by: Ann Blake Tracy, PhD
As the executive director of the International Coalition for Drug Awareness, Dr. Tracy is the leading expert in the world on serotonergic medications and their adverse reactions (Prozac, Zoloft, Paxil, Luvox, Celexa, Sarafem, Fen-Phen, Redux, Meridia, Effexor, Serzone, Wellbutrin, Zyban and other antidepressants). She has testified as an expert witness in court cases involving these drugs for nine years, including the Columbine High School shooting. Dr. Tracy has worked for ten years to develop a safe method for helping patients withdraw from antidepressants and rebuild their bodies and brains after using them. She has followed Gary Young's work closely, and recommends the use of his oils for repairing damage and adverse effects caused by these drugs. According to Dr. Tracy, nothing reaches the brain faster and begins the body's own healing process faster than essential oils. The adverse effects of increased serotonin can be dealt with effectively by using essential oils. See more antidepressants www.myhealthon.org
We have been led to believe that serotonin levels need to be increased in patients who suffer from depression. The serotonergic drugs (drugs which increase serotonin) act by impairing the body's ability to metabolize serotonin, so that serotonin will build up in your system.
I generally talk about Prozac, because this drug was the pattern for all the others that came after it, and all these medications have similar reactions and effects. Some are stronger than others and have their own brand names, but they all basically work the same. The drugs which increase serotonin include Prozac, Zoloft, Paxil, Luvox, Effexor, Celexa, Sarafemas well as the diet drugs Redux, Meridia and others. They give Sarafem for PMS which is basically Prozac with a name change. All the antidepressants such as the tricyclics and the new antipsychotics like Seroquel and Risperdal do affect serotonin levels as well. These drugs are also prescribed for pain and it has become quite common even though the drug has not been approved for it.
Dr. Candice Pert was one of the two developers of the serotonin binding process that made these drugs possible. In Time magazine, October 20, 1997, page 8, she talks about the widespread use of these drugs and declares, "I am alarmed at the monsters I have created". She went on to say that we would see the same heart and lung problems with these serotonergic antidepressants that we saw with Fen-Phen and Redux, and that she was sorry she had anything to do with their creation. Never in the history of medicine has a developer been so strongly opposed to a medication that is still on the market. But how many patients are aware of her warning that these antidepressants, especially in longer-term use, would have devastating effects.
The Eli Lilly pharmaceutical company introduced Prozac to the world, and since then every drug company has copied it because Prozac made so much money for Lilly. Lilly is the same company who gave us LSD in 1956 and told us that LSD was going to cure mental illness, alcoholism and aid in psychoanalysis. LSD and PCP (which was a "safe effective" prescription medication for seven years before it was pulled) are serotonergic agents. They work almost identically to these new antidepressants. A doctor I know calls these new antidepressants a slow fuse LSD.
Last year, CBS news carried the news report titled Unhappy in Utah because we are the antidepressant capital of the nation. In the last decade, statistics show that diabetes has skyrocketed in Utah as a direct result of these antidepressants, and divorce and domestic violence have increased.
Dr. James Goodwin of Wenatchee, Washington earned the name, The Pied Piper of Prozac because he had every one of his 800 patients on Prozac or Paxil, including children. After Dr. Goodwin began to prescribe these drugs in massive quantities, domestic violence, suicide, rape and murder all skyrocketed within a year.
EFFECTS OF HIGH SEROTONIN LEVELS IN VARIOUS ILLNESSES:
Research over the last 50 years show that increased serotonin levels produce impulsive behaviour, murder and suicide, arson, violent crime, reckless driving, depression, anxiety, irritability, pains around the heart, insomnia, abuse of alcohol and other drugs, difficulty breathing and tension.
In one research study, patients with poor serotonin metabolism (which therefore produces high serotonin levels) were observed to suffer from irritability and sleeplessness, tending to sleep on the edge of consciousness, awake at the slightest provocation and not be able to return to sleep. Other symptoms observed were pains around the heart, difficulty breathing and worsening of bronchial complaints. They tended to suffer spontaneous abortion. One of the main functions of serotonin is the constriction of muscle tissue.
Serotonin levels are high in schizophrenia, autism, mania, mood disorders including depression and anxiety, organic brain disease, mental retardation, Alzheimer's and anorexia.
DRUG EFFECTS AND REACTIONS:
An antidepressant is the opposite of a depressant. Therefore it is a stimulant. That is what cocaine is. These serotonergic medications do the same thing as illegal drugs. They force the body to perform beyond its own energy capacity and have a very adverse impact upon the body's ability to metabolize your nutrients. They slowly deplete the body of vitamins and minerals, nutrients you need for your energy supply.
The most common reactions reported to me over the last 10 years by patients on these drugs are insomnia and vivid and violent dreams, inability to detect dreams from reality, no emotions, inability to feel guilt and an inability to cry, aggressive or violent behaviours, mood swings, altered personality, symptoms of mania, feelings of isolation, unusual energy surges, extreme fatigue, burning or tingling in the extremities, depressed immune system, memory impairment, loss of appetite, shaking or internal jitteriness, hair loss, pressure behind the eyes, craving for alcohol and sweets, hyperactivity in offspring, and we still have no idea of the long-term effects on children of mothers who were using the drug during pregnancy.
High levels of serotonin are found in children with autism. Recent statistics show that there has been a huge increase in autism. I had one patient who was on Prozac who had three children. This woman had three autistic children before it dawned on her that it might be caused by the medication. Doctors are keeping pregnant women on these medications. Many nurses are extremely upset about this. How many more babies are there out there whose autism may be caused by a medication? No one is looking for them.
In my opinion these drugs should be classified as dissociative anaesthetics just like PCP. It is because of the numbing anaesthetic effect that so many patients describe their withdrawal as if they're coming out from under anaesthesia and they are becoming more and more aware of what's going on around them. You cannot target only a bad feeling, so these drugs block all your feelings. Many people desire to come off these medications because they can no longer feel anything, either good or bad. They say that all they feel is anger.
We learned that the diet pills Fen-Phen and Redux (which also increase serotonin levels), produced a gummy, gluey, glossy substance that builds up on the heart valves and prevents the valves from shutting. Lawsuits are still being filed. High serotonin levels will also cause a gummy, gooey, glossy substance to build up in brain tissue. This is called Alzheimer's. Dr. Pert warned of these problems.
We do have studies now showing that Prozac turns brain cells into cork-screw shapes, which is a technical medical way of saying that it screws up your brain. These drugs are highly protein bound and they accumulate in brain tissue at an alarming rate - 100 times greater than levels in the blood. Therefore it takes a long time to flush it out of the system.
Serzone has just been found to causeliver damage. My first concern with these medications was the damage to the liver and pancreas. There is a 700% increase in breast cancer with Paxil. A friend of mine on Paxil died just two years ago of cancer. She was on Paxil and she could not get off.
PROZAC'S EFFECT ON CORTISOL LEVELS
Another very serious medical problem associated with Prozac is an amazing increase in cortisol. One single 30 mg dose of Prozac (a pill and a half) will double the cortisol levels in the body. Research has demonstrated that high cortisol levels cause brain damage. This is called Cushing's syndrome and the moods fluctuate from euphoria, mania and full psychosis to depths of depression. High cortisol produces irritability, decreased ability to handle stress, decreased glucose tolerance which results in hypoglycemia and diabetes, muscle weakness, edema, depressed immune system and suppressed inflammation response. You can see how the body is completely deteriorating when you're increasing cortisol levels by literally doubling them on a daily basis.
MENTAL ILLNESS AND BLOOD SUGAR
A study in the September 1999 issue of the American Journal of Psychiatry indicated a high rate of diabetes in patients diagnosed with bipolar disorder. It states that scientists have known since the turn of the century that mental illnesses are blood sugar related. Certainly the public does not know this and doctors don't seem to be aware either. Anything that increases serotonin drops blood sugar levels. These antidepressants do it and various foods like white sugar and Nutrasweet also do it.
I've testified in court cases involving these drugs for the last ten years. Every one of these cases and many more were induced by one of these antidepressants and they have all been taken to court. I was one of the consultants on the Andrea Yates case. Andrea was on two of these antidepressants at maximum dosage. They had adjusted her medication two days before this happened, and this adjustment alone was enough to cause what happened in this family. Del Shannon, the singer from the 60s committed suicide after being on Prozac for three weeks. Joseph Wesbecker went on a shooting rampage in Kentucky killing eight people in total. In the Donald Shell case two years ago, a jury ruled that two Paxil pills resulted in the shooting of his wife, daughter, baby granddaughter and then himself. A case in which a man drowned himself and two children was settled in January by the Paxil company. I was an expert witness in the Phil Hartman case which was again settled by the drug company. The Columbine case, which is ongoing, resulted in the drug company pulling Luvox from the American market. Eric Harris was on Luvox when he went psychotic and went on a shooting spree.
Fifty per cent of the serotonin in the system is metabolized in the pineal gland. Because these drugs impair the metabolism of serotonin, there is a buildup in the pineal gland. The pineal is known as the third eye, the seat of the soul, the connection to the higher self and the spirit. When the pineal gland is overloaded, people like Andrea Yates say they feel possessed, like someone else's brain is in their body, that connection with the higher self is literally severed by the high levels of serotonin within the brain.
ADVERSE EFFECTS OF WITHDRAWAL
The most commonly reported effects of withdrawal are insomnia, rebound depression worse than prior to taking the drug, exhaustion, irritability leading to rage, electric shock throughout the extremities, seizures and the mild seizure activity of the REM sleep behaviour disorder which leads to psychotic breaks - the most dangerous withdrawal effect. It occurs because the REM sleep, the Dream State has been repressed for so long that the brain forces you into a dream while you are awake. This is a sleep walk state where you begin to act out dreams or nightmares. This REM sleep behaviour disorder will often be labelled mania or psychosis. The potential for this disorder is high both while using these drugs and while coming off of them. So we want to avoid withdrawal effects.
GUIDELINES FOR SAFE WITHDRAWAL
These guidelines will work with all mind-altering medications: antipsychotics, bipolar medications, the Valium family of drugs, as well as seizure medications such as Depakote and Dilantin because these are all mainly serotonergic medications.
Gradual withdrawal Patients must withdraw very very slowly over a period of many months depending how long you have been on the medication.Generally patients find that if they've been on the drug for a year, they require five to six months to slowly wean themselves off the medication. So between one-third to one-half the total amount of time you have been on any of these drugs or combinations seems to be a safe withdrawal time. This allows your body to adjust to lower levels of the chemical. You can't stop cold turkey! This is the key to avoid ending up in a psych ward. The biggest mistake patientsand doctors make is to withdraw from these drugs too quickly.
Diary Keep a diary of how you are feeling each day. This is important because when you hit a bad day it is hard to recall the good days at all, and it is helpful to be able to look back in your diary and see how many good days there have been. Patients report in the beginning they will have several bad days and one good day, then the good days will increase until you're having more and more good days and fewer bad days.
" Eat nutritious foods to produce the energy needed to overcome the drug-induced malnourishment.
" Take a good vitamin-mineral supplement. Food form is always preferred because they are much easier to digest and assimilate.
" Juicing is a good way to rebuild your body but work at it gradually. Eat more fruits and veggies. Start with cooked foods and slowly go to more and more raw because the raw foods have the enzymes to help make them easier to digest.
" Almonds: Eating six to twelve almonds is an excellent way to keep the blood sugar low.
" Remove stimulants and chemicals from your daily diet. This includes caffeine and nicotine.
" Avoid meat or eat smaller amounts because it has a stimulant effect due to adrenaline released at the time of the animal's death.
" Cranial massage is helpful and it will release a lot of pressure if there is swelling in the head. Edema is a common problem with these drugs.
" Acupuncture has been known for decades to be beneficial in the withdrawal from any drug.
" Negative ions help to reduce serotonin levels.
" Chamomile is a wonderful, soothing and calming herbal tea that I highly recommend to restore sleep patterns.
" Go to bed early. We know that going to bed earlier can get rid of depression quickly. Going to bed early resets the internal clock and going to bed early for a week will knock depression for six months at a time.
GOOD SUPPLEMENTS TO USE DURING WITHDRAWAL
Patients have continually reported the following supplements as being extremely helpful. Some of these are sold through multi-level companies.
" Omega-3 oils like flaxseed oil are absolutely incredible for brain function. At a conference at the National Institutes of Health, just four years ago, doctors from around the world presented information on the wonderful effectiveness of the Omega-3 oils for seizures, schizophrenia, mania, depression, anxiety, hyperactivity and ADD and PMS.
" Antioxidants like pycnogenol, grape seed extract, CoQ10 or Gingko. They work better if you use them while you come down off the drug. If you wait till you're off the drug you can get adverse reactions unless you begin with very small amounts.
" Noni is very helpful. This is a fruit juice made from the Noni fruit. It has a digestive enzyme in it that is the active ingredient. Noni juice will help you get rid of the dissociative state that comes from these drugs. It will help to prevent mania. Their order line is 1-800-445-2969. I have tried other brands without the same beneficial results.
" My patients have found Young Living Essential Oils to be of great benefit after using these drugs. The fastest way to reach the brain is through the nasal passage. Bergamot is very helpful with mania and depression. Lavender is known to help stress. Peace and Calming is a combination of oils that is very soothing. Clarity and Joy have been known to reverse brain damage and short-term memory loss. Frankincense, Sandalwood and Brain Power are very good for the brain. Frankincense is the one oil I would make mandatory after using these drugs due to the risk of cancer.
SUPPLEMENTS TO AVOID
" Two very big no no's are St. John's Wort and 5HTP that you can find in health stores. St. John's Wort has an effect of increasing serotonin. I would prefer patients to stay away from these things and rebuild your body with nutrients.
" A very popular sleep aid called melatonin also increases serotonin is and it should be avoided.
" Avoid glandular products because they produce a steroid effect and can cause very serious reactions after taking these drugs.
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The New York Times
January 14, 2003
PSYCHIATRIC DRUG USE UP SHARPLY FOR KIDS
The number of children and adolescents taking psychiatric drugs was two to three times higher in 1996 than in 1987, researchers reported in a study being published Tuesday.
Stimulants such as Ritalin, prescribed as a treatment for attention deficit disorder, and antidepressants were the most commonly prescribed drugs, according to the study, which experts said is the largest and most comprehensive to examine the topic.
But the investigators, led by Dr. Julie Magno Zito, an associate professor of pharmacy and medicine at the University of Maryland, also found precipitous growth in the use of antipsychotics, so-called mood stabilizers prescribed for mania or aggression, and other classes of potent psychoactive medication.
The study, experts said, offers further confirmation that pediatricians and child psychiatrists are increasingly turning to pharmacology as the treatment of choice for depression,attention disorder, severe anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder, manic depression and other conditions diagnosed in young patients.
But the impact of this trend, or even whether it is good or bad, is unclear, the experts said.
On the one hand, the findings reflect the emergence of new treatments, advances that have spilled over into the care of severely troubled children.
On the other hand, little research exists to indicate whether psychiatric drugs are being prescribed responsibly in most cases, or whether they are being overprescribed in part because health insurers are reluctant to pay for nonmedication treatments.
Despite their widespread use, only a few psychiatric medications are specifically approved by the Food and Drug Administration for use in children: Earlier this month, Prozac won approval as a treatment for depression in people ages 7 to 17. And the long-term effects of such drugs, particularly on the developing brain, are largely unknown.
Given the dearth of knowledge, the widespread use of the drugs remains a subject of debate.
The studies cant tell you anything at all about the quality of care or the outcomes of those treatments, said Dr. James March, a professor of child and adolescent psychiatry at Duke University Medical Center. What we know is that mental illness is bad for your life.
Dr. James Leckman, a professor of child psychiatry, pediatrics and psychology at Yale School of Medicine, said that psychiatric drugs were useful tools when used properly. But he added that animal studies had hinted that some psychiatric drugs might have a lasting impact on the brain when given before puberty.
Dr. Zito and her colleagues found that of the 900,000 children and adolescents they studied, about 6.2 percent were taking at least one psychiatric drug in 1996, compared with about 2.5 percent in 1987. The participants in the study, which appears in Tuesdays issue of the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, were patients enrolled in Medicaid programs in two states and in a large health maintenance organization in the Northwest.
In 1996, twice as many boys as girls were taking a psychiatric drug, the study found. But over the 10 years, the increases in stimulant use were greater for girls than for boys, especially in the HMO. And boys and girls appeared to be taking the drugs for longer periods than they did a decade before.
In 1987, children 5 to 9 were the most likely to be taking Ritalin or another stimulant; in 1996 such medications were most often taken by children 10 to 19. Still, the use of stimulants and antidepressants was comparable in the Medicaid and HMOs.
This was not the case for other classes of drugs. The children and adolescents in the Medicaid programs were significantly more likely to be taking antipsychotic drugs and mood stabilizers.
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