Homicide by Psychiatric Hospital Staff Goes Unpunished

Atlanta Journal-Constitution Exposé is Representative of National Restraint Death & Patient Abuse

Rickey Dean Wingo was among 115 “suspicious deaths” in Georgia state psychiatric hospitals between 2002-2006, one of the death tolls uncovered by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution (AJC). In May 2002, Wingo suffocated to death while staff at the Northwest Georgia Regional Hospital restrained him face down. Ruled a homicide, no staff was ever charged and like many other psychiatric staff across the country, they are literally getting away with murder. In fact, in the case of Northwest, rather than facing disciplinary procedures, one of the employees involved received a pay increase.

The AJC reported, “In many instances, employees of the hospital where a death has occurred investigate their colleagues’ actions—and, records show, rarely find fault.” Of the 194 verified allegations of physical or sexual abuse of patients by Georgia psychiatric hospital employees, as well as violent physical restraint, the AJC reported that it “could find criminal charges in no more than a handful of instances.” Abuses occurring in the facilities routinely go uninvestigated and unpunished because the government-funded institutions lack sufficient independent oversight.

It is a national disgrace that despite more than $100 billion poured into mental health care nationally and federal regulations passed in 1999 to prevent restraint deaths, patient deaths from such restraints continue to be prevalent and go unpunished. They are not limited to Georgia. According to Dr. Bernard Aarons, former director of the Federal Center for Mental Health Services, restraint deaths could be as many as 150 a year, some as young as 6-years-old.

Thorough, independent investigation of abuses and deaths in psychiatric institutions is needed to ensure that federal laws are complied with. Click here for more information on violent and lethal restraints used to silence psychiatric patients, published by the Citizens Commission on Human Rights.

Scientific Legitimacy of Psychiatry’s “Billing Bible” Increasingly Under Fire

A recent study published in the Archives of General Psychiatry exposes the lack of medical legitimacy behind psychiatric diagnoses.

Using the diagnostic criteria of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), psychiatry’s billing bible, researchers Michael B. First (DSM editor), Jerome Wakefield, Allan Horwitz and Mark Schmitz found that people experiencing normal sadness, divorce, rejection and economic misfortune are erroneously being classified with a mental disorder. Horwitz stated, “People are starting to think that any sort of negative emotion is unnatural.” He further remarked that psychiatry has come to think of itself as “the arbiter [judge] of normality.”

A book by Wakefield on this topic, written with Rutgers sociologist Allan Horwitz and titled “The Loss of Sadness: How Psychiatry Transformed Normal Sorrow into Depressive Disorder,” has just been published by Oxford Press.

This study is only the latest in a series of events that have exposed the DSM’s lack of credibility and undermined public confidence in the psychiatric profession. Psychiatrist Robert Spitzer, who oversaw two out of five revisions of the DSM and defined more than a hundred mental disorders, recently admitted to the BBC, “What happened, is that we made estimates of the prevalence of mental disorders totally descriptively, without considering that many of these conditions might be normal reactions which are not really disorders. That’s the problem, because we were not looking at the context in which those conditions developed.”

The Citizens Commission on Human Rights (CCHR), a psychiatric watchdog, says that the study only partially reveals the fraud of psychiatric diagnoses being used to justify the mass drugging of millions. There are no physical tests—such as blood or urine tests, brain scans or X-rays—which can be used to medically/scientifically prove who is mentally ill and who isn’t. It is all a matter of opinion, which has enabled psychiatrists to redefine behaviors as illness or disease. Mathematical problems, jet lag and drinking too much coffee, for example, are listed in the DSM as “disorders”—and for each “disorder”, the pharmaceutical industry invents a drug to treat it.

While people do experience real life difficulties, this does not mean they have an illness of the brain requiring the administration of potentially lethal, mind-altering drugs. CCHR says the stigma of an unproven psychiatric label often prevents people from seeking out safe, medically proven alternatives to handling problems of attention, mood or emotional duress.

The profitability of psychiatry “medicalizing” behaviors and emotions can be traced to the vested interests of psychiatrists who profit from inventing and categorizing new mental disorders. A 2006 study in the journal Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics found a majority (56%) of the panel members responsible for revisions to the DSM had one or more financial ties to drug companies. The study also found that 100% of the panel members on “Mood Disorders” and “Schizophrenia and other psychotic disorders” had financial ties to pharmaceutical companies. The lead author of this study, Lisa Cosgrove of the University of Massachusetts Boston stated, “No blood tests exist for the disorders in the DSM. It relies on judgments from practitioners who rely on the manual.”

Commenting on this study, UCLA psychiatry professor, Dr. Irwin Savodnik, stated “The very vocabulary of psychiatry is now defined at all levels by the pharmaceutical industry.”

The heavy scrutiny over psychiatrists’ conflicts of interest and the subjectivity of psychiatric diagnoses comes at a time when international governmental bodies are issuing an increasing number of warnings—24 in the last two years—about the serious dangers of psychiatric drugs, including suicidal behavior, homicidal ideation, fatal birth defects, psychosis, heart attack, stroke and sudden death.

To learn more about the DSM, read CCHR’s publication, Psychiatric Diagnostic Manual Link to Drug Manufacturers, or click here to see what experts say about the issue. For more information on the dangers of psychiatric drugs, read The Report on the Escalating International Warnings on Psychiatric Drugs by CCHR.


Convicted Psychiatrist Remained on Payroll for Months

According to the Los Angeles Times (Wednesday, 5/9/07), psychiatrist Trey Sunderland, a senior researcher at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and “a lasting symbol of the agency’s entanglements with drug companies,” remained on the federal payroll several months after he pleaded guilty to a federal conflict-of-interest charge relating to hundreds of thousands of dollars in payments from pharmaceutical companies. Last December, a U.S. District Judge fined Sunderland $300,000 and sentenced him to two years of supervised probation and 400 hours of community service. Representative Joe L. Barton called the NIH “an ethical Potemkin village [something that appears effective but isn’t], where a hollow system appears to provide the illusion of integrity, but transgressors never leave.”

The Citizens Commission on Human Rights (CCHR), a mental health watchdog group, says that criminality is rife within the mental health system, so much so that it has tracked more than 1,000 convictions of psychiatrists, psychologists and mental health workers and created a database as a public warning. Found at www.psychcrime.org, it was established as a public service to law enforcement agencies, health care fraud investigators, medical and psychological licensing boards and the general public.

The LA Times story follows Massachusetts psychiatrist Daniel J. Carlat’s admission to the Boston Globe, stating: “Our [psychiatric] field as a whole is progressively being purchased lock, stock, and barrel by the drug companies: this includes the diagnoses, the treatment guidelines, and the national meetings.”

To read more about conflicts of interest in the mental health field, read CCHR’s publication, Psychiatric Diagnostic Manual Link to Drug Manufacturers.


The Rosenhan Experiments – Still Valid Today

In 1972, Stanford psychologist David L. Rosenhan conducted his classic experiments into the validity of psychiatric diagnosis.


Eight people with no prior mental health issues were admitted to 12 different psychiatric hospitals around the country, each manifesting the same faked mental symptoms. All eight pseudopatients were diagnosed, admitted and treated – 7 for schizophrenia and 1 for bipolar disorder.


In a follow-up study, Rosenhan told the staff at one hospital that he would be sending random pseudopatients for evaluation during a particular three-month period, and they were to spot the imposters. Out of 193 patients, the staff considered 41 to be imposters. In fact, Rosenhan had sent them no pseudopatients at all.


Rosenhan concluded that, “It is clear that we cannot distinguish the sane from the insane in psychiatric hospitals,” and “any diagnostic process that lends itself too readily to massive errors of this sort cannot be a very reliable one.”


These experiments and results were hotly debated over the following years, with various members of the psychiatric community supporting or criticizing the experiments and the results. Similar studies were conducted with similar problematic diagnostic results.


Multiple studies have found that up to 90% of patients with mental symptoms had real, undiagnosed and untreated physical illnesses that were causing the so-called mental symptoms. When the physical illnesses were treated, the mental symptoms were alleviated.


While psychiatrists continue to discount these results as merely “anecdotal,” psychiatric assertions of “chemical imbalances” and “treatable brain disorders” are themselves no more than anecdotal reports.


Diagnostic confusion also led to the proliferation of psychiatry’s billing bible, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). The DSM “is an unreliable, pseudoscientific document with enormous power to damage lives, while being used to rake in $76 billion a year in international psychiatric drug sales,” according to CCHR’s national U.S. president Bruce Wiseman. For more information on the DSM hoax, go to http://www.cchr.org/index.cfm/6509.


Dr. Lisa Cosgrove, a psychologist from the University of Massachusetts, also raises crucial points about the lack of science behind the DSM, stating, “No blood tests exist for the disorders in the DSM. It relies on judgments from practitioners who rely on the manual.”


Back to square one – psychiatric diagnosis itself continues to be “anecdotal.” At best it is arbitrary; at worst, harmful.


The number of American children and adolescents treated for bipolar disorder increased 40-fold from 1994 to 2003, according to an article in the New York Times (September 4, 2007). The article states, “Many experts theorize that the jump reflects that doctors are more aggressively applying the diagnosis to children, and not that the incidence of the disorder has increased.”


A contemporary advocate of children having bipolar disorder is psychiatrist Demitri F. Papolos, author of The Bipolar Child. However, in this, Papolos admits: “Diagnosis in psychiatry is a problem. After all, there are no lab tests that conclusively pinpoint a diagnosis….”


The sad fact is, any child diagnosed with bipolar—especially after being previously labeled with some DSM disorder—and treated with psychiatric drugs, is most likely suffering drug-induced damage, both physically and mentally. The prevalence in “bipolar” diagnoses is really a massive psychiatric drug push to children. Pediatric neurologist Fred Baughman, Jr., wrote: “The fact of the matter is—and a fact to which the country had better wake up—is that there is no abnormality to be found in any of psychiatry’s ‘diseases’—not in infants, not in toddlers, not in preschoolers, not at any age. Without invented ‘diseases,’ the psychiatric-pharmaceutical cartel would have nothing to treat. These are normal children with disciplinary and educational problems that can and must be resolved without recourse to drugs. Deceiving and drugging is not the practice of medicine. It is criminal.”


There is a world of difference between the art of identifying symptoms and the science of finding and treating causes. Psychiatrists specialize in cataloguing symptoms and then try to convince people that the symptoms are causes and that their treatments work, merely because the symptoms appear to have dissipated or changed.


But these are not causes, they are just symptoms and their treatments have brought about a worsening of the person’s condition. Blind to real causes, they remain blind to the consequences of their actions. And herein lies the most important truth concerning the plague of social problems characterizing our youth and general society today—psychiatrists defining every child or adolescent problem in life as a “mental disorder,” to be controlled by mind-altering drugs.


Any medical doctor who takes the time to conduct a thorough physical examination of a child or adult exhibiting signs of what psychiatrists say are “mental disorders,” can find undiagnosed, untreated physical conditions. For example, decades ago, the term “mad as a hatter” stemmed from workers using mercury to prepare felt hats. The fumes and the quantity accidentally ingested produced an organic deterioration resulting eventually in dementia. Thus a sizeable number of hatters became “mad” as a result of chronic mercury pollution.


Any person labeled with a so-called psychiatric disorder needs to receive a thorough physical examination by a competent medical—not psychiatric—doctor to first determine what underlying physical condition is causing the manifestation, including, but not limited to testing for:

• lead or pesticide poisoning

• thyroid conditions

• diabetes

• heart disease

• worms

• viral or bacterial infections

• malnutrition

• head injuries or tumors

• allergies

• vitamin and/or mineral deficiencies

• mercury exposure

What Does Mandated Mental Health Parity Pay For?

Skyrocketing Costs, Increased Stigma, More Child Abuse & Fraud

An editorial in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch (“Wrong Way” Missouri, 8/31/2007) says that, “New U.S. Census Bureau numbers released Tuesday showed that the number of uninsured people in Missouri increased a staggering 15.4 percent from 2005 to 2006, from 668,146 to 771,682. Nationally, the number of people lacking health insurance increased by only 5 percent, to 47 million.”

This is a problem because, “Increasing numbers of uninsured Americans are straining the health care system, escalating costs, inflicting untold suffering on individuals and their families and pushing health-care reform toward the top of the nation’s priority list…”

On the same day, another article in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch (Mo. changes plan for Bellefontaine Rehab center) indicated that, “the U.S. Department of Justice labeled the [Missouri Department of Mental Health] center unsafe and ill-equipped to care for its mentally retarded and developmentally disabled residents, who were repeatedly abused and neglected. Those findings came 10 months after a Post-Dispatch investigation found widespread mistreatment of residents at the center and at other public and privately run facilities overseen by DMH.”

After a year of investigations, hand-wringing, and supposedly, reforms implemented in the Missouri Department of Mental Health, “on June 27, an annual federal review of the center resulted in a declaration of ‘immediate jeopardy’ on behalf of a resident.” One could conclude that little progress has been made by the Missouri Department of Mental Health toward cleaning up its history of fraud and patient abuse.

What can we learn from these two articles? We might investigate why these articles are related: escalating health care costs, escalating uninsured, fraud and abuse in the mental health system.

With mental health treatment costing up to 300% more than general medical treatment, spiraling costs are imminent. Dr. Mark Schiller, psychiatrist and Senior Fellow in Medical Studies at the California‐based Pacific Research Institute for Public Policy, states that “historically, psychiatric and substance abuse facilities quickly appear to take advantage of new insurance reimbursement sources. These facilities go on to promote their services extensively, leading to further increases in expenditures and ultimately higher insurance premiums.”

An increasing percentage of mental health care costs go toward psychiatric drugs that can damage the brain and physically harm patients. Spending on drugs generally is rising at three times or more the rate of inflation.

In May, 2001, the Office of the Inspector General reported that one-third of outpatient mental health care services provided to Medicare beneficiaries were “medically unnecessary, billed incorrectly, rendered by unqualified provider, and undocumented or poorly documented.”

Efforts by the mental health industry to require insurance companies to pay mental health care benefits at the same level as for physical health care (called “mental health insurance parity”) are one significant reason why our health care system is in jeopardy.

Thomas Szasz, Professor Emeritus of Psychiatry, wrote in The Washington Times, “Advocating ‘parity for mental illness’ is a hoax. The supporters of ‘mental health parity’ do not want parity for mental patients: They do not seek equal ‘legal treatment’ by legislators and courts for mental patients and medical patients. What they want is parity for psychiatrists: They seek equal ‘monetary treatment’ by health insurance companies for psychiatrists and other physicians.”

In short, mandated mental health parity is an effort by the mental health industry to have governments force insurers, employers, consumers and taxpayers pay for a service they will not buy of their own free will. It drives up the cost of insurance and has skyrocketed the number of uninsured.

Psychiatry and psychology should be held accountable for the funds already given them and irrefutably and scientifically prove the physical existence of mental disorders they claim should be treated and covered by insurance in the same way as physical diseases are.

Health insurance coverage for mental health problems should only be provided on the proviso that full, searching physical examinations are first undertaken to determine that no underlying and, thereby, untreated physical condition is causing the person’s mental health condition. Such examinations would be covered under existing health coverage.

For the full report, read the CCHR publication WHAT DOES MANDATED MENTAL HEALTH PARITY PAY FOR? Skyrocketing Costs, Increased Stigma, More Child Abuse & Fraud at http://www.cchr.org/index.cfm/17106.

Ritalin stunts growth of children

Long-term risk to children’s health unknown

Monday, July 23, 2007 by: Mike Adams

New research published in the August, 2007 issue of the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry finds that Ritalin, the amphetamine drug used to treat a fictitious medical disorder labeled Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, stunts the growth of children. After three years on the psychotropic drug, children are one inch shorter and 4.4 pounds lighter than their peers, researchers have documented. 

The psychiatric industry, of course, has been trying to play down the growth-stunting effects of Ritalin for at least a decade. Research conducted over the last several years by psychiatrists working for the National Institutes of Health initially found evidence of the drug stunting growth of children, yet nevertheless concluded that Ritalin carries “no long-term growth risk” to children. (Those researchers, by the way, failed to disclose their financial conflicts of interest with drug companies.)  Because of that conclusion, psychiatrists have refrained from warning parents about the fact that Ritalin stunts the growth of their children, focusing instead of how their children need “treatment” to correct a “brain chemistry disorder” that was, in reality, invented by the Big Pharma-backed psychiatric industry as a way to sell more drugs to children who don’t need them.

Read the whole article at http://www.newstarget.com/021944.html

Is Psychotherapy as Dangerous as Psychiatric Drugs?

Lack of science plagues both therapies

On June 18, 2007, Newsweek exposed the oft-overlooked dangers of psychological therapy, including bizarre techniques such as “recovered memory” therapy and “stress debriefing” for disorders that cannot be scientifically substantiated.

The article reveals “…the number of people undergoing potentially risky therapies reaches into the tens of thousands. [The painkiller] Vioxx was yanked from the market for less.”

The Citizens Commission on Human Rights (CCHR), a psychiatric watchdog group, says that while psychotropic drugs and electroshock commonly used in mental health “treatment” have documented physical adverse effects—sometimes deadly—the harmful effects of psychoanalysis and psychotherapy often are as visible.

The Newsweek article addresses the lack of efficacy of these methods, which psychologist John Norcross of Scranton University refers to as “psychoquackery.” In his book, Psychology: A Study of a Science, Dr. Sigmund Koch from the American Psychological Association concluded, “I think it by this time utterly and finally clear that psychology cannot be a coherent science….”

This is a common denominator between psychiatry and psychology: both lack a scientific foundation and the “therapies” that are developed from this faulty premise are potentially dangerous.

Child Molesters and Drug Dealers

Los Angeles Museum Exposes Dark World of Psychiatry 


A San Mateo judge ruled August 7, 2007 that William Ayres, a prominent child psychiatrist and former president of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, will stand trial for 20 counts of lewd and lascivious behavior against minors. 


Thirty-seven former patients have accused Ayres of molestation. The Citizens Commission on Human Rights (CCHR), a psychiatric watchdog group, says that the Ayres’ case is representative of a larger problem in psychiatry: rampant patient sexual assault. 


Studies report that between 10 and 25 percent of psychiatrists admit to sexually abusing patients. According to a 2001 study by Kenneth S. Pope about “Sex Between Therapists and Clients,” one out of 20 clients sexually abused was a minor, the average age was 7 for girls and 12 for boys. Pope, the former head of the Ethics Committee of the American Psychological Association, said that youngest sexually molested patient was 3. A Canadian Journal of Psychiatry study also determined that 80 percent of therapists that abuse clients are repeat offenders. 


The risk of sexual assault during psychiatric therapy is addressed at CCHR’s museum in Los Angeles called “Psychiatry: An Industry of Death.” About 14 percent of those who are sexually involved with a therapist will attempt suicide; one in every hundred will succeed. 


The Museum documents the New Zealand case of a psychiatrist and psychotherapist who ran a commune of therapists that taught sexual promiscuity and incest were not only normal but also therapeutic. In 1968, Ayers advocated that sexual education for adolescents be taught to children as young as 9 in public schools because “ignorance only leads children to subsequent unwise decisions.” Seven of the male patients he is charged with molesting are aged 8 to 13. Steve Abrams, a former patient who sued Ayres in December 2003, said the psychiatrist began molesting him when he was 12. Ayres agreed to pay $395,000 to settle the lawsuit. 


CCHR says that Ayers is one of thousands of psychiatrists, psychologists and psychotherapists that CCHR has investigated, with the three most common charges and convictions relating to patient sexual abuse, drug charges and fraud. CCHR has documented psychiatrists administering drugs to render the patient unconscious while he sexually assaults him or her. In the past year alone, at least 59 mental health workers were criminally convicted, 17 of them for sexual crimes committed in 10 states: California, Colorado, Delaware, Idaho, Indiana, Michigan, Montana, New Jersey, New York and Virginia. Canada, Poland and Israel also reported convictions. 


The abuse of patients and high rate of death of those who come in contact with psychiatry prompted the “Psychiatry: An Industry of Death” museum which is free as a public interest service, CCHR said. 


The museum is at 6616 Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles. Click here or contact CCHR at 800-869-2247 or humanrights@cchr.org for more information

Psychologists Violate Their Own Ethical Principle to “Do No Harm”

Watchdog Group Says Psychologists Should be Banned from Participating in Abusive Interrogations of Prisoners

The mental health watchdog group Citizens Commission on Human Rights International (CCHR) is calling for a ban on psychologists participating in abusive prisoner interrogations as it violates even their own code of ethics: Principle A of the American Psychological Association’s “Ethical Principles of Psychologists and Code of Conduct” states that psychologists should “do no harm.”

On Sunday (8/19/2007), at its annual convention in San Francisco, the American Psychological Association (APA) voted against a measure that would have banned members from partaking in interrogations that violate basic human rights of prisoners, thereby refusing to distance itself from a long and sordid history of psychological and psychiatric techniques used to torture prisoners as well as political dissidents. Instead, the APA approved a resolution to restrict members only from taking part in a list of specific torture methods such as religious and sexual humiliation, simulated drowning, sleep deprivation and the use of dogs to frighten detainees.  

CCHR says the APA’s actions last weekend are an ineffectual attempt to divert public backlash against psychologists’ involvement in torture techniques, without acting to eradicate the problem altogether.  Bernice Lott, member of the APA council of representatives admitted, “Without the amendment that would call on our colleagues to not participate in these inhumane situations, it’s all just words.”  

Psychologists and psychiatrists have historically played a central role in torture methods used on prisoners, and such recent abuses in Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, Guantanamo Bay in Cuba and other U.S. military detention centers have been publicly condemned by many in the U.S. as well as abroad. Psychologists’ participation in these abuses have drawn so much attention that the APA convention was greeted by protestors standing on boxes with black hoods and wires trailing from their arms, symbolizing the torture of detainees.  

Politically motivated torture using psychiatric and psychological techniques occurs throughout the world; in China, more than 600 members of the religious group Falun Gong have been involuntarily detained in psychiatric facilities, where they are heavily drugged and subjected to other abuses to force them to renounce their beliefs. Reports of psychiatric abuse and involuntary commitment of political dissidents continue to flood in from other countries, including Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan and Russia.  

For example, Elena Urlaeva, a vocal critic of the Uzbekistan government, was forcibly committed to a psychiatric hospital in August 2005, for the third time, where she was forced to endure a series of injections and psychotropic drugs. In response to this incident, U.S. deputy State Department spokesman Adam Ereli stated, “The United States deplores the forcible psychiatric treatment of human rights activist Elena Urlayeva by the Government of Uzbekistan…Treating political dissidents as victims of psychosis has long been a tactic used by repressive regimes.”  

An equally horrible fate befell political dissidents who were abused in psychiatric “gulags” during the Soviet era. Russian historian, Professor Anatoli Prokopenko, commissioned in 1996 by former President Boris Yeltsin to investigate this abuse said, “Soviet leaders of psychiatry have never publicly declared their responsibility in damaging the mental health of people, nor for the inhumane conditions in their hospitals. Political repression using psychiatric means still occurs in Russia today.”  

Underpinning these past and continuing atrocities are psychologists’ and psychiatrists’ arbitrary and unscientific opinion about what constitutes “mental illness” and the treatment regime to be implemented—both easily manipulated to serve political purposes.  Russian psychiatrists, for example, would diagnose political dissidents with, “sluggish schizophrenia,” which had “symptoms” including a severe case of “inflexibility of convictions.” CCHR says mental health practitioners should be banned from any participation in interrogations and should face license revocations and/or criminal prosecutions for participation in any practices that result in harm, abuse and/or torture.  

Visit www.psychassault.org for more information.

New Study Shows Antidepressant Risks for Newborns

New Study Shows Antidepressant Risks for Newborns  How many of America’s 40,000 pregnant women taking the drugs are aware of the risk?  A new study in the August issue of the American Journal of Psychiatry found that antidepressants pose significant risks to newborns. Researchers determined that 12% of the pregnant women taking antidepressants in the study had premature births compared to none in the group not taking the drugs. Infant admissions to a special care nursery were 21% when pregnant women took antidepressants compared to 7.1% among the participants not taking them. 

The evidence is overwhelming that antidepressants prescribed to pregnant women could cause miscarriage. Eli Lilly, the manufacturer of Prozac, reported this in 1993 when a study showed spontaneous abortion in 15.9% of pregnant women taking the drug. Since 2004, the Food and Drug Administration has issued four warnings about antidepressant use during pregnancy placing infants at risk of premature birth, congenital birth defects, heart malformations and a potentially fatal lung condition called persistent pulmonary hypertension. Health Canada, the Australian Therapeutic Goods Administration and the German drug regulatory agency, BfRaM, have issued similar warnings.  However, according to the Citizens Commission on Human Rights (CCHR), a mental health watchdog group, pregnant women are not fully informed of these risks. The American Medical Association estimates that 40,000 pregnant women are taking antidepressants, helping to fuel a lucrative $13.5 billion a year industry. 

Recently, lawsuits have been filed in relation to Paxil causing birth defects. In one case, several surgeries were required to correct the damage that antidepressant use during pregnancy is alleged to have caused.  A study published in the February 2006 edition of The New England Journal of Medicine found that women who took Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor (SSRI) antidepressants during the second half of their pregnancy are about six times more likely to give birth to a baby with persistent pulmonary hypertension. A November 2006 study published in the journal Epidemiology found that pregnant women who took SSRIs have a 34% higher risk of delivering a baby with a birth defect than mothers who do not take them. If taken during the second or third month of pregnancy, the risk increased to 84%. 

Another major risk to infants is addiction and withdrawal. In February 2006, a study published in the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine determined that nearly one-third of newborn infants whose pregnant mothers took SSRIs experienced withdrawal symptoms that included high-pitched crying, tremors and disturbed sleep. The Journal of Psychopharmacology published a study in 2005 in which researchers found that the infant’s withdrawal symptoms began on the first day after birth and persisted for ten days, even though toxic levels of paroxetine (Paxil) were undetected on day six.  In addition, CCHR maintains that few mothers prescribed these drugs are aware that antidepressants are no more effective than taking a placebo. The July 2005 issue of the British Medical Journal published a review of SSRI data that found SSRIs have no clinically meaningful advantage over a placebo and considering the risks, recommendations for prescribing the drugs should be reconsidered. For more information about the dangers of psychiatric drugs, read The Report on the Escalating International Warnings on Psychiatric Drugs (http://cchr.org/files/14851/White%20Paper%20-%20Report%20on%20the%20Escalating%20Number%20of%20Drug%20Warnings.pdf).

 ().To learn more about conflicts of interest in the mental health field, read CCHR’s publication, Psychiatric Diagnostic Manual Link to Drug Manufacturers (http://www.cchr.org/files/13164/DSM_paper.pdf).