The Pill That Steals Lives – One Woman’s Terrifying Journey to Discover the Truth About Antidepressants — (Amazon)

SSRI Ed note: Journalist experiences a terrifying SSRI-related ordeal, which inspires an episode on BBC's Panorama, to air in autumn, 2016.

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By Amazon Customer on 28 August 2016

Format: Kindle Edition

This book is exceptional.

It is full of bravery in that Katinka challenges Big Pharma head on.

It’s ambitious in that it questions what depression even means – and how it could be confronted without medication.

It is deeply touching. This is a powerful story that runs through the deepest relationships in her family.

And it is very, very funny. I challenge anybody to read the description of her wedding without laughing out loud!

But mostly this book is important in making most of us challenge our perceptions around how anti-depressants are prescribed.


While going through a divorce, documentary filmmaker Katinka Blackford Newman took an antidepressant. Not unusual – except that things didn’t turn out quite as she expected. She went into a four-day toxic psychosis with violent hallucinations, imagining she had killed her children, and in fact attacking herself with a knife.

Caught up in a real-life nightmare when doctors didn’t realise she was suffering side effects of more pills, she went into a year-long decline. Soon she was wandering around in an old dressing gown, unable to care for herself, and dribbling. She nearly lost everything, but luck stepped in; treated at another hospital, she was taken off all the medication and made a miraculous recovery within weeks.

By publicising her story, Katinka went on to make some startling discoveries. Could there really be thousands around the world who kill themselves and others from these drugs? What of the billions of dollars in settlements paid out by drug companies? Could they really be the cause of world mass killings, such as the Germanwings pilot who took an airliner down, killing 150, while on exactly the same medication as the author when she became psychotic? And how come so many people are taking these drugs when experts say they are no more effective than a sugarcoated pill for people like her, who are distressed rather than depressed?

Moving, frightening and at times funny, this is the story of how a single mum in Harlesden, North-West London, juggles life and her quest for love in order to investigate Big Pharma.

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SSRIstories Editor:

The importance of this book cannot be overstated.  Katinka Newman has exposed one of the darkest secrets of western society.  We call ourselves civilized, and we profess to abhor civil rights abuses.  We are horrified by racist remarks, and homophobic slights.  We rally for the rights of children in other countries and we try hard not to give offence to those with different religious beliefs than our own.  Yet, we raise no objection when our neighbours, family members and colleagues are kidnapped by medications that destroy their quality of life.  We accept the official story that the pills are always helpful even in the face of overwhelming evidence that they often do harm.

We accept that when people start on psychoactive drugs and their lives go downhill, it is mental illness, not the drugs.  In the case of SSRI antidepressants, we lure healthy people into taking them with the false promise that relief from anxiety and stress and relationship troubles comes in pill form.  This is a dangerous deception, as Katinka not only says, but illustrates through her experience.  People who take these medications when they have a temporary life problem too often discover what medication-induced mental illness is.  They experience unpleasant reactions to the pills and these side effects are treated with more drugs, until the people can no longer think or function effectively.  Sometimes, they temporarily lose their ability to reason, as Katinka did, and may commit horrible crimes or suicide.  The incidence of this is vastly under-reported and under-recognized.  That is why SSRIstories exists.

Katinka was lucky.  She escaped in time.  We are lucky because Katinka is a bright, articulate author and film-maker who has seen the truth from the inside and wants us to know it. The Pill That Steals Lives is a chilling, compelling, often funny and highly readable account of what it feels like to become mentally ill from medication.    If we are going to stop the carnage, we need to understand, and this book provides critical insights.