names of all the trans people who had been murdered that year. The placement of the names below an article about hate murders seems to imply all of the listed names were the victims of hate crimes.
Since we published this report in February, at least 18 more transgender or nonbinary people were murdered this year. Today, we remember them, and others whose deaths were not reported or who were misgendered at death. #TDOR2017 https://www.splcenter.org/fighting-hate/intelligence-report/2017/transgender-hate-murders-hit-new-all-time-high …
Transgender Hate Murders Hit New All-Time High
The horrific list just keeps growing.
As is so often the case, this isn’t true. Of the names listed, three stand out. Sean Hake, Kiwi Herring, and Scout Schultz. What’s important about these people is that they weren’t killed for anything related to their gender identities. All three were shot by police in different states after charging at law enforcement with knives. That same year, multiple non-trans people were killed by police for the very same reason.
Yet the trans individuals’ deaths are tallied and used as examples of a rising trend in the murder of transgender people – a trend that has been occurring for years. What’s most disingenuous is that, in many cases, there’s little to no proof that their murders are linked to their status of being trans. Some are sex workers in dangerous areas where cis women are also found murdered each year, or they’re just victims of normal everyday violence.
It sucks, but a lot of people just happen to get shot in the United States, and for a myriad of reasons.
Just this year, Claire Legato, a trans woman in Ohio, was shot dead after her mother got into an altercation with a man in their yard about an issue relating to theft. Jordan Cofer, also from Ohio, was tragically killed when a gunman went on a mass shooting in Dayton. These two deaths are included on the Human Rights Campaign’s list of “violence against the transgender community.”The list ends with this sentence: “HRC has been tracking reports of fatal anti-transgender violence for the past several years.”
“Anti-transgender” violence. Hmm, weird, I didn’t know the Dayton, Ohio gunman did all that for a single person.
Even in cases where a transgender person kills themselves, if an agenda can be pushed, this community will immediately take a still-warm corpse and bludgeon people with it.
This week, comedian and actress Daphne Dorman took her own life. She was cited by Dave Chappelle in his most recent Netflix standup as the person who “was laughing the hardest” at his trans jokes. In case you’re unaware, this is the standup special that caused many in the media to cry foul and call Chapelle ‘transphobic.’
Punching down requires you to consider yourself superior to another group. @DaveChappelle doesn’t consider himself better than me in any way. He isn’t punching up or punching down. He’s punching lines. That’s his job and he’s a master of his craft. #SticksAndStones #imthatdaphne
Daphne, on the other hand, thought he was hilarious, and would go on to tweet in support of her friend. Her words don’t matter anymore though, because now that she can’t defend herself, her existence has been retconned and it is now Dave Chappelle’s fault she died; a frankly just sickening and frustrating turn of events. Although it is one that makes sense when you look a bit deeper.
In 2017, at the HRC National Dinner, president Chad Griffin gave an eye-opening speech. He began by thanking Hillary Clinton who had a speaking role that year, before then repeatedly emphasizing how things for LGBT individuals were much brighter under Obama. This is important because the HRC is a major supporter of Democratic candidates and politicians.
He eventually went on to discuss ‘HRC Rising,’ or what he labeled as the single largest grassroots expansion in the organization’s history. This was important to him, as he proceeded to say: “It’s critical we organize and mobilize the 10 million-plus LGBTQ voters in this country. Which by the way, is a voting bloc that is larger than the margin of victory of every presidential election since 1984.”
For a couple years now, this speech hasn’t sat well with me. I look at our media landscape and watch as fearmongering rules the day. A narrative has been created which paints anyone on the right as a hateful bigot, and has gay and trans people fearful that they’re going to die.
Trans lists over-conflate and simplify the reasons people are murdered. Comedians are blamed for suicides that have nothing to do with anything they’ve done. And anyone who so much as questions the absurdity of what’s happening is torn down, and labeled every negative thing that will stick.
Why this keeps happening is clear. An environment has been created that is pushing people to conform to a particular mindset by brute-force scare tactics, and this is inevitably convincing them to vote a certain way. The left is ruling by division and fear. Browse social media and the trans-death stat is cited ad nauseam. These people legitimately believe they’re going to die. All the while, the actual issues that caused those deaths aren’t being discussed.
Inner city crime and prostitution are big factors, as is poor mental health. I mean, sane people don’t go charging at police with knives. Yet those issues don’t get blamed, nor are they being adequately discussed. Daphne Dorman, in these people’s eyes, didn’t join the 41 percent because she had deep-rooted issues. No, it’s Chappelle’s fault. It’s the right’s fault. It’s the bigot’s fault.
And as a right-leaning individual myself, who also happens to be trans, I know this to be false. I’m embraced by my community. They aren’t transphobic, they don’t want me dead; they just have issues with much of the same stuff I do.
A lot of trans people call me a self-loather, but I don’t loathe myself, nor do I loathe the fact that I’m trans. I just loathe the community I’ve been forcefully grouped into, and I think it’s understandable why a lot of other people do too. Trannies and their allies are now their own worst enemies, but unlike them, I refuse to shoot myself in the foot.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.
Britain’s schools are facing a “transgender problem,” with schoolgirls at London’s elite St. Paul’s Girls’ School identifying as trans or “non-binary” just to be cool and rebellious. That’s what former principal Clarissa Farr told the Daily Mail. Discussing the “problem” with other teachers, Farr came to the conclusion that the girls were simply adhering to “anything that was a bit radical and might cause a little bit of turbulence in the school.”
At another school in the UK, a whistleblowing teacher claimed last year that droves of children were identifying as transgender, influenced by older pupils and transgender YouTube stars. In this case, the teacher noticed that a majority of the children were vulnerable students with autism, rather than teenage rebels.
However, many of these students follow through. Rather than merely identifying as the opposite gender, 2,590 children were referred to Gender Identity Development Service clinics in the UK last year – a network of clinics that provide support to trans kids, right up to irreversible hormone treatments and surgery.
It’s easy to dismiss the phenomenon as the rebelliousness of youth. Remember what you took seriously when you were in school but cringe at now? Twilight fan fiction. My Chemical Romance lyrics. Communism. Part of growing up is learning how to test the boundaries, to see what you can get away with as you carve out your personality before the conformity of adulthood sets in.
And a certain tiny percentage of people have always been transgender. According to the American Psychiatric Association’s DSM-5 manual, ‘gender dysphoria’ affects between 0.002 and 0.014 percent of the population, with more men than women exhibiting the condition.
Why such a rare condition – not classified as a “mental disorder” since early 2019 by the World Health Organization – became so popular among kids is a question with several answers.
According to one study from Brown University professor Lisa Littman, “social contagion” explains the spread of trans ideology among kids. The study says there are children exposed to peers who recently “came out” as transgender and followed popular trans YouTubers themselves before “coming out.”
As well as revealing themselves to be trans, these children also adopted wholesale the dogmas of the social justice movement. They lashed out at heterosexual people, and especially at straight white men. They played “pronoun police” at home, and parents – called “breeders” by their newly-indoctrinated children – reported that their kids’ new social justice vocabulary sounded “scripted” and “wooden,” as if it had been lifted “word for word” from the manifestos of trans activists.
Referring to the phenomenon as a “mass sociogenic illness,” cognitive scientist Samuel Veissière urged parents, educators and clinicians to treat it with caution.
Good luck with that. Educators have seemingly listened, nodded, and thrown that advice on the trash heap. From public libraries stocking books describing oral sex between transgender six-year-olds, to “transgender day”events for four-year-old students, to transgender charities instructing teachers on the benefits of giving children hormonal puberty-blocking medication to kids, Veissière’s advice is falling on deaf ears.
Even the taxpayer-funded BBC now tells preteen children that “there are over 100, if not more, gender identities now.” The “fact” that there are over 100 genders has not been established by scientists, but by trans activists.
Among them is the term “genderfuck,” used to describe people who “present a ‘clashing’ combination of gender cues that are incongruous, challenging or shocking to those who expect others to fit the gender binary. For example, combining a beard with makeup and a padded bra.”
And challenging the march of transgender acceptance and encouragement in schools can be dangerous. The whistleblower mentioned above who called out the trend in her school did so anonymously. Professors who question the trans movement get fired, and public figures who dare to suggest that three-year-olds can’t choose their gender get press-ganged into apologizing by online cry-bullies.
In our liberal society, we strive to teach our children acceptance. Yet there is a difference between accepting diversity and encouraging children who just learned how to tie their own shoelaces to swap their gender with hormone injections.
With our civilization no longer ruled by the strict morality of religion or the diktats of puritan tyrants, everything is permitted and nothing is right or wrong. But parents and teachers need to be their own moral arbiters. Speaking out against feckless transgenderism can cost you your job, but the consequences of rash gender reassignment can be a lifetime of regret and a dramatically heightened risk of suicide for the patient.
“Anyone who cares for someone with a developmental disability, as well as for disabled people themselves [lives] every day in fear that their behavior will be misconstrued as suspicious, intoxicated or hostile by law enforcement.”
– Steve Silberman, The New York Times
Think twice before you call the cops to carry out a welfare check on a loved one.
Especially if that person is autistic, hearing impaired, mentally ill, elderly, suffering from dementia, disabled or might have a condition that hinders their ability to understand, communicate or immediately comply with an order.
Particularly if you value that person’s life.
At a time when growing numbers of unarmed people are being shot and killed for just standing a certain way, or moving a certain way, or holding something—anything—that police could misinterpret to be a gun, or igniting some trigger-centric fear in a police officer’s mind that has nothing to do with an actual threat to their safety, even the most benign encounters with police can have fatal consequences.
Unfortunately, police—trained in the worst case scenario and thus ready to shoot first and ask questions later—increasingly pose a risk to anyone undergoing a mental health crisis or with special needs whose disabilities may not be immediately apparent or require more finesse than the typical freeze-or-I’ll-shoot tactics employed by America’s police forces.
Just recently, in fact, Gay Plack, a 57-year-old Virginia woman with bipolar disorder, was killed after two police officers—sent to do a welfare check on her—entered her home uninvited, wandered through the house shouting her name, kicked open her locked bedroom door, discovered the terrified woman hiding in a dark bathroom and wielding a small axe, and four seconds later, shot her in the stomach.
That’s all the time it took for the two police officers assigned to check on Plack to decide to use lethal force against her (both cops opened fire on the woman), rather than using non-lethal options (one cop had a Taser, which he made no attempt to use) or attempting to de-escalate the situation.
The police chief defended his officers’ actions, claiming they had “no other option” but to shoot the 5 foot 4 inch “woman with carpal tunnel syndrome who had to quit her job at a framing shop because her hand was too weak to use the machine that cut the mats.”
This is what happens when you empower the police to act as judge, jury and executioner.
This is what happens when you indoctrinate the police into believing that their lives and their safety are paramount to anyone else’s.
Suddenly, everyone and everything else is a threat that must be neutralized or eliminated.
In light of the government’s latest efforts to predict who might pose a threat to public safety based on mental health sensor data (tracked by wearable data such as FitBits and Apple Watches and monitored by government agencies such as HARPA, the “Health Advanced Research Projects Agency”), encounters with the police could get even more deadly, especially if those involved have a mental illness or disability.
That’s according to a study by the Ruderman Family Foundation, which reports that “disabled individuals make up the majority of those killed in use-of-force cases that attract widespread attention. This is true both for cases deemed illegal or against policy and for those in which officers are ultimately fully exonerated… Many more disabled civilians experience non-lethal violence and abuse at the hands of law enforcement officers.”
For instance, Nancy Schrock called 911 for help after her husband, Tom, who suffered with mental health issues, started stalking around the backyard, upending chairs and screaming about demons. Several times before, police had transported Tom to the hospital, where he was medicated and sent home after 72 hours. This time, Tom was tasered twice. He collapsed, lost consciousness and died.
In South Carolina, police tasered an 86-year-old grandfather reportedly in the early stages of dementia, while he was jogging backwards away from them. Now this happened after Albert Chatfield led police on a car chase, running red lights and turning randomly. However, at the point that police chose to shock the old man with electric charges, he was out of the car, on his feet, and outnumbered by police officers much younger than him.
In Georgia, campus police shot and killed a 21-year-old student who was suffering a mental health crisis. Scout Schultz was shot through the heart by campus police when he approached four of them late one night while holding a pocketknife, shouting “Shoot me!” Although police may have feared for their lives, the blade was still in its closed position.
In Oklahoma, police shot and killed a 35-year-old deaf man seen holding a two-foot metal pipe on his front porch (he used the pipe to fend off stray dogs while walking). Despite the fact that witnesses warned police that Magdiel Sanchez couldn’t hear—and thus comply—with their shouted orders to drop the pipe and get on the ground, police shot the man when he was about 15 feet away from them.
In Maryland, police (moonlighting as security guards) used extreme force to eject a 26-year-old man with Downs Syndrome and a low IQ from a movie theater after the man insisted on sitting through a second screening of a film. Autopsy results indicate that Ethan Saylor died of complications arising from asphyxiation, likely caused by a chokehold.
In Florida, police armed with assault rifles fired three shots at a 27-year-old nonverbal, autistic man who was sitting on the ground, playing with a toy truck. Police missed the autistic man and instead shot his behavioral therapist, Charles Kinsey, who had been trying to get him back to his group home. The therapist, bleeding from a gunshot wound, was then handcuffed and left lying face down on the ground for 20 minutes.
In Texas, police handcuffed, tasered and then used a baton to subdue a 7-year-old student who has severe ADHD and a mood disorder. With school counselors otherwise occupied, school officials called police and the child’s mother to assist after Yosio Lopez started banging his head on a wall. The police arrived first.
In New Mexico, police tasered, then opened fire on a 38-year-old homeless man who suffered from schizophrenia, all in an attempt to get James Boyd to leave a makeshift campsite. Boyd’s death provoked a wave of protests over heavy-handed law enforcement tactics.
In Ohio, police forcefully subdued a 37-year-old bipolar woman wearing only a nightgown in near-freezing temperatures who was neither armed, violent, intoxicated, nor suspected of criminal activity. After being slammed onto the sidewalk, handcuffed and left unconscious on the street, Tanisha Anderson died as a result of being restrained in a prone position.
And in North Carolina, a state trooper shot and killed a 29-year-old deaf motorist after he failed to pull over during a traffic stop. Daniel K. Harris was shot after exiting his car, allegedly because the trooper feared he might be reaching for a weapon.
These cases, and the hundreds—if not thousands—more that go undocumented every year speak to a crisis in policing when it comes to law enforcement’s failure to adequately assess, de-escalate and manage encounters with special needs or disabled individuals.
While the research is relatively scant, what has been happening is telling.
Over the course of six months, police shot and killed someone who was in mental crisis every 36 hours.
Among 124 police killings analyzed by The Washington Post in which mental illness appeared to be a factor, “They were overwhelmingly men, more than half of them white. Nine in 10 were armed with some kind of weapon, and most died close to home.”
But there were also important distinctions, reports the Post.
“This group was more likely to wield a weapon less lethal than a firearm. Six had toy guns; 3 in 10 carried a blade, such as a knife or a machete — weapons that rarely prove deadly to police officers. According to data maintained by the FBI and other organizations, only three officers have been killed with an edged weapon in the past decade. Nearly a dozen of the mentally distraught people killed were military veterans, many of them suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of their service, according to police or family members. Another was a former California Highway Patrol officer who had been forced into retirement after enduring a severe beating during a traffic stop that left him suffering from depression and PTSD. And in 45 cases, police were called to help someone get medical treatment, or after the person had tried and failed to get treatment on his own.”
The U.S. Supreme Court, as might be expected, has thus far continued to immunize police against charges of wrongdoing when it comes to use of force against those with a mental illness.
In a 2015 ruling, the Court declared that police could not be sued for forcing their way into a mentally ill woman’s room at a group home and shooting her five times when she advanced on them with a knife. The justices did not address whether police must take special precautions when arresting mentally ill individuals. (The Americans with Disabilities Act requires “reasonable accommodations” for people with mental illnesses, which in this case might have been less confrontational tactics.)
Where does this leave us?
For starters, we need better police training across the board, but especially when it comes to de-escalation tactics and crisis intervention.
A study by the National Institute of Mental Health found that CIT (Crisis Intervention Team)-trained officers made fewer arrests, used less force, and connected more people with mental-health services than their non-trained peers.
As The Washington Post points out:
“Although new recruits typically spend nearly 60 hours learning to handle a gun, according to a recent survey by the Police Executive Research Forum, they receive only eight hours of training to de-escalate tense situations and eight hours learning strategies for handling the mentally ill. Otherwise, police are taught to employ tactics that tend to be counterproductive in such encounters, experts said. For example, most officers are trained to seize control when dealing with an armed suspect, often through stern, shouted commands. But yelling and pointing guns is ‘like pouring gasoline on a fire when you do that with the mentally ill,’ said Ron Honberg, policy director with the National Alliance on Mental Illness.”
Second, police need to learn how to slow confrontations down, instead of ramping up the tension (and the noise).
In Maryland, police recruits are now required to take a four-hour course in which they learn “de-escalation tactics” for dealing with disabled individuals: speak calmly, give space, be patient.
One officer in charge of the Los Angeles Police Department’s “mental response teams” suggests that instead of rushing to take someone into custody, police should try to slow things down and persuade the person to come with them.
Third, with all the questionable funds flowing to police departments these days, why not use some of those funds to establish what one disability-rights activist describes as “a 911-type number dedicated to handling mental-health emergencies, with community crisis-response teams at the ready rather than police officers.”
In the end, while we need to make encounters with police officers safer for people with suffering from mental illness or with disabilities, what we really need – as I point out in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People – is to make encounters with police safer for all individuals all across the board.
A single inhalation of the psychedelic drug 5-methoxy-N,N-dimethyltryptamine (5-MeO-DMT) is associated with sustained improvements in satisfaction with life, mindfulness, and a reduction of psychopathological symptoms, according to preliminary research published in Psychopharmacology.
“5-MeO-DMT is a lesser known psychedelic compared to, for example, ayahuasca and psilocybin — and thus very limited research exists,” explained study author Malin Uthaug (@malin.uthaug), a PhD candidate at Maastricht University in the Netherlands.
5-MeO-DMT occurs naturally in the venom of some toads and in a variety of plants species. It can also be produced synthetically.
“Essentially, I saw this as a niche area, and brought it upon myself to investigate its effect and therapeutic potential further as part of my doctorate work at Maastricht University. This specific article summarizes the first study I did on the topic, but there are more to come,” Uthaug said.
In the study, 42 participants completed a battery of psychology tests before inhaling vapor from dried toad secretion containing 5-MeO-DMT. The participants completed the tests again about 24 hours later and 24 participants completed the tests yet again at a 4-week follow-up assessment.
“This study was a so-called ‘naturalistic observational study.’ This means that as a researcher, I simply observed what was occurring at sessions where toad secretion containing 5-MeO-DMT was administered to participants by facilitators, and distributed questionnaires to the participants,” Uthaug explained.
“Although there are limitations with this design (no placebo-control, participant bias, etc), it has an advantage in the sense that it allows researchers to get a better look at drug effects than what the current legality status of psychedelics permit.”
The researchers found that subjective ratings of life satisfaction, depression, anxiety, and mindfulness improved on the day after the session, and this effect persisted for four weeks. The findings are in line with a previous survey of 362 adults, which found that approximately 80& of respondents reported improvements in anxiety and depression after using 5-MeO-DMT.
But there also does not appear to be anything particularly special about toad venom compared to synthetic 5-MeO-DMT.
“Another important take-away from the study is that 5-MeO-DMT is the main compound in the toad secretion as demonstrated by our lab-analysis,” Uthaug said.
“This finding, as well as the outlined ethical and ecological consideration of toad secretion use, make a clear and strong argument for the discontinuation of toad secretion as a means of obtaining and consuming 5-MeO-DMT. In other words, ‘save a toad – exploit a chemist.‘”
Previous research has indicated that 5-MeO-DMT has a relatively safe profile of use and is predominantly used for spiritual exploration. But there is still much to learn about the psychedelic drug.
“The results of the present study are in no way conclusive, and more research is warranted to investigate 5-MeO-DMT further. The rest of our studies on 5-MeO-DMT (from my dissertation as well as other collaborations) are yet to be published, and include one study outlining the effects of 5-MeO-DMT on biomarkers (salivary cortisol and IL-6), and another comparing the effects and experiences following vaporization or intramuscular injection,” Uthaug told PsyPost.
“These will all amplify the current literature, but future clinical research and safety assessment of 5-MeO-DMT, specifically through the intramuscular route, is highly warranted before a clinical trial can commence.”
Uthaug also noted that some facilitators of 5-MeO-DMT face serious allegations of malpractice.
“Additionally, none of the facilitators have the necessary expertise (clinical background) to properly hold a safe space where altered states of consciousness can be entered, nor to screen for contraindications in participants that are included in a session,” she said. “This is dangerous as it puts people at unnecessary risk for having an unpleasant and even traumatic experience, which can impact them as well as those around them negatively.”
The study, “A single inhalation of vapor from dried toad secretion containing 5-methoxy-N,N-dimethyltryptamine (5-MeO-DMT) in a naturalistic setting is related to sustained enhancement of satisfaction with life, mindfulness-related capacities, and a decrement of psychopathological symptoms“, was authored by M. V. Uthaug, R. Lancelotta, K. van Oorsouw, K. P. C. Kuypers, N. Mason, J. RakA. Šuláková, R. Jurok, M. Maryška, M. Kuchař, T. Páleníček, J. Riba, and J. G. Ramaekers.
The most commonly prescribed antidepressant barely relieves symptoms of modern depression, a major study reveals.
The largest independent investigation ever undertaken found patients taking sertraline experienced negligible improvements in mood.
Published in the Lancet Psychiatry, the study comes amid mounting controversy over increased use of antidepressants by GPs in recent decades, with roughly 7.3 million people in England issued a prescription each year.
Its authors said they were “shocked and surprised” by the results, and called for the development of new classes of medication.
However, in the absence of better drugs, they do not want current prescribing practice to be changed because the trial also showed sertraline is effective in reducing anxiety, which often accompanies depression.
The new trial is by far the largest to be conducted without the involvement of the pharmaceutical industry.
It is also the most in-depth examination of sertraline – a type of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) – in patients with a range of depression severities, rather than just in severely depressed patients in specialist mental health units.
The study included 654 people aged 18 to 74 who were given either the antidepressant for 12 weeks or a placebo.
The results showed depressive symptoms were five per cent lower after six weeks in the sertraline group, which was “no convincing evidence” of an effect.
After 12 weeks, there was a 13 per cent reduction, a finding the experts described as “weak”.
But the drug did offer clear benefits in reducing anxiety, with a 21 per cent reduction in symptoms at six weeks and 23 per cent at 12 weeks.
This is likely to explain why patients taking sertraline were twice as likely to say they felt generally better compared to the placebo group, even once questioned on specific symptoms of depression the benefit was far weaker.
Symptoms of depression include poor concentration, low mood, trouble with sleep, lack of enjoyment, whereas anxiety is presents as worry, nervousness, irritability and restlessness.
In the U.S., an estimated 17.3 million American adults (7.1% of the adult population), experienced at least one major depressive episode in 2017.1 The highest rates are reported among those aged between 18 and 25.2 However, not only is there evidence that depression is vastly overdiagnosed, but there’s also evidence showing it’s routinely mistreated.
With regard to overdiagnosis, one 2013 study3 found only 38.4% of participants with clinician-identified depression actually met the DSM-4 criteria for a major depressive episode, and only 14.3% of seniors 65 and older met the criteria.
As for treatment, the vast majority are prescribed antidepressant drugs, despite the fact there’s virtually no evidence to suggest they provide meaningful help, and plenty of evidence showing the harms are greater than patients are being told.
According to a 2017 study,4 1 in 6 Americans between the ages of 18 and 85 were on psychiatric drugs, most of them antidepressants, and 84.3% reported long-term use (three years or more). Out of 242 million U.S. adults, 12% were found to have filled one or more prescriptions for an antidepressant, specifically, in 2013.
According to data5 presented by a watchdog group, hundreds of thousands of toddlers are also being medicated with powerful psychiatric drugs, raising serious ethical questions, along with questions about the future mental and physical health of these children.
Recent studies are also shedding much needed light on the addictive nature of many antidepressants, and demonstrate that the benefits of these drugs have been overblown while their side effects — including suicidal ideation — and have been downplayed and ignored for decades, placing patients at unnecessary risk.
One researcher responsible for raising awareness about these important mental health issues is professor Peter C. Gøtzsche, a Danish physician-researcher and outspoken critic of the drug industry (as his book, “Deadly Medicines and Organized Crime: How Big Pharma Has Corrupted Healthcare,”6 suggests).
Over the past several years, Gøtzsche has published a number of scientific papers on antidepressants and media articles and a book discussing the findings. In a June 28, 2019 article,7 Gøtzsche addresses “the harmful myth” about chemical imbalances — a debunked hypothesis that continues to drive the use of antidepressants to this day. He writes, in part:8
“Psychiatrists routinely tell their patients that they are ill because they have a chemical imbalance in the brain and they will receive a drug that fixes this …
Last summer, one of my researchers and I collected information about depression from 39 popular websites in 10 countries, and we found that 29 (74%) websites attributed depression to a chemical imbalance or claimed that antidepressants could fix or correct that imbalance …
It has never been possible to show that common mental disorders start with a chemical imbalance in the brain. The studies that have claimed this are all unreliable.9
A difference in dopamine levels, for example, between patients with schizophrenia and healthy people cannot tell us anything about what started the psychosis … [I]f a lion attacks us, we get terribly frightened and produce stress hormones, but this does not prove that it was the stress hormones that made us scared.
People with psychoses have often suffered traumatic experiences in the past, so we should see these traumas as contributing causal factors and not reduce suffering to some biochemical imbalance that, if it exists at all, is more likely to be the result of the psychosis rather than its cause.10
The myth about chemical imbalance is very harmful. It makes people believe there is something seriously wrong with them, and sometimes they are even told that it is hereditary.
The result of this is that patients continue to take harmful drugs, year after year, perhaps even for the entirety of their lives. They fear what would happen if they stopped, particularly when the psychiatrists have told them that their situation is like patients with diabetes needing insulin.”
According to Gøtzsche, there is no known mental health issue that is caused by an imbalance of brain chemicals. In many cases, the true cause is unknown, but “very often, it is a response to unhealthy living conditions,” he writes.11
He also cites the book,12 “Anxiety — The Inside Story: How Biological Psychiatry Got It Wrong,” written by Dr. Niall McLaren, in which the author shows that anxiety is a major factor in and trigger of most psychiatric disorders.
“A psychiatrist I respect highly, who only uses psychiatric drugs in rare cases … has said that most people are depressed because they live depressing lives,” Gøtzsche writes.
“No drug can help them live better lives. It has never been shown in placebo-controlled trials that a psychiatric drug can improve people’s lives — e.g., help them return to work, improve their social relationships or performance at school, or prevent crime and delinquency. The drugs worsen people’s lives, at least in the long run.13“
Gøtzsche rightfully points out that antipsychotic drugs create chemical imbalances; they don’t fix them. As a group, they’re also somewhat misnamed, as they do not address psychotic states. Rather, they are tranquilizers, rendering the patient passive. However, calming the patient down does not actually help them heal the underlying trauma that, in many cases, is what triggered the psychosis in the first place.
As noted in one 2012 meta-analysis14 of studies looking at childhood trauma — including sexual abuse, physical abuse, emotional/psychological abuse, neglect, parental death and bullying — and subsequent risk of psychosis:
“There were significant associations between adversity and psychosis across all research designs … Patients with psychosis were 2.72 times more likely to have been exposed to childhood adversity than controls … The estimated population attributable risk was 33% (16%-47%). These findings indicate that childhood adversity is strongly associated with increased risk for psychosis.”
A related article,15 written by investigative journalist Robert Whitaker in 2017, addresses the “economy of influence” driving the use of antidepressant drugs in psychiatric treatment — and the “social injury” that results. As noted by Whitaker, mental disorders were initially categorized according to a disease model in 1980 by the American Psychiatric Association.
“We’re all familiar with the second ‘economy of influence’ that has exerted a corrupting influence on psychiatry — pharmaceutical money — but I believe the guild influence is really the bigger problem,” he writes.
Whitaker details the corruption within the APA in his book “Psychiatry Under the Influence,” one facet of which is “the false story told to the public about drugs that fixed chemical imbalances in the brain.” Other forms of corrupt behavior include:
In his article, Whitaker goes on to dissect a 2017 review16 published in the American Journal of Psychiatry, which Whitaker claims “defends the profession’s current protocols for prescribing antipsychotics, which includes their regular long-term use.”
As Whitaker points out, there’s ample evidence showing antipsychotic drugs worsen outcomes over the long term in those diagnosed with psychotic disorders such as schizophrenia.
The review in question, led by Dr. Jeffrey A. Lieberman, was aimed at answering persistent questions raised by the mounting of such evidence. Alas, their conclusions dismissed concerns that the current drug paradigm might be doing more harm than good.
“In a subsequent press release and a video for a Medscape commentary, Lieberman has touted it as proving that antipsychotics provide a great benefit, psychiatry’s protocols are just fine, and that the critics are ‘nefarious’ individuals intent on doing harm,” Whitaker writes.17
Five of the eight researchers listed on the review have financial ties to drug companies, three are speakers for multiple drug companies and all eight are psychiatrists, “and thus there is a ‘guild’ interest present in this review, given that they are investigating whether one of their treatments is harmful over the long-term,” Whitaker notes.18
Not surprisingly, the review ignored studies showing negative effects, including studies showing antipsychotics have a detrimental effect on brain volume. What’s more, while withdrawal studies support the use of antipsychotics as maintenance therapy over the long term, these studies do not address how the drugs affect patients’ long-term health.
“They simply reveal that once a person has stabilized on the medication, going abruptly off the drug is likely to lead to relapse,” Whitaker writes.19 “The focus on long-term outcomes, at least as presented by critics, provides evidence that psychiatry should adopt a selective-use protocol.
If first-episode patients are not immediately put on antipsychotics, there is a significant percentage that will recover, and this ‘spontaneous recovery’ puts them onto a good long-term course. As for patients treated with the medications, the goal would be to minimize long-term use, as there is evidence that antipsychotics, on the whole, worsen long-term outcomes.”
In his deconstruction of Lieberman’s review, Whitaker details how biased thinking influenced the review’s conclusions. It’s a rather long article, but well worth reading through if you want to understand how a scientific review can be skewed to accord with a preconceived view.
Details I want to highlight, however, include findings relating to the number needed to treat (NNT) and the percentage of patients harmed by the routine use of antipsychotic drugs as a first-line treatment.
As noted by Whitaker, while placebo-controlled studies reveal the effectiveness of a drug compared to an inert substance, they do not effectively reveal the ratio of benefit versus harm among the patient population. NNT refers to the number of patients that have to take the drug in order to get one positive response.
A meta-analysis cited in Lieberman’s review had an NNT of 6, meaning that six patients must take the drug in order for one to benefit from the treatment. The remaining five patients — 83% — are potentially harmed by the treatment. As noted by Whitaker:20
“The point … is this: reviewers seeking to promote their drug treatment as effective will look solely at whether it produces a superior response to placebo. This leads to a one-size-fits-all protocol.
Reviewers that want to assess the benefit-harm effect of the treatment on all patients will look at NNT numbers. In this instance, the NNT calculations argue for selective use of the drugs …”
While typically not as destructive as antipsychotics, antidepressants also leave a trail of destruction in their wake. A systematic review21 by Gøtzsche published in 2019 found studies assessing harm from selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) fail to provide a clear and accurate picture of the harms, and therefore “cannot be used to investigate persistent harms of antidepressants.”
In this review, Gøtzsche and colleagues sought to assess “harms of SSRIs … that persist after end of drug intake.” The primary outcomes included mortality, functional outcomes, quality of life and core psychiatric events. In all, 22 papers on 12 SSRI trials were included. Gøtzsche found several distinct problems with these trials. For starters, only two of the 12 trials had a drop-out rate below 20%.
Gøtzsche and his team also note that “Outcome reporting was less thorough during follow-up than for the intervention period and only two trials maintained the blind during follow-up.” Importantly, though, all of the 22 papers came to the conclusion that “the drugs were not beneficial in the long term.”
Another important finding was that all trials either “reported harms outcomes selectively or did not report any,” and “Only two trials reported on any of our primary outcomes (school attendance and number of heavy drinking days).”
In a June 4, 2019, article,22 “The Depression Pill Epidemic,” Gøtzsche writes that antidepressant drugs:
“… do not have relevant effects on depression; they increase the risk of suicide and violence; and they make it more difficult for patients to live normal lives.23 They should therefore be avoided.
We have been fooled by the drug industry, corrupt doctors on industry payroll, and by our drug regulators.24 Surely, many patients and doctors believe the pills are helpful, but they cannot know this, because people tend to become much better with time even if they are not treated.25
This is why we need placebo-controlled trials to find out what the drugs do to people. Unfortunately, virtually all trials are flawed, exaggerate the benefits of the drugs, and underestimate their harms.26“
In his article,27 Gøtzsche reviews several of the strategies used in antidepressant drug trials to exaggerate benefits and underestimate the harms. One little-known truth that helps skew study results in the drug’s favor is the fact that antidepressants tend to be far more addictive than officially admitted. He explains how this conveniently hides the skewing of results as follows:28
“Virtually all patients in the trials are already on a drug similar to the one being tested against placebo. Therefore, as the drugs are addictive, some of the patients will get abstinence symptoms … when randomized to placebo …
These abstinence symptoms are very similar to those patients experience when they try to stop benzodiazepines. It is no wonder that new drugs outperform the placebo in patients who have experienced harm as a result of cold turkey effects.
To find out how long patients need to continue taking drugs, so-called maintenance (withdrawal) studies have been carried out, but such studies also are compromised by cold turkey effects. Leading psychiatrists don’t understand this, or they pretend they don’t.
Most interpret the maintenance studies of depression pills to mean that these drugs are very effective at preventing new episodes of depression and that patients should therefore continue taking the drugs for years or even for life.”
Over the years, several studies on the dependence and withdrawal reactions associated with SSRIs and other psychiatric drugs have been published, including the following:
• In a 2011 paper29 in the journal Addiction, Gøtzsche and his team looked at the difference between dependence and withdrawal reactions by comparing benzodiazepines and SSRIs. Benzodiazepines are known to cause dependence, while SSRIs are said to not be addictive.
Despite such claims, Gøtzsche’s team found that “discontinuation symptoms were described with similar terms for benzodiazepines and SSRIs and were very similar for 37 of 42 identified symptoms described as withdrawal reactions,” which led them to conclude that:
“Withdrawal reactions to selective serotonin re‐uptake inhibitors appear to be similar to those for benzodiazepines; referring to these reactions as part of a dependence syndrome in the case of benzodiazepines, but not selective serotonin re‐uptake inhibitors, does not seem rational.”
• Two years later, in 2013, Gøtzsche’s team published a paper30 in the International Journal of Risk & Safety in Medicine, in which they analyzed “communications from drug agencies about benzodiazepine and SSRI withdrawal reactions over time.”
By searching the websites of drug agencies in Europe, the U.S., UK and Denmark, they found that it took years before drug regulators finally acknowledged the reality of benzodiazepine dependence and SSRI withdrawal reactions and began informing prescribers and patients about these risks.
A significant part of the problem, they found, is that drug agencies rely on spontaneous reporting of adverse effects, which “leads to underestimation and delayed information about the problems.”
In conclusion, they state that “Given the experience with the benzodiazepines, we believe the regulatory bodies should have required studies from the manufacturers that could have elucidated the dependence potential of the SSRIs before marketing authorization was granted.”
• A 2019 paper31 in the Epidemiology and Psychiatric Sciences journal notes “It took almost two decades after the SSRIs entered the market for the first systematic review to be published.” It also points out that reviews claiming withdrawal effects to be mild, brief in duration and rare “was at odds with the sparse but growing evidence base.”
In reality, “What the scientific literature reveals is in close agreement with the thousands of service user testimonies available online in large forums. It suggests that withdrawal reactions are quite common, that they may last from a few weeks to several months or even longer, and that they are often severe.”
In his June 4 article,32 Gøtzsche also stresses the fact that antidepressants can be lethal. In one of his studies,33 published in 2016, he found antidepressants “double the occurrence of events that can lead to suicide and violence in healthy adult volunteers.”
Other research34 has shown they “increase aggression in children and adolescents by a factor of 2 to 3 — an important finding considering the many school shootings where the killers were on depression pills,” Gøtzsche writes.
In middle-aged women with stress urinary incontinence, the selective serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor (SNRI) duloxetine, which is also used to treat incontinence, has been shown to double the risk of a psychotic episode and increase the risk of violence and suicide four to five times,35 leading the authors to conclude that harms outweighed the benefits.
“I have described the dirty tricks and scientific dishonesty involved when drug companies and leading psychiatrists try convincing us that these drugs protect against suicide and other forms of violence,36“ Gøtzsche writes.37 “Even the FDA was forced to give in when it admitted in 2007, at least indirectly, that depression pills can cause suicide and madness at any age.
There is no doubt that the massive use of depression pills is harmful. In all countries where this relationship has been examined, the sharp rise in disability pensions due to psychiatric disorders has coincided with the rise of psychiatric drug usage, and depression pills are those which are used the most by far. This is not what one would expect if the drugs were helpful.”
In 2017, Wendy Dolin was awarded $3 million by a jury in a lawsuit against GlaxoSmithKline, the maker of Paxil. Dolin’s husband committed suicide six days after taking his first dose of a Paxil generic, and evidence brought forth in the case convincingly showed his suicide was the result of the drug, not emotional stress or mental illness.38
The legal team behind that victory, Baum Hedlund Aristei Goldman, is also representing other victims of Paxil-induced violence and death. At the time, attorney R. Brent Wisner said:39
“The Dolin verdict sent a clear message to GSK and other drug manufacturers that hiding data and manipulating science will not be tolerated … If you create a drug and know that it poses serious risks, regardless of whether consumers use the brand name or generic version of that drug, you have a duty to warn.”
GSK’s own clinical placebo-controlled trials actually revealed subjects on Paxil had nearly nine times the risk of attempting or committing suicide than the placebo group. To gain drug approval, GSK misrepresented this shocking data, falsely reporting a higher number of suicide attempts in the placebo group and deleting some of the suicide attempts in the drug group.
An internal GSK analysis of its suicide data also showed that “patients taking Paxil were nearly seven times more likely to attempt suicide than those on placebo,” Baum Hedlund Aristei Goldman reports, adding:40
“Jurors in the Dolin trial also heard from psychiatrist David Healy, one of the world’s foremost experts on Paxil and drugs in its class … Healy told the jurors that Paxil and drugs like it can create in some people a state of extreme ’emotional turmoil’ and intense inner restlessness known as akathisia …
‘People have described it like a state worse than death. Death will be a blessed relief. I want to jump out of my skin,’ Dr. Healy said. Healthy volunteer studies have found that akathisia can happen even to people with no psychiatric condition who take the drug …
Another Paxil side effect known to increase the risk of suicide is emotional blunting … apathy or emotional indifference … [E]motional blunting, combined with akathisia, can lead to a mental state in which an individual has thoughts of harming themselves or others, but is ‘numbed’ to the consequences of their actions. Drugs in the Paxil class can also cause someone to ‘go psychotic, become delirious,’ Dr. Healy explained.”
Considering the many serious psychological and physical risks associated with psychiatric drugs, it’s shocking to learn that hundreds of thousands of American toddlers are on them. In 2014, the Citizens Commission on Human Rights, a mental health watchdog group, highlighted data showing that in 2013:41
These are shocking figures that challenge logic. How and why are so many children, babies even, on addictive and dangerously mind-altering medications? Considering these statistics are 6 years old, chances are they’re even higher today. Just what will happen to all of these youngsters as they grow up? As mentioned in the article:42
“When it comes to the psychiatric drugs used to treat ADHD, these are referred to as ‘kiddie cocaine’ for a reason. Ritalin (methylphenidate), Adderall (amphetamine) and Concerta are all considered by the federal government as Schedule II drugs — the most addictive.
ADHD drugs also have serious side effects such as agitation, mania, aggressive or hostile behavior, seizures, hallucinations, and even sudden death, according to the National Institutes of Health …
As far as antipsychotics, antianxiety drugs and antidepressants, the FDA and international drug regulatory agencies cite side effects including, but not limited to, psychosis, mania, suicidal ideation, heart attack, stroke, diabetes, and even sudden death.”
Making matters even worse, recent research shows the number of children being prescribed medication off-label is also on the rise. An example offered by StudyFinds.org,43 which reported the findings, is “a doctor recommending antidepressant medication for ADHD symptoms.”
The study,44 published in the journal Pediatrics, looked at trends in off-label drug prescriptions made for children under the age of 18 by office-based physicians between 2006 and 2015. Findings revealed:
“Physicians ordered ≥1 off-label systemic drug at 18.5% of visits, usually (74.6%) because of unapproved conditions. Off-label ordering was most common proportionally in neonates (83%) and in absolute terms among adolescents (322 orders out of 1000 visits).
Off-label ordering was associated with female sex, subspecialists, polypharmacy, and chronic conditions. Rates and reasons for off-label orders varied considerably by age.
Relative and absolute rates of off-label orders rose over time. Among common classes, off-label orders for antihistamines and several psychotropics increased over time …
US office-based physicians have ordered systemic drugs off label for children at increasing rates, most often for unapproved conditions, despite recent efforts to increase evidence and drug approvals for children.”
The researchers were taken aback by the findings, and expressed serious concern over this trend. While legal, many of the drugs prescribed off-label have not been properly tested to ensure safety and efficacy for young children and adolescents.
As noted by senior author Daniel Horton, assistant professor of pediatrics and pediatric rheumatologist at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, “We don’t always understand how off-label medications will affect children, who don’t always respond to medications as adults do. They may not respond as desired to these drugs and could experience harmful effects.”
If you, your child, or another family member is on a psychiatric drug, I urge you to educate yourself about the true risks, and to consider switching to safer alternatives. When it comes to children, I cannot fathom a situation in which a toddler would need a psychiatric drug and I find it shocking that there are so many doctors out there that, based on a subjective evaluation, would deem a psychiatric drug necessary.
You can learn more about the diagnosis and treatment of depression and anxiety in the following articles: “How Exercise Treats Depression,” “Alternative Treatments Effective for Depression,” “Anxiety May Be an Inherited Trait” and “Anxiety Overtakes Depression as No. 1 Mental Health Problem.”
Green Party Leader Elizabeth May says it’s time the federal government declared the opioid crisis a national emergency and decriminalized illicit drugs to prevent deaths.
“This is not a criminal issue. This is a health issue, and we have to adequately support people in our society who are dealing with illness and ill health,” May told Stephen Quinn, the host of CBC’s The Early Edition.
The CBC has asked all federal parties to comment on the issue of a safe drug supply. Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer has declined to comment. The NDP and Liberal parties have not yet provided a response.
During the CBC interview Tuesday morning, May, who is also MP for Saanich-Gulf Islands on Vancouver Island, did not explicitly support the idea that the government should provide a safe supply of opioids, which are increasingly contaminated with fentanyl.
“If we don’t control it, we will lose people,” May told Quinn. “You can die from a very small amount of fentanyl, so our position as the Greens is we have to decriminalize.”
Late Tuesday, May’s spokesperson clarified in an email to CBC that she does in fact support a safe supply, as well as decriminalization of illicit drugs across Canada.
People on the front lines of the opioid crisis have long said creating a supply of clean drugs and removing the criminal element will cut down on the number of people dying of overdoses.
May points to findings from a Statistics Canada report that say life expectancy rates in Canada have stopped increasing for the first time in four decades because of deadly overdoses.
She says the overdose crisis has become a public health emergency — one that affects people across the country and across all walks of life.
More than 11,500 opioid-related deaths occurred in Canada between January 2016 and December 2018, according to provincial data gathered by the federal government. In 2018, 73 per cent of those deaths involved fentanyl or fentanyl-related substances.
May acknowledges Canadians and politicians have been resistant to the idea of government providing illicit drugs to those struggling with addiction. She believes part of the reason is due to the framing of the issue.
“I think we mischaracterize it when we refer to the deaths as overdoses. These are poisonings.”
She adds that the cost of investing further in harm reduction is also a factor in the lack of political will.
The Green Party leader says her party’s election platform will identify new revenue sources to fund mental health and addiction treatment.
The pathologization of emotion has been on the march for decades, especially in the US, where fully one sixth of the adult population takes an antidepressant or other psychiatric drug. Now the mental-health industry has a new target – loneliness.
Nearly half of Americans polled last year by health insurer Cigna said they lacked meaningful relationships or companionship. A solutions-based society might examine why so many people feel alienated from their peers despite the constant connectivity of smartphones and internet. A symptom-focused model, however, simply looks to stop them from feeling that way by any means necessary.
Loneliness is “worse than obesity,” according to a raft of studies that have emerged linking the emotion to increased risk of premature death, and even rivals smoking. And like obesity – big business for Big Pharma, gastric bypass surgeons and weight-loss gurus – it requires medical intervention.
THERE’S A PILL FOR THAT
The University of Chicago’s Brain Dynamics Laboratory recently began an eight-week trial of the hormone pregnenolone, rounding up volunteers with “off-the-chart” scores on a psychological loneliness scale. Based on animal studies suggesting the chemical can reduce the exaggerated threat reactions that researchers say characterize loneliness, they hope to normalize the lonely person’s self-centered hyper-vigilance that drives them to both desire human connection and deal poorly with it.
Researchers insist the intention is not to cure loneliness with a pill, but the trial sets a precedent for doing just that – with another psychiatric drug, if pregnenolone doesn’t work out. Antidepressants, for example, have for years been used (and abused) to treat conditions other than depression, with the largest pharmaceutical industry lawsuits targeting overprescribing and off-label prescribing.
And unlike most regular medical patients, individuals deemed mentally ill tend to remain on medication for years, if not for life.
Mental health professionals writing about the loneliness epidemic discuss behavioral interventions, community programs, and therapy, but the introduction of a pharmaceutical solution may prove too tempting for a profession that has learned to love the quick fix a pill provides. Like depression, loneliness has an infinite number of possible causes, some of which are natural and healthy reactions to major life changes. Other types of loneliness have clear behavioral causes that would (before the magic pill, at least) necessitate clear behavioral solutions. Would a psychiatrist reach to medicate the loneliness of a person who only socializes through Facebook with a pill rather than encourage them to talk to real people?
Studies have shown that just a week away from the platform can bring “significant” improvements in well-being, suggesting that in this case, at least, correlation may indeed equal causation. But why force the patient to change his life when a pill will do the trick?
In a quick-fix society that prefers to treat the symptoms while ignoring the disease, a pill for loneliness may be embraced with all the fervor with which antidepressants were greeted before people began to realize that they cause suicidal and homicidal behavior, sexual dysfunction, weight gain, and a host of other problems – and that they don’t actually cure depression.
A loneliness pill will also not address Americans’ emotionally unhealthy digitally-addicted lifestyles. After all, human contact, including real-life socializing, has become a luxury – so says the New York Times, explaining that humans are expensive, screens and robots are cheap, and expecting the unwashed masses to be able to afford access to living, breathing humans like themselves is simply unrealistic.
BRIDGING THE UNCANNY VALLEY
Because if the “loneliness pill” doesn’t work out, AI is waiting in the wings. Already seen as the future of at-home healthcare for aging populations under the care of cash-strapped governments, friendly, helpful robots could find their way into the homes of the lonely. And while snooping AI “digital assistants” like Amazon’s Alexa tend to creep people out, this new wave of robo-buddies would be framed as medical help. As lonely humans become accustomed to conversing with their robot pals, their expectation for real human contact may diminish, and their sense of loneliness with it. After all, you can’t miss what you never had. Already, given the stunted level of discourse on social media, many of us have found ourselves tricked into talking to bots, sometimes exchanging several messages before realizing our interlocutor is not human.
As the bar for “meaningful relationships” is lowered to the point where chatting with an AI can qualify, the loneliness epidemic vanishes – on paper, at least, and in US public health policy, sometimes that’s all that matters.
LONELY OR JUST ALONE?
The pathologization of loneliness will inevitably elide the difference between being alone and being lonely, as the mental health industry runs out of lonely people to treat with whatever therapeutic weapon wins this particular arms race and is forced to seek more patients. “Loners” – those dangerous types who actually enjoy solitude – are stigmatized as unpredictable weirdos who need to be brought into the fold. The man who shot up a Walmart in El Paso earlier this month was an “extreme loner,” according to media reports. Would we be reading about it if he was an “extreme extrovert”? The myth of the “introvert killer” pops up every time, even though it has been thoroughly debunked.
With no anti-loneliness pill on the market – yet – it is impossible to predict what’s next for the creeping pathologization of the human emotional experience. But Amazon’s Alexa has moved one step closer to the companion-robot model, rolling out a medical feature earlier this year which could conceivably be deployed to “check on” individuals at risk for loneliness.
And with implantable devices like Elon Musk’s Neuralink on the horizon, bringing that AI directly in contact with your mind, you’ll never be able to feel lonely again. Solitude – like privacy and human contact before it – thus becomes the ultimate luxury good.
Helen Buyniski is an American journalist and political commentator, working at RT since 2018
Have you ever wondered why so many people who take antidepressants continue to be depressed? The truth is that like many other drugs for mental disorders, they are not the cures that many people believe them to be. They might address symptoms, but they don’t really do much about the cause of depression – and therein lies an important distinction.
In the Waking Times, author Tracy Kolenchuk looks at the logic of a depression diagnosis. What happens when someone is cured of depression? Let’s say their depression was actually caused by a nutritional deficiency. When the deficiency is corrected, their depression goes away – but did they ever really have depression in the first place, or did they just have malnutrition? She argues that depression was a symptom of malnutrition in such a case rather than a disease.
In the case of depression being caused by drugs or toxic chemical exposure, a similar mechanism is at play: Removing the drugs or chemicals from the equation may cure the person’s feelings of depression, but again, it was just a symptom of some type of poisoning rather than a disease. When depression is caused by abuse and then the person is removed from the abusive situation, it wasn’t a mental disorder – it was abuse.
The same can be said of chronic depression, only in this case, the chronic nature of the cause must be addressed to bring about benefits. If a person is in chronically toxic relationships or chronically deficient in nutrition, it’s these causes that must be addressed – but on a wider scale than in the previous cases. A healthy meal or two may help, but if they’re chronically malnourished, they might also be poor, and then their chronic poverty – and by extension, chronic malnutrition – must also be addressed. That’s a much bigger task, of course.
She says that these concepts also apply to anxiety, psychosis, social anxiety, panic attacks, and hyperactivity. If it can be cured, that can be done by addressing the cause – but in that case, it was never really a mental disorder after all.
Of course, all this is just semantics. A depressed person likely just wants relief and doesn’t care about labels, and many of us – depressed or not – have had it drilled into our heads that antidepressants are really the only option out there. That’s the main reason so many people willingly subject themselves to the side effects of these drugs, which include weight gain, insomnia, loss of sexual desire, nausea, constipation, and suicidal thoughts.
Depression is complex and often has multiple causes, and each of these needs to be addressed to make real progress toward feeling better. For many, it’s not just about cleaning up their diet, even though that can help. Consider this: If malnutrition causes a person to become depressed, they may attract toxic relationships into their lives, which could eventually spur them to turn to toxic drugs in a downward spiral of illness. This, too, can be cured, but it requires addressing all of these factors.
Many people don’t realize the strong connection between the gut and the brain. For example, an inflammatory response that starts in your gut that is connected to a lack of nutrients like omega 3s, probiotics, and magnesium, leads to the inflammation in the brain that is behind depression. Therefore, it shouldn’t too surprising to learn that food supplements such as omega 3s, magnesium, zinc, and vitamin D3 and B vitamins can help improve mood and relieve depression and anxiety.
If you or someone you care about is suffering from depression, share this information with them. It could very well help them avoid dangerous antidepressants and finally find some true relief.
Sources for this article include:
Antidepressants and antihistamines are among the most common types of medications people take, and they belong to a class of drugs known as anticholinergics. These drugs can treat a variety of health problems, including COPD, asthma, depression, dizziness, gastrointestinal problems, overactive bladder, and the symptoms of Parkinson’s. Although they can be effective, a large new study has shown that if you take them, you might just be trading one problem for another, possibly bigger one: dementia.
Although people who suffer from depression may be desperate to get relief from this illness that can have such a negative impact on daily life, tricyclic antidepressants fall into this category, so it’s important to pay attention the concerning new findings if you take medications like Elavil, Deptran, Sinequan, or Silenor. The same can be said for antihistamines like Benadryl, among other drugs.
The study, which was published in BMJ, involved more than 40,000 dementia patients and more than 283,000 people who don’t have dementia and followed them from 2006 to 2015. They found that people who had dementia had a greater likelihood of having taken class 3 anticholinergic drugs prior to developing the illness.
These medications block the actions of acetylcholine in the brain, which can prevent it from causing involuntary movements in the muscles in the lungs, urinary tract, gastrointestinal tract, and other parts of the body.
Although the higher risk varied depending on the drugs, some of them raised the risk by 30 percent. Not every anticholinergic drug had the effect, but using some of them even as far back as 20 years raised a person’s risk of dementia later on. Generally speaking, they believe that a person aged 65 to 70 sees their risk of dementia increase by 19 percent if they’ve used anticholinergic antidepressants. The association with dementia goes up with greater levels of exposure to the meds.
The study was praised by experts for its strength and using U.K. healthcare databases rather than relying on patient recall, which isn’t always dependable.
The drugs are believed to have this effect because anticholinergic medications lower the levels of a chemical called acetylcholine in the brain, which is a crucial messenger in memory pathways. This is a known effect that already stops some doctors from prescribing such drugs to older and more frail patients.
In a different study involving nearly 3,500 people, researchers reached a similar conclusion, finding that those who used anticholinergic drugs had a greater likelihood of developing dementia, and their risk increased according to their cumulative dose. For example, taking such meds for three years or longer was linked to a 54 percent rise in dementia risk compared to taking the same dose for less than three months.
Experts say such findings are a good reminder that people should evaluate all the medications they’re taking from time to time to see if they are really working for you. For example, if you’re taking antidepressants and are still depressed, the medications may not be helping. Many of these drugs have safer alternatives, including non-medication approaches that could make a difference safely and effectively.
With the number of people suffering from Alzheimer’s expected to triple by 2050, it’s important to do all you can to minimize your risk – and that includes staying away from anticholinergic drugs if possible.
Sources for this article include:
Although constructive anger can aid intimate relationships, work interactions and social expressions, it may be more harmful to an older person’s physical health than sadness, potentially increasing inflammation, which is associated with such chronic illnesses as heart disease, arthritis and cancer, according to new research published by the American Psychological Association.
Barlow and her co-authors examined whether anger and sadness contributed to inflammation, an immune response by the body to perceived threats, such as infection or tissue damage. While inflammation, in general, helps protect the body and assists in healing, long-lasting inflammation can lead to chronic illnesses in old age, according to the authors.
The researchers collected and analyzed data from 226 older adults ages 59 to 93 from Montreal. They grouped participants as being in early old age, 59 to 79 years old, or advanced old age, 80 years old and older.
Over one week, participants completed short questionnaires about how angry or sad they felt. The authors also measured inflammation from blood samples and asked participants if they had any age-related chronic illnesses.
“We found that experiencing anger daily was related to higher levels of inflammation and chronic illness for people 80 years old and older, but not for younger seniors,” said study co-author Carsten Wrosch, PhD, also of Concordia University. “Sadness, on the other hand, was not related to inflammation or chronic illness.”
Sadness may help older seniors adjust to challenges such as age-related physical and cognitive declines because it can help them disengage from goals that are no longer attainable, said Barlow.
This study showed that not all negative emotions are inherently bad and can be beneficial under certain circumstances, she explained.
“Anger is an energizing emotion that can help motivate people to pursue life goals,” said Barlow. “Younger seniors may be able to use that anger as fuel to overcome life’s challenges and emerging age-related losses and that can keep them healthier. Anger becomes problematic for adults once they reach 80 years old, however, because that is when many experience irreversible losses and some of life’s pleasures fall out of reach.”
The authors suggested that education and therapy may help older adults reduce anger by regulating their emotions or by offering better coping strategies to manage the inevitable changes that accompany aging.
“If we better understand which negative emotions are harmful, not harmful or even beneficial to older people, we can teach them how to cope with loss in a healthy way,” said Barlow. “This may help them let go of their anger.”
But a new study—the biggest and most comprehensive of its kind yet—shows that this seemingly sturdy mountain of research is actually a house of cards, built on nonexistent foundations.
Border and Keller’s study may be “bigger and better” than its predecessors, but “the results are not a surprise,” says Cathryn Lewis, a geneticist at Kings College London. Warnings about the SLC6A4/depression link have been sounded for years. When geneticists finally gained the power to cost-efficiently analyze entire genomes, they realized that most disorders and diseases are influenced by thousands of genes, each of which has a tiny effect. To reliably detect these miniscule effects, you need to compare hundreds of thousands of volunteers. By contrast, the candidate-gene studies of the 2000s looked at an average of 345 people! They couldn’t possibly have found effects as large as they did, using samples as small as they had. Those results must have been flukes—mirages produced by a lack of statistical power. That’s true for candidate-gene studies in many diseases, but Lewis says that other researchers “have moved on faster than we have in depression.”
Marcus Munafo from the University of Bristol remembers being impressed by the early SLC6A4 research. “It all seemed to fit together,” he says, “but when I started doing my own studies in this area, I began to realize how fragile the evidence was.” Sometimes the gene was linked to depression; sometimes it wasn’t. And crucially, the better the methods, the less likely he was to see such a link. When he and others finally did a large study in 2005—with 100,000 people rather than the 1,000 from the original 1996 paper—they got nothing.e University, who did early influential work on SLC6A4, notes that the candidate-gene approach has already been superseded by other methods. “The relative volume of candidate-gene studies is going way down, and is highly likely to be trivial indeed,” she says. Border and Keller disagree. Yes, they say, their geneticist colleagues have largely abandoned the approach, which is often seen as something of a historical embarrassment. “But we have colleagues in other sciences who had no idea that there was even any question about these genes, and are doing this research to this day,” Border says. “There’s not good communication between sub-fields.” (A few studies on SLC6A4 and depression have even emerged since their study was published in March.)
May 19, 2019
According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), a mass murder occurs when at least four people are murdered, not including the shooter, over a relatively short period of time during a single incident. Over the last 30 years, the United States has seen a significant increase in mass shootings, which are becoming more frequent and more deadly.
Seemingly every time a mass shooting occurs, whether it’s at a synagogue in Pittsburgh or a nightclub in Orlando, the anti-gun media and politicians have a knee-jerk response – they blame the tragedy solely on the tool used, namely firearms, and focus all of their proposed “solutions” on more laws, ignoring that the murderer already broke numerous laws when they committed their atrocity.
Facts matter when addressing such an emotionally charged topic, and more gun control legislation has shown that law-abiding Americans who own guns are not the problem. Consider the following: The more gun control laws that are passed, the more mass murders have occurred.
Whether or not this is correlation or causation is debatable. What is not debatable is that this sick phenomenon of mass murderers targeting “gun-free zones,” where they know civilian carry isn’t available to law-abiding Americans, is happening. According to the Crime Prevention Research Center, 97.8 percent of public shootings occur in “gun-free zones” – and “gun-free zones” are the epitome of the core philosophical tenant of gun control, that laws are all the defense one needs against violence.
Therefore, when the media and politicians focus their ire on guns, specifically what types of guns are used, such as AR-styles, carbines, semi-automatics, and “high capacity” handguns, in the wake of such tragedies the American public are being intentionally drawn into an emotionally charged debate about legal gun ownership (irrespective of whether the murderer’s gun was legally or illegally obtained). This debate leads them away from the elephant in the room and one of the real issues behind mass shootings – mental health and prescription drugs.
Ignoring what’s going on in the heads of these psychopaths not only allows mass shootings to continue, it leads to misguided gun control laws that violate the Second Amendment and negate the rights of law-abiding U.S. citizens. As Jeff Snyder put it in The Washington Times:
“But to ban guns because criminals use them is to tell the innocent and law-abiding that their rights and liberties depend not on their own conduct, but on the conduct of the guilty and the lawless, and that the law will permit them to have only such rights and liberties as the lawless will allow.”
Violence, especially random violence, is a complex manifestation of various thoughts, feelings, and external factors. When a multivariate analysis of these factors is conducted, it becomes apparent that it’s not just mental health issues that are leading to such an increase. There may be an underlying substance which plays a role in a high percentage of these violent acts – the use of prescription antidepressants, specifically selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, or SSRIs.
At first glance, it makes sense that those involved in mass shootings may be taking antidepressants, as they’re clearly suffering from some sort of mental health issue. But the issue with SSRIs runs much deeper than just a random mental health break. These drugs are a prescription for violent crimes, and that’s a story the anti-gun media and politicians don’t want to talk about.
To understand the rise in antidepressant use, one must first understand depression. Everyone, no matter how great their life, has periods of sadness, times when they feel down or low. This is especially true when faced with hardships or going through things like a divorce, the loss of a job, or the death of a parent.
This is not clinical depression. Clinical depression is a serious mental disorder that impacts how a person functions on a daily basis. Depression makes it hard to get out of bed. It makes it hard to go to work. It makes it hard to take a shower or answer the phone. It stops a person from functioning on the basic levels.
According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, commonly referred to as the DSM-5, to be considered clinically depressed, a patient must experience five of the following symptoms most of the day, every day, for at least two weeks. What’s more, these symptoms must be so severe, they interfere with normal functioning:
Depression is a serious, and sometimes life-threatening, illness. But in the modern world, it’s highly over-diagnosed. A study published in Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics looked at 5,639 patients in the U.S. who were diagnosed with depression by their clinician and compared their symptoms to the DSM criteria for clinical depression. Of these patients, only 38.4 percent met the criteria, even though the majority of the 5,639 patients were prescribed depression medication.
Today, with the way antidepressants are prescribed, nearly one in four Americans will meet the criteria to be diagnosed with depression within their lifetime, and will be prescribed medications that interfere with how their brain functions.
In the 1950s, the first generation of antidepressants hit the market. The introductory class of antidepressants to gain Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval were monoamine oxidase inhibitors, known as MAOIs. Although highly effective, MAOIs can cause extremely high blood pressure when paired with certain foods or medications, and therefore require diet restrictions. Because of these restrictions, they’re rarely used today to treat depression except in cases where other treatments fail.
By the late 1950s, a new class of antidepressants became available – tricyclic antidepressants. Tricyclic antidepressants are also highly effective for treating depression, but are prone to side effects. Even so, this class of antidepressants remained the go-to depression treatment for years. Other drugs were tested for depression treatment, but they hadn’t proved more effective than tricyclic and MAOI antidepressants, especially for severe depression.
Fast forward to the 1980s. America’s tranquilizer dependence was becoming problematic. Quaaludes were heavily over-prescribed for anxiety, resulting in overdose deaths, as well as an increase in deaths from vehicle accidents. The Feds stepped in and in 1984, classified Quaaludes as a Schedule 1 drug, making them illegal to sell, buy, and use.
Valium, a benzodiazepine prescribed for anxiety, was also extremely popular, and was the most prescribed medication in the U.S. from 1969 through 1982. In 1978, the year the medication peaked, more than 2.3 billion pills were sold in the U.S. But Valium was highly addictive and it was believed that a serotonergic medication was a better option to fill the void that was left when Quaaludes were outlawed.
In 1987, Prozac, the first SSRI, was released for depression. Along with it came the idea that depression could be the underlying cause of anxiety. The idea took off, as did the sales of Prozac, and within a few years, it overtook the antidepressant market. Soon, other SSRIs followed.
Along with these SSRIs came direct-to-consumer advertising, which became legal in 1985. By the mid-1990s, the FDA regulations became looser and direct-to-consumer ads exploded into the market. Prozac and other medications showed Americans through glossy advertisements that unhappiness, stress, and anxiety could be treated with a pill.
Instead of doctors recommending a specific medication, patients started coming in, requesting a medication they saw in a magazine or on television.
SSRI sales skyrocketed.
By 2010, 11 percent of Americans over the age of 12 were prescribed an antidepressant, making it the third most prescribed medication, topped only by nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen and naproxen. When looked at over time, there has been a 400-percent increase in antidepressant use from 1988 through 2008.
Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, a class of drugs commonly referred to as SSRIs, are the most prescribed antidepressant in the United States. These second-generation antidepressants are marketed to doctors and patients as safe and effective, with relatively minimal side effects. SSRIs are designated to treat mild to moderate depression, as well as anxiety, obsessive compulsive disorder, and bulimia nervosa.
SSRIs work to increase the amount of serotonin in the brain. A neurotransmitter that helps neurons communicate, serotonin is associated with many different body functions, but is best known for its influence on mood. Sometimes called “the happy chemical,” serotonin plays a role in a person’s happiness and general feelings of wellbeing.
Low levels of serotonin are linked to depression, although the relationship is not clear. Research has not determined if the low neurotransmitter level causes depression or if depression causes the level of serotonin to drop. It should also be noted that a large amount of serotonin, up to 90 percent, is produced in the gut and may be influenced by what a person eats and drinks.
SSRI medication does exactly what its name says. When two neurons communicate, one releases neurotransmitters, which causes the other neuron to react in a certain way. Because this is constantly going on, these chemicals are always present in the brain. To keep the brain’s chemical balance correct, neurons regulate the amount of neurotransmitters released by a process called reuptake, which involves the reabsorption of the chemical by a neuron.
For instance, if there’s a high level of serotonin, the neuron knows to release less through reuptake, keeping the level balanced. If levels of the neurotransmitter are low, reuptake tells the neurons to release more.
SSRIs inhibit the reuptake of serotonin, causing neurons to release more of the neurotransmitter, therefore increasing the amount of the chemical found in the brain.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved a variety of SSRIs, including:
When it comes to effectiveness, SSRIs don’t appear to have an influence on those with moderate to severe depression, with virtually no improvement seen when comparing SSRI use to placebos. Instead of a popular drug with a high efficiency, modern SSRIs have become popular based on an effective marketing campaign and little more.
Sometimes serotonin levels become too high, causing Serotonin Syndrome. A potentially life-threatening disease, it occurs when serotonin levels in the brain increase to a toxic level, often caused by too much medication or taking two serotonin-increasing medications that use different mechanisms to increase the neurotransmitter.
Along with physical symptoms of excessive nerve activity, such as dilated pupils, elevated heart rate, and high blood pressure, those with the syndrome may also experience:
Regardless if depression is overdiagnosed and America has a habit of over-prescribing mind-altering medications, there’s little doubt that SSRIs have a risk of increasing violence in patients, even in patients who have no previous history of violence or aggression before taking the medication.
This risk of violent behavior, both to the individual taking the medication and those around them, is so significant, it has led to the FDA mandating a black box warning on all SSRI medications. These black box warnings are designed to provide information and draw attention to the fact that the medication has serious and life-threatening risks.
As of 2004, all antidepressants in the U.S. are labeled:
“Anxiety, agitation, panic attacks, insomnia, irritability, hostility, aggressiveness, impulsivity, akathisia, hypomania, and mania have been reported in adult and pediatric patients being treated with antidepressants for major depressive disorder as well as for indications, both psychiatric and nonpsychiatric.”
In one study published in the American Journal of Psychiatry, patients suffering from depression, but free of serious suicidal ideation, were given fluoxetine. Within two to seven weeks of starting the medication, six patients developed an intense, preoccupation with violent suicide. Although all were immediately taken off the medication, this preoccupation persisted from three days to three months, depending on the case. In all six cases, the patient had never experienced such a severe level of depression or troubled state of mind before or with other psychotropic prescriptions.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Surveillance for Violent Deaths, in 2013, 35.3 percent of those who committed suicide tested positive for antidepressants at the time of their death.
The risk of SSRIs and suicide is most prevalent in patients under the age of 25. It’s also more likely to occur shortly after starting the medication, after a dosage increase, or after a patient stops taking the medication.
Some of the side effects caused by SSRIs can increase the risk of violence against others. Perhaps the most risky, emotional blunting (or detachment) has been linked to SSRI use and many people who’ve taken the drugs report “not feeling” or “not caring” about anything. There’s also been an established causal relationship between SSRI use and psychosis and hallucinations, both of which are known to increase the risk of violence in individuals.
According to a review of the FDA’s database, 484 drugs were identified as triggers to serious adverse events significant enough to warrant a case study during the five-year period from 2004 through 2009. Of these 484 medications, 31 were identified to have a “disproportionate” association with violence. These 31 drugs make up 78.8 percent of all cases of violence toward others in the FDA’s database and included multiple psychotropic medications:
Researchers concluded that violence against others was a “genuine and serious adverse drug event” and that of the 484 medications, the drugs that were most consistently and strongly associated with violence were the smoking cessation medication, varenicline (Chantix), and SSRIs.
The list includes five SSRI antidepressants:
While a surprise to the American public, this shouldn’t have been a surprise to the drug companies. During the clinical trials for paroxetine, hostility, which was the term to include homicidal idealization and aggression, presented in 60 of the 9,219 participants (.65 percent). Hostile acts were documented both while taking the medication and after tapering off. Children with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) taking the medication were the most at risk for becoming hostile, with a 17-times higher probability than the rest of those in the clinical study.
In a Swedish study published in PLoS, researchers looked at information on over 850,000 patients prescribed SSRIs in the Swedish Prescribed Drug Register, which is a national database of all dispensed medications. They then compared the violent crimes committed during a three-year period and compared it to violent crimes committed by the same individuals when not taking the medications. When age was taken into effect, a significant association was apparent between violent crime convictions and SSRI use in patients between the ages of 15 and 24.
In one 2001 case, Cory Baadsgaard, a 16-year-old who attended Wahluke High School in Washington, was first prescribed Paxil, which caused hallucinations, and then was switched to Effexor. He started at a 40 mg dosage that, over the course of three weeks, increased to 300 mg. On the first day of that high dose, he woke with a headache and returned to bed. He then got up, took a rifle to his high school, and held 23 classmates hostage.
Baadsgaard’s testimony claims he has no recollection of the event, or of his principal convincing him to put the gun down and release the hostages.
In 2002, the BBC aired the documentary Panorama, which focused on paroxetine. The producers received 1,374 emails from viewers, the majority of whom told stories of violence or self-harm while taking the medication, particularly when starting and when increasing the dosage.
What’s more, in 2009, after investigating the connection between SSRIs and violence, the Japanese Ministry of Health, Labor, and Welfare revised the label warnings on these drugs to read: “There are cases where we cannot rule out a causal relationship [of hostility, anxiety, and sudden acts of violence] with the medication.”
In most cases, the vast majority of people who suffer from mental illness are nonviolent. Even those who self-harm are highly unlikely to hurt others. In fact, these individuals are more likely to become victims of violent crimes than the general public.
Yet after each mass shooting tragedy, the media fills with psychiatrists who say that the individual didn’t seek the help they needed and that with the proper treatment, the tragedy may have been prevented. But research doesn’t support that philosophy.
In fact, depression in particular doesn’t lead to violence, yet since the increase in SSRI antidepressants being widely prescribed, the rise in mass shootings has increased right along with it. And evidence shows that many mass shooters were either taking or had recently taken SSRIs.
Here are just some examples:
The list goes on and on. And with the implication of patient privacy laws, getting information on the medication and mental health diagnoses of people has become harder and harder, even with mounting evidence that there’s a connection between SSRI use and violence.
In 1996, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act commonly referred to as HIPAA, was set in place. HIPAA represents the U.S.’s first attempt at national regulations for the use and disclosure of a person’s personal health information, or PHI. HIPAA makes it more difficult for medical personnel to release information regarding a person’s medical care, diagnosis, and prescription drugs, including those involved with mental health related crimes.
For example, in the 2008 Virginia Tech shooting, perpetrator Seung Hui Cho had multiple interactions with the mental health department on campus, some for suicidal ideation, but yet his parents nor authorities were never notified. University officials stated privacy laws restricted them from sharing the information.
Beyond the necessity for communication prior to these horrific shootings, after the incident, the person’s records are often protected. Even in situations where the perpetrator dies during the shooting, HIPAA protects their records for 50 years.
Because of this, the American public doesn’t know what kind of medications these people were taking and if it may have had an affect on their actions. Just looking at public shootings over the last five years, there’s a huge list of murderers who were likely on SSRIs. Here are a few:
With the media’s coverage of mass shootings, more and more legislation arises limiting the rights of those with mental health issues. While no one wants firearms in the hands of the mentally ill, the lack of clear language surrounding mental illness, and the limitations caused by government red tape, make knee-jerk mental health legislation dangerous and lay a path for more government control.
In general, people with mental illness are rarely violent to other people. Many mental health experts and advocates agree that policies that focus on the violence of mental illness make scapegoats of the individuals, who are likely to never act violently against another person.
What’s more, according to the MacArthur Violence Risk Assessment Study (MVRAS), substance abuse was significantly more responsible for violence committed by discharged psychiatric patients than their mental health. Those patients who didn’t abuse drugs or alcohol showed no higher risk for violence than the others in their communities without mental health issues.
Laws are being created that don’t focus on the research, but on the fear of guns, thinking that stricter gun laws will keep people safer.
Red flag laws are the newest gun legislation making their way through Congress. Considered a “protective order,” red flag laws will allow a family member or law officer to petition a temporary seize on someone’s firearms if they’re deemed a threat. What a “threat” consists of isn’t clearly defined.
There’s also a push for universal background checks on all gun sales, even those sold between private individuals, and the FixNICScampaign. The philosophy behind FixNICS is that the background check system can only be as strong as the records it contains. And it’s currently missing a lot, especially when it comes to mental health issues and domestic violence.
For instance, documentation of an individual diagnosed as “mental defective,” having been involuntarily committed to a mental health setting, or having engaged in domestic abuse disqualifies that person from purchasing or owning a firearm. When this information is present in the NICS, it flags the background check and stops the sale of the firearm. But too many of these records are missing.
That was the case with the 2017 Sutherlands Springs church shooting. The gunman Devin Patrick Kelley was prohibited from purchasing firearms due to a 2012 court martial for two counts of domestic abuse. The U.S. Air Force failed to provide this information to the NICS, allowing Kelley to erroneously pass his background check and to purchase an AR-style 5.56 rifle – which he used to kill 26 people and injure 20 more. He was confronted and pursued by a neighbor, another good guy with a gun.
When it comes to mass shootings, there’s no easy solution. Violence, especially random violence, is a complex manifestation of various thoughts, feelings, and external factors. While it may be impossible to fully stop mass murders, ignoring the fact that certain medications, including SSRIs, play a role in a high percentage of these violent acts, no justice is being served.
Gun control is obviously not the solution, as the rate of mass shootings has increased over the last 30 years, at a time when multiple gun control laws have been implemented. Taking firearms away from law abiding citizens has not and will not stop the problem.
Instead, doctors need to educate patients and make them aware of the risks, as well as take the time to explain warning signs to loved ones. If patients are taking medication for a mental health disorder, including depression, then they should see a mental health professional and be involved in mental health treatment. After all, medication – even mental health medication – does nothing to fix the problem, it only masks the symptoms.
Patients need to take some responsibility for their lives, improving their health before reaching for a mind-altering pill to make them feel good about themselves. A healthy diet, physical activity, and time spent in nature are ways to boost the mood that can help relieve the symptoms of mild depression.
Lastly, the government and big pharmaceutical companies need to be held accountable for not sharing what they know about the medications they create. A study published in The New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) looked at drug company sponsored clinical trials on antidepressants.
Of the 74 FDA-registered trials the study looked at, 38 had positive outcomes, 36 had negative outcomes. Thirty-seven of the positive outcome trials were published, but of the 36 negative outcomes trials, 22 were not published and 11 were written in a way that initially presented the data to convey a misleading positive outcome. Only three were published with unbiased and accurate information about the drug.
With this type of misrepresentation of clinical trials on medications, particularly antidepressants, the medical community and the public can’t trust medical literature for honest and reliable drug information, nor the government agency that’s designed to monitor new pharmaceuticals for safety. When medical professionals can not rely on the FDA to provide unbiased and honest clinical trial information, a true risk-benefit ratio can’t be determined and patients suffer the consequences.
The connection between the FDA and big pharma goes beyond clinical studies. Drug companies lure FDA employees to sit on their regulatory boards. They hire their spouses. These pharmaceutical giants utilize the field’s leading experts, who happen to be the same experts who are invited by the FDA to sit on screening panels.
Big pharma’s influence over the FDA goes even deeper. Drug companies spend billions of dollars on political lobbying and campaign contributions. Direct payments support the FDA budget. And in response, the FDA conceals risks and looks the other way when necessary.
The FDA also gives its own kickback to the drug companies. Only FDA-approved medications can be prescribed for government health insurance programs like Medicare, Medicaid, and through the VA. And to ensure Big Pharma continues to sell its drugs, the federal program only allows treatment claims on FDA-approved drugs.
The FDA approval process is a laborious and expensive endeavor, which typically takes more than a year and can cost up to a million dollars to complete. The process allows drug companies to patent their product. But when it comes to natural supplements, they can’t be patented, and therefore don’t go through the FDA approval process. Therefore supplements, which are often highly effective with little to no side effects, can not claim to “treat” a condition, even when there’s research that supports that claim.
On the surface, this may not seem like too big of a deal, but let’s circle back to Prozac, which hit the market in 1988. In the fall of 1989, the FDA recalled the supplement L-tryptophan, an amino acid that’s a precursor for serotonin and highly effective in treating depression. The recall occurred after one supplement company had an additive that caused a flu-like reaction. On March 22, 1990, the FDA issued a complete ban of L-tryptophan for public sale. Four days later, on March 26, 1990, Prozac was featured on the cover of Newsweek, along with a lead article about its benefits.
In 2001, the ban on L-tryptophan was lifted and since, research has shown it has huge therapeutic potential in the treatment of pain, insomnia, depression, seasonal affective disorder (SAD), bulimia, premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD), attention disorders, sleep disorders, and chronic fatigue.
A quick note about PMDD. Premenstrual dysphoric disorder is a severe form of premenstrual syndrome, otherwise known as PMS. It officially became a medical condition in 2013 with the newest addition of the DSM-V. Yet in July of 2000, the FDA approved a new medication from Eli Lilly, the same pharmaceutical company that created Prozac. The drug was Sarafem and it was marketed to treat PMDD, which technically wasn’t even a fully recognized medical condition at the time.
Sarafem is, quite literally, the exact same medication as Prozac, only in a different color capsule. Why would Eli Lilly issue the exact same drug under a different name? It just so happens that the patent for Prozac expired in August of 2001, which allowed generic versions to be made. Eli Lilly changed the medication’s name, indicated it for this “new” disease, and the company had a new patent for Sarafem that would last until 2007.
Situations like this demonstrate that the more aspects the government controls, the worse this corruption and mismanagement becomes. Federal agencies in the hands of big pharmaceutical companies, and politicians using gun control to give a false hope to the American people, distracts them from the real cause of the current state of the nation and the frequency of mass shootings.
It’s time to personally explore the evidence surrounding the issues and come to your own conclusions.
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|Gun Background Checks: How the State Came To Decide Who Can and Cannot Buy a Firearm|
|The American Old West: How Hollywood Made It “Wild” to Make Money & Advance Gun Control|
|America’s Sovereign States: The Obscure History of How 10 Independent States Joined the U.S.|
|Early American Militias: The Forgotten History of Freedmen Militias from 1776 until the Civil War|
|American Militias after the Civil War: From Black Codes to the Black Panthers and Beyond|
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The students of Gradale Academy in midtown Toronto are on their way to a place they call “Mud Mountain” for some outdoor time that may offer an antidote to everyday problems affecting their physical and mental health.
Situated near their school around the trails of the Don Valley, “Mud Mountain” is, yes, dirty and mucky. Armed with clipboards, the students, who range from kindergarten to Grade 6, examine the foliage and wildlife of an early spring day.
But researchers believe nature offers more than just its beauty; it offers serious academic and mental-health benefits.
A recent review of hundreds of studies has found mounting “evidence of a cause-and-effect relationship”: Experiences in nature led to improvements in attention span, self-discipline and physical fitness, all while reducing stress.
Researchers also found that children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) who take a 20-minute walk in a park can improve their symptoms as effectively as if they took a dose of prescription stimulant medication.
Dr. Melissa Lem is a family physician in Vancouver. She believes in the power of greenery.
“There are two different major theories as to why nature is good for your brain, and one of them is called Stress Reduction Theory. Essentially, it speaks to how humans evolved in nature,” she said.
Because we humans have been surrounded by forests, flowers, and fauna for most of our existence, scientists believe there may be an evolutionary reason that nature feels to us like a comfortable, familiar place.
There’s also what’s called the Attention Restoration Theory, first developed in the 1980s, which proposes that exposure to nature is not only enjoyable, but can also help us improve our focus and ability to concentrate. Nature, says Lem, is simpler and less taxing than the crowds, lights, traffic, and noise of city life.
“It doesn’t tire out your concentration. It just lets you kind of enjoy and restore your brain.”
Michelle Gradish, who’s been running the Gradale Academy for 18 years, is a firm believer in outdoor education. She says even an hour a day spent in nature can teach students how to cope with the unexpected.
“They don’t even realise that they’re learning at that point, as opposed to when they’re inside and at their desks and they’re almost told what to do and how to do it.”
Meanwhile, a group of students at Toronto’s Ryerson University has found that nature breaks reduce their stress and make it easier for them to handle their workload.
Every week, they participate in Mood Routes, a program run in partnership with the Canadian Mental Health Association. They visit parks, greenhouses and nature trails all over Toronto, with the goal of boosting health and fitness, as well as improving their state of mind.
“[Nature’s] green. I guess I equate that with [feeling] happy and with healthy,” said Natalie Povlovich, a 26-year-old psychology student at Ryerson who has joined the Mood Routes.
“I think when you’re [immersed] in green, your troubles go away and you feel pure.”
A recent study backs that up. Researchers at the University of Michigan say that taking at least 20 minutes out of your day to take a walk somewhere close to nature can lower your stress hormone levels.
“For the greatest payoff, in … efficiently lowering levels of the stress hormone cortisol, you should spend 20 to 30 minutes sitting or walking in a place that provides you with a sense of nature,” said lead author MaryCarol Hunter in a news release.
Hunter is a landscape architect and ecologist with an interest in the effect that experiences in nature can have on mental well-being.
Participants in the experiment were asked to spend 10 minutes or more in nature at least three times a week over eight months. Hunter’s team took saliva samples to measure cortisol levels before and after the leisurely walks, which were taken without conversation or smartphone interruptions.
Deena Shaffer, the coordinator of student transitions and retention at Ryerson, runs the weekly Mood Routes. She’s seen students who are stressed, lonely, and exhausted become revitalized after visiting a garden, forest, or park.
“They connect with a perspective of something larger than themselves, which can be really helpful if you’re studying, really fixed on one thing,” she said.
Back at Mud Mountain, Gradish’s students are noting the nests and plants that are part of the Don Valley ecosystem.
Gradish believes that learning in natural settings promotes warmer, more co-operative relationships, and teaches lessons that will last a lifetime.
“They have matured in ways with their leadership skills, with their teamwork, and with their confidence.”
A powerful clinical study shows that pennies worth of magnesium a day provides an effective, safe, affordable alternative to dangerous and relatively ineffective pharmaceutical antidepressants.
March 25, 2019
This article is copyrighted by GreenMedInfo LLC, 2019
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A powerful clinical study shows that pennies worth of magnesium a day provides an effective, safe, affordable alternative to dangerous and relatively ineffective pharmaceutical antidepressants.
Depression is one of the most widely diagnosed conditions of our time, with over 3 million cases in the U.S. every year, and 350 million believed affected worldwide.1 Conventional medicine considers antidepressant drugs first-line treatments, including the newly approved injected postpartum drug costing $34,000 a treatment, to the tune of a 16 billion dollars in global sales by 2023. Despite their widespread use, these drugs are fraught with a battery of serious side effects, including suicidal ideation and completion — the last two things you would hope to see in a condition that already has suicidality as a co-morbidity. For this reason alone, natural, safe, and effective alternatives are needed more than ever before.
While research into natural alternatives for depression is growing daily — GreenMedInfo.com’s Depression database contains 647 studies on over 100 natural substances that have been studied to prevent or treat depression — it is rare to find quality human clinical research on the topic published in well-respected journals. That’s why a powerful study published in PLOS One titled, “Role of magnesium supplementation in the treatment of depression: A randomized clinical trial,” is so promising. Not only is magnesium safe, affordable, and easily accessible, but according to this recent study, effective in treating mild-to moderate symptoms of depression.
While previous studies have looked at the association between magnesium and depression,2-7 this is the first placebo-controlled clinical study to evaluate whether the use of over-the-counter magnesium chloride (248 mg elemental magnesium a day for 6 weeks) improves symptoms of depression.
The study design was a follows:
“ An open-label, blocked, randomized, cross-over trial was carried out in outpatient primary care clinics on 126 adults (mean age 52; 38% male) diagnosed with and currently experiencing mild-to-moderate symptoms with Patient Health Questionnaire-9 (PHQ-9) scores of 5–19. The intervention was 6 weeks of active treatment (248 mg of elemental magnesium per day) compared to 6 weeks of control (no treatment). Assessments of depression symptoms were completed at bi-weekly phone calls. The primary outcome was the net difference in the change in depression symptoms from baseline to the end of each treatment period. Secondary outcomes included changes in anxiety symptoms as well as adherence to the supplement regimen, appearance of adverse effects, and intention to use magnesium supplements in the future. Between June 2015 and May 2016, 112 participants provided analyzable data.”
The study results were as follows:
“Consumption of magnesium chloride for 6 weeks resulted in a clinically significant net improvement in PHQ-9 scores of -6.0 points (CI -7.9, -4.2; P<0.001) and net improvement in Generalized Anxiety Disorders-7 scores of -4.5 points (CI -6.6, -2.4; P<0.001). Average adherence was 83% by pill count. The supplements were well tolerated and 61% of participants reported they would use magnesium in the future. Similar effects were observed regardless of age, gender, baseline severity of depression, baseline magnesium level, or use of antidepressant treatments. Effects were observed within two weeks. Magnesium is effective for mild-to-moderate depression in adults. It works quickly and is well tolerated without the need for close monitoring for toxicity.”
For perspective, conventional antidepressant drugs are considering to generate an “adequate or complete treatment response” with a PHQ-9 score “decrease of 5 points or more from baseline.” At this level of efficacy, their recommended action is: “Do not change treatment; conduct periodic follow-up.” The magnesium’s score of -6.0 therefore represents the height of success within conventional expectations for a complete response, which is sometimes termed “remission.” In contradistinction, conventional antidepressant drugs result in nearly half of patients discontinuing treatment during the first month, usually due to their powerful and sometimes debilitating side effects.8
To summarize the main study outcomes:
The study authors concluded:
“Magnesium is effective for mild-to-moderate depression in adults. It works quickly and is well tolerated without the need for close monitoring for toxicity.”
Magnesium is a central player in your body’s energy production, as its found within 300 enzymes in the human body, including within the biologically active form of ATP known as MG-ATP. In fact, there have been over 3,751 magnesium binding sites identified within human proteins, indicating that it’s central nutritional importance has been greatly underappreciated.
Research relevant to magnesium has been accumulating for the past 40 years at a steady rate of approximately 2,000 new studies a year. Our database project has indexed well over 100 health benefits of magnesium thus far. For the sake of brevity, we will address seven key therapeutic applications for magnesium as follows:
It is quite amazing to consider the aforementioned side benefits of magnesium consumption or supplementation within the context of the well-known side effects of pharmaceutical approaches to symptom management of disease. On average, conventional drugs have 75 side effects associated with their use, including lethal ones (albeit sometimes rare). When considering magnesium’s many side benefits and extremely low toxicity, clearly this fundamental mineral intervention (and dietary requirement) puts pharmaceutical approaches to depression to shame.
The best source of magnesium is from food, and one way to identify magnesium-containing foods are those which are green, i.e. chlorophyll rich. Chlorophyll, which enable plants to capture solar energy and convert it into metabolic energy, has a magnesium atom at its center. Without magnesium, in fact, plants could not utilize the sun’s light energy.
Magnesium, however, in its elemental form is colorless, and many foods that are not green contain it as well. The point is that when found complexed with food cofactors, it is absorbed and utilized more efficiently than in its elemental form, say, extracted from limestone in the form of magnesium oxide.
The following foods contain exceptionally high amounts of magnesium. The portions described are 100 grams, or a little over three ounces.
Fortunately, for those who need higher doses, or are not inclined to consume magnesium rich foods, there are supplemental forms commonly available on the market. Keep in mind, for those who wish to take advantage of the side benefit of magnesium therapy, namely, its stool softening and laxative properties, magnesium citrate or oxide will provide this additional feature.
For those looking to maximize absorption and bioavailability magnesium glycinate is ideal, as glycine is the smallest amino acid commonly found chelated to magnesium, and therefore highly absorbable.
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Sayer Ji is founder of Greenmedinfo.com, a reviewer at the International Journal of Human Nutrition and Functional Medicine, Co-founder and CEO of Systome Biomed, Vice Chairman of the Board of the National Health Federation, Steering Committee Member of the Global Non-GMO Foundation.
Disclaimer: This article is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of GreenMedInfo or its staff.