Seniors, mental health and drugs

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I had the bittersweet pleasure of recently reading an article, “Mental Health Expert Calls For A Revolution In Psychiatric Medicine,” as presented by Helke Ferrie in Vitality Magazine, December/January. issue. To view the entire article, go to
cle/psychiatry-whistleblower/. The article presents some startling data based on the research findings of a world renowned psychiatrist, Dr. Allen Frances.

Dr. Frances’ book, “Saving Normal — An Insider’s Revolt Against Out-of-Control Psychiatric Diagnosis” provides valuable insight into psychiatric medicine, the pharmaceutical industry and doctors. 

Most shocking is that within an eight-year period, 2004-2012, drug companies “paid out $15 billion (yes, $15 billion) in criminal and civil fines for psychiatric harm.”

I couldn’t help but notice that some of the psychotic drugs that are considered dangerous and known to cause harm, based on Dr. Frances’ findings, are drugs commonly prescribed to seniors who, sadly, aren’t even aware that they are taking these drugs, let alone know the dangers of such drugs.

Statistics reveal that at least 25 per cent of seniors in nursing residences are given anti-psychotics. I’m inclined to think that statistic bears scrutiny, and that closer evaluation may reveal a greater percentage.

I was shocked to read that drugs such as Risperidone, Seroquel, Celexa, Abilify and many others are drugs that bring in high revenue (especially Abilify and Seroquel, “the fifth and sixth highest revenue producers of all drugs in medicine”).

These drugs have not only proven to be harmful but, according to psychiatrist Dr. David Healy, (,2013) most of these drugs are indeed “known to trigger suicide.”

My own mother was a victim of some of these drugs, and I know all too well how these drugs, especially Seroquel in combination with a couple of others, impacted her to the point of experiencing extreme anxiety, panic, fear, and feeling as though she was literally losing her mind, as much as she tried in desperation and earnest to hold on.

After taking Seroquel for a few months, my mother told me in phone conversations that she just wasn’t feeling right and she felt that something was wrong.

At that time, I didn’t know she was taking Seroquel, nor did she, for that matter. She knew that something was not right in her mind and she couldn’t understand what was happening. She said that she thought that her medications were mixed up or something.

I only found out that she was being prescribed Seroquel after she had been taking it for nine months, and by that time I couldn’t even reach her to speak to her on the phone because she was so beside,

or outside, herself due to her

unsettling emotional state which deterred her from even staying in her room at the facility where she was residing.

As well, around this time, she ended up being taken to the Emergency department one evening because she was in such a terrible mental/emotional state with extremely high blood pressure. Then, my mother’s story unfolded.

Dr. Frances is calling for much needed reform in psychiatric medicine on a number of levels.

His research findings speak loudly and clearly.

Psychiatric conditions need to be properly diagnosed and treated for the well-being and protection of the patient and all concerned. He asserts that there are many other forms of effective treatment and therapy outside of pharmaceutical drugs. 

It’s quite disturbing, indeed, to think how far the medical profession has transgressed from its founding father’s oath and intent: “First, do no harm.”

We must acknowledge that all positive change and progress can take place only when those who are afflicted take courage, rise up and speak out against any form of injustice against them — as the course of history has clearly demonstrated, whether it be the civil rights movement, equal rights for women, child protection rights, elderly rights, etc.

Unfortunately, many of the elderly, for obvious reasons, are not in the position to take a stand and speak out for themselves, and they essentially just become victims of the system in which they find themselves.

They need a voice; they need an advocate.

Remember that there’s a (ripe) time for every season under heaven for the good of all concerned, both the afflicted as well as their perpetrators.

It’s all about progress for the good of humankind.

U.S. theologian Reinhold Niebuhr once said, “Man’s capacity for justice makes democracy possible (and enables it to thrive), but man’s inclination to injustice makes democracy (absolutely) necessary.”

Yvonne Lundrigan writes from

 North York, Ont.

Organizations: Emergency department

Geographic location: U.S., York

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Recent comments

  • saelcove
    February 02, 2014 - 14:39

    There are to people to blame big pharma and the doctors pushing the pills.most doctors do not have a clue about the side effects of the meds they pass out

  • Maggy Carter
    February 02, 2014 - 09:35

    In his book 'The Medical Heretic', Dr. Arthur Mendelson observed sardonically that women were born with a congenital deficiency in valium (diazepam) - how else, he invited, could they account for 90 percent of its consumption. For obvious demographic reasons and because of their inclination to accept the word of doctors as gospel, elderly women like this writer's mother unwittingly comprise the bulk of the target market for unscrupulous pharmaceutical manufacturers. I am surprised that more critics of the over-medication of seniors have not zeroed in on the underlying gender based implications. Moreover, the interdependency of drug companies and doctors has become so intractable, the latter have all but abandoned the prime directive of their Hyppocratic Oath - 'first, do no harm'.

  • Weed eater
    February 02, 2014 - 08:25

    And all the amazing ergot-derived drugs of Albert Hoffman are expensive, and we are bound to use cheap, heavily marketed, quasi-experimental drugs, basically. People are being treated for deep psychological issues with drugs that induce psychosis. As for democracy, we missed it. It happened in Athens before theology was used to suppress people who lost their voice to civility. God nor democracy is any substitute for knowledge and honesty when dealing with doctors. Ey can't prescribe you or your loved ones anything while you jumping up and down with peer-reviewed articles in your hand, annotated with suicide case studies. Oxy was something that SHOULD have opened everyone's eyes, Effexor, all these non addictive drugs. Except, the side effects have been designed to make them so hard to ween off...brutal marketing practices that force average citizens to become students of Motivational Research to resist, and we make it harder to get a weed brownie than ever before. We need surgeons, we need doctors, but we don't need walking prescription pads, but, the docs will give you what you want. The change comes through knowledge and participation, call it democracy, or call it theology - call it what you will, but will it, and trust your instincts. I don't tell others what they should do. You do you. I'll do me. Well all try and do right by our kids and gramps.