The Anti-Depressant Fact Book
What Your Doctor Won't Tell You
About Prozac, Zoloft, Paxil, Celexa, and Luvox
Perseus Publishing - Cambridge, Massachusetts
copyright 2001, paperback
by Peter R. Breggin, M.D.
Douglas A. Smith
I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book because it says so clearly and convincingly what I have believed for a long time about the myth of biologically caused depression and about so-called antidepressant drugs and so-called electroconvulsive "therapy" (ECT).
Of the idea of biologically caused depression, the author, psychiatrist Peter Breggin, says "It is a mistake to view depressed feelings or even severely depressed feelings as a 'disease'" (p. 14) and "There is still no reason to define grief, dejection, or melancholia as a 'disease' simply because it is severe or lasting" (p. 19). He says "...in psychiatry, none of the problems are proven to originate in the brain" (p. 169) and that "Depression is never defined by an objective physical finding, such as a blood test or brain scan. ... Attempts have also been made to find physical markers for depression, the equivalent of lab tests that indicate liver disease or a recent heart attack. Despite decades of research, thousands of research studies, and hundreds of millions of dollars in expense, no marker for depression has been found" (pp. 18 & 22).
Of the theory behind the so-called SSRI or selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor "antidepressants" Dr. Breggin says "In reality, science does not have the ability to measure the levels of any biochemical in the tiny spaces between nerve cells (the synapses) in the brain of a human being. All the talk about biochemical imbalances is sheer speculation aimed at promoting psychiatric drugs. ... science has almost no understanding of how the widespread serotonin system functions in the brain. Basically, we don't know what it does." (pp. 21 & 42).
Of drugs used to "treat" this nonexistent disease called depression he says "The term 'antidepressant' should always be thought of with quotation marks around it because there is little or no reason to believe that these drugs target depression or depressed feelings" (p. 14). He says "Impairing our emotional awareness and our intellectual acuity with psychoactive drugs such as SSRI antidepressants [including Prozac, Paxil, and Zoloft] tends to impede the process of overcoming depression" (p. 26). About the foolishness of the beliefs of most people about psychiatric drugs he says:
Overall, we're a rather sophisticated citizenry with a fairly high index of suspicion about the products we buy and the corporations that influence our lives. But something happens to us when we are dealing with companies that make prescription medicines. Perhaps it's the aura of FDA approval. Perhaps it's the passage of these drugs through the trusted hands of our physicians. Perhaps it's the cleverness of the ad campaigns. Perhaps we just can't believe that anyone would sell poison as if it were a miracle cure. [p. 2]
That's right: He said "poison." Psychiatric drugs are poisons. In a chapter titled "Damaging the Brain with SSRI Antidepressants," Dr. Breggin says "the evidence is piling up that SSRIs cause permanent brain damage" (p. 38). Let's stop concealing or minimizing this truth as we do when we call psychiatric drugs "medications" or say they are merely "ineffective" or "harmful" or even "neurotoxic." Lawyers trying to defend us from outpatient commitment laws (as they are called in the USA) or laws authorizing "community treatment orders" (CTOs) (as such laws are called in Canada) should stop accepting the terminology of those advocating forced psychiatric drugging. Lawyers trying to defend us from forced psychiatric drugging should not go into court and say the so-called patient should not be ordered "to take his medication." Because psychiatric drugs are poisons, and because most that are administered by force cause permanent brain damage, lawyers representing people threatened with forced psychiatric drugging should tell it like it is and say, "Judge, the question presented for your decision today is whether my client should be ordered to swallow poison - poison that is known to cause permanent brain damage." Letting advocates of forced psychiatric treatment get away with calling brain-damaging poisons "medications" is hurting our cause. It has been said: Whoever controls the language controls the perceived reality of those who have it. Let's not let the advocates of forced psychiatric "treatment" and those who would persuade gullible people to take harmful drugs win because they use deceptive semantics.
In the Introduction Dr. Breggin reveals why pharmaceutical companies would do something as evil as hoodwink people into believing poisons are in fact miracle cures. He says: "In the previous year , Prozac had generated more than one-quarter of the company's [Eli Lilly & Company's] $10 billion in revenue" and that "Prozac, Zoloft, and Paxil are among the top-selling drugs in the United States, with total sales exceeding $4 billion per year" (p. 1). We apparently can't expect pharmaceutical companies to bypass enormous profits just because the drugs they sell are hurting people.
Throughout this book Dr. Breggin points an accusing finger at the USA's Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which is given the responsibility of keeping harmful drugs off the market in the USA. After reviewing how the FDA had to accept misleading, manipulated data to approve SSRI antidepressants as safe and effective, and after reviewing the harm done by these drugs, he says "If the FDA had been more responsible, these continuing tragedies could have been avoided. ... When I began my review of FDA documents as a medical expert in product liability suits against Eli Lilly and Co., I was shocked and disillusioned by what I found. Until that time, I had not fully confronted the willingness of the FDA to protect drug companies, even at the cost of human life." (pp. 78-79). He says "The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has forsaken its watchdog role. Instead, FDA officials climb like puppies into the laps of drug company executives who might some day hire them at enormous salaries" (p. 181).
One of the reasons I like this book is in it Dr. Breggin is as bold as he has been in any of his previous books when describing the pseudoscience called biological psychiatry and the harm done by its so-called treatments. For example, speaking of psychiatric drugs he says -
* "If a drug has an effect on the brain, it is harming the brain. Science has not found or synthesized any psychoactive substances that improve normal brain function. Instead, all of them impair brain function. ... antidepressants are typically prescribed in doses that cause a wide variety of adverse effects in most patients and significantly harm a great many people" (p. 168).
* "FDA approval by no means indicates that a drug is truly effective. ... the combined efforts of the drug company and the FDA could not come up with even one good study that unequivocally supported the value of Prozac in comparison to placebo" (p. 151).
* "Overall, the results suggest that placebo is actually much better than an antidepressant" (p. 145).
* "If anything, as I've already indicated, antidepressants worsen severe depression and suicidal tendencies" (p. 170).
* "Nothing reinforces depression more than having your brain befuddled by psychiatric drugs, unless it is having your mind befuddled by false ideas about the biological or genetic origin of your suffering" (p. 189).
* "Lithium, for example, is a toxic element that suppresses over-all brain function..." (p. 125)
* "There are so many potential hazards involved in taking SSRIs that no physician is capable of remembering all of them and no patient can be adequately informed about the dangers without spending days or weeks reviewing the subject in a medical library" (p. 107).
Of electroconvulsive "therapy" (ECT) he says -
* "Damaging the brain to impair brain function lies at the heart of all the physical treatments in psychiatry. Shock and lobotomy are merely the most egregious examples" (p. 155, italics in original).
* He deplores "the willingness of psychiatry to defend its treatments no matter how obviously damaging to the brain" (ibid).
* "In my clinical and forensic experience, patients and their families are never told the truth about how dangerous shock is; otherwise they would not consent to it. Shock advocates tend to tell patients that memory loss is temporary and surrounds the treatment time only, when in reality the memory loss can wipe out years of educational and career knowledge. ... Nurses, teachers, and other professionals may never again be able to function in their jobs. Like head injury patients from other causes, such as automobile accidents and lighting strikes, general mental function is often impaired for the rest of their lives. Advocates [of ECT] ignore this by chalking it up to the patient's 'mental illness.'" (pp. 160-161).
* "Electroshock treatment causes brain damage and, in my clinical experience, can cause lasting depression" (p. 141). This of course is in contrast to psychiatry's claim that by some unknown means ECT relieves depression.
* "The question is not 'Does shock treatment cause brain dysfunction and damage?' A series of shocks to the head sufficient to cause convulsions will always produce brain dysfunction and damage. The real question is 'How completely can a person recover from shock?'" (p. 162).
* Advocates of shock claim that newer methods make it safer. ... Instead, it's more dangerous. ... modified ECT requires the use of higher amounts of electrical charge than were used in the early animal experiments that showed brain damage and cell death" (p. 163).
* "In my clinical experience, the brain damage [caused by electroconvulsive therapy, or ECT] makes people feel more hopeless and resentful, and hence more suicidal" (p. 164).
* "Several state legislatures have passed laws banning shock treatment for children. It's now time to ban it for adults a well" (p. 165).
This book is a fairly short (200 page), recent (2001) book that neatly summarizes many of the best arguments against biological psychiatry. I recommend it highly.
You can buy this book from -
amazon.com ($10.40) or barnesandnoble.com ($11.70)
(prices as of January 29, 2002)