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Toxic Psychiatry: Psychiatric Drugs Linked to Chronic Disease and Medical Malpractice

by Helke Ferrie(more info)

listed in nutraceuticals, originally published in issue 204 - March 2013

“The battle against polypharmacy, or the use of a large number of drugs (the action of which we know little, yet we put them into the bodies ... the action of which we know less), has not been fought to the finish…. Do not use rashly every new product of which the peripatetic siren sings. Consider what surprising reactions may occur in the laboratory from the careless mixing of unknown substances. Be as considerate of your patient and yourself as you are of the test-tube.”                 

Sir William Osler (1849-1919)

About 20% of the North American population is now on psychiatric drugs for either depression, ADHD, anxiety, schizophrenia, phobias, impulse-control disorder, or bi-polar disorder. North Americans consume multiple uppers and downers and mysterious ‘mood stabilizers’, to the tune of $25 billion annually. These are prescribed by doctors who are either deceived by the manufacturers of those drugs or who are complicit with the pharmaceutical industry’s business model. Most prescribers know very little about pharmacology and almost none have any training in toxicology. The pharmaceutical industry tosses 87% of their annual $58 billion marketing budget at doctors, starting in medical school where 94% of psychiatrists-in-training have accepted gifts from pharmaceutical companies by their third year.

Toxic Psychiatry

The pharmaceutical industry’s top sellers are psychiatric drugs used to treat conditions codified in the current edition of the Diagnostic & Statistical Manual (DSM-IV) of the American Psychiatric Association. Dr Marcia Angell, Professor of public policy at Harvard and former interim editor-in-chief of the New England Journal of Medicine, observes: “This Bible of psychiatry, like the real Bible, is dependent a lot on something akin to revelation. There are no citations of scientific studies to support its decisions”; the diagnoses described in it are often arrived at in secret, behind closed doors, by vote only, and are not backed up by any references to objective scientific findings - testable and verifiable material.

As psychiatric drug sales keep rising, and psychiatrists tell us that 46% of the American population now fit at least one of the criteria in the DSM-IV, Angell asked: “What is going on here? What about the drugs? Do they work? If they do, shouldn’t we expect the prevalence of mental illness to be declining, not rising?” She then examined the pervasive intellectual morass and corporate-controlled scientific fraud on which much of modern psychiatry is alleged to be based. It was best illustrated with the help of a graph published in Nature recently, showing the sky-rocketing increases in fines that pharmaceutical companies have paid since 2006 for the harm their blockbuster drugs have caused. The fines are now in the billions of dollars.

The drugs prescribed by psychiatrists are backed by manufacturer-sponsored clinical trials, a business worth $30 billion annually; the industry keeps much of the resulting data secret, protected by current patent law from the critical intellects of independent reviewers. Most are scientific trials in appearance; in reality they are controlled by marketing departments - as such “the blind lead the blind - giving a whole new meaning to the idea of a double-blind study,” observes Dr David Healy, a UK professor of psychiatry and pharmacology and outspoken critic of psychiatry. According to him, “Evidence-based medicine has become evidence-biased medicine” so that “we are quite literally taking pills to save the lives of companies who have the greater interest in the vitality of the diseases they market drugs for than in our well-being.”

And what about the doctors involved? Marketing departments armed with off-prints of those company-controlled studies work aggressively to influence the doctors’ prescribing habits; most doctors appear to believe what they are told and prescribe as they are told. Healy states: “The idea that most doctors have been body-snatched and replaced by someone working for a faceless marketing department seems at first inconceivable to most people, the germ perhaps of an amusing idea for a television series.”

“Medicine as we know it is at death’s door,” writes  Healy in his latest book Pharmagedon. In it, he describes how the pharmaceutical industry has hijacked clinical medical practice, research, and the governmental regulatory systems to serve their business objectives, thereby doing far more harm than good for patients. The most tragic victims of all are children who are prescribed toxic psychiatric drugs now known to cause brain damage and the risk of sudden death. For children, especially those in foster care, the concept of informed consent has become meaningless.

On October 4 of this year, at the annual convention of the American Psychiatric Association, Healy told his colleagues “you are committing professional suicide,” comparing their relationship to industry with the Vatican’s attempts to suppress child sex abuse scandals instead of dealing with the problem. He told his fellow psychiatrists, backed by the most compelling international research he had published in a series of books, “you’ve been fooled by industry. The key conflict is whether people are hiding the data from you.” One example involved Zyprexa “which has the highest suicide rate in clinical trial history” - information which was totally hidden from regulators and prescribers. Indeed, as reported by AdverseEvents Inc. ( ) in March of this year, the worst adverse events are brain-related side effects caused by the best-selling psychiatric drugs.

The Drug Party is Over

There are four classes of drugs used in psychiatry:

  1. Antidepressants (e.g. Prozac, Paxil, Effexor, Celexa);
  2. Anti-anxiety meds (e.g. Lorazopam/Ativan, Valium);
  3. Antipsychotics (e.g. Chlorpromazine, Seroquel, Zyprexa, Haldol, Risperdal, Abilify);
  4. Stimulants (e.g. Ritalin, Concerta).

The proof is now in, provided by critical-thinking researchers supported by brain-imaging technology, that drugs, especially those used to treat schizophrenia and stimulants used for ADHD, actually shrink the brain. Who would have thought that MRIs would give concrete reality to the term ‘shrink’!

In 1989, Nancy Andreasen, Professor of psychiatry and then Editor-in-chief of the American Journal of Psychiatry, found - through a longitudinal study combined with brain scans - that anti-psychotic drugs shrank the frontal lobes of schizophrenics and thus made recovery impossible. In 2008 she observed, “The more drugs you have been given, the more brain tissue you lose.... The pre-frontal cortex doesn’t get the input it needs and is being shut down by the drug. That reduces the psychotic symptoms. It also causes the prefrontal cortex to slowly atrophy.”

Children, if taken off Ritalin, do have a chance to recover the use of their brains, as psychiatrist Peter Breggin has shown with his withdrawal protocols. Breggin, often referred to as “the conscience of psychiatry,” is credited with stopping the return of frontal lobotomy surgery, and other forms of psychosurgery, and acted as expert witness for more than a hundred legal actions against  manufacturers of antidepressants. He explains that Ritalin causes children to become abnormal: “the crushing of spontaneous behaviour and the enforcement of compulsive, over-focused behaviour is actually [not] an improvement. It’s a form of brain dysfunction, and long-term it causes permanent abnormalities in the brain and suppresses growth. That is a dreadful thing to do to children.” While serious behaviour problems can be very real and disrupting, most can be attributed to intolerances to specific foods, and/or artificial food additives, or sensitivities/allergies to pervasive chemicals in the environment.

In 1965, Joseph Schildkraut suggested that depression might be caused by a lack of the neurotransmitters serotonin and epinephrine; this is the “catecholamine hypothesis of affective disorder” - today’s ‘chemical imbalance’ myth. Then, in 1969, followed the “dopamine hypothesis.” By the mid-1970s it was clear there was not a shred of evidence to support either theory, and psychiatry abandoned it. Yet Healy describes how - by the late 1980s - the marketing departments of SmithKline Beecham (as it was then), Eli Lilly, and Pfizer revived this theory to sell Paxil, Zoloft, and Prozac: “In fact, mindless patter about restoring chemical imbalances did a great deal to make SSRIs most profitable… from 1990 onward.” Referring to the flood of company-sponsored and controlled trials designed to help support such myths, Healy wonders if such ‘spin’ can ever be ‘overcome’ by real data, because “myths always have the last word.”

Psychiatric Drugs Increase Risk of Chronic Disease

On January 23 of this year, on  National Public Radio (NPR)’s Morning Edition, leading psychiatrists admitted that the chemical imbalance theory is baseless, and FDA regulators stated that this theory was “really just a metaphor”. However, this ‘metaphor’ is the rationale used for prescribing artificial chemicals which are totally foreign and toxic to the body - and this truly ass-backwards logic insists that proof for those “chemical imbalances” is the presence of depression, anxiety, suicidal despair, grief, or rage.

Thanks to Irving Kirsch, who spent 15 years studying the entire database, published and unpublished, on antidepressant drugs, we now know that (through the skilful avoidance of long-term studies) none of the aforementioned drugs are better than placebo. Furthermore, the psychiatric drugs have undeniable and unacceptable side effects and virtually no helpful effect. All carry the increased risk of diabetes, cancer, irreversible neuro-motor damage, worsening depression, insomnia, loss of sex drive, suicide, and homicidal behaviour. Last December, the “Prozac defence” was upheld in a Manitoba court for a teenager who killed his friend while under the effects of the drug. The biological evidence was so solid that the case was not appealed.

James Gottstein, a lawyer and activist for psychiatric patients’ rights who works especially for the right of children to be medication-free, states that antidepressants should really be renamed on the basis of the currently available evidence and be called “antiaphrodisiac medication,” “agitation enhancers,” “insomnia inducers,” “suicidality inducers,” “mania stimulators,” or “gas busters.” This last one applies because these drugs can cause serious gastrointestinal problems when interfering with serotonin which regulates the bowels. He admits that such re-naming would not “offer the same marketing appeal.”

Worst of all, babies have double the rate of usually fatal heart abnormalities when born to mothers on SSRIs - even if the mother discontinued them up to nine months prior to becoming pregnant. SSRIs, like Prozac, are now especially known to cause epigenetic damage; this is harm done to the next generation’s DNA building and repair mechanisms by inheriting the mother’s disturbed metabolic signals caused by the toxicity of antidepressants. Until now, epigenetic damage has only been known to occur from pesticides which predispose the foetus to cancer.

Healy observes with wry British humour that “if Pharma made cars, the seat-belt warning signs would be removed… and the accelerator would be re-engineered so that the only options were travel at the upper end of the speed limit or faster.” However, ever since the tobacco industry was successfully challenged, we have the odd situation that “if Philip Morris made medicines, all available drugs would come with prominent Black Box warnings stating that this drug can kill… there would be a ban on all advertising, and the use of drugs would be severely restricted for children.” He suggests doctors should think like pilots who know that if they make a mistake they get killed along with their passengers.

The Rescuers

Psychiatric illness is a terrible medical reality; people can suffer paralyzing depression, frightening hallucinations, or disabling flashbacks to horrific traumas suffered in the past. Robert Whitaker discovered in his research, while working as publications director for Harvard Medical School, that highly successful drugless methods, based on empathy and the provision of a protective environment, had been developed by leading psychiatrist whose published results were based on highly successful long-term outcome studies. Alas, empathy cannot be patented and when profit is the guiding motive, the demonstrated and published excellence of psychotherapy and its unquestioned superiority in the long term is easily dismissed.

Parallel with the rise of the pharmaceutical industry’s psychiatry we find, however, also the research of psychiatrist Dr Abram Hoffer and those great doctors and researchers who developed the truly healing protocols of orthomolecular medicine, among them Theron Randolph, Linus Pauling, David Horrobin. Hoffer was encouraged by the then Premier of Saskatchewan, Tommy Douglas, to try his nutrition- and vitamin-based therapies for especially schizophrenia patients - and emptied out that province’s asylums. Hoffer’s randomized, double-blind controlled trials documenting his successful methods (75% better than drugs) were published and are discussed in his scientific memoir.

The newly published revelations about the profit-mediated harm psychiatry is capable of originate from clinicians Irving Kirsch, David Healy, Joseph Glenmullen, Peter Breggin, and Grace Jackson and others in the research community. Indeed, if ever the truth is capable of making people free, these dissenting researchers provide accessible road maps to mental health freedom with the help of withdrawal protocols that can return patients to the re-possession of their mental and emotional lives. 


Angell M. The Epidemic of Mental Illness: Why? The New York Review of Books, June 23, 2011.

Balch PA. Prescription for Nutritional Healing. 5th edition. June 2011.

Blackwell T. The Prozac Defense. The National Post, December 7, 2011.

Breggin P. Psychiatric Drug Withdrawal: A Guide for Prescribers, Therapists, Patients, and their Families. Springer 2013,  and .

Cassels A. Seeking Sickness – Medical Screening and the Misguided Hunt for Disease. Keystone 2012.

Glenmullen J. Prozac Backlash. Touchstone. 2001.

Glenmullen J. The Antidepressant Solution. Free Press, 2009.

Greenberg G. Manufacturing Depression: The Secret History of a Modern Disease.  Simon & Schuster. 2010.

Healy D. Pharmagedon, California University Press, 2012. David Healy’s observations about psychiatry committing professional suicide come from his address to the APA on October 4, 2012 and were reported in the international media. Google: David Healy + American Psychiatric Association 2012.  For withdrawal protocols and the details of how these toxic drugs were developed and fraudulently marketed, and how medical associations and governments became complicit with the marketing.

Healy D. The Antidepressant Era. Harvard University Press. 1997.

Healy D. The Creation of Psychopharmacology. Harvard University Press. 2002.

Healy, D. Let Them Eat Prozac. Lorimer. Toronto. 2004.

Healy D. Mania - A Short History of Bipolar Disorder. Johns Hopkins University Press. 2009.

Hoffer A. Adventures in Psychiatry - The Scientific Memoirs. Kos Publishing. 2005. Available through the International Society for Orthomolecular Medicine: +1 416-733-2117.

Jackson GE.  Drug-Induced Dementia - A Perfect Crime. AuthorHouse. 2009.

Kirsch I. The Emperor’s New Drugs: Exploding the Antidepressant Myth. Basic Books. 2010.

Larson JM. Depression-Free Naturally. Ballantine. 1999.

Pelton R. and Lavalle J. The Nutritional Cost of Prescription Drugs. Morton. 2004.

Sharpe K. Coming of Age on Zoloft: How Antidepressants cheered us up, let us down, and changed who we are. Harper. 2012.

Whitaker R. Anatomy of an Epidemic. Broadway. 2010. 

Helpful Aids for Withdrawing from Benzos and Effexor

Benzodiazepine drugs interfere with the activity, production, and normal functioning of GABA (Gamma-aminobutyric acid) - the main neurotransmitter responsible for the inhibition of anxiety. GABA is made in our bodies from another amino acid called glutamic acid. GABA works in synergy with certain nutrients upon which its ability to function depends: specifically the B vitamins niacinamide and inositol.  When GABA works properly and is available to the brain, its role is to prevent anxiety and stress messages from flooding the motor centres of the brain. As GABA production and stores reduce, anxiety increases, stress hormones (cortisol) increase as they are designed to rev up all metabolic functions in an emergency, increase out of the adrenal glands. Designed for emergency situations, chronic excitation of cortisol production leads to ‘adrenal fatigue’ which is usually attended by chronic anxiety.

Effexor is a drug that is potentially highly toxic to the liver. The functioning of the liver depends to a very large extend on the sufficient production and availability of glutathione. It is a detoxification compound  from the amino acids cysteine, glutamic acid and glycine. Glutathione is found mostly in the liver, the body’s detoxification centre, but also in the intestinal tract, the lungs, and is always present also in the blood stream. When the liver is presented with toxins and cannot make enough glutathione to neutralize them by excreting them via the bile ducts, the build-up of toxicity tends to show first mental disorders, anxiety, tremors, problems maintaining balance and accelerated visible signs of ageing especially of the skin.

All psychiatric drugs also interfere with and deplete magnesium and calcium stores - the most important minerals for the facilitation of calm brains and the ability to sleep. These minerals are required for the production of melatonin produced by the pineal gland. If calcium / magnesium stores are not sufficient, taking melatonin by itself rarely works to restore sleep.

Both these and most other psychiatric drugs tend to be addictive. The addictive response is essentially a protective change in the system which adapts to a war it cannot win. The body cannot stop receiving the toxin if the patient keeps taking it, it also cannot create enough of a detoxification defence to eliminate those toxins  - they are foreign/artificial chemicals that cannot be metabolized or neutralized.  So, the body stores it while keeping up the detoxification defences enough to keep the person functional. As long as possible, the body stores these substances by ‘packaging’ them in the deep tissues and in fat, i.e. in cholesterol. Chronic antidepressant takers usually have high cholesterol.  That goes down to normal when the drug withdrawal has been successfully completed. Withdrawing from these drugs is difficult and must be done slowly and adjusted to the needs of the individual patients.

All psychiatric drugs are toxic: a toxin is a substance that interferes with essential nutrient absorption, poisons pathways essential for metabolism, or blocks the production of detoxification systems - usually all three. Toxicity means that eventually organ damage occurs which may become irreversible.

Withdrawing from these drugs is greatly assisted if those nutrients are supplied in therapeutic doses which were reduced by the drugs’ toxicity.

NOTE: manufacturers sold in drug stores are not recommended as they do not guarantee purity in terms of no GMOs, no wheat, no soy, no added sugars, no fillers etc. etc. People differ in requirements and ability to resist toxins. The information below is a basic guideline. They do not apply to everybody; many need a lot more. You need help from people who know about these drugs (some doctors, most naturopaths) to adjust your program to work best for you. Tests to determine the exact depletion status are available through many laboratories, but expensive. If the drug being withdrawn is a classic SSRI, such as Prozac, the patient also needs to supplement with Co-Q 10. No-Nos!  Alcohol, cigarettes, high coffee intake (more than 4 cups daily, no caffeinated pop). Highly recommended: organic food if possible, especially meat, eggs and milk products.


This article was originally published in Vitality, November 2012.


  1. Donna said..

    I think my son has permanent damage from psych meds. He has been given a choice to have an injection, once a month or go to jail. I think he already has permanent damage and I give him detox tea. I don't know what would be more effective.

  2. James said..

    I am in Saskatchewan, but am willing to venture anywhere in Canada in order to meet with a Psychiatrist who is aware of the obvious detriments of consuming quetiapine. This present doctor shows no concern of reducing the present daily dose of this paralyzing drug... help!

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About Helke Ferrie

Helke Ferrie was born in Germany to Nazi resistance fighters and spent much of her childhood in India where, 42 years ago, she met her husband, a Canadian doctor. Having raised a family of 3 biological and 12 adopted children, they now live in Ontario with 2 dogs and 7 cats. She holds a Master's degree from the University of Toronto in physical anthropology. She lives in Alton, Ontario and runs Kos Publishing Inc., which is dedicated to the politics of medicine. Helke writes monthly articles on the politics of health and has published several books. She may be contacted via

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