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Shocking News About Psychiatric Medications and Treatment

Updated on August 31, 2018

Incredible Horrors and Shocking Facts

Incredible Horrors of Psychiatric Medications and Treatments
Incredible Horrors of Psychiatric Medications and Treatments

Shocking News About Psychiatric Medications and Treatments

"Shocking Facts About Psychiatric Medications"," Incredible Horrors of Psychiatric Drugs", and "Horrifying Reality of Psychiatric Medication for Children", all published here on HubPages by SunSeven, are my inspirations for this hub on "Shocking News About Psychiatric Medications and Treatments". The title is a bit of a play on words, because I do want to talk about “shock therapy” or ECT (electro-convulsive therapy) as a viable treatment for depression in some instances, in addition to providing some reliable sources of information about psychiatric medications. I would also like to clarify some misperceptions about mental health treatment in the United States that are presented in SunSeven’s hubs on the "shocking facts about psychiatric medications", etc.

Ironically, my original hub idea was to share information about best selling author and journalist, Judith Warner, who investigated this topic for six years and published her findings in her book, We’ve Got Issues: Children and Parents in the Age of Medication. Her initial judgments were very similar to SunSeven’s, and very different after six years of investigation. Judith Warner has been awarded by the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) and is seen in the below video interviewing with National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) Director, Tom Insel.

When searching Google for a title for this hub, I encountered SunSeven’s hubs, and felt obligated to respond to the shocking facts about psychiatric medications she presents, with more accurate and up to date information about psychiatric medications and treatments in the United States. As mentioned by Judith Warner, 5% of children are taking psychiatric medications, while up to 20% of children might benefit from them. Many children and adults are not receiving treatment for very treatable conditions because of false information and stigma related to mental illness and mental health treatment.

Let's begin with a look at the information presented by Judith Warner in the video, then examine some information about psychiatric medications and treatment in the United States.

Author Judith Warner with NIMH Director, Tom Insel

Human Rights

SunSeven shares some research indicating that every 75 seconds someone in the US is committed into a mental institution against his will, strong methods are used to restrain these patients, and that 100,000 people a year die in mental institutions. I’m not familiar with this research or the statistics, but let’s assume the numbers are accurate. Then let’s put them in a proper context and perspective.

Historically, there have been horrendous stories of abuses and substandard conditions in institutions. Primitive methods of electro-shock therapy were used. Ice cold baths and showers that were believed to shock patients out of depression were common, and frontal and pre frontal lobotomies that were believed to calm patients by surgically removing parts of the brain were common practices. It would be naïve to imagine that there are no abuses that occur now, but much has changed. There are very few mental institutions operating today, and it is very difficult to get admitted to one or to admit someone against their will. It can be done in instances of imminent danger to the patient or others.

When mental institutions were closed in favor of community mental health and due to a lack of funding for the institutions, mentally ill patients were essentially evicted and left homeless. Many who were stabilized in the institutions discontinued their medications and became severely symptomatic and unable to function. Some were dangerous. Today many of the patients who were in mental institutions are now in correctional institutions. For some, this is the only way they can get treatment and medications; not to mention shelter and three squares. While most correctional institutions do have some mental health services for severely mentally ill persons, correctional institutions are intended to house criminals not treat mental illness. Most inmates do have some problems with addiction and mental health, but their symptoms are not severe enough to get treatment while incarcerated, and they don’t typically seek treatment when they’re not incarcerated unless they are court ordered to do so. They often don’t perceive that they have a problem, but are perceived by others as having problems. Therefore, they have no reason or motivation to seek treatment.

Some people who would have been institutionalized in the past are now able to function fully on medications and with supports in the community. The very recent emergence of psychiatric medications to manage mood, anxiety and psychotic symptoms allows many to function effectively in the community who would otherwise have not been able to, and would have historically been housed in mental institutions. Many people in the community have symptoms and could be helped by psychiatric medications, but they suffer unnecessarily with their symptoms, because they are afraid to get treatment, afraid they will be committed against their will, afraid of the stigma associated with mental illness, and afraid that the side effects of psychiatric medications will outweigh the benefits.

Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT)

The following information from the NIMH website is provided in response to SunSeven’s reference to ECT as inhumane treatment:

Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) is another treatment option that may be particularly useful for individuals whose depression is severe or life threatening, or who cannot take antidepressant medication. ECT often is effective in cases where antidepressant medications do not provide sufficient relief of symptoms. The exact mechanisms by which ECT exerts its therapeutic effect are not yet known.40

In recent years, ECT has much improved. Before treatment, which is done under brief anesthesia, patients are given a muscle relaxant. Electrodes are placed at precise locations on the head to deliver electrical impulses. The stimulation causes a brief (about 30 seconds) generalized seizure within the brain, which is necessary for therapeutic efficacy. The person receiving ECT does not consciously experience the electrical stimulus.

A typical course of ECT entails six to 12 treatments, administered at a rate of three times per week, on either an inpatient or outpatient basis. To sustain the response to ECT, continuation treatment, often in the form of antidepressant and/or mood stabilizer medication, must be instituted. Some individuals may require maintenance ECT (M ECT), which is delivered on an outpatient basis at a rate usually of one treatment weekly, tapered off to bi weekly to monthly for up to one year.

The most common side effects of ECT are confusion and memory loss for events surrounding the period of ECT treatment. The confusion and disorientation experienced upon awakening after ECT typically clear within an hour. More persistent memory problems are variable and can be minimized with the use of modern treatment techniques, such as application of both stimulus electrodes to the right side of the head (unilateral ECT).40,41 A recent study showed no adverse cognitive effects of M ECT after one year.42

NIMH publications are in the public domain and may be reproduced or copied without the permission from the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). NIMH encourages you to reproduce them and use them in your efforts to improve public health. Citation of the National Institute of Mental Health as a source is appreciated.

Treatment or Cure

SunSeven very astutely points out that psychiatric medications do not cure mental disorders. A cure means the condition goes away with treatment like an infection can be cured with antibiotics. Treatments can get rid of symptoms for awhile or while taking the treatment, or they can make symptoms less severe or easier to manage. There are many medical conditions that can be effectively treated and managed, but are not necessarily ever cured; including addictive disorders, asthma, diabetes, heart disease, lung disease, near and far sightedness, hearing loss, herpes, etc. Many of these conditions involve relapses or recurrences that require re-stabilization, and sometimes medications can be used to prevent relapses. Typically, an early intervention leads to better outcomes in that the disease or disorder does not progress, symptoms are less severe, the person’s functioning is less impaired, and their quality of life and dignity can be maintained. As with any medication or medical procedure, there are risks and benefits associated with psychiatric medications. An informed consumer will want to be aware of these, know where to find reliable information, talk to their prescriber, and make an informed decision based on accurate facts and an analysis of the benefits and risks. Below are some links to reliable online sources of information about psychiatric medications that are based on current research.


SunSeven points out that research promoted by pharmaceutical companies may not be the most reliable source of information, and that physicians may be unduly influenced by drug reps. Judith Warner also addresses this concern in depth in her book. SunSeven indicates that the FDA requirements are not as stringent for psychiatric medications as they ought to be. Perhaps these are areas in need of improvement. To conclude, however, that all psychiatric medications are totally bad for everyone would not be a rational conclusion. The best research is done with large numbers of participants over a long period of time. Because psychiatric medications are so new, there really is not good research available today, and in that regard, the millions of people in the world who are taking them are truly “guinea pigs” or laboratory mice.

There is a lot that is not known yet about psychiatric medications and treatments. A discovery can only be made by exploring the unknown and tolerating the period of uncertainty that precedes knowledge. To conclude, as many do, that psychiatry does not rightly belong in the field of medicine because a person’s brain chemistry can’t be seen on a scan or measured in urine or blood tests is premature. If a disease is defined as a morbid process with characteristic signs and symptoms, laboratory confirmation is not required to classify a condition as a disease.

Some would argue that psychiatric conditions are not disorders or diseases, but mythology created by psychiatrists who are politically motivated to control society in the same manner that Nazis gained control of Germany. SunSeven refers to The Citizens Commission on Human Rights International (CCHRINT), a mental health watchdog organization, who shares this view. While it is a violation of ethical practice in psychiatry and all other mental health professions to use human subjects as involuntary research subjects or to violate human rights in any way, ethical violations do occur and watchdog organizations are needed. There are some mental health providers who have strong control needs and misuse their power, and there are some who feel compelled to erroneously diagnose every behavior as pathological. These practices should be questioned and, if appropriate, reported to the professional’s supervisor or licensure board. Again, to conclude that the entire field of psychiatry is “bad” or “evil” because some of its members make poor choices is just not rational.

Below is a video from the CCHRINT website that endorses the view that psychiatry is not medicine and that psychiatric disorders are mythological, for those who like to consider all sides of an issue. There are a number of other videos at their website.


Dr. Jeffrey Schaler’s speech on psychiatry upon accepting the Thomas S. Szasz Award at CCHR International’s Anniversary and Human Rights Awards Ceremony.

John Breeding, PhD on Human Rights Violations in Psychiatry


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