Garrett's PALMS

Prevention, Awareness, Legislation Against Medications That May Cause Suicide.

Feb

19

National Expert Presents ‘Dangers of Antidepressants’

By Wesley Gooch

By Stephen Crane 

Dr. Ann Blake Tracy gave a presentation at the Pinedale High School auditorium on Wednesday night entitled, “The Dangers of Antidepressants.”    

A crowd of around 60 attended the event to learn more about the hazards and risks associated with anti-depressant medications.    

The event was sponsored by Anticline Disposal and Garrett’s PALMS, an acronym for Prevention, Awareness, Legislation against Medications that may cause Suicide. Garrett’s PALMS was founded by Carole Richie and Suzy Michnevich in response to the death of Richie’s son, Garrett Bardin.    

Since Bardin’s death, Richie has researched the medication she found during his disappearance, which ultimately led her to Dr. Tracy.    

With a Ph.D. in health sciences and an emphasis in psychology, Dr. Tracy is the executive director of the International Coalition for Drug Awareness and has spent the last 17 years studying the negative effects of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), more commonly known as anti-depressants. And her lecture emphasized these dangers, and the biological causes behind their occurrence. “The whole hypothesis behind these drugs is backwards,” Dr. Tracy said.  

According to Dr. Tracy, serotonin can be poisonous at high levels. And because SSRIs impede the body’s ability to break down serotonin, it builds up in the brain, causing an increase in erratic behavior.    

“Impairing serotonin metabolism results in a multitude of symptoms,” said Dr. Tracy, “including suicide, violent crime, mania and psychosis. Suicidal ideation is, without question , associated with these drugs.”    

Nightmares in patients also tend to increase , followed by sleepwalking states, when the body is active but the mind is not. This is also known as REM Sleep Behavior Disorder. And according to Dr. Tracy, 86 percent of patients diagnosed with this disorder are on antidepressants and are “acting out a drug-induced nightmare.”   

 “I was talking to a man from the DEA (Drug Enforcement Agency),” said Dr. Tracy. “And he said, ‘Whenever I come across someone on Prozac, I take a few steps back.’”    

Prozac is one of the first SSRIs to find controversy when in the mid-1990 ’s , over 150 lawsuits were filed against the manufacturer , Eli Lilly and Company.    

Since then, a multitude of other SSRIs have risen in popularity, including Zoloft, Paxil, Luvox, Lexapro, and Effexor, just to name a few. For drug companies, anti-depressants are big business, pulling in $200 million a day.    In 2007, CNN reported that anti-depressants are now America’s most prescribed drug.    

It is a trend Dr. Tracy would like to turn around.   

“I want people to know the precious lives we’ve lost (to these drugs),” she said.   

She has testified before the Food and Drug Administration on two occasions concerning the dangers of SSRIs, as well as a congressional subcommittee.    

Dr. Tracy has also been involved in numerous legal trials as an expert witness related to these medications, including the murder of comedian Phil Hartman at the hands of his wife Brynn who then committed suicide. Dr. Tracy was also involved in the case of Andrea Yates, the woman in Texas who drowned her five children.    

According to Dr. Tracy, SSRIs played a tragic role in both cases. And it is a reason why Effexor, one of the most popular antidepressants on the market today, now includes “homicidal ideation” as a possible side effect. Dr. Tracy sees two primary causes for many of the mental troubles that lead people to SSRIs in the first place.    

“I think the biggest causes of these kinds of problems come from the use of sugar,” she said. “and artificial light, we’re screwing up our circadian rhythm when we stay up so late.”    

According to Dr. Tracy, SSRIs often lead to diabetes in patients because they impede the pancreas’ ability to regulate blood sugar. “The blood sugar is very, very affected by these drugs,” she said. “And when you look at how blood sugar affects the brain, I think a lot of it is just the brain crying out for help.    

“Bi-polar has all the signs and symptoms of sever hypoglycemia.”

Because these medications have such negative effects on sleep, Dr. Tracy said that the circadian rhythm is disrupted, which only amplifies the problem.

She sees proper diet and regular exercise as remedies to these problems, as well as a regulated sugar intake. For Dr. Tracy, sodas are out of the question, and products with artificial sweeteners should be avoided.

“I think it definitely goes back to diet and exercise,” she said.

For those currently prescribed any of these SSRIs, Dr. Tracy advised a slow withdrawal , supervised by an expert. For the effects of premature withdrawal can have similarly devastating consequences as the drugs themselves.

Not all in the audience were thoroughly convinced by Dr. Tracy’s presentation, and some detailed their own first-hand accounts of the positive effects of SSRIs in their own lives.

A few others in the audience reminded the crowd of what brought Dr. Tracy in the first place. “( On Paxil), Garrett had double the chance of suicide,” said Dr. Tracy. “Was he warned? No. Did he give his life to save someone else? You have to ask yourself that.”

For more information on Dr. Tracy and SSRIs, visit www.drugawareness.org or www.ssristories.com.  scrane@pinedaleroundup.com

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