Posts Tagged ‘Side Effects’

Bronx Cop Killer Alexander Bonds Was Taking Psych Drugs

Thursday, July 6th, 2017

According to the New York Daily News, Alexander Bonds who killed Officer Miosotis Familia as she sat inside a parked police vehicle on July 5, was likely taking psychiatric drugs known to cause violence and suicide. Bonds was shot to death by police after the killing of NYPD veteran Familia as she worked a midnight tour in the Bronx.

Here are the quotes:

“…Alexander Bonds spent eight hours at a Bronx hospital after appearing for a impromptu psychiatric exam just four days before he executed an NYPD officer.”
“…an NYPD search of the ex-con’s squalid South Bronx apartment turned up prescription anti-psychotic and anti-depressant drugs…”
“The anti-psychotic was Risperidone, typically used to treat schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, while the anti-depressants were identified as Bupropion and Escitalopram…”
“In an interview after the execution, the girlfriend told police that Bonds visited a psychiatrist last month…”
“Police investigators also found Benadryl and a muscle relaxant in Bonds’ second floor apartment…”

All of the listed psychiatric drugs have the potential adverse side effects of violent and suicidal behavior.
Risperidone is an antipsychotic, also called a neuroleptic (“nerve seizing”).
Bupropion is an antidepressant (norepinephrine-dopamine reuptake inhibitor.)
Escitalopram is an antidepressant (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor.)
Benadryl is an antihistamine that interacts moderately with risperidone and buproprion and excitalopram, meaning that there is an increased risk of adverse side effects when taken together.

The FDA has issued several warnings on these psychotropic drugs, cautioning that persons prescribed the drugs must be monitored for increased suicidal ideation and worsening depression.

The bottom line is — Check for psychiatric treatment and psychiatric drugs (prior or current use, or withdrawal from) in all cases of senseless violence.

Watch the CCHR video “Psychiatry’s Prescription for Violence” documenting the connection between violence, suicide and psychiatric drugs at http://www.cchr.org/videos/psychiatrys-prescription-for-violence.html.

Chris Cornell, Another Failed Product of Psychiatric Drugs

Thursday, May 25th, 2017

Chris Cornell, a musician who committed suicide May 18, was apparently taking Ativan, a psychotropic drug which has known side effects of violence and suicide.

“…Cornell was a recovering addict with a prescription for the anti-anxiety medication Ativan and that he may have taken a bigger than recommended dosage.”

Ativan (generic lorazepam) is a highly addictive benzodiazepine anti-anxiety drug, and is known to cause violence and suicide either during use or after withdrawal. A typical dose is 1 to 3 milligrams orally 2 to 3 times per day, typically costing around $10 per 1 milligram tablet. It takes about two hours to feel the drug’s full effects, and it typically takes 10 to 20 hours for the drug to leave a person’s system.

Lorazepam as Ativan was first introduced in the U.S. by Wyeth Pharmaceuticals in 1977. Many of the so-called “beneficial effects” of the drug are considered “adverse effects” when they occur unwanted, such as its sedative effect, muscle relaxant effect, and amnesiac effect. These side effects are dose-dependent, meaning they get more pronounced the higher the dose. Other significant side effects are confusion, hostility, aggression, agitation, and suicidal behavior. Physical addiction characterized by withdrawal symptoms occurs in about one-third of individuals who are treated for longer than four weeks, although withdrawal symptoms can occur after taking therapeutic doses of Ativan for as little as one week. If treatment is continued longer than four to six months, tolerance develops and the dosage must be increased to get the same effects.

Signs of overdose can include confusion, hostility, aggression, suicidal behavior, drowsiness, hypnotic state, coma, cardiovascular depression, respiratory depression, and death. 810 drugs, and alcohol, are known to interact with lorazepam. Taking larger amounts of Ativan than prescribed, taking the drug more often than prescribed and taking the drug for longer than prescribed are considered abuse. Most commonly, overdoses occur when Ativan is taken in combination with alcohol or other drugs. Fifty thousand people went to the emergency room in 2011 due to lorazepam complications. Twenty-seven million prescriptions for lorazepam were written in 2011.

While this drug is used to treat anxiety, it doesn’t really do anything for the anxiety itself; it is primarily taken for its sedative side effect. The “side effects” are really the actual drug effects.

This great musician, and many other artists who committed suicide while taking psychiatric drugs, were offered “help” that was only betrayal. This psychiatric assault on artists of every genre has only increased, as the psychiatric industry peddles its array of deadly addictive psychotropic drugs for profit only. Click here for more information about psychiatry harming artists and ruining creativity.

Path to Restoring Lives

Sunday, May 7th, 2017

Independence Center (IC) is a St. Louis nonprofit organization which “helps adults with mental illness access services to live and work in the community, independently and with dignity.” It is a mechanism to help end homelessness.

IC had revenue over $9.7 million in 2016, with expenses of $8.3 million (88% of which went to Program Services.) IC received a grant of $201,620 from the City of St. Louis Mental Health Board (MHB) in 2016. MHB is a special tax district which administers public tax revenues for support of vulnerable people in St. Louis City. The majority of individuals served (33%) were diagnosed with schizophrenia, followed by 24% diagnosed with depression, 19% with bipolar, 15% schizoaffective, and 9% some other diagnosis.

This is the Independence Center “Path to Restoring Lives”:
1. Independence Center social worker meets person discharging from hospital.
2. Schedules appointment at Midwest Psychiatry to start treatment plan and medication management.
3. Receives employment services at Independence Center’s Clubhouse and starts part-time job.
4. Collaborates with Independence Center social worker to locate safe, affordable housing.
5. Lives independently and with dignity in the community.

This Path is amazing on several levels.

IC counts success with their psychiatric programs as “Successfully managing symptoms,” as indicated by the percent of those receiving Medical Doctor or Advanced Practice Nurse services who did not report a psychiatric hospitalization or emergency department visit (94% and 89% respectively, out of 603 total unduplicated services provided.) In 2016, they counted 323 individuals enrolled in the Healthcare Home wellness program, 116 individuals who secured employment, and 78 individuals “Living independently and with dignity” as a result of their services.

If you spotted the second Path item above as the subject of our scrutiny, very well done. Let’s take a closer look at that item. Apparently according to Independence Center, the path to independence and dignity cannot occur without psychiatric drugs.

Because of the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), psychiatrists have deceived millions into thinking that the best answer to life’s many routine problems and challenges lies with the “latest and greatest” psychiatric drug.

No one denies that people can have difficult problems in their lives, that at times they can be mentally unstable, subject to unreasonable depression, anxiety or panic. Mental health care is therefore both valid and necessary. However, the emphasis must be on workable mental healing methods that improve and strengthen individuals and thereby society by restoring people to personal strength, ability, competence, confidence, stability, responsibility and spiritual well–being. Psychiatric drugs and psychiatric treatments are not workable.

The larger problem is that the biological drug model (based on bogus mental disorders) is a disease marketing campaign which prevents governments from funding real medical solutions for people experiencing difficulty. There is a great deal of evidence that medical conditions can manifest as psychiatric symptoms, and that there are non–harmful medical treatments that do not receive government funding because the psychiatric/pharmaceutical industry spends billions of dollars on advertising and lobbying efforts to counter any medical modality that does not support the false biological drug model of mental disorders as a disease.

Because the general public has been so misled by the psychiatric and pharmaceutical industries about the actual dangers of psychotropic drugs, CCHR has created the psychiatric drug side effects search engine. Visit it to Get the Facts! Fight Back!

Contrave Contrived to Confuse

Monday, April 24th, 2017

Contrave is marketed as a prescription weight-loss drug made from a combination of naltrexone HCL and bupropion HCL. Bupropion is an antidepressant, also marketed as Wellbutrin and Zyban for smoking cessation. Naltrexone is used to counteract alcohol and opioid addiction. (See our previous newsletter on Contrave.)

We’re not sure how this drug has anything to do with weight loss, except that the FDA allows it to be prescribed for that. We’re guessing it has something to do with calling obesity an addiction similar to smoking, and it’s another way to make money off of a drug by expanding its potential client base. The DSM-5 has a mental diagnosis called “Overweight or obesity.”

Naltrexone is not used extensively because the retention rate of patients is very low, so this use gives it additional life.

Bupropion increases the amount of the neurotransmitter dopamine in the brain. The most common side effects associated with bupropion are agitation, dry mouth, insomnia, headache, nausea, constipation, and tremor. It can also cause mania, hallucinations, seizures, suicidal thoughts and behavior, anxiety, panic attacks, trouble sleeping, irritability, hostile/angry feelings, impulsive actions, and severe restlessness. Additional adverse events of the Contrave combination are loss of consciousness and abuse of the drug.

Bupropion can also cause unusual weight loss or gain. We guess the doctor is betting on the former. The exact neurochemical effects of Contrave are not fully understood. What we fully understand is that the doctor is gambling that users will experience weight loss as a side effect of the drug.

Contrave has a boxed warning to alert health care professionals and patients to the increased risk of suicidal thoughts and behaviors associated with antidepressant drugs. The warning also notes that serious neuropsychiatric events have been reported in patients taking bupropion.

Contrave is a trademark of Orexigen Therapeutics, Inc. and is distributed by Takeda Pharmaceuticals. Shares of Orexigen (NASDAQ:OREX), collapsed 72% in 2015, based on its long-term cardiovascular-outcomes study for Contrave. The FDA chastised Orexigen for releasing immature data from a study where the analysis was incomplete, requiring Orexigen to run an additional long-term study.

Just for completeness, these are are inactive ingredients in Contrave: microcrystalline cellulose, hydroxypropyl cellulose, lactose anhydrous, L-cysteine hydrochloride, crospovidone, magnesium stearate, hypromellose, edetate disodium, lactose monohydrate, colloidal silicon dioxide, Opadry II Blue and FD&C Blue #2 aluminum lake. (With apologies to your dictionary, which may or may not help with some of these strange ingredients.)

The FDA approved Wellbutrin as an antidepressant in 1985 but because of the significant incidence of seizures at the originally recommended dose (400-600 mg), the drug was withdrawn in 1986. It was reintroduced in 1989 with a maximum dose of 450 mg per day.The current recommended dose for Contrave is no more than 4 tablets per day; each tablet has 90 mg bupropion HCL for a total of 360 mg per day. In Contrave clinical trials, 24% of subjects discontinued treatment because of an adverse event.

The cost of Contrave varies from about $55/month to over $200/month depending on dose, location, and insurance coverage.

We can contrive several less dangerous and cheaper alternatives for losing unwanted weight, without Contrave.

This is Your Brain on TMS

Monday, March 6th, 2017

TMS is now available in St. Louis, according to local TV commercials promoting this crippling form of brain stimulation.

Techniques such as “transcranial magnetic stimulation” (TMS) are psychiatry’s latest experiment in treatment of the “mentally ill.”

In TMS, a magnetic coil is placed near the patient’s scalp and a powerful and rapidly changing magnetic field passes through skin and bone and penetrates a few centimeters (up to 2.5 inches) into the outer cortex (outer gray matter) of the brain and induces an electrical current. Repetitive TMS (rTMS) can cause seizures or epileptic convulsions in healthy subjects, depending upon the intensity, frequency, duration and interval of the magnetic stimuli.

With ECT and psychosurgery under intense critical public scrutiny, psychiatry is now feverishly searching for a new “breakthrough miracle” – and TMS is one of the new catch phrases.

The TMS St. Louis web site (http://www.tms-stlouis.com/) says “Deep TMS Therapy is an FDA-cleared depression treatment for patients with depression who have not benefited from antidepressant medications.” Well, that makes every patient in mental health care eligible for TMS, since patently none of them have benefited from the drugs.

Why do some people say it “works”?

No one denies that people can have difficult problems in their lives, that at times they can be mentally unstable. Unfortunately, not only do psychiatrists not understand the etiology (cause) of any mental disorder, they cannot cure them. In effect, psychiatrists are still saying that mental problems are incurable and that the afflicted are condemned to lifelong suffering.
Psychiatric treatments such as TMS, however, are unworkable and dangerous, and while they may temporarily mask some symptoms they do not treat, correct or cure any physical disease or condition.

TMS may temporarily relieve the pressure that an underlying physical problem could be causing but it does not treat, correct or cure any physical disease or condition. This relief may have the person thinking he is better but that relief is not evidence that a psychiatric disorder exists. Ask an illicit drug user whether he feels better when snorting cocaine or smoking dope and he’ll believe that he is, even while the drugs are actually damaging him. Some depression treatments can have a “damping down” effect. They suppress the physical feelings associated with “depression” but they are not alleviating the condition or targeting what is causing it.

The brain is your body’s most energy–intensive organ. It represents only three percent of your body weight but uses twenty–five percent of your body’s oxygen, nutrients and circulating glucose. Therefore any significant metabolic disruptions such as TMS can impact brain function.

The brain stimulation breaks the routine rhythmic flows and activities of the nervous system. The nerves and other body systems are forced to do things they normally would not do. The human body, however, is unmatched in its ability to withstand and respond to such disruptions. The various systems fight back, trying to process the disruption, and work diligently to counterbalance its effect on the body.

But the body can only take so much. Quickly or slowly, the systems break down. Human physiology was not designed for this type of brain stimulation. Tissue damage may occur. Nerves may stop functioning normally. Organs and hormonal systems may go awry. This can be temporary, but it can also be long lasting, even permanent. Like a car run on rocket fuel, you may be able to get it to run a thousand miles an hour, but the tires, the engine, the internal parts, were never meant for this. The machine flies apart.

Side effects (adverse reactions) of TMS may include headache, scalp discomfort, facial muscle spasms, lightheadedness, fainting; altered endocrine, immune or neurotransmitter systems; loss of consciousness; seizures; mania; hearing loss; and, if the patient is depressed, the “treatment” may induce or exacerbate suicidal feelings. Adverse reactions are often delayed – i.e. may appear long after the patient has left the doctor’s office.

You may hear that TMS is called “noninvasive”, but it does impact the brain in ways that are not fully understood. One could say it is “noninvasive” in the same way that ECT is noninvasive – i.e. it doesn’t break the skin. Scorch marks not included. Little is known about the long-term side effects. Cognitive impairment has also been observed in some cases. Using different stimulation intensities and/or patterns may also have significant effects on the long-lasting outcomes.

Typical treatment involves a 40-minute session, five days a week, for four to six weeks. The cost can range from $6,000 to $10,000.

Physically intrusive and damaging practices such as TMS violate the doctor’s pledge to uphold the Hippocratic Oath and “Do no harm.”

New high-tech “treatments” for the brain will continue to be used to create the appearance of scientific progress, but in the end, psychiatry will be no closer to identifying any causes or effecting any cures; instead, their betrayal and brutality in the name of mental health continues. Psychiatry has proven only one thing — without the protection of basic human rights, there can only be diminished mental health.

Persons in desperate circumstances must be provided proper and effective medical care. The correct action on a seriously mentally disturbed person is a full, searching clinical examination by a competent medical doctor to discover and treat the true cause of the problem. Mental health facilities should have non-psychiatric medical experts on staff and be required to have a full complement of diagnostic equipment, which could prevent more than 40% of admissions by finding and treating undiagnosed physical conditions.

Click here for more information about the brutal reality of abusive psychiatric practices such as electroshock, TMS, deep brain stimulation, and psychosurgery.

Hidden Side Effects

Friday, February 24th, 2017

A short article in the January, 2017 Scientific American indicates that “Researchers don’t always share the whole picture when it comes to the safety of drugs and other medical treatments.”

It goes on to say that “Approximately half of studies published on new medical treatments leave out at least some of the adverse effects they uncovered.”

Starting now, U.S. investigators conducting clinical trials will have to make all their findings publicly available, according to a new rule from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the U.S. National Institutes of Health. Refer to the Trials Tracker here, to see who isn’t reporting all their clinical trial data.

The Trials Tracker currently shows the top 290 trial sponsors who have missing clinical trial data. Since 2006, 45% of all known trials are missing published data. Trials with negative results are twice as likely to remain unreported as those with positive results.

For example, in Missouri the Washington University School of Medicine has completed 141 trials of which 67 are missing published results; the University of Missouri-Columbia completed 31 trials of which 16 are missing results. Of the pharmaceutical companies, Pfizer has run 471 trials of which 62 are missing results; AstraZeneca completed 408 with 68 missing; Eli Lilly and Company ran 292 with 15 missing; Novartis Pharmaceuticals ran 534 with 201 missing; GlaxoSmithKline ran 809 with 183 missing; Bayer ran 267 with 106 missing; Takeda ran 211 with 72 missing.

The high level data does not show the drug or device under investigation, and drilling down to the base data does not show the class or type of drug. But as an example, we searched for Ritalin (methylphenidate) and found four completed clinical trials with no published results. We can only assume the results were negative.

Click here for the truth about psychiatric drugs.

Remembering Carrie and Debbie

Friday, January 6th, 2017

We are sincerely grieved at Carrie Fisher’s death December 27th from heart failure. When we read that Carrie Fisher suffered a heart attack December 23rd on a plane flight from London to Los Angeles, we were shocked.

Fisher as Princess Leia was just 19 years old when she began shooting “Star Wars.” By the time she was 21 she was doing LSD in an attempt to self-medicate. In 2011 she confessed to Oprah that she had electroshock therapy every six weeks, since the antidepressants were not entirely effective in dealing with her mental issues, suffering memory loss as a result. She was hospitalized in 2013 for so-called bipolar disorder, and she was still taking psychotropic drugs and getting ECT.

One can only assume such treatment continued into present time, so it is now hardly shocking that she has suffered a heart attack as well. The amazing part is her resilience. All those drugs and electric shocks through the years, in a normal person, may well have been fatal far sooner.

Any benefit one claims for ECT, no matter how famous one is, has to speak only for a person’s innate strength, since ECT, as well as psychotropic drugs, is patently damaging.

A cursory review of over 200 psychotropic drugs shows that every one has potential adverse effects of heart attacks or other heart-related problems. During ECT, the heart rate is severely impacted, either speeding up or slowing down dramatically. Most deaths reported during or immediately after ECT are cardiovascular in nature.

And now, the FDA wants to reclassify ElectroConvulsive Therapy machines to exempt them from clinical testing if they are similar to machines currently being marketed, which effectively means they do not have to be demonstrated as safe and effective.

Frankly, the FDA should simply ban outright the use of psychotropic drugs and ECT machines as being dangerous and harmful.

We are doubly saddened by the passing of Debbie Reynolds, Fisher’s mother, just a day after Fisher’s death. Debbie Reynolds was recognized for her decades-long commitment to various charities, including the mental-health organization The Thalians, a group of entertainment professionals who support mental health care issues. Reynolds was among the founders of the Thalians charity group in 1955, and was the Thalians’ third president. A mental health center at the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center was named after the organization. It closed in 2012 and the Thalians now raise funds for veterans with mental health issues in association with the UCLA Medical Center. Honor the memory of both Carrie and Debbie by working with CCHR to continue to bring sanity to the mental health care profession.

Trintellix by any other name

Thursday, November 24th, 2016

This year (in May, 2016) the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in cooperation with drug distributor Takeda Pharmaceuticals has changed the brand name of the antidepressant Brintellix to Trintellix. The generic name vortioxetine remains the same. The name change was made because of continued prescribing and dispensing errors with a completely different blood-thinning drug called Brilinta.

Of course, we don’t recommend taking the drug regardless of what it is called. It supposed to be prescribed for something called “major depressive disorder [MDD].” In practice, it is just another SSRI, messing with the levels of serotonin in the brain. To quote from the manufacturer’s Medication Guide, “The mechanism of the antidepressant effect of vortioxetine is not fully understood.”

Interestingly enough, one of the potential side effects is actually called “Serotonin Syndrome,” whose symptoms may include agitation, hallucinations, delirium, coma, tachycardia, labile blood pressure, dizziness, diaphoresis, flushing, hyperthermia, tremor, rigidity, myoclonus, hyperreflexia, incoordination, seizures, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.

“Pooled analyses of shortterm placebo-controlled studies of antidepressant drugs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors
[SSRIs] and others) showed that these drugs increase the risk of suicidal thinking and behavior (suicidality) in children, adolescents, and young adults (ages 18 to 24) with MDD and other psychiatric disorders.”

See our previous blog on Brintellix for more information.
See this also for more information.

We must recognize that the real problem is that psychiatrists and other medical practitioners fraudulently diagnose life’s problems as an “illness” and stigmatize unwanted behavior as  “diseases.” Psychiatry’s stigmatizing labels, programs and treatments are harmful junk science; their diagnoses of “mental disorders” are a hoax – unscientific, fraudulent and harmful.

CCHR believes that everyone has the right to full informed consent. FIND OUT! FIGHT BACK!

Florida Court Rules Physician May Be Liable in Suicide

Sunday, September 11th, 2016

Florida’s Supreme Court ruled August 25, 2016 that a physician could be sued for medical malpractice in the case of a patient’s suicide. [Medscape Medical News, 2016-08-26] The victim was taking antidepressant psychiatric drugs. The Florida Supreme Court ruled that the case should proceed to trial.

The prescribing doctor, Joseph Stephen Chirillo, Jr., M.D., is a Family Physician in Englewood, Florida and was treating the victim for depression.

Evidence cited was, 1) Dr. Chirillo knew that patients who stopped taking Effexor abruptly had an increased risk for suicide, and 2) stopping Effexor was “a contributing factor” in the decedent’s suicide.

Primary Care doctors are often continuing the psychiatric drug bandwagon pioneered by psychiatrists. In fact, it may now be that more people get antidepressants from their family doctor than from a psychiatrist.

Medscape believes that one in five patients prescribed antidepressants stop taking them without telling their doctor. It has been known for quite some time that the side effects of violence and suicide can occur from abrupt withdrawal as well as from continuing to take these harmful and addictive psychotropic drugs. No one should stop taking any psychiatric drug without the advice and assistance of a competent medical doctor.

For more information about coming off of psychiatric drugs safely, click here.

Side effects (also called “adverse reactions”) are the body’s natural response to having a chemical disrupt its normal functioning.

One could also say that there are no drug side effects, these adverse reactions are actually the drug’s real effects; some of these effects just happen to be unwanted. Read more about how drugs work here.

Psychiatry’s theory that a brain–based, chemical imbalance causes mental illness was invented to sell drugs. Misled by all the drug marketing efforts, 100 million people worldwide—20 million of them children—are taking psychotropic drugs, convinced they are correcting some physical or chemical imbalance in their body. In reality, they are taking powerful substances so dangerous they can cause hallucinations, psychosis, heart irregularities, diabetes, hostility, aggression, sexual dysfunction and suicide.

While not everyone on psychotropic drugs commits suicide or uncontrolled acts of violence, the effects of the many other side effects can be horrendous. Not the least of which is the fact that the biological drug model (based on bogus mental disorders) is a disease marketing campaign which prevents governments from funding real medical solutions for people experiencing difficulty. While the patient may be lulled into a temporary sense of wellness, whatever condition has caused the symptom is still present and often growing worse, as the original condition has not been found and treated.

Because of the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), psychiatrists and family physicians have deceived millions into thinking that the best answer to life’s many routine problems and challenges lies with the “latest and greatest” psychiatric drug.

Risky Business of Sleep Drugs

Saturday, March 5th, 2016

Risky Business of Sleep Drugs

After reading about the dangers of sleeping pills in the February 2016 edition of Consumer Reports magazine, we thought you might like to know something about that.

Some psychotropic drugs are prescribed as sleeping pills. Trazodone, an antidepressant, is often prescribed off label as a sleeping pill. Benzodiazepines such as Valium are also prescribed as sleeping pills. Other examples are Ambien (an anti-psychotic), Lunesta (an anti-anxiety drug), and Sonata (another anti-anxiety drug).

These have all the potential side effects we have come to associate with psychiatric drugs — including violence, suicide, addiction, and so on.

The latest sleeping pill fad, touted as “the new insomnia drug”, is Belsomra (generic “suvorexant”). It is classified as a “sedative-hypnotic” which means it is a central nervous system depressant; it alters brain chemistry by targeting a neurotransmitter called orexin.

Belsomra is manufactured by Merck, Sharpe & Dohme Corporation, and was approved by the FDA for insomnia in August of 2014.

Guess what? This drug carries the same warnings as other psychotropic drugs; it may cause memory loss, anxiety, confusion, agitation, hallucinations, depression, addiction, and thoughts of suicide — all this along with its own special side effects: inability to move or talk, sleep-walking, sleep-driving, and drowsiness lasting through the next day.

Here is what Consumer Reports has to say about Belsomra: “…people who took a 15- or 20-milligram dose of Belsomra every night for three months fell asleep just 6 minutes faster on average than those who took a placebo. And those on Belsomra slept on average only 16 minutes longer than people given a placebo. Such small improvements didn’t translate to people feeling more awake the next day, either. Instead, more people who took Belsomra reported that they felt drowsy the next day than those who took a placebo.”

“Because of the limited benefits and substantial risks of sleeping pills, Consumer Reports’ medical experts advise that sleep drugs should be used with great caution.”

“Merck spent $36 million on TV ads for its new drug Belsomra from Aug. 1 to Nov. 24, 2015, making it the second most advertised Rx drug in that time frame, according to iSpot.tv. The ads note that Belsomra is the first drug to target orexin, a chemical that plays a role in keeping people awake. But Belsomra doesn’t work much, or any, better than other sleep drugs. And because it’s new, little is known about its long-term safety.”

One take-away here is that even if a prescription drug is not advertised or prescribed for psychiatric reasons, if it messes with the brain’s neurotransmitters and has all the same side-effects as a psychiatric drug — well, you must get the picture by now.

The Consumer Reports article goes on to discuss non-drug sleep alternatives at some length; it is a good and helpful read.

When your doctor prescribes a drug, it is good practice to ask questions so you can give your full informed consent. These are some example questions you can ask:

1. What is the evidence for the diagnosis?
2. How does the treatment affect the body?
3. How does the treatment affect the mind?
4. What unwanted effects may occur?
5. Is it approved by the FDA for this condition?
6. What is known and not known about how safe it is and how well it works?
7. What are the alternatives, including the option of no treatment?
8. Does the doctor or the clinic have a financial interest in pushing the diagnosis or treatment?