“The use of anti-psychotic drugs has long been referred to as a ‘chemical lobotomy’ because they actually can disable normal brain function. Along with brain shrinkage, antipsychotics can also cause obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes.” Antipsychotic drugs cause brain shrinkage. This is the conclusion of yet another study, considered the largest longitudinal brain scan data set ever complied, documenting adverse effects of antipsychotic drugs on brain tissue.
According to the study’s author, University of Iowa professor, Nancy Andreasen, Ph.D., “the higher the antipsychotic medication doses, the greater the loss of brain tissue.” Andreasen further explained that “anti-psychotic treatment has a negative impact on the brain, so we must get the word out that they should be used with great care, because even though they have fewer side effects than some other medications, they are certainly not trouble free and can have lifelong consequences for the health and happiness of the people we serve.”
Andresen found the results “very upsetting”.” With more than 6 million people, including nearly 1 million children, (28,000 of them under the age of 5), taking antipsychotics, it’s understandable why the author of the study found the new data “upsetting.” Anyone in their right mind would find the data upsetting. Brain shrinkage for any reason isn’t a good thing, but it especially isn’t a good thing when it is caused by the psychiatric medication prescribed as a medicinal treatment.
Antipsychotic medications, such as Seroquel, Abilify, Zyprexa, Risperdal and Geodon are not approved for the treatment of children (18 and under) yet, there are 30,000 children under the age of 5 currently prescribed these brain-destructive drugs.
One distressing side effect is called Tardive Dyskinesia, which is a potentially irreversible neurological disorder resulting in involuntary and uncontrollable movements, including slurred speech, tremors, anxiety, inability to sit still, inner restlessness, distress and paranoia. [When practicing as a registered psychiatric nurse, I never encountered a person whose tardive dyskinesia ceased. Indeed, I encountered too many whose social lives were effectively ruined by this most dreadful “side effect”. I still see people when I’m out and about, who have clearly been on these terrible toxic chemicals].
The Food and Drug Administration, FDA requires antipsychotics to carry a “Black Box Warning, the most serious drug warning issued by the FDA, as the antipsychotics increase the risk of death in elderly with dementia.
Between the FDA and other international drug regulatory agencies, there are no less than 55 warnings on antipsychotic drugs and the FDA, alone has received more than 120,000 adverse event reports associated with antipsychotic drugs, including diabetes mellitus, pancreatitis, tremor and even death. Professor Andreasen apparently was so surprised by the results of the study that it was held for 2 years with the belief that the data may be inaccurate. Unfortunately the data was accurate and Andreasen pondered the effects the data would have on society.
“The impact is painful,” explained Andreasen, “because psychiatrists, patients and family members don’t know how to interpret this finding. “Should we stop using antipsychotic medication? Should we be using less?”
Okay, let’s ponder the answer to the question. Antipsychotic drugs shrink the brain, cause excessive weight grain, diabetes, tardive dyskinesia, tremors, anxiety, slurred speech, inner restlessness and a host of other adverse effects. Seems like a no-brainer. But, maybe, the wrong question is being asked. Maybe the question should be: what exactly is the upside of taking an antipsychotic?
By Kelly Patricia O’Meara