Antidepressants for Pregnant Women: “Large Scale Human Experiment”

Natural Society
by Elizabeth Barrett

We’re not the first to remark on the dangers of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) in pregnant women, and we won’t be the last. These antidepressants are having untold effects on unborn children, and subsequently their mothers. Worst of all, Big Pharma is aware of it and chooses to look the other way.

It’s a “large scale human experiment,” said Dr. Adam Urato, the assistant professor of maternal-fetal medicine at Tufts University School of Medicine. He says drug companies have overstated the benefits of these drugs, while sugarcoating the risks—all in the name of the almighty dollar.

“Study after study shows increased rates of newborn complications in those babies who were exposed to SSRIs in-utero,” says Dr. Urato. “The Federal Drug Administration [in the US] and Health Canada have put out warnings specifically regarding this issue.” Still, the drugs remain one of the most popular on the market—for everyone including pregnant women.

Not only do these drugs increase the risk of a premature birth, but also miscarriage, and even autism. These facts have been demonstrated again and again. Around 40 studies have linked SSRIs and premature birth.

So, why do mothers keep taking them? Because they are told by their doctors that it will lead to a better “pregnancy result”. Doctors (and therefore their patients) are scared that a woman off of antidepressants is a depressed woman, and a depressed woman won’t only have a miserable pregnancy but may also be at a greater risk of suicide, or simply not caring for themselves while carrying their infant.

But, as Urato says, “There really is not a shred of evidence to support that.” Still, the belief exists.

Alternative Treatments

There are natural and effective ways of treating depression, but it’s understandable that an individual who has been medicating themselves for months and even years would be reluctant to go off of their medication. Depression is scary. And withdrawing from SSRIs can cause even greater symptoms as the body, once again, has to correct the damage that’s been done.

Exercise, some type of non-invasive therapy (not likely from a psychiatrist), a proper diet, and other treatments like acupuncture and yoga have shown to be effective at battling depression. Supplementing with vitamin D and omega-3s may also be the solution. Best of all, they come without side effects. For pregnant women, whose emotions may already be “all over the place”, coming off a drug they depend on may be frightening, but staying on the drug should be even scarier.

Mothers Taking Antidepressants 2x more Likely to Have Autistic Child, Study Says

Natural Society

Reported statistics vary, but about 1 in 88 children has been identified with an autism spectrum disorder. The condition can manifest itself as severe mental retardation or mild behavioral issues. But it’s the rate of autism and it’s steady increase over the past several decades that has researchers searching for a cause or even contributing factors. Researchers at Kaiser Permanente Northen Caroline may have found one cause to add to the list – mom’s antidepressant use.

Their study, published in the Archives of General Psychiatry, looked at children who were diagnosed with autism and a random group of undiagnosed children. Then, they compared the mothers’ medical records.

What they found was that a pregnant mother’s anti-depressant use was linked to a higher incidence of autism. This is a correlation.

Mothers who took antidepressants during pregnancy were twice as likely to give birth to a child with autism. The risk was significantly increased when the mother took anti-depressants in the first trimester. Then, the risk was three times higher.

“Our results suggests a possible, albeit small, risk to the unborn child associated with in utero exposure to SSRIs,” said Lisa Croen, lead researcher.

SSRIs or selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors represent the most commonly prescribed mental health drugs on the market. An estimated one-in-ten Americans take these anti-depressants. In other words, if all research pointed an accusing finger at anti-depressants, the pharmaceutical makers would take a major hit.

The researchers are cautious to put a dent in the profits of Big Pharma, telling people to carefully weigh the risks of anti-depressants with the benefits, saying that untreated depression has its own risks. (Maybe they aren’t aware of the evidence that says anti-depressants can actually make people more depressed and lead to suicidal thoughts.) What’s more, anti-depressants have been shown to hasten the thickening of arteries, contributing to heart disease.

What they fail to mention is that depression can often be successfully treated with diet, exercise, and natural solutions. Vitamin D, yoga, and acupuncture are just a few natural alternatives—ones that don’t come with unpleasant side effects like increased autism risk or suicidal tendencies. Choose holistic treatment for depression instead of harmful medication.

Prescription-Drug-Induced Violence Medicine’s Best Kept Secret?

Activist Post

RxISK.org, the first free independent website for researching and reporting prescription drug side effects, has added a Violence Zone to demonstrate and collect data on the links between prescription drugs and violent thoughts and behavior — from mild to suicidal or homicidal.

“Violence and other potentially criminal behavior caused by prescription drugs are medicine’s best kept secret,” says Dr. David Healy, a world-renowned psychiatrist who has written extensively about the lack of data in evidence-based medicine, including in his latest book, Pharmageddon.

Healy says this is a global issue, with medical, legal, ethical, and profound public policy dimensions. “Never before in the fields of medicine and law have there been so many events with so much concealed data and so little focused expertise.”

Can prescription drugs cause you to kill someone? “Absolutely”, says Healy.

The Violence Zone allows users to enter the name of a prescription drug and see the side effects relating to violent acts and thoughts that have been reported to the FDA’s MedWatch System since 2004, as well as to RxISK, for more than 35,000 drug names from 103 countries. The data is presented in tables, tag clouds, heat maps, and interactive graphs, showing what’s happening with other people taking the same drug around the world and in a user’s community.

Users can then select the effect(s) they are experiencing and click on Report a Drug Side Effect to complete a report. This will add their anonymized experience to the RxISK database so that others can benefit from this information, as well as provide them with a personalized RxISK Report linking their symptoms and meds, which they can take to their doctor or pharmacist to facilitate a better treatment conversation.

We are collecting this critical information directly from patients one report at a time,” says Healy. “As more reports are filed, the RxISK database will become the most comprehensive source of independent information on what prescription drugs do and their capacities to relieve aggression or to trigger violence.”

Dr. Dee Mangin, Data Based Medicine’s Chief Medical Officer and a professor and Director of Research in the Department of Public Health and General Practice at the University of Otago in New Zealand, says, “Violence has not traditionally been seen as a medical problem, but the range of drugs now linked to violence has grown, including drugs used in smoking cessation, dermatology, asthma, weight loss, insomnia, and behavior.”

Mangin says some drugs can also cause vivid, frightening dreams. “It’s important to find out if there is a connection between violent dreams or thoughts and your prescriptions so that adjustments can be made before you act on them.”

Prozac pregnancy alert: Mothers-to-be on anti-depressants are putting babies at risk, warn scientists

Daily Mail

Thousands of women who take anti-depressants during pregnancy are endangering their unborn babies, researchers have warned.

The widely prescribed pills have been found drastically to raise the odds of miscarriages, premature birth, autism and life-threatening high blood pressure, they say.

Harvard researchers believe far too many women are taking the drugs during pregnancy because their GPs are not aware of the dangers.

They also suspect that drug companies are trying to play down the risks because anti-depressants are so lucrative to them.
They focused on the complications linked to a group of drugs called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), which include Prozac and Seroxat.

Between 2 and 3 per cent of pregnant women in the UK are thought to be on these drugs – up to 19,500 every year.
But the researchers have found that they increase the risk of a miscarriage by 17 per cent and more than double the likelihood of pre-eclampsia – high blood pressure during pregnancy – which can be fatal.

They also double the chances of the baby being born premature, or developing autism.

In addition, the researchers say, the babies are more likely to suffer from heart defects and problems with their bowels.
SSRIs treat depression by boosting the level of the ‘happy hormone’ serotonin in the brain. But the researchers believe that serotonin is also getting into the womb and harming the development of the foetus’s brain, lungs, heart and digestive system.

Dr Adam Urato, assistant professor of obstetrics and gynaecology at Tufts University School of Medicine, in Boston, who was involved in the study, said: ‘I am absolutely concerned – very concerned.

‘We are witnessing a large-scale human experiment. Never before have we chemically altered human foetal development on such a large scale.

‘And my concern is why I am trying to get the word out to patients, health care providers, and the public.’
Dr Alice Domar, assistant professor in obstetrics, gynaecology and reproductive biology at Harvard Medical School, said there was little evidence the pills effectively treated depression.

She said GPs were handing out prescriptions for the drugs even though depression could be far better treated through exercise, talking therapies and even yoga.

‘These are probably not particularly safe medicines to take during pregnancy,’ she said. ‘We’re not saying that every pregnant woman should go off her medication.

‘Obviously you don’t want a pregnant woman to attempt suicide.’

The researchers, who presented their findings to the annual conference of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine in San Diego, California, have analysed more than 100 existing studies looking at the risks of SSRIs.

Their findings are due to be published next week in the respected journal Human Reproduction.

The researchers say that if women take the pills when they are trying for a baby but come off as soon as they find out they are pregnant, it may be too late.

Dr Urato added: ‘Many of the experts in this area receive funding from the anti-depressant majors. These experts continue to downplay the risks of these agents and to promote the benefits of their use in pregnancy.’

A spokesman for the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry said: ‘Clinical decisions about the treatment of depression are complex and must be made by clinicians in consultation with individual patients, regardless of whether or not they are pregnant.’

Better Childhoods Through Chemistry

by Evelyn Pringle and Martha Rosenberg

Where do parents and teachers get the idea there’s “something wrong” with their kid and only an expensive drug can fix it? From Pharma’s seamless web of ads, subsidized doctors, journals, medical courses and conferences, paid “patient” groups, phony public services messages and reporters willing to serve as stenographers.

Free stenography for Pharma from sympathetic media includes articles like “One in 40 Infants Experience Baby Blues, Doctors Say,” on ABC News and “Preschool Depression: The Importance of Early Detection of Depression in Young Children,” on Science Daily.

For many, the face of the drugs-not-hugs message is Harold Koplewicz M.D. author of the pop best seller It’s Nobody’s Fault , and former head of NYU’s prestigious Child Study Center. In a 1999 Salon article, Koplewicz reiterated his “no-fault” statement, assuring parents that psychiatric illness is not caused by bad parenting. “It is not that your mother got divorced, or that your father didn’t wipe you the right way,” he said. “It really is DNA roulette: You got blue eyes, blond hair, sometimes a musical ear, but sometimes you get the predisposition for depression.”

Many regard the NYU Child Study Center which Koplewicz founded and led before leaving in 2009 to start his own facility, as helping to usher in the world of brave new pediatric medicine in which children, toddlers and infants, once expected to outgrow their problems, are now diagnosed with lifelong psychiatric problems. The Child Study Center is “a threat to the health and welfare of children,” and its doctors are “hustlers working to increase their ‘client’ population and their commercial value to psychotropic drug manufacturers,” charged Vera Sharav, president of the watchdog group, the Alliance for Human Research Protection.

A look at the Center’s stated mission provides no reassurance. Its goal of “eliminating the stigma of being or having a child with a psychiatric disorder,” and “influencing child-related public policy,” sounds a lot like a Pharma sales plan. And its boast about having “a structure that allows recruitment of patients for research studies and then provides ‘real-world’ testing for successful controlled-environment findings,” could send chills down the back of parents afraid their kids will be guinea pigs or money-making subjects.

In 2007, the fears of the Center’s skeptics were confirmed when it launched an aggressive, scare tactic marketing campaign called Ransom Notes in 2007. “We have your son,” said one ad, created with bits of disparate type like a ransom note from a kidnapper. “We will make sure he will no longer be able to care for himself or interact socially as long as he lives. This is only the beginning”Autism.”

“We have your daughter. We are forcing her to throw up after every meal she eats. It’s only going to get worse,” said another ad signed “Bulimia.”

“We are in possession of your son. We are making him squirm and fidget until he is a detriment to himself and those around him. Ignore this and your kid will pay,” said another add from “ADHD.” Other ransom ads came from “kidnappers” named Depression, Asperger’s Syndrome and OCD.

Created pro bono by advertising giant BBDO, the ads were planned to run in New York magazine, Newsweek , Parents, Education Update . Mental Health News and other publications and on 11 billboards and 200 kiosks said the press release.

Immediate Outrage

The hostage campaign drew immediate public outrage and more than a dozen advocacy groups joined together in an online petition calling for an end to it. “This is a demonstration of the assaultive tactics used by psychiatry today–in particular, academic psychiatrists and university based medical centers that are under the influence of their pharmaceutical partners,” Vera Sharav wrote in alerts to AHRP’s mailing list. “If Dr. Koplewicz et al are not stopped, the campaign will be hitting the rest of the country,” she warned, and informed readers that the campaign was formulated by BBDO, “a major direct to consumer prescription drug advertising firm,” asking the New York State Attorney General’s office to investigate.

Days after the backlash, the Center revoked the advertising campaign “after the effort drew a strongly negative reaction, ” reported the New York Times. Koplewicz told the Times the decision was made by the Center with no pressure from New York University and they planned to introduce a new campaign in the next three months. However, he left the Child Study Center at NYU in 2009 to start his own facility, initially called the “Child Study Center Foundation,” but changed to the “Child Mind Institute,” in 2010.

Though Koplewicz’ Child Mind Institute is supposedly a “non-profit,” it is ensconced on Park Avenue in Manhattan and Koplewicz’ hourly rate “can be as high as $1,000 (three to four times that of the average Manhattan therapist),” says the Times . In a chilling interview on Education Update Online about the Institute Koplewicz says the reason the facility works closely with schools “is simply that’s where the kids are,” drawing an analogy to Willy Sutton who said “the reason he robbed banks is that’s where the money is.”

Last month in the Wall Street Journal , Koplewicz wrote that “no studies have examined the effect of long-term use” of ADHD meds, but they “have been in use for 70 years, and there is no evidence that suggests any adverse effects.” But there has been a large federal study of the long-term effects of the drugs and it shows they are “ineffective over longer periods,” and “that long-term use of the drugs can stunt children’s growth,” reported the Washington Post. Oops.

Two features that characterize the pediatric medicine practiced by the pill enthusiasts are they term the “diseases” they identify under-treated and under-diagnosed and they urge early treatment when symptoms first appear. (Before the symptoms go away say cynics.)

Yet the very fact that such diseases are lifelong conditions is reason to wait to medicate kids say highly respected doctors. Nor can parents with medicated children know if their kids even needed the drugs since symptoms from the drugs are often called the “disease,” says Peter Breggin, M.D. in a recent interview.

One thing doctors on both sides of the pediatric drug controversy agree on is the decision to put a child on drugs will likely sentence him or her to a lifetime of medications. What they disagree about is whether that is good or bad thing.

Related:  Preschool Depression: The Importance of Early Detection of Depression in Young Children
Johnny get your pills
Millions of Children Held Hostage by Psychiatric Disorders 
Are ADHD Medications Overprescribed?
Conscience of Psychiatry

Antidepressants Could Cause Harm to Heart, Brain, and Bones

Activist Post

Did you know that roughly 10% of the American population suffers from depression? It isn’t exactly a coincidence, with the FDA approving a wide variety of damaging foods and drugs that many millions of Americans consume each day. The FDA isn’t helping the population with their approval of the dozens of antidepressant medications on the market – it in fact is doing the exact opposite.

The beneficial results of antidepressants have been under the spotlight for quite some time in the health world, and the validity of giving them out like candy to patients in need of a quick and easy solution is under question as well; just how useful is medication for depression?

At best, the tangible results felt by patients are comparable to sugar pills. That is to say, the medication itself does virtually nothing to improve the mood of the patient directly. At worst, antidepressants cause decreased mental stability. Wanting to kill yourself or others around you are feelings which antidepressants have been shown to ignite.

There is even the possibility that while on these terrible drugs you can become even more vulnerable to more serious mental illnesses – all whilst other legitimate non-medication methods for treating depression are being tread underfoot by the FDA.

In more recent studies, there has been surfacing evidence that antidepressants cause arteries to thicken at a faster rate. Research specifically points to an increased thickness of the lining of the carotid artery by up to 5% in men, thereby increasing the risk of heart disease substantially by putting more pressure on the heart.

This occurs when taking either selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors (SSRIs, the primary form of antidepressants), as well as antidepressants that affect other chemicals in the brain. The evidence isn’t completely concrete, but it points towards the change of serotonin in the body caused by the medications.

Another study in women who have gone through menopause unveiled that women who take either variation of antidepressants were up to 45% more likely to suffer from life-threatening brain damage from a stroke. This same study also found that women’s death rates rose 32% more whilst on the drugs.

Other documented side effects are much more prominent, but certainly no less detrimental to your health. These include those suicidal/homicidal thoughts mentioned earlier, as well as an increased risk of diabetes, an increased possibility of stillbirth, lowered immune system support and reduced bone density — resulting in a higher risk of fractures, primarily in the spinal column.

There are also a few long-term risks with using these detrimental drugs: a conversion from unipolar depression to bipolar depression, and an overall cognitive decline in most users. If becoming bipolar unnecessarily does not steer you away from these, then the overall loss of your mental capacity should be enough to raise a warning flag.