Are we playing Russian Roulette with the medications we are taking? How are they interacting in our body, our brain? What type of pathological damage do RX drugs cause? What happens when we ‘withdraw’ from the drugs? Are wonder drugs doing more harm than good? Has psychiatry done more harm than good? These are just some of the issues Robert Whitaker and I covered in Thursday’s episode of Holy Hormones Honey! The interview is archived on VoiceAmerica or can be listened to here.
Anatomy of an Epidemic:
The Hidden Danger of ‘Wonder Drugs’
with Robert Whitaker
Holy Hormones Honey!
VoiceAmerica Health and Wellness Channel
Noon ET; 11 am CT; 10 am MT; 9 am PT
Are ‘Wonder Drugs’ Doing More Harm than Good?
Robert Whitaker is the author of four books, two of which tell of the history of psychiatry. His first, Mad in America: Bad Science, Bad Medicine and the Enduring Mistreatment of the Mentally Ill was named by Discover magazine as one of the best science books of 2002. His newest book on this topic, Anatomy of an Epidemic: Magic Bullets, Psychiatric Drugs, and the Astonishing Rise of Mental Illness in America, won the Investigative Reporters and Editors book award for best investigative journalism in 2010.
Prior to writing, Whitaker worked as the science and medical reporter at the Albany Times Union newspaper in New York. His journalism articles won several national awards, including a George Polk award for medical writing, and a National Association of Science Writers’ award for best magazine article. A series he co-wrote for The Boston Globe was named a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in 1998. He also was director of publications at Harvard Medical School for a time.
In 2010, Whitaker wrote an article for the Huffington Post entitled: ‘Anatomy Of An Epidemic’: Could Psychiatric Drugs Be Fueling A Mental Illness Epidemic? bringing light to an issue many medical consumers were not aware of:
A few years ago, while writing an article about the merits of psychiatric medications, I looked at whether the number of adults was introduced. Our society’s use of psychiatric medications, of course, has soared since that time, and here’s what I discovered: The number of adults, ages 18 to 65, on the federal disability rolls due to mental illness jumped from 1.25 million in 1987 to four million in 2007. Roughly one in every 45 working-age adults is now on government disability due to mental illness.
This epidemic has now struck our nation’s children, too. The number of children who receive a federal payment because of a severe mental illness rose from 16,200 in 1987 to 561,569 in 2007, a 35-fold increase.
The question is a frighteningly more relevant today – since in the past three years, this country has seen an untold number of massacres of our own citizens. Massacres by people with an pre-existing mental illness… fueled by prescription drugs. Every incident. The woman who was shot on Capitol Hill last week was suffering from postpartum depression, bipolar disorder and schizophrenia – according to the cache of drugs found in her apartment. Are we going mad in America? Obviously, people in other countries are thinking the same question. I mean our government is shut down. We are killing each other.
In 2010, UK writer Victoria Bekiempis wrote an article for The Guardian entitled: Why one in four women is on psych meds. She asks the question – “Can so many US women really be mentally ill? Perhaps some are wrongly pathologised, but there is a rational explanation.” And proceeds to remind us of the ‘wandering womb’ theory.
In Anatomy of an Epidemic – Magic Bullets, Psychiatric Drugs, and the Astonishing Rise of Mental Illness in America Whitaker asks why the number of adults and children disabled by mental illness skyrocketed over the past fifty years. In 1955, there were 355,000 adults in state and county mental hospitals with a psychiatric diagnosis. During the next three decades, (the era of the first generation psychiatric drugs) the number of disabled mentally ill rose to 1.25 million. According to government records there are now more than four million people in the US who receive a disability check because of a mental illness and that number continues to soar. Every day, 850 adults and 250 children with a mental illness are added to the disability rolls.
According to Whitaker, the astonishing increase in disability numbers raises the obvious question: “Could the widespread use of psychiatric medications–for one reason or another–be fueling this epidemic?” Has the ‘psychopharmacological revolution’, failed consumers? Are we going ‘Mad in America?’