By Gillian Scadden
A rainy Friday July 24th and I stood among a crowd at the Kalvermarkt in Den Haag, taking part in a demonstration whose issues had caught my interest over the past few months. I began the day speaking with a beautiful ten year old girl, Felicity Janssen.
Felicity told me how she was put on the psychotropic drug called ‘Concerta’, which is in essence Ritalin (also known as methylphenidate; a drug being researched as a chemical replacement for cocaine dependence), manufactured for controlled release into the patients system. Felicity had had concentration problems as school, and after taking a standard test in which children and parents are asked to take, was diagnosed with AD’H’D…’H’ as she was not considered ‘hyperactive’ enough….this rang alarm bells…is there even a condition called AD’H’D???? Felicity was put on the drug Concerta for this mental health diagnosis, and her family told ‘only a pill would work’ in helping alleviate the condition.
Her parents noted changes in their daughter, and Felicity herself felt the effects of the drug immediately. She said that it made her stomach sore, she didn’t feel as though she wanted to do anything, and it made her feel very unhappy. She came off the drug as a result, and for two months suffered what could be described as withdrawal symptoms, of extreme anger and sadness. She told me that she felt these emotions very easily, which she hadn’t done before she was put on medication. She also told me, it took her about two months to feel normal again. Now her body is drug free and she feels happy. Her mother told me in Felicity’s last school report, she got all A’s. Felicity says; “To children who have difficulty concentrating, ask for help from your parents, friends and family. If you are on Ritalin please stop, because it makes you unhappy.’
Felicity’s family have since set up a foundation called POSITIEVE NOOD (http://www.positievenood.nl/) which strives to inform people of what they believe to be the negative influences of psychiatric assessment and drugs, and to encourage understanding that there is more than one way of tackling mental health issues. They work primarily alongside the Citizens Commission on Human Rights, demonstrating the damage they observe psychotropic drugs can do. Following, is just some of the information they are trying to release to the public;
As reported in the ‘Making a Killing’ Documentary on the CCHR website, in 1967, a leading psychiatrist said “We see a developing potential for nearly a total control of human emotional status, mental functioning and will to act.” At that time there had been development of just 44 psychotropic drugs…today there are 174. There are 300 million of these prescriptions written a year for one of the ‘diseases’ listed in the 886 pages of the DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Health Disorders) which include disorders such as shyness as a social anxiety disease.
In the name of research, I took a mental health a test myself (you can find many versions of these on the internet), and was diagnosed with borderline personality disorder. Symptoms of which include unstable patterns in relationships (people come and go), impulsive behaviour (I decided to move to Amsterdam on a whim), fears of abandonment (I don’t want to lose those I love) and low self esteem (don’t we all sometimes?). Correct me if I am wrong…but these ‘symptoms’ seem just a capacity of the human condition. I know I am a stable, balanced, and unique individual, yet in answering mostly ‘sometimes’ to the questions on the test, it is the conclusion that I should be medicated. I imagine it is easy therefore to lose a sense of whom one is, via the diagnosis of those doctors who openly admit that their science is inexact and mostly ‘trial and error’.
I also have the experience of withdrawal from anti-depressant medication (i was put on it to alleviate muscle pain after a bad virus). Coming off of it was not anywhere near as easy as i expected even though i was told it was not addictive. It is now estimated that half of Americans who commit suicide every year are on psychotropic drugs, killing 2.5 times more than people killed by homicide. Pictures of teenagers who had committed suicide on anti-depressant medication were on display at the demonstration in Den Haag. It was deeply saddening.
Here are selected statements and statistics I pulled also from the ‘Making a Killing’ documentary:
- There is a ‘test’, not unlike the one given to Felicity, called ‘Teen Screen’. It is compulsory and 84% of the teenagers who take this test are flagged suicidal.
- Studies on new drugs, which should go through months, even years of testing before being presented to the FDA, are being tested, approved and released within weeks, making drug trials in essence a mass public experiment, testing the long term effects of these hard core drugs on patients, a massive percentage of whom are children.
- Drugs proven to be dangerous, even deadly to rats in labs, are being released to the public.
- Drugs such as Prozac, are being repacked, renamed and remarketed to make money. There is an anti-smoking drug on the market that is actually a repackaged anti-depressant.
- Psychotropic drugs are currently in development to address disorders such as nausea, obesity and hair pulling.
- Recently it was reported that a six month old baby was prescribed psychiatric medication for excessive crying.
- Today, the top five psychotropic drugs gross $18 billion yearly.
- The psychiatric industry grosses $330 billion yearly.
- Many of the psychiatrists on the board of the FDA and put there by the drug companies to approve the drugs more swiftly, to allow for this revenue.
So with all these drugs being released and prescribed yearly, is our World’s mental health improving??
With the degrees of human variation it seems too easy to create ‘disease’, and produce a drug to attach to the treating of that disease.
Does this industry have any real interest invested in our mental health? Or is it about sales?
At the demonstration, I discussed these statistics and the topic to over 30 people. Out of those, only ONE person did not know someone who was on psychiatric medication. When I asked the question “Do you know anyone on psychiatric medication?” the most common response was “Of course I do.'”Most people, knew many more than one. Not a single person said that the drug was helping the friend or family member in any way. A small number even stated that person’s mental health had worsened on the drug. The primary problem I withdrew from my conversations was that no alternative was offered to the patient. Symptoms are being treated by drugs, and patients are being told this is the only option for them. Yet symptoms have a cause, therefore surely more biological, physiological testing MUST be done to discover the root of the symptoms. Also much more discussion should take place; drugs should not be handed out after a half hour conversation with a psychiatrist who by his or her own admission is operating on a ‘trial and error’ basis. We should perhaps retreat a little to times gone by when ‘talking’ about a problem was considered treatment. When a doctor had more time to sit, listen, and get to know a patient.
I also conversed with a Psychologist. I told her about the teenagers and children who had reported feeling suicidal on anti-depressants even though they had not felt suicidal before taking them. She said, “Medication should be used in the appropriate conditions. There is a relationship, but I believe no causal relationship between the drugs, and the suicides.”
Here are some links I encourage those interested to follow. The information is out there; doctors, attorneys, educators, survivors and experts talking about the mental health industry and its problems. You have the right to know the facts about psychiatry, some of its practitioners and the threat they potentially pose to us and particularly our children. Inform yourself.
To attend the next demonstration please contact Evelyne through the NCRM website.
CCHR : http://www.cchr.org
POSITIEVE NOOD: http://www.positievenood.nl/
NOTE: All statistics reported in this article can be found on the NCRM, CCHR and Positieve Nood websites.