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Without writing an essay, one probably cannot come to an even halfway decent appreciation of how antidepressants can ruin a life. Most people don’t want to read an essay on that anyhow, so here are ten bulletpoints which may illuminate the matter, if only partially:
1. Antidepressants have thousands of potential side effects which span from weird to annoying to debilitating to disabling to life-threatening. It is not predictable which patients will experience what side effects, meaning these drugs are never truly safe—risks are always present during and after use.
2. Side effects will not necessarily go away if you stop using antidepressants, and can worsen or arise newly if you continue use or try to quit. Some patients experience years or a lifetime of drug-induced problems, and even non-patients can be hurt by side effects (like birth defects and abortions, drug-induced violence, accidents caused by drugging, etc).
3. Dozens of antidepressant side effects can kill you. Even in clinical trials that were run to gain FDA approval, more patients died in antidepressant arms than placebo arms—and that is only a short term study of their dangers which furthermore discounts long term problems and withdrawal syndromes.
4. Dozens of antidepressant side effects can make someone’s condition under treatment worse, or introduce new psychological or physical problems like depression, neuropathic pain, or sexual dysfunction. These drug effects are commonly blamed on the patient or their diagnosis instead of antidepressants.
5. Neuropsychiatric side effects like mania, psychosis, and suicidality are not rare. Some of them occur as often as 10–20% of the time, such as mania, and some of them occur even more often, like agitation/anxiety. These, too, often get blamed on anything besides what is actually causing them.
6. Serious side effects occur in the majority of patients. Rather than being rare, most patients experience at least 1–2 serious side effects. You can read about what “serious” means to the FDA here: What is a Serious Adverse Event?
7. Antidepressants cause physical dependence, which results in withdrawal syndrome for the majority of patients who try to taper off or quit them. Even late or skipped doses can sometimes produce withdrawal syndrome. Because withdrawal can last for days, weeks, months, years, or decades, physical dependence is not a trivial concern.
8. Withdrawal is composed of dozens or hundreds of possible symptoms, including potentially fatal ones. These symptoms can be debilitating, disabling, and/or long lasting for some individuals, but have gone almost entirely unstudied.
9. Many doctors are not providing informed consent, and most are not capable of appropriately recognizing and handling side effects, tapering, and withdrawal syndrome. The professional management of antidepressants causes a high rate of preventable patient harms.
10. If antidepressants hurt you or cause serious problems for you, there may be no way to get appropriate help. It can be difficult or impossible to hold doctors, facilities, or insurance companies accountable, and many patients have no access to any professional assistance for some of the worst and most disabling antidepressant side effects.
People who take antidepressants can lose their careers, their life savings, their relationships, their health, and their lives. They may be subjected to excruciating and protracted suffering, and may have no one to go to for help. Indeed, in many cases it is the doctors and medical system which created and perpetuated this suffering in the first place. Antidepressants can ruin a life by taking away what you love, what you need to survive, and everything you enjoy about yourself.
These are not guarantees, or even prognostication: they are clear and documented risks. That is, they happen to some people, but not everyone, and we rarely have a way of knowing who will experience them beforehand. Concerns such as these underline the importance of responsible prescribing, informed consent, competent drug management, and risk reducing protocols. Using drugs only when all safer and more appropriate options have been exhausted, and only in cases where the benefits outweigh the risks and harms, can prevent a lot of the suffering that antidepressants are presently causing.
Here are a few additional resources which discuss some of the risks antidepressants carry:
Antidepressants | RxISK
Side Effects of Antidepressants
I was a successful engineer with a 35 year career in music and audio electronics design, university lecturer and electronic artist. I had a relationship breakdown that devasted me caused by depression. I’d lost something I’d been working my whole life for; a family life, home, lasting relationship – all due to depression from family problems and interference I was in a catch 22 to fix.
I went to my doctor and told him I was depressed. Instead of offering counselling or therapy which was a 5 month wait on the NHS he offered SSRIs. I was knowledgeable of serious side effects etc so was hesitant. The fatal misguidance was regard drug interactions. I’d been taking some serotonin boosting vitamins previously to lift my mood. I read the leaflet saying these cannot be taken together so I stopped and waited well over a week before I took the SSRI. All sources said this was safe including NHS 111 service, online etc.
No, this induced serotonin poisoning. On taking the SSRI I Initially had a rush of confusion, almost collasped in the street and had a fit, i soon recovered so assumed it was just a bad reaction, I only took one pill and stopped immediately, but there was much much worse to come…
So I went to my doctor having suddenly developed weird neurological problems from this excess serotonin over the weeks following this incident. I didn’t know that I was still being poisoned or anything about serotonin etc at the time etc. All I’d done is follow NHS advice…
Since I was already deeply depressed the last thing I needed was serious health issues. I developed complete sexual dysfunction and complete apathy, my hand went limp occasionally like nerve dysfunction, I couldn’t feel pain in certain areas of my body, I lost all emotions and couldn’t ‘feel’ music anymore. I didn’t care about anything, other relationships became strained, I wasn’t ME, went off work – I panicked and slipped into an unimaginably deeper depression. I became suicidal thinking these health problems were permanent damage (i.e. the sexual dysfunction=no chance of meeting a new partner=life over)
My depression and anxiety now out of control I went to ER to get help, since the doctors didn’t believe a word I was saying they assumed I was psychotic (all this from ONE pill sounds delusional)… They offered me a voluntarily stay in a psych ward – a place I thought I’d get help and they’d fix my health issues… I stupidly trusted the nurse who suggested it…
This was a fatal mistake I can never undo. I regret it every minute of every day and will die regretting it, soon probably.
Despite explaining I may have had a bad drug interaction I was FORCED on to more drugs, and since I was already suffering poisoning, I endured months of unimaginable torture. The doctors nurses assumed I was making the serious side effects up. I suffered damage to eyesight, hearing, burning pains, fits, was collapsing, altered mental state, amnesia, memory loss, weakness, i lost the ability to think or understand basic words, noone cared, they wouldn’t stop the drugs, threatened injections, even ECT if I didn’t stop complaining about these serious side effects…I almost died.
Almost a year later after 7 months of torture in hospital (I was in there that long because they assumed my serious health problems were’mental illness’ ) I’m still alive, however I wish I wasn’t.
The sequale of this hell are permanent hearing loss (music career and essentially my LIFE is over), tinnitus that is a definition of torture, my eyes won’t stay fixed on an object due to vestibular damage (oscillopsia),my vision is double, dim, dull, and I have bad visual snow (optic neuropathy), balance issues, weakness. Being alive is daily torture.
There is no potential for happiness in my life (people say because you’re depressed). No, I cannot watch TV/film, can’t listen to music, can’t exercise, can’t sleep, can’t even do basic hobbies or interests because my senses are so defective. I live in a world of constant reminders of how beautiful my life was, I could of worked anywhere in the world and had built an amazing career had money and excellent health. Hiked, cycled, researched, designed, helped people, designed beautiful products and quality of life was my calling, i LOVED life and had found my life purpose…
5 years ago I was presenting research papers on new musical instruments overseas with an amazing career ahead of me, today I’m unable to listen to music, can barely see, hear or walk, can’t sleep and think about suicide every single day.
No doctors will listen, any tests showing I have these problems are dismissed as anxiety, if I complain too much it will be deemed mental illness again (they already threw me back in hospital for going for to NHS about my eyes), I’m now trapped in a living hell till the day I die and I’m only 40.
DO NOT TAKE ANTIDEPRESSANTS
withdraw from them. Addiction can result from normal doses of
prescribed drugs. (This can include SSRI’s.)
Pharmacology is not properly understood by many psychiatrists,
and they often rely on information from pharma companies.
(for example, the benzodiazepine tragedy)