The antidepressants SSRIs and WHY they are frequently cited in the US mass shooting?
Serotonin. Depression.Serotonin 5-HT. Mental illness.Serotonin Syndrome. Neurotransmitter. Homicidal. Suicidal. Prescription Drugs. Synapse. Brain. Neurons. Anti-Psychotic.Inhibitors
The incidents of mass shooting in the US is linked to the use of antidepressants SSRIs ( Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors) that causes mental disorders and violent behavior of the user.Despite its controversy, Drug Companies continue to market SSRIs-Prozac, Celexa, Sarafem, Paxil, and Zoloft among others. According to FDA (Food and Drug Administration), SSRIs are the safest antidepressant, except that it should not be given to children or young adults without the supervision of a physician or knowledgeable person or taken in combination with other drugs for possible complexations.
Research by FDA-MidWestern System on Psychiatric Drugs, reveals that between 2004 to 2012, there have been 14,773 reports on psychiatric drugs causing violent side effects including; 1,531 cases of homicidal ideation/homicide, 3,281 cases of mania and 8,219 cases of aggression (CCHR International, 2014)
The rash of mass shootings in the US according to liberals is due to too many guns and not enough mental health funding while conservatives blame it to ready access to antidepressants, violent movies, and video games and drug Companies are quick to deny as the cause due to mental illness. Concerned citizens, family victims, and experts believed otherwise. James Corbett (2015), summarized the real reasons for US mass shooting as; a) too many guns, a component in the mass shooting, b) mental health, teenage frenzy is associated with mental illness, many of Americans who owns gun commit mass homicide, c) entertainment, violent movies and video games, and d) the breakdown of nuclear family has obvious correlation to mass shooting.
Events that happened before TODAY
The Citizen Commission on Human Rights (CCHR) International ( 2015) reported 35 cases of school shooters or school related violence committed by those under the influence of Psychotic drugs, for example;
- Columbine High School-12 students and a teacher killed, one of the shooter was under Luvox, an antidepressant.
- The Virginia Tech shooting incident-32 people dead, the shooter is on the withdrawal stage from Prozac, an antidepressant drug. Another shooter murdered his mother and stepmother first before killing another 22 classmates. Another shooter wounded five while on Effexor, an antidepressant
- While, inside a movie house in Colorado, the shooter opened fire and killed 12 people and wounding another 58 while under psychiatrist care, but no information as to the drug he was taking.
- One of the most recent incidents took place in Fort5 Hood, Texas, the shooter had been taking medications when suddenly decided to go on a violent rampage, killing anyone on sight before finally turning his weapon for the final kill
Expert Psychiatrist says more than 4,000 additional suicides occurs annually in the US and Europe due to antidepressants.
Depression the trigger mechanism?
Depression affects 9-12 percent of population approximately 17.6 million Americans per year. Depression is often treated chemically with antidepressant such as Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs) and /or physiologically by psychotherapy (www.ultimateblogchallenge.com,2013).This is an important segment of the article before we go deeper into the realm of Antidepressants whose creation was primarily designed to cure depression. A depressed person may exhibit the following life-threatening moods;
- sad, anxious, and/or empty mood
- decrease energy
- lost interest/ pleasure in usually enjoyable activities
- persistent pessimism, crying and hopelessness
- restlessness, irritability
- sleep disturbance
- change in appetite
- poor self-image
- thoughts of suicide and suicidal attempt
Possible causes of depression
There are a number of factors that caused the onset of depression and these are;
- physiological and medical illness
The biological causes of depression can be broken into three sub-topics namely, Brain function, Neurotransmitters, and Hormones and/ or Endocrine System.
- Brain function. The brain is the main organ of the Central Nervous System. It is composed of a network of estimated100billion neurons (brain cells) or nerve cells whose function is to send electrical signals or messages to the entire human body via neurotransmitters (Serotonin, Dopamine, etc.) perceived by the brain as stimulus from the outside world which is vital to the survival of man. Therefore, anything happened to the brain affects the entire human body including the administration of Antidepressants.
- Neurotransmitters. Serotonin, Norepinephrine, and Dopamine have been identified as the neurotransmitter that function within the structures of the brain to regulate emotional reaction to stress and the physiological drives of sleep, appetite, and sexuality. Serotonin appears to originate from Raphe nuclei, moreover its action permeates the Frontal lobe, Parietal lobe, Occipital lobe, and Temporal lobe almost all regions of the brain.
- Endocrine System. The endocrine system works within the brain to control numerous activities of the body.It is made up of a number of glands that create and release hormones in the blood regulating the body's various functions. Abnormal levels of the hormone in the blood can affect sleep, appetite and other vital functions of the body. The Pituitary gland located below the Hypothalamus regulates hormonal secretions in other hormonic glands of the human body.
Heredity can play a role in depression. Depression often runs in the family by means of genetic predisposition. Those that have the history of depression in the family are most likely to develop depressive behavior even at the later age.
Stress at home or work, loss of loved one or a traumatic event can lead to depression. The negative effects of environmental factors may trigger depression.
Physiological and medical illness. Patients undergoing treatment for cancer, metabolic disorders, eating disorders, attention disorders, old age among others may develop depression due to anxiety and worries.
What is SEROTONIN?
Chemically known as 5-HT (5-Hydroxytryptamine), Serotonin is an important neurotransmitter of the human brain. Synthesized from amino acid tryptophan, Serotonin is also found in the gastrointestinal tract, bowels, and blood platelets. Serotonin synthesized outside the Brain can not pass the blood- brain barrier, therefore, Serotonin in the Brain must be produced inside the brain.
- The word Serotonin comes from the discovery when it was isolated in 1848 by Maurice M. Rapport and initially classified as serum agent that affected vascular tone
- As the neurotransmitter, Serotonin relays signals between nerve cells (neurons) regulating their activity. Some consider the chemical to be a hormone.
- Serotonin is regarded by many researchers that are responsible for maintaining mood balance and that deficit of Serotonin leads to depression.
In general, other functions of Serotonin include; bone metabolism, breastmilk production, liver regeneration and cell division, blood clotting, and sexual function aside from neurotransmitter in the brain.
What are antidepressants SSRIs and its mechanism of action?
All medicines can have side effects and depression treatment is no exception. Although generally well tolerated, antidepressant drugs affect each person differently. Understanding the reality of SSRIs myths can help know what to expect if you're prescribed these medicine. Treating depression with SSRIs may improve mood, outlook, and behavior so that the person no longer feel depressed or anxious and this may reveal the "true self" and not the anxious or depressed self, experts said.
A cursory examination of the serotonergic chemicals will reveal that neurotransmitter Serotonin (5-HT) has a smaller chemical structure compared with SSRI Sertraline. Serotonin is made up of two benzene rings while Sertraline is composed of three benzene rings with two reactive sites for chlorine in the third ring. The later is designed bigger primarily to blocked the portal of entry and exit of Serotonin in the presynaptic neurons or the Dendrites, SSRI's are potent inhibitors of Serotonin reuptake.
Site and Mood of Action of SSRIs
The human brain is the site of action for SSRIs, specifically in the neurons. Serotonin is an important neurotransmitter of the brain, its main function is to carry messages from neurons to neurons by the electrical impulse from the stimulus received by the brain from the external environment. To maximize and kept the concentration of Serotonin high in the brain, SSRI's inhibit the reuptake of Serotonin by the presynaptic neurons. SSRI's occupies the site of Serotonin transporter protein, thereby blocking the Neurotransmitter Serotonin to return to the presynaptic neurons. In time Serotonin, concentration increased in the brain. It is believed that, in mentally depressed person, increase Serotonin concentrations alleviate the depression. It should be noted that Serotonin remained in the synapse, the region between presynaptic and postsynaptic neurons.The ends of neurons did not touch each other. There are transporters at each transmitter and receiver ends of the neurons.
In time, in the presence of SSRIs, Serotonin concentration in the Brain increased, the effect is called Serotonin overload and elevate moods, experts called these as Serotonin Syndromes manifested as:
- Increase heart rate and blood pressure
- Pupil dilation
- Headaches and vomiting
- Increased body temperature and Sweating
- Loss of muscle coordination
- Muscle rigidity
Pharmaceuticals claimed that low Serotonin concentration in the brain leads to mental disorder vis-a-vis mental illness, ergo increasing Serotonin concentration in the brain via SSRIs is the safest and effective method of alleviating mental disorders. Some results were positive while others were negative, but what is discouraging is that SSRIs were linked to the mass shooting in the US, this tends to destroy the credibility of the drug. Moreover, there are flaws in the claims of Pharmaceuticals, for instance, using SSRis may increase Serotonin concentrations but they are useless. By nature, after they have delivered the message Serotonin return to presynaptic neurons for reloading or refilling, "Return to the Source" a famous punch line in the movie Matrix. In other words, Serotonin in the synapse were running on an empty shell. SSRIs mode of action is to block the re-absorption of Serotonin by occupying the Serotonin's transporter molecules in the presynaptic neurons. In time, Serotonin concentration did increase in the brain, but the expected results did not happen. Meanwhile, the brain is deprived of proper messages, re-create scenario from previous experience where superheroes shoot the villains in the movie, but this time it's real. The mentally ill is the superhero and start shooting anyone in sight, after the incident the shooter "wakes up" goes back to sleep but this time in detention cell if not had committed suicide.
Experts believed that the development of depression that led to homicidal and suicidal tendencies is not due to low Serotonin concentration in the brain but rather may be attributed to other factors aside from SSRIs.
A more reliable information campaign on what to expect when taking SSRIs, the Government Agencies i.e. FDA, NIH,NIDA and NIMH among others to evaluate, inform and educate the public regarding the use or dispensation of antidepressants A strong Government policy formulation on the safety and protection of the public against unscrupulous dispensation and/ or marketing of antidepressants. The Media can play a significant role in informing and educating the public against the illegal use of an antidepressant. Concerned citizen to continue advocating the side effects and watch dogs for the illegal use of antidepressants.
Moreover, all these concerns will amount to nothing unless Society participate and take stand, to do this, Society must understand that mass shooting in the US is not mainly due to Antidepressants, but other factors like family history, too many guns, ready access to antidepressants, violent movies, and video games and the disintegration of nuclear family may significantly evolve to mental depression and consequently to homicidal and / or suicidal tendencies.
The author would like to acknowledge and thanks the owner(s) of the images/photos used in this article, authors of scholarly articles for sharing their knowledge and lastly to HubPages for the opportunity
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