20/11/2018

What Are Psychotropic Drugs? Its Types, History & Statistics

It’s estimated that some 25,000 people sprain their ankle every single day, according to the American Orthopedic Foot & Ankle Society. (1) What are some of the reasons that someone might suffer from an ankle sprain? Ankle injuries can affect people of all ages. They are commonly caused by things like repetitive overuse and poor posture when exercising.  Other causes are muscular compensations, imbalance in oppositional muscles, and impact to a ligament or joint near the foot. For the elderly, who can experience weakness and instability in the ankles, accidents such as falling are another frequent cause.

Common signs of a rolled ankle are pain, swelling, throbbing and even a black/blue appearance surrounding the injury. Sprained ankles can definitely be painful — and also inconvenient, as they usually force you to stay off your feet. The good news is that there are natural sprained ankle treatments to speed the healing of ankle sprains or other related injuries.

Upon rolling or twisting your ankle, it’s important to immediately rest the affected foot. Ideally, elevate the area as much as possible for at least the next 48-72 hours. Natural sprained ankle treatments included below are: icing the ankle, dulling pain with essential oils, and preventing the injury from happening again.
 What is a Sprained Ankle?

A “sprain” is usually a sign that certain parts of the body are overused and stressed. A sprained ankle can also be called a rolled ankle or twisted ankle. Pain often means that a tear has developed in one or more ligaments that support and stabilize the ankle.

Ligaments are strong bands of tissue that hold bones together. They keep joints in place like the ankle, wrist, knee, parts of the lower back, neck, elbow and shoulder. The American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons states, “An ankle sprain occurs when the strong ligaments that support the ankle stretch beyond their limits and tear.” (2) The ankle ligaments are pulled beyond their normal range of motion.

The lateral ligament is located on the outside of the ankle. It’s the part of the ankle most often injured due to rolling, overusing, twisting or straining. Up to 85 percent of all ankle sprains result from dysfunction of these ligaments. The ankle ligaments are made of small tissue fibers. These fibers can develop injuries ranging from small pulls or twists, to complete tears. (3)

If the ankle ligaments are completely torn, the ankle may become unstable even after the initial injury passes. This sets the scene for weakness, instability and other injuries in the future. Over time, muscular compensations caused by instability can result in damage to the bones and cartilage of the ankle joint. This is especially risky for those who engage in high-impact exercises such as running or playing contact sports. (4)
Common Causes & Risk Factors for Sprained Ankles

The Journal of Manual & Manipulative Therapy states that sprained ankles and fractures are some of the most common injuries to affect the legs. It’s estimated that about one ankle sprain occurs for every 10,000 people each day in Western countries. (5) Studies have found that 16-21 percent of all sports-related injuries are sprained ankles. They tend to occur during activities that can cause impact, fracturing of the ankles, over-twisting or overuse of muscles in the lower body.

Situations in which ankle sprains occur most often include: (6)

    When exercising, such as running or even walking. The risk is highest when moving quickly and on any uneven, hard surface. Unsupportive shoes that don’t feet your feet well create a risk factor for sprained ankles; they set the stage for rolling, instability and twisting.
    Tripping, getting knocked down (such as during contact sports like football, basketball, wrestling or soccer), or falling down. The elderly can sprain an ankle if they lack balance and wind up falling. Athletes commonly roll or overuse an ankle during training or a game. Sometimes an opponent can push a player down in a way that causes twisting, or step on their foot forcefully.
    Using improper form or having poor posture. Excess supination when running or walking, can contribute to ankle sprains.
    Having existing muscular compensations due to poor posture in the legs, sacrum and spine.
    Old injuries, including ankles sprains, stress fractures in the legs or tendon tears. These can leave scar tissue behind that causes instability.
    Overuse, including exercising too much without enough rest or standing for long periods.
    Limited range of motion and stiffness due to aging or conditions like arthritis.  Weakness in the ankles or lower body can also occur from too little activity (a sedentary lifestyle).
    Loose ligaments or loss of cartilage in the joints of the feet or ankles (such as those of the subtalar joint).
    In some cases, leg discrepancy (legs are different lengths) due to genetics, which cause instability.


Sprained ankle symptoms & causes
Symptoms of a Sprained Ankle

Some signs that you’ve likely rolled your ankle include:

    Pain when putting weight on the ankle or when moving.
    Signs of a swollen ankle, including puffiness, redness, heat and throbbing near the affected ligaments/joints.
    Bruising near the bone or other types of discoloration of the skin. Severe ankle sprains are often accompanied by bleeding that in turn causes bruising, This causes a black and blue appearance.
    Some report hearing a snapping or popping sound when the injury takes place. This usually happens in the case of a severe sprain in which the ligament completely tears.
    Loss of functionality and reduced range of motion in the lower body. Sometimes pain and dysfunctional musculoskeletal problems can extend up to the ankles, calves, outer thighs or knees. This makes it hard to go about normal activities.
    If you repeatedly roll the ankle, you might notice pain on the bottom of the feet (in the ball of the foot). Or you may develop clawed toes/hammertoes due to your form/stance.

Conventional Sprained Ankle Treatments

Doctors sometimes perform an X-ray on an injured ankle to ensure no bones are broken. Oftentimes it’s possible to diagnose a sprained ankle based on symptoms and appearance. Your doctor will look for signs of ankle swelling. She will talk to you about your symptoms and how the injury happened. She may also move around or press the ankle to determine how limited your range of motion has become. Once diagnosed, your orthopedist or doctor’s recommended treatments for the sprained ankle can include:

    Taking an over-the-counter pain killer. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen and naproxen can help initially control pain and swelling.
    Resting and icing the foot. Use compression dressings, bandages or ace-wraps to keep your ankle still.  Elevate your ankle by placing it above the level of your chest, ideally for about the first 48 hours.
    Improving your form when exercising (more on this below) and wearing more supportive shoes with inserts.
    Changing your sneakers/shoes when exercising is usually the first step, which might include wearing orthotic inserts for support. Orthotic inserts used in sneakers or shoes consist of arch support and sometimes a lifted heel. They control the rolling-forward motion of the foot. They can take pressure off the small toes and help stabilize the ankle.
    Depending on how severe your supination problem is, your doctor might also recommend physical therapy. Physical therapy can “reteach” your muscles and joints how to distribute your weight in a healthier way, from your feet upward.

 7 Natural Sprained Ankle Treatments
1. Rest & Icing

Rest is vitally important for the healing process of any injury. It’s also one of the basic sprained ankle treatments. After you initially heal, you should start moving the ankle again to reduce stiffness. In the first 1-2 days after the injury, try to ice the ankle to keep swelling down. Use an ice pack or even a frozen bag of veggies. Press it against a cloth and the ankle for about 15-30 minutes at a time. Ideally, do this several times per day. Keep strong heat away from the affected foot and be careful not to apply ice directly to your skin.

Plan to rest the area for at least about 72 hours/3 days post-injury. Experts recommend a “three-phase” treatment program for optimal healing. It can take just 2 weeks to complete for minor sprains. It may take or up to 6 to 12 weeks for more severe injuries. Specific rest time will depend on your symptoms and ability to heal. Once you’re back on your feet, two of the best exercises are swimming in a pool and performing band exercises. You can also try cycling or using an elliptical when you’re ready; it’s probably best to ask your doctor before doing so.
2. Fix Your Form

Those who have poor posture and form when walking or exercising are at the highest risk for ankle sprains. This is especially true in the case of over-supinating the foot. Supination describes the rolling outward motion of the foot, therefore over-supinators don’t roll their root inward enough when moving forward. Excess supination is also called “underpronation” — since supination is the opposite of pronation of the foot (rolling inward). (7)

Both oversupination and overpronation also put too much stress on the bottom or outside edges of the foot. This often leads to leg pains or common running injuries. Those with high arches (the opposite of “flat feet” or collapsed arches) and tight Achilles tendons tend to be under-pronators/supinators. (8) In addition to spraining your ankle, this common type of poor form can cause other injuries. These include: “hammertoes” (clawed toes), Achilles tendinitis, plantar fasciitis, shin splints and iliotibial band syndrome, affecting the knees. It also causes poorer performance due to general instability and weakness.

Another problem is due to abnormal dorsiflexion of the foot. While supination describes the outward rolling motion of the foot, dorsiflexion describes the bending backward of the foot. Dorsiflexion decreases the angle between the foot and the ankle; in other words, it means the toes are lifting up and away from the ground, toward the ankle/body. (9) Proper dorsiflexion safely brings the knees over the ankles, such as when bending over, squatting or jumping forward. However, too much dorsiflexion is also problematic and leads to instability. Too much motion due to weakness in the muscles and joints of the feet can contribute to ankle rolling.

Here are tips to help you stretch and strengthen the lower legs after your initial injury heals. They are  sprained ankle treatments that will help correct your form and prevent future sprains:

    If walking or running fast, come to a soft landing. Land closer to the middle of your foot, instead of the back of the heel. Try to land with a mostly flat foot, attempting to avoid too much curving of the toes inward or outward.
    Slightly increase your cadence and potentially shorten your stride to keep proper form in the feet and legs.
    Run with upright posture through your back and stay relaxed.
    Gently stretch/mobilize the muscles in the legs prior to exercise and afterward. This helps break up adhesions and allows you to sustain proper form. You can use a foam roller on the floor. Position your body on top so the roller is under your calves, then move back and forth gently. Also, try massaging the fascia (soft tissue) in the bottoms of the feet with a tennis ball under the foot.
    Increase strength in your legs by doing exercises. Examples are crab walks (holding an upside down “V” with your body), calf lifts, squats, forward bends, and lunges.
    Stretch your lower legs as you lay on your back. Then lift the legs in the air and flex the ankles back and forth.  Or, perform heel raises by placing your toes up against a wall, tilting the toes back towards the body. Use a resistance band (also known as exercise band) wrapped around the ankle to gently pump and improve ankle flexibility. (10)

3. Correct Your Posture & Stance

Weak ankles prone to rolling can also put you at risk for other types of strains tied to poor posture. The muscles in the legs and feet get trained to push the foot away from the ground by using mostly the outer toes/pinky toes. These are weak areas of the feet, not capable of withstanding much pressure or weight. This can contribute to the formation of scar tissue in the lower legs. Once the legs are weakened, postural problems can extend up to the hips, pelvis and lower back.

Using sprained ankle treatments to correct your posture and stance is key. I recommend working with a physical therapist or postural trainer. They can assess how you can better control compensations and reduce risk for injury. You may want to find an Egoscue Posture Therapist and/or see a Spinal Correction Chiropractic doctor (ideally from a clinic such as the Clear Institute) if you suffer from back problems. Weakness and back compensations can work their way down to the feet because the body is fully connected. This is why a full-body approach to correcting posture is best.
4. Lower Inflammation & Support Joint Health With a Collagen-Rich Diet

Diet might seem unrelated to leg injuries, but your body needs nutrients to keep your muscles, joints and ligaments strong. There are several foods that make great natural sprained ankle treatments. Here are the top anti-inflammatory foods that can reduce swelling in a sprained ankle and support healing of damaged tissues:

    Sources of collagen. Collagen is the most abundant protein in the human body. It’s needed to keep all types of connective tissue strong. Bone broth contains collagen and can help speed recovery. It can also complete healing of sprains, strains and ligament injuries. In addition to providing collagen, bone broth contains amino acids and many minerals.
    Clean lean protein. The body cannot rebuild stressed tissue without enough protein. Eat at least 3-5 ounces per meal from a high quality, organic lean protein. A couple of options are wild-caught fish or grass-fed beef.
    Green leafy vegetables. Kale, broccoli, spinach and other greens are high in antioxidants, vitamin K and many minerals, which are essential for healing.
    Foods with vitamin C. Vitamins like C help rebuild collagen, an essential component of skin and tissues. Increase your intake of vitamin C rich foods, including fresh fruits and vegetables. Good choices include citrus fruit, bell peppers, strawberries and broccoli. Foods rich in electrolytes like magnesium and potassium can help speed healing and reduce muscle pains. Examples include coconut water and bananas.
    Foods high in zinc. Zinc facilitates chemical reactions that rebuild tissues and support the immune system.  To increase your intake of zinc, add things like beef, pumpkin seeds and spinach to your diet.
    Antioxidant-rich foods. As you get older, if you’ve been very active, or if you’re under stress, free radicals will form. They can cause damage throughout the body. Free radicals are linked to many different signs of aging, stress and weakness. To prevent this damage include more foods with antioxidants, which counteract free radicals. These include berries, greens, sea vegetables, cocoa, green teas, fresh herbs and other superfoods.

I also recommend avoiding foods that can worsen or contribute to inflammation, signs of aging and slowed healing including:

    Alcohol. Alcohol promotes bone loss and inflammation.
    Too much sodium/salt. Too much salt prevents healing and removes critical nutrients from your body.
    Sugar and refined grains. Avoid these foods since they decrease immune function and provide very few nutrients for wound healing.
    Hydrogenated oils and fried foods. These foods increase inflammation and slow healing.
    Too much caffeine. Compounds in caffeinated beverages bind to calcium. This prevents absorption and limits healing.
    7 natural sprained ankle treatments


5. Try Supplements That Help Repair Tissue

In order to heal damaged tissues, you need nutrients that help reduce inflammation, support tissue repair and increase growth factors. To help you naturally heal faster, I recommend considering taking these supplements as one of the 7 natural sprained ankle treatments:

    Bromelain (500 mg 3x daily). Bromelain is an enzyme found in pineapple, helps with healing and has an anti-inflammatory effect.
    Collagen (take as directed depending on specific product dosage). Tendons and ligaments are made of collagen, so this can help with healing.
    Omega-3 fats (4g daily). EPA and DHA found in fish oil are necessary for wound healing and reduce inflammation caused by an acute injury.
    Green superfood powder (follow package instructions). Look for a powder that contains nutrient-rich sea vegetables and essential minerals that support rebuilding of ligaments and tissues.
    MSM (1000 mg 3x daily). MSM has an anti-inflammatory effect and is a source of sulfur, necessary for tendon health.

6. Speed Healing With Prolotherapy & Soft Tissue Therapy

Even if you’re in a lot of pain, remember that almost all ankle sprains can be treated without surgery. Even severe sprains usually heal well with proper care and prevention of future injuries. Consider the natural sprained ankle treatments below.

Relieving tight muscles and trigger points can make a big difference in reducing joint stress and rebuilding stability. You may want to visit a clinic or specialist who does Active Release Technique (ART), Graston Technique® ( GT), Dry needling or Neurokinetic Therapy. These methods help “turn on” muscles that have been “turned off” due to injury. They help eliminate muscular pain in order to prevent future sprains.

I also recommend considering an orthopedist who performs prolotherapy treatments, or PRP. Some studies have found that prolotherapy treatments help reduce ankle and foot pain-associated arthritis, tendon ruptures, plantar fasciitis, misalignments, fractures and ligament injuries. (11) Prolotherapy is an injection procedure. It helps heal tiny tears or injuries to connective tissue throughout the musculoskeletal system (ligaments, tendons, muscle fibers, fascia and joint capsules). Connective tissue often is injured when it is torn away from a nearby bone. Prolotherapy is used most often on injuries or conditions that cause chronic pain, and don’t respond well to other natural therapies or medications (nonsurgical treatments).
7. Essential Oils for Reducing Swelling & Pain

Try essential oils. There are several essential oils that are excellent natural sprained ankle treatments.To reduce inflammation and increase circulation to the painful ankle you can apply cypress essential oil.  To reduce bruising and decrease inflammation also try applying frankincense oil and peppermint oil. Mix 2 drops of each oil together with 1/2 tsp of coconut oil. Apply to the sprained area 3-5x daily. Then put a warm compress over the area for 2 minutes. You may also use this homemade muscle rub on the area after the first 24 hours when pain is likely to be at its worst.
Precautions When Treating an Ankle Sprain

Head to your doctor right away if your ankle is very swollen and painful to walk on. If you have trouble putting weight on your ankle and walking, you likely have a sprain or tear. Don’t ignore the problem. Medical attention is necessary in many cases. It’s also important not to put weight on the affected foot. This prevents symptoms from worsening and becoming more complicated.

It’s important to treat sprains. Neglecting to correct the stressed ligament will wind up weakening your ankle, sometimes long-term. This will make it more likely that you’ll suffer from future injuries and possibly even other muscular compensations. Repeated ankle sprains can even sometimes lead to chronic ankle pain, arthritis, problems with balance and stability, or falls.

One of the most controversial subjects in today’s natural health world is that of psychotropic drugs. Also referred to as psychoactive drugs, these medications make up a long list of both legal and illegal substances that affect the way the brain functions, either in an effort to treat a mental illness of some kind or for illicit recreational purposes.

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, approximately one in five adults in the U.S. experiences some form of mental illness in a given year. (1) The overwhelmingly common treatment method for these illnesses has become drug therapy first, all other methods second (or not at all).

Why is it controversial? From the research I have done, I think it is due to a combination of a) the complex nature of the development and sale of psychotropic drugs, b) the many dangers of psychotropic drugs and the overall question of whether or not the benefits of these medications outweigh the risks and c) the questionable and possibly unethical financial underpinnings of the pharmaceutical industry with clinicians who treat these illnesses.

“The Maudsley Debate”

In a popular dialogue published in 2015 known as the Maudsley debate, Dr. Peter Gøtzsche (a Danish physician, medical researcher and head of the Nordic Cochrane Center) and Dr. Allan H. Young (professor of mood disorders at the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neurosciences in King’s College London, UK) reviewed the evidence on psychoactive drugs and their benefits versus risks. (2)

Gøtzsche, an outspoken opponent to the use of most psychoactive drugs, says in this debate that, “Psychiatric drugs are responsible for the deaths of more than half a million people aged 65 and older each year in the Western world, as I show below. Their benefits would need to be colossal to justify this, but they are minimal.”

He goes on to explain how the study designs of many trials used to evaluate and legalize many of these drugs don’t truly capture the effects of many of these medications and claims that reports on serious side effects are extremely under-reported (such as suicides while on certain antidepressants). His final conclusion?

    Given their lack of benefit, I estimate we could stop almost all psychotropic drugs without causing harm — by dropping all antidepressants, ADHD drugs, and dementia drugs (as the small effects are probably the result of unblinding bias) and using only a fraction of the antipsychotics and benzodiazepines we currently use. This would lead to healthier and more long lived populations. Because psychotropic drugs are immensely harmful when used long term, they should almost exclusively be used in acute situations and always with a firm plan for tapering off, which can be difficult for many patients. We need new guidelines to reflect this. We also need widespread withdrawal clinics because many patients have become dependent on psychiatric drugs, including antidepressants, and need help so that they can stop taking them slowly and safely.

Keep in mind, Dr. Gøtzsche is the head of a Cochrane center of research, an organization recognized for their lasting commitment to solid, “gold-standard” science and truth in research.

Of course, not everyone feels this way. The other physician featured in this scientific debate claims that psychoactive drugs are no less complex and just as full of risks versus benefits than any drug used for any other medical condition. He believes these medications are safe because of the type of research they require to be approved by regulatory bodies, and that insisting they are dangerous is incorrect.

I’ll outline both legal and illegal forms of psychotropic drugs throughout this piece, but the major dangers and natural alternatives will focus mostly on legal, prescription psychotropic medications, as they have been studied more extensively.
What Are Psychotropic Drugs?

Put simply, psychotropic drugs include “any drug capable of affecting the mind, emotions and behavior.” (3) This includes common prescription medications like lithium for bipolar disorder, SSRI’s for depression and neuroleptics for psychotic conditions like schizophrenia. The list also contains street drugs like cocaine, ecstasy and LSD that create hallucinatory effects.
Why are these medications so controversial?

The controversy here is many-sided, but one of the major reasons many people have begun to question the excessive prescribing of psychoactive medications has to do with financial ties between pharmaceutical companies and people in the psychiatric field, such as researchers, practicing psychiatrists, DSM panel members and even primary physicians who prescribe treatments without specialist intervention.

For example, graduate students at the University of Massachusetts and Tufts University published a review of financial ties of DSM panel members to the financial industry in 2006, before the release of the DSM-IV. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders is essentially the “bible” of psychiatry and is used to define, diagnose and determine treatment for all mental, behavioral and personality disorders.

In this review, 56 percent of the panel members, who are trusted to create diagnoses and treatment protocols based strictly on solid science, had financial associations with the pharmaceutical industry. Every single panel member determining the criteria for ‘Mood Disorders’ and ‘Schizophrenia and Other Psychotic Disorders’ was financially tied to the pharmaceutical industry — that’s especially significant, as those two areas are ones where “drugs are the first line of treatment.” (4)

These conflicts of interest also spill over into questions of the ethics of direct-to-consumer (DTC) advertising for psychotropic drugs. Studies estimate that up to 70 percent of people on antidepressants have been exposed to DTC advertising for these medications. (5) Since this exposure information has been associated with increased frequency of prescription, higher costs and lower quality of prescribing, DTC advertising has been one hot topic of discussion in the ethics of psychotropic drugs. (6)

Dr. Giovanni A. Fava, a clinical psychiatrist at the University of Bologna and clinical professor of psychiatry at the University at Buffalo School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, puts his concerns into this alarming statement: (7)

    The problem of conflicts of interest in psychiatry does not appear to be different from other fields of clinical medicine. It can be addressed only by a complex effort on different levels, which cannot be postponed any longer. In fact, either clinical researchers become salespeople (and the main aim of many scientific meetings today is apparently to sell the participant to the sponsor) or they must set out boldly to protect the community from unnecessary risks.


Psychotropic drugs facts
Types of Psychotropic Drugs

This list is not exhaustive, but contains most of the psychotropic drugs found in the United States. They are broken down into legal and illicit drugs, then further by the individual class class of medication. I have not listed medications often prescribed “off-label,” meaning not approved by the FDA for the specific condition listed but still frequently prescribed for that condition. Brand names are listed in parentheses.

Note: caffeine, tobacco and alcohol are considered psychoactive drugs. They are not listed below because they are not prescribed for any condition but are also legal substances.
Legal Psychotropic Drugs (8)

History of Psychotropic Drugs

In Psychopharmacology: Practice and Contexts, the author explains that modern psychotropic drug treatment began with two discoveries: “chlorpromazine as a treatment for psychosis, and the tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs) and non-selective monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs) in the early 1950s.” Then, diazepam (brand name Valium®) was introduced to help treat anxiety and insomnia, replacing the nervous system depressants (barbiturates) such as morphine that had been used in the past. This was notable because of the many side effects of barbiturates, such as elevated suicide risk.

From 1990–1999, the Library of Congress and the National Institute of Mental Health played out a resolution that would define this time as what is now known as “the decade of the brain.” Specifically, these organizations sought to increase awareness of the benefits of brain research. At that point, prescribing psychotropic drugs became a booming business, raking in many billions of dollars each year and paying out billions to influence clinicians to prescribe, prescribe, prescribe! (16)

These days, it’s estimated that the “global depression drug market” (including only the largest class of many psychotropic drugs) will reach $16.8 billion USD in 2020, up from $14.51 billion in 2014. (17)

Fascinatingly, though, there is a thread through this history that many have never even been made aware of: the fight to rid the world of psychoactive medications.

The Citizens Commission on Human Rights (CCHR) is a non-profit mental health “watchdog” organization that has been battling mental health industry abuses since 1969. In their 2008 exposé, CCHR gies a timeline dating back to 1978 on the events that led them to believe that SSRIs and other psychoactive drugs were much less effective and far more dangerous than consumers were being told, and the outline of their legal battles along the way. (18) They highlight more of the history of psychotropic drugs than most documents present.

For example, they explain that fluoxetine (brand name Prozac®), the first FDA-approved SSRI, was given permission to be sold on the basis of three studies. In one study, no improvement versus placebo was noted; in the second, fluoxetine was inferior to imipramine (an older TCA) but better than placebo; and in the third study, fluoxetine performed better than placebo in reducing signs of depression (in 11 patients over just five weeks of study).

Various side effects and severe adverse reactions were not reported to the FDA in the initial New Drug Application for fluoxetine. The medication was still approved on December 29, 1987. Over a decade later, lawsuits would reveal that the manufacturer had prior knowledge of not only many safety concerns but also a highly elevated risk of suicidal thoughts in patients taking the medication.

In 1990, Dr. Martin Teicher of Harvard Medical School published a study about suicide and fluoxetine treatment, explaining that taking this medication was associated with “intense, violent suicidal thoughts” in a large number of patients. (19) No action was taken by regulatory bodies at that time.

An FDA safety reviewer, Andrew Mosholder, MD, was interviewed in 1994 at a hearing with the Psychopharmacologic Drugs Advisory Committee of the FDA (PDAC) about a trial for fluoxetine and its effects on bulimia, an eating disorder. He presented the study results: seven patients in the study died, four of them definitely by suicide. None of the bodies were autopsied. In addition, the manufacturer of the drug stated in their package information that nine percent of clinical trial patients developed anorexia. Even so, fluoxetine was approved as a treatment for bulimia after this hearing. (18)

Joseph Glenmullen, MD, a Harvard Medical School psychiatrist, released a book called Prozac Backlash in 2001, detailing SSRI dangers including neurological disorders like facial and whole body tics were becoming of increasing concern for patients on these medications. In his book, he likens SSRI’s to a “chemical lobotomy” that destroys brain nerve endings.

The FDA finally made a move to protect children from the well-documented suicidal behaviors associated with SSRIs particularly common in children and adolescents, issuing an advisory warning on July 5, 2005 that “suicidal thoughts and behaviors can be expected in about 1 of 50 treated pediatric patients.” (18)

Just two weeks later, the same manufacturer now tasked with adding additional warnings to fluoxetine labels (Eli Lilly) agreed to pay $690 million, settling over 8,000 claims about olanzapine (brand name Zyprexa®). These claims alleged the drug was causing life-threatening diabetes. As of January 2009, they had settled over 30,000 claims, paying out $1.2 billion. (20) Also in January 2009, the U.S. Department of Justice fined Eli Lilly $515 million in a criminal fine (the largest ever criminal fine of this kind) and up to $800 million civil settlement for promoting the same medication for “off-label uses” (meaning those not approved by the FDA). (21)

In November 2005, the FDA listed “homicidal ideation” as one adverse event possible when taking venlafaxine (brand name Effexor®). The Washington Post released a story in 2006 detailing this adverse event warning and shared that infamous criminal Andrea Yates was taking the medication when she drowned her five children in 2001. The manufacturer claimed that they had found no causal link between the drug and such behaviors or desires. (22)

Alaska’s Supreme Court was tasked with ruling on the dangers of psychotropic drugs in 2006, determining in June of that year that: (23)

    Courts have observed that ‘the likelihood that psychotropic drugs will cause at least some temporary side effects appears to be undisputed and many have noted that the drugs may — most infamously — cause Parkinsonian syndrome [disease of the nerves causing tremor, muscle weakness and retardation, shuffling walk and salivation] and tardive dyskinesia [slow and involuntary mouth, lip and tongue movements].

CCHR also shares that in April 2007: (18)

    Over 350 lawsuits were filed in April against AstraZeneca Pharmaceuticals after the FDA ordered a change in the labeling of its antipsychotic drug, Seroquel® (quetiapine), to warn users about an increased risk of diabetes. Further, Seroquel was linked to pancreatitis (an inflammation of the pancreas), hyperglycemia, and Neuroleptic Malignant Syndrome, a potentially fatal syndrome with symptoms that include irregular heartbeat, fever, and stiff muscles. It could also increase the risk of death in seniors who had dementia-related mental problems, a condition that Seroquel has not been approved to treat.

So, Do Psychotropic Drugs Work?

What about their effectiveness? That’s a pretty gray area, too. For example, a scientific review on antidepressants discovered that authors were much less likely to publish studies with negative results and that studies with results interpreted as negative by the FDA are commonly spun as positive when written and published in journals. In fact, the researchers completing this review said antidepressants may have some positive effects, but that they were concerned the theory of how useful they truly are is biased, due to the lack of available data. (24)

That means all results must, unfortunately, be viewed with a grain of salt — a grain which, logically, may tend to be particularly doubtful of positive study results for the impact of antidepressants.

A 2010 Cochrane review found that SSRIs, the most commonly prescribed antidepressants, are no more effective than placebo when treating mild-to-moderate depression. They also concluded that TCAs are more effective than SSRIs, but that the side effects were generally worse. Fascinatingly, even with these extremely underwhelming results, the author points out that the studies mostly had short trial periods (four to six weeks), with four of the 14 trials following up after 12–24 weeks). In addition, pharmaceutical studies sponsored the vast majority of these studies.

These medications, according to the Cochrane piece published in American Family Physician, may only be really useful for cases of severe depression. Another 2010 meta-analysis came to the same conclusion, stating that placebo seems to be just as effective in all but severe depression cases. (25, 26)

Based on another review of depression research trials, a 2002 study found that the “true drug effect” of antidepressants was somewhere between 10–20 percent, meaning that 80–90 percent of patients in these trials either responded to a placebo effect or did not respond at all. (27)

Moving away from depression, SSRIs do seem to be effective, at least in the short term, when it comes to manic depression (also known as bipolar depression or bipolar disorder). (28)

Reviewing drugs used for ADHD, researchers at the Oregon Evidence-based Practice Center found startling results about their effectiveness (or lack thereof) in a 2005 paper. For instance, they state, “Good quality evidence on the use of drugs to affect outcomes relating to global academic performance, consequences of risky behaviors, social achievements, etc. is lacking.”

The review goes on to discuss the poor quality of studies available on ADHD-treating psychoactive drugs, explaining that they don’t use large pools of subjects, long enough study durations, functional outcomes or long-term effects.

Breaking up the review into age brackets, the researchers found that between 3-12 years of age, results were inconclusive at best and negative, at worst, with virtually no information. For adolescents, more solid information existed that some stimulants could potentially alleviate some symptoms of ADHD, but it was associated with more side effects. None of the studies in children or teens included long-term evidence of efficacy.

For adults, the limited research pointed to an effectiveness somewhere between 39–70 percent when compared to placebo, although they found unconvincing evidence regarding quality of life and other improvements expected with treatment. One follow-up study in adults reported a single suicide from an eight-person pool of subjects. (29)

When observing illegal drugs, there is no scientifically prescribed “benefit” to the user for a condition or disease. However, perceptions of active drug users have found interesting results — nearly 6,000 people were surveyed in one 2013 article, and there was no correlation whatsoever between either the U.S. or the U.K. schedules of harmful drugs, meaning that the drugs deemed most dangerous by the countries’ regulatory bodies are rated pretty low on “harms” by consumers, such as ecstasy, cannabis and hallucinogens. Users also found benzodiazepines as one class perceived to have high benefits and also high harms. (30)
Psychotropic Drug Statistics

How common are these psychoactive drugs, and what are the psychoactive drug statistics that should matter to you? Here are some numbers I think may interest you.

    Antidepressants were prescribed without a psychiatric diagnosis from 59.5 percent in 1996 up to 72.7 percent in 2007. (31) Generally, this occurs when a primary care physician (general practitioner) prescribes psychoactive drugs based on a person’s explanation of their condition, without referring the patient to a qualified psychiatrist or clinical psychologist.
    It is estimated that one in 25 adults in the U.S. (four percent) have an experience with mental illness in any given year that “substantially interferes with or limits one or more major life activities.” (1)
    “Serious mental illness costs America $193.2 billion in lost earnings per year.” (1)
    US adults with serious mental illness die an average of 25 years earlier than their healthy counterparts, due in large part to co-occurring, treatable medical conditions. (1)
    “Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the U.S., the 3rd leading cause of death for people aged 10–14 and the 2nd leading cause of death for people aged 15–24.” (1)
    “Each day, an estimated 18–22 veterans die by suicide.” (1)
    In 2016, nine of the top psychiatric drugs totaled over $13.73 billion USD in sales. (32)
    As of 2010, 6.6 percent of adolescents between 13–17 were taking some kind of psychotropic medication, which is believed to be a conservative estimate. (33)
    As of early 2017, 12 percent of adults in the U.S. were taking antidepressants, 8.3 percents were taking anxiolytics, sedatives and hypnotics, and 1.6 percent reported taking antipsychotics. (34)
    Caucasians are much more (21 percent) likely to be on psychotropic drugs, compared to Hispanics (8.7 percent), blacks (9.7 percent) and Asians (4.8 percent). (34)
    Women are more likely than men to take psychoactive drugs, namely, one in five women versus one in 10 men. (34)

Psychotropic Drugs Precautions

It’s important to always conduct any change in medication and/or supplements under the supervision of a doctor. Withdrawal from psychotropic drugs can be very challenging and even dangerous if done cold turkey without the guidance of a healthcare professional — do not attempt to change medication schedules on your own, particularly if it would involve discontinuing the use of any prescribed medication.

Supplements count when you’re discussing drug interactions. When talking to your doctor about any medications you may be taking, include supplements on that list so that they can be fully aware of any possible interactions. This is important especially for St. John’s Wort and any adaptogen supplements that impact hormone levels.

If you are pregnant and currently taking psychoactive drugs, do not be alarmed and do not stop taking your medication unless instructed by a qualified physician or integrative practitioner. Pregnant women already on an antidepressant and who quit mid-pregnancy have a nearly three-fold relapse rate compared to those who continue their medication. (35) The risk of negative pregnancy outcomes, at least for SSRIs, is about the same for people who quit the medication mid-pregnancy versus those who take it throughout. (36)

Psychotropic drugs present a huge list of drug interactions that your doctor should already understand. However, the NIMH points out in their mental health medications index that patients should be aware that combining SSRIs or SNRIs with triptan medications used for migraines (such as sumatriptan, zolmitriptan and rizatriptan) can result in serotonin syndrome, which is a life-threatening illness involving agitation, hallucinations, high temperature and unusual blood pressure changes. It is most commonly associated with MAOIs but can also happen with newer antidepressants. (35)

There are also reports of adolescent males taking TCAs for ADHD who began to show “cognitive changes, delirium and tachycardia after smoking marijuana.” Even if marijuana is legal in your area, it should not be taken alongside other psychoactive drugs. (37)

Some SSRIs have been linked to bone fractures in older people. (38)
Final Thoughts About Psychotropic Drugs

Psychotropic drugs became a major part of the pharmaceutical industry about halfway through the 20th century. Since then, they have become the first line treatment for many psychological disorders, despite widespread concerns about their effectiveness and ethical implications, as the financial ties between industries are questionable at best.

This class of drugs also includes a number of illicit drugs, often used recreationally. Interestingly, at least a couple of these may have therapeutic benefits for certain mental conditions, according to recent research.

Many prominent physicians and researchers agree that psychotropic drugs are not the “golden cow” of psychiatry that many thought they would be; instead, they are associated with some of the most extreme side effects of pharmaceuticals and may even be causally related to the development and genetic disposition of mental illness in future generations.

Do they work? Psychoactive drugs do exert some positive effects against the disorders they aim to treat, but usually at the expense of a number of other serious risks. Some research suggests the actual effect of antidepressants may only be in about 10–20 percent of patients.

The major classes of legal psychotropic drugs include antidepressants, anti-anxiety medications, ADHD medications (mostly stimulants), antipsychotics, mood stabilizers, anti-obsessive agents, anti-panic agents and hypnotics. Illicit psychoactive drugs include empathogens, stimulants, depressants and hallucinogens.

Do not ever change your medication schedule without medical supervision. Psychoactive drugs have many complex interactions with both medicines and supplements, so always give your doctor complete information when it comes to anything you may take in those forms.
When you order a burger at many of the most popular chains in the country, chances are you’re getting more than beef and a bun. According to a newly released report from a coalition of America’s leading food and environmental organizations including Center for Food Safety, antibiotics are a major issue when it comes to mainstream beef.

The analysis, titled Chain Reaction IV: Burger Edition, is a must-see report that rates burger chains around the country on the quality of their beef; specifically when it comes to the use of antibiotics.

You may already be familiar with some of the insane things antibiotics can do to your body.  And one of the biggest concerns of overexposure to antibiotics is something called antibiotic resistance, which occurs when an antibiotic can no longer effectively control or kill bacterial growth in the body. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), at least two million people are infected with antibiotic-resistant bacteria annually, and at least 23,000 people die as a result. (1)

Meanwhile, the World Health Organization (WHO) calls antibiotic resistance one of the biggest threats to global health, food security and development today. The WHO also points out that serious infections like pneumonia, tuberculosis and salmonella are now becoming challenging to treat. In general, mortality rates due to antibiotic resistance are continuing to rise around the world. (2) These are some scary facts to say the least.

When it comes to antibiotic use in beef, let”s take a closer look at how the top 25 burger chains in the United States are rating these days. Spoiler alert: the majority are not just rating poorly; they’re completely failing.
Main Scorecard Findings

The grades from the Center for Food Safety show how each fast food chain scored in terms of its beef quality, specifically when it comes to antibiotic use: (3)

BurgerFi: A

    One of only two chains on the list that sources beef that has been raised without the routine use of antibiotics.
    BurgerFi says that they use “100 percent all-natural Angus beef patties that are hormone- and antibiotic-free.”

Shake Shack: A

    Like BurgerFi, Shake Shack publicly declares it uses beef that was raised without routine antibiotic use.
    Shake Shack notes that its proprietary blend of freshly ground beef is “100 percent Angus beef, made from premium whole muscle cuts — no hormones or antibiotics, EVER.”

Wendy’s: D-

    Wendy’s currently sources 15 percent of its beef from producers that have stopped using one medically important antibiotic called tylosin by 20 percent.

So out of 25 chains, two scored an “A,” one scored a “D-” and the rest of the burger chains received a completely failing grade. Why the “F” for these 22 beef sellers? According to the Center for Food Safety, these chains have no meaningful public policies on the use of antibiotics in their beef. In other words, none of them are claiming to source beef from cows raised without regular antibiotic use.
Side Effects of Antibiotics in Beef

A previous Chain Reaction II report focused on the use of antibiotic use in fast food. So why the focus on just beef for this report? According to the Center for Food Safety, “Although there is some progress in the chicken industry in response to such consumer demand, many fast food restaurants have failed to make meaningful commitments to address antibiotic overuse in their beef supply chains.” The Center also points out how in 2016, 43 percent of the “medically important antibiotics” sold to the meat industry were going to the beef sector, while six percent went to chicken. (4)

Warnings over antibiotics overuse in animals raised for meat, eggs and milk is nothing new. (We’ve also been hearing about the dangers of overusing antibiotics in hospitals and at home for some time, too.) But it’s especially important to focus on how industrial farming abuses antibiotics. Many cows receive frequent antibiotics not only to prevent infections in sub-par living conditions, but to enable faster growth with less food. That’s right. Antibiotics are considered “obesogens,” a substance that promotes weight gain. In the industrial farming system, it’s a cheap way to fatten up cattle faster, increasing profit margins.

Regardless of the reasons behind the use of antibiotics, we’re running into a serious problem — animals overexposed to antibiotics end up with infections that drugs can’t fight. And those hard-to-kill superbugs can end up on your plate. Another threat? Certain antibiotics can trigger deadly reactions in people.

A recent Consumer Reports investigation found chloramphenicol in meat samples. According to the report: “This antibiotic, at any exposure level, can trigger life-threatening aplastic anemia, or the inability to produce enough new blood cells, in 1 in 10,000 people.” (5)

About 80 percent of antibiotics used in the United States are fed to animals raised for food. And the majority is given to animals in chronic, low-doses to speed growth and prevent disease. This long-term exposure gives bacteria time to adapt to survive, rendering the antibiotics useless. Giving prolonged, low-dose antibiotics to farm animals is the perfect breeding ground for creating dangerous, drug-resistant germs. (6)

In fact, just this year, University of Exeter researchers discovered that using antibiotics longer than needed creates a tipping point where germs become resistant to their effects. This new research suggests that reducing the length of the antibiotic course helps lower the risk of resistance. And when it comes to factory farms, this is definitely not what is going on. On these types of industrial farms, animals are generally given drugs even when they’re not ill. (7)

Epidemiologists have clearly linked the excessive use of antibiotics in farm animals to infections detected in humans. For example, scientists detected an infection called methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) in beef, turkey, chicken and pork. MRSA is a bacteria that contributes to infections of the skin, connective tissue, and sometimes bones, heart and blood vessels. Since MRSA is resistant to many antibiotic medications, it can sometimes continue to spread throughout the body as bacteria make their way through the bloodstream and into pockets where they can quickly reproduce leading to pneumonia, sepsis and blood stream infections. Exposure to another type of bacteria, E. coli, in animals is associated to sepsis as well as urinary tract infections in humans. (8, 9)

The use of antibiotics in beef is also having an extremely negative impact on the environment. When farm animals are given antibiotics, this leads to contamination of manure, soil and water. When this contaminated manure and soil is used for growing plant-based food, the antibiotic chain continues. For example, crops like corn, potatoes and lettuce have have all tested positive for the antibiotic sulfamethazine in plant tissue. (10)
Meat Quality and Quantity

According to a 2018 analysis by the Environmental Working Group (EWG), more than 47,000 federal government lab tests of bacteria in supermarket meat found a rise in the already high number of ground beef contaminated with antibiotic-resistant bacteria. (11) So the concern is clearly not just about antibiotics in beef used for fast food hamburgers, but about the quality of the beef we’re consuming in general.

One of the best ways to avoid antibiotics in beef is to look for brands that are certified USDA organic. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, this means that the beef comes from animals “raised in living conditions accommodating their natural behaviors (like the ability to graze on pasture), fed 100% organic feed and forage, and not administered antibiotics or hormones.” (12) Choosing grass-fed beef is another criteria that increases the quality of your meat including its beneficial nutrients, but grass-fed cattle has also been shown to be better for the environment with a smaller carbon footprint. (13)

Even if you’re following a high protein style of eating, like the ketogenic diet, don’t forget there are other healthy vegetarian sources of protein like nuts, beans and lentils. In terms of the environment, these plant proteins are much less taxing. As the EWG points out, “If everyone in the U.S. skipped meat and cheese just one day a week and replaced them with a vegetable-based protein, it would be like not driving 91 billion miles, or taking 7.6 million cars off the road.” (14)
Final Thoughts

    The use of antibiotics in beef (and other meats) is a major contributor to a serious health concern we are all facing around the globe today: antibiotic resistance.
    Meat producers and sellers of meat products (like the classic hamburger) need to start taking measures to supply us with beef that is ideally free of hazardous antibiotics.
    We also have to start demanding better ourselves and making a statement by choosing better quality meat at restaurants and in the grocery store.
    Giving excessive quantities of antibiotics to cows is not only harmful to their health, but it’s also contributing to major and even deadly infections in humans including MRSA, sepsis and pneumonia.
    The use of antibiotics in beef is terrible for the environment. Avoiding burgers and other beef products sold by companies that show zero concern for the quality of their meat is a major way to fight back against the scary use of antibiotics in beef.

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