• RTD

Health 17 April 2017 35 7128

Overpill. The darker side of America’s mental health.

The US has a highly developed pharmaceutical industry offering treatments for all kinds of mental disorders. Millions of Americans are being medicated for ailments as diverse as depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder and many others. Even young children are being put on psychiatric drugs. If parents decline such treatment, social services may intervene.

Many patients, who’ve been taking these pills for years, insist that they do more harm than good. They have experienced disturbing side effects such as suicidal thoughts, addiction and even neurological damage. A lot of patients were put on their medication as children and by the time they were legally old enough to decide for themselves, they had already become addicted. They testify that breaking their dependency on the drugs is extremely difficult because, like any habit forming narcotic, they cause severe withdrawal symptoms.

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RTD meets some of the sufferers to hear their stories of battling to shake off prescribed medicines. Father of 5, Josh, was given anxiety medication, it caused Akathisia and Dystonia. Both are physical disorders causing involuntary and uncontrolled body movement and have left him disabled.

Olivia’s son was prescribed psychiatric drugs to treat Attention Deficit Disorder (ADHD). Olivia soon noticed side effects and refused to continue giving him the pills. He was taken by social services and hospitalised.

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Denis from Russia used to work for a pharmaceutical company in the US but after meeting his wife, who had suffered from the side effects of antidepressants for most of her life, he started questioning the necessity for such widespread psychiatric prescribing.

Their claims are supported by lawyers and medical professionals. Psychiatrist Dr. Peter Breggin is a vocal critic of psychiatric medication. He is adamant that the drugs are toxic and that many problems people talk to physiatrists about can be treated without resorting to drugs. His book on how to stop taking psychiatric medicines has helped thousands of patients who have struggled with the challenge. RTD meets a few of them.

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