Tag Archives: SSRI’s

SSRI’s Impair Learning.

There’s an interesting article on Frontiers in Integrative Neuroscience.  It’s called Learning from Negative Feedback in Patients with Major Depressive Disorder is Attenuated by SSRI Antidepressants.

The researchers evaluated learning ability in three groups:

  • medication-naïve individuals who met the criteria for Major Depressive Disorder
  • individuals who met the criteria for MDD and were receiving the SSRI paroxetine (Paxil)
  • “healthy” controls

All subjects were given a learning task that allowed the researchers to distinguish learning from positive feedback versus learning from negative feedback

The results were:

  • the “healthy” controls learned better from positive feedback than either of the depressed groups
  • the individuals taking the SSRI learned less from negative feedback than either of the other groups

To quote from the authors:

“This suggests that SSRI antidepressants impair learning from negative feedback…”

Learning from negative consequences is a very important component of navigating our way through the social and other complexities of life.  Any impairment in this area is not trivial, and this may well be a contributing factor to poor long-term outcome that is associated with the use of antidepressants.

Thanks to Mad in America for the link to this article.


Another Mass Shooting: Link to SSRIs?

A mass murder occurred yesterday, September 16, at the U.S. Navy Yard in Washington D.C.  There are reports of at least 12 dead, and several wounded.  Early news stories describe the perpetrator as having “mental issues,” and it is reported that he “…had been treated since August by the Veterans Administration for his mental problems.”  It is likely that this “treatment” involved the prescription of psychiatric drugs.

And still no government inquiry into the link between psycho-pharmaceutical products, especially SSRI’s, and acts of violence/suicide.

Why does the government not take this simple step to uncover the facts?  Could it be because the pharmaceutical industry is one of the top contributors nationwide to politicians’ re-election campaigns?

According to OpenSecrets.org:

“Pharmaceutical companies, which develop both over-the-counter and prescription drugs, have been among the biggest political spenders for years.”

In an article titled Big Pharma’s Influence Machine, Farron Cousins, of Ring of Fire Radio states:

“But when it comes to affecting policy in Washington, D.C., no organization or industry has gamed the system better than the pharmaceutical industry.”

[Ring of Fire Radio is a nationally syndicated talk show program.  The presenters, according to Wikipedia, see their goal as “exposing people whom they consider to be ‘corporate fat cats, polluters and media spinmeisters.'”]

What’s needed is an impartial government inquiry.  Who could argue with that?


The Link Between Psychiatric Drugs and Violence

Thanks to a tweet from Ginger Breggin for the link to a new article on AbleChild.org.  The article is called CT AAG Nervous About Releasing Adam Lanza’s Medical Records:  Disclosure “Can Cause A Lot of People to Stop Taking Their Medications.  The AbleChild contact person is Sheila Matthews.

AbleChild is a national parent rights organization that has been pressing for full disclosure of all records pertaining to Adam Lanza, the Sandy Hook mass murderer.

The essential point here is that for many years, there has been growing suspicion that some psychiatric drugs, particularly SSRI’s, may be inducing strong feelings of violence, and may actually be playing a causative role in many of the school shootings and other mass murders that are becoming an almost regular feature of our social landscape.

In addition, let’s not forget that a petition to formally investigate this matter was removed from the White House petition website in December of 2012 without explanation, even though it was well on the way to obtaining the requisite number of signatures.

In the present matter, AbleChild has sued the Chief Medical Examiner of the State of Connecticut for disclosure of the pertinent records under the Freedom of Information Act.  AbleChild’s argument is that these records need to be released “…to protect the public.”

There is certainly a long-standing legal tradition of keeping medical records confidential, and in most cases this is entirely appropriate.  But given the concerns surrounding these drugs, and the enormity of the offense, the opening of these records – or at the very least, a list of the prescribed drugs – seems a very reasonable request.

But the State of Connecticut thinks otherwise.  And the reason they are giving for this position is that releasing Adam Lanza’s records could “…cause a lot of people to stop taking their medications.”

If they had said that they have a duty to protect patient confidentiality, even when the individual is deceased, that might have had some legitimacy.  If they had based their argument on the rights of Adam Lanza’s family to have their confidentiality respected, that also might have had some validity.

But to withhold this kind of information because it might “…cause a lot of people to stop taking their medications” is simply beyond belief.  If the government had information that a certain airliner had a fault that could lead to fatal crashes, would they conceal that fault on the grounds that the disclosure might induce people not to fly on that particular model?

The very wording of the State’s reason implies that Adam Lanza was taking psychotropic pills of some sort.  The fact that the government of Connecticut won’t tell us which ones raises the suspicion of a closer-than-appropriate relationship with a pharmaceutical company.

Or perhaps they are just so sucked in to the spurious mental illness drugs-for-life philosophy that they can’t see the reality.

In the AbleChild article, the comment that releasing Adam Lanza’s record could “…cause a lot of people to stop taking their medications” is attributed to Patrick B. Kwanashie, AAG, who was arguing the State’s case for  the office of the Attorney General.  Mr. Kwanashie can be emailed at patrick.kwanashie@ct.gov

I have, today, sent him the following email:

Patrick B. Kwanashie,

I urge you to open Adam Lanza’s record in the AbleChild case (FIC Docket No. 2013-197).  There has been growing suspicion for years that certain psychotropic drugs are inducing violent urges in some people.  Releasing this information in the Lanza case is in the public interest, and is simply the right thing to do.

I don’t normally ask my readers to take any specific course of action, but in regards to this matter, I have become convinced of two things:

1.  SSRI’s, and possibly other psychotropic drugs, are inducing strong violent urges in certain people
2.  The facts are being systematically suppressed.

If you feel there’s merit to my position, please consider sending a similar email to Mr. Kwanashie.


SSRI’s and Birth Defects

Courtesy of Nanu Grewal in Australia, I’ve come across this interesting paper:  Systematic meta-analysis of individual selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor medications and congenital malformations, by Nicholas Myles et al.

The authors note that there is some suggestion of a link between SSRI’s, as a group, and birth defects, but that the teratogenicity of individual members of this drug class have not been systematically compared by meta-analysis.

Meta-analysis is essentially a systematic review of previous studies and combining of the results of those that meet certain pre-determined criteria for research quality.

The search yielded 16 papers that looked for major malformations; 9 papers for specifically cardiac malformations; and 4 papers for minor malformations.


The study found that fluoxetine (Prozac) and paroxetine (Paxil) were associated with an increased risk of major malformations.  Paxil was also found to be associated with increased risk of cardiac malformations.

The odds ratios (ORs) were:

95% CI

Major malformations




Major malformations




Cardiac malformations





The 95% confidence interval (CI) means that we can be 95% certain that the real value of the odds ratio (as opposed to the value found in the particular samples studied) falls inside the interval stated.

Odds ratio is the ratio between the odds of a malformation in the babies whose mothers took the drug versus the odds of a malformation among the babies of women who didn’t.  If the risk of a malformation were the same for both groups, then the odds ratio would be 1.  If the odds for the drugged group were twice that for the non-drugged group, then the odds ratio would be 2.  The ratios found in this study ranged from 1.14 to 1.44, which given the human and financial cost of congenital malformations, are certainly not trivial.

One more reason to be wary of psychiatrists with prescription pads.

Incidentally, sertraline (Zoloft) and citalopram (Celexa) were not found in this study to be significantly associated with birth defects.

SSRI’s During Pregnancy and APGAR Scores

There’s an interesting article on this topic by Hans Jensen et al, in the February 21, 2013 issue of the British Journal of Psychiatry.  You can see an abstract here.

The authors conducted a register study on all pregnant women in Denmark from 1996 to 2006, linking data from the Medical Birth Register, the Psychiatric Central Register, and the National Prescription Database.

They found that the

“… use of SSRIs during pregnancy increases the risk of a low Apgar score independently of maternal depression.”

APGAR scores were assessed five minutes after birth.

The APGAR score (named for Dr. Virginia Apgar) is a simple and reliable method to assess the health of a newborn baby.  It involves an assessment of appearance, pulse, grimace, activity, and respiration.

One more reason for not using SSRI’s.