Day 655

When I first came to the UK, a couple of myths in my mind about this country were busted within the first week.

  1. Education is free, so everyone must be literate and educated.
  2. The government looks after people who are unable to work, so everyone must be happy.

I was puzzled by the fact that at least 1 in 3 patients I saw before an operation were on regular antidepressants. Some patients took St John’s Wort. I had never heard of that before. Some didn’t admit to having any problems with their health but on a closer look at their notes, were taking antidepressants.

Over the last 10 years, the use of antidepressants has doubled in the UK. Some science tells us that these drugs have a history of proven efficacy and some other science tells us that the benefits are marginal and short term. Occasionally the effects are very harmful. One such effect is ‘Akathisia’, defined as a movement disorder characterised by a feeling of inner restlessness and a compelling need to be in constant motion, as well as by actions such as rocking while standing or sitting, lifting the feet as if marching on the spot, and crossing and uncrossing the legs while sitting. People with akathisia are unable to sit or keep still, complain of restlessness, fidget, rock from foot to foot, and pace.

The Pill That Steals Lives’ is a book written by documentary maker Katinka Blackford Newman. It is one woman’s terrifying journey to discover the truth about antidepressants.

In it she talks about one year of hell that she lived through after being started on Escitalopram(Lexapro). She describes the thoughts of violent acts that crept into her mind while on that drug. She got full blown delusions about having killed her two young children. She had to be hospitalised and was put on multiple medications that made her loose the ability to look after herself or her children.

More than 10 years ago America’s National Institute of Mental Health set out to measure the effectiveness of antidepressants. They found that only 26%of patients responded positively to these meds and at the end of one year only 6% were well. Conclusion: ‘the findings revealed remarkably low response and remission rates’.

Saagar was started on Citalopram (a drug used for unipolar depression and unsuitable for young people) 4 weeks before his death. The dose was doubled from 10 to 20 milligrams per day, 2 days before his death. The riskiest time is when they are started, when they are stopped and when the dose is changed. How much did these medicines contribute to his death? We will never know.

3 thoughts on “Day 655

  1. I started Citalopram when I was 19 and found it didn’t help with what they thought was major depressive disorder at all. I took it for almost six months, going from 20-40mg, but when my depression and suicidal urges were just as bad, myself and my partner (who has been my full-time carer since I became ill) took myself off against their wishes.

    I was put on it again at 21, this time alongside an anti-psychotic as my diagnosis had changed to bipolar. This managed my mood pretty well and was the last time I was anywhere near stable, but the anti-psychotic gave me terrible akathisia – I couldn’t sit still morning to night and people would mock me in public. The Dr’s left me like that for 2.5 years, it was awful.

    I’ve taken every single med they’ve put me on; none have helped and the side effects have been terrible.

    In the past month I was put on Citalopram again, but this time for panic disorder. It seems to be helping the anxiety, ish. I can’t leave the house or travel to appts at the moment because my psychosis is so bad, so the hope is Citalopram will reduce the anxiety, as the GP can’t offer anything else other than anti-depressants…


  2. Thank you for sharing your experiences. It is unfair on GPs and patients that GPs are expected to manage such severe degrees of illness. I don’t think that is correct. Psychiatric medications are blunt instruments. I don’t think they are very well understood even by the specialists. A lot of it is ‘hit and trial’. We need more psychiatrists.
    I wish you luck!
    Lots of love. xxx


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s