MEDS for PTSD: Antidepressants, Antipsychotics, Etc. Soldiers Overmedicated

Paragraphs 8 through 10 read:  “”The troops are
overmedicated
. We see it all the time. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder has been more
serious, especially since the
November 5
shooting
,” she said.”

“Thomas said

counselors sometimes have to drive GI’s to their appointments and to the base
because they are so heavily medicated that they cannot drive themselves.

Many have chronic migraines that keep them from driving, she said.”

” ‘On
average, most of the soldiers I have talked to take 20 to 25 medications
per day
and some look as though they are in the advanced stages of
Parkinson’s disease; some actually stumble from their meds
,’ Under the
Hood
counselor Matti Litaker said.”

http://www.truthout.org/over-meds-and-under-hood56822

Over the Meds and
Under the Hood

Thursday 11 February 2010

by: Candice Bernd, t r u t h o u t
|
Op-Ed

Army psychiatrist Maj.
Nidal Malik Hasan’s
alleged brutal shooting of 13 GI’s stationed at the
largest US military base, located just outside Killeen, Texas, drew sympathy
from the national, state and military political establishments and reinforced a
prejudice in the hearts and minds of many Americans.

The sure-fire
coverage from the corporate media easily painted a picture of the story that
would reinforce the War on Terror while leaving unanswered the deeper and more
challenging questions about the state of US military establishments and the
mental and emotional state of our young soldiers serving in those institutions.
The Fort Hood shooting commanded an investigation into Hasan’s alleged
connections to Islamic radicals, but was unable to probe the everyday standards
and practices of the military base itself to find the hidden causes of GI
strife.

Introspection is needed to objectively analyze the effects of
the current political climate on our troops and see the hidden costs of war on
our country in order to reconcile tendencies towards racism in public perception
and to move on after this national trauma.

When President Obama
visited Fort
Hood
to offer his condolences to victims of the November 5, 2009,
shooting
, the GI’s were told by their chain of command to line up for their
chance to shake the president’s hand. One GI, Pfc. Michael Kern, member of the
Fort Hood chapter of

Iraq Veterans Against the War, knew the president was coming. Kern attempted
to hand the president a letter written on behalf of the veterans’ organization
demanding that the military radically overhaul its mental health care system and
halt the practice of repeated deployment of the same troops. Although he
couldn’t hand the letter directly to the president due to security reasons, the
letter did arrive to him through the proper channels.

On January 15,
2010, Kern organized a protest outside the east gate entrance to the base that
focused on overmedicating of the soldiers stationed there and the lack of mental
health resources and counseling. The protest, which lasted from 10 a.m. to 5
p.m., maintained approximately 30 people throughout the day as protesters
rotated to avoid the cold and the rain. The event was co-organized by Under the Hood Café, a local coffee
house and outreach center that counsels soldiers coming back from war and offers
basic services to GI’s in need, including referrals for counseling, legal advice
and information on GI rights.

“If it wasn’t for Under
the Hood, I’d be dead,” Kern said after the protest.

Under the Hood Café
manager Cynthia Thomas said the coffee house concept originated in the 1960’s
during the GI movement against the Vietnam War. When the US invaded Iraq and
Afghanistan, Thomas began working with Iraq Veterans Against the War to have a house
near Fort
Hood
because it is the largest US military base in the world. The Fort Hood
Support Network helped Thomas to get a 501(c)(3) nonprofit status for the
center, she said.

“The troops are overmedicated. We see it all the time.

Post-Traumatic
Stress Disorder
has been more serious, especially since the November 5
shooting
,” she said.

Thomas said counselors sometimes have to drive
GI’s to their appointments and to the base because they are so heavily medicated
that they cannot drive themselves. Many have chronic migraines that keep them
from driving, she said.

“On average, most of the soldiers I have talked
to take 20 to 25 medications per day and some look as though they are in the
advanced stages of Parkinson’s disease; some actually stumble from their meds,”
Under the Hood counselor Matti
Litaker said.

One active-duty soldier came back to the café after meeting
the protesters outside Fort Hood . The 20-year-old GI, Mick, would
only give his first name due to his active-duty status. Mick had suffered three
concussions after coming too close to an Improvised
Explosive Device
in Iraq, and now has a Traumatic Brain
Injury
.

“They expect you to be the perfect soldier and the perfect
civilian,” he said. “The government expects us to be bipolar, to separate work
life from home life.”

After Mick had received his TBI, he tried to
“chapter out,” or leave the Army. He had a court date for an unrelated crime,
and was expecting to get a discharge when his superior told him that he would
make sure that Mick didn’t go to his court date so that he could stay in the
Army. He said that he was hopeful because he could get “med-boarded” for his TBI
and get a discharge.

Mick said he knew that another GI had been illegally
deployed when he was 17 and that while he was in Iraq during the 2008 election,
the absentee ballots for the soldiers vote did not come in until three weeks
after they were supposed to be due back in the states.

“I don’t think we
got to vote in that election,” he said. Kern backed up his account, saying that
he too did not get his absentee ballot in time to vote in the 2008
election.

Kern said that he had joined the military with “hopes of doing
right for all of humanity.” Kern said that he didn’t join the Army for the
money, but because he believed in the mission of the Army and that when he
joined he supported the war. All of that changed when he killed a child in Iraq.
After he returned to the States he was transferred to the Warrior Transition Brigade,
where he saw many soldiers who were missing limbs and who were “messed up in the
head.”

He then found Under the Hood Café and joined the

Iraq Veterans Against
the War
. Kern said that after he knew Obama had received the letter from the
IVAW, he wrote an email to the president outlining many GI concerns. He told the
president that he was planning on paying him a visit to talk about the issues on
behalf of the IVAW, but after Obama escalated the war in Afghanistan he
“realized [Obama] was the same as Bush.”

Kern is on many meds himself. He
pulled out his current medications prescription list. There were a total of 47
different medications that had been prescribed to Kern within the last 180 days
before January 15, 2010.

“If the Army asks, yeah I take it all, but I
don’t really take it all,” he said.

Kern said he believes that the
government and pharmaceutical companies are testing drugs on the soldiers in
war. He said that the soldiers were given an H1N1 vaccine that had not been FDA approved and that
later on after the GI’s had taken it, it was recalled.
He also said that the Army is giving the soldiers Botox injections for their
brain nerves, for pain, but that the procedure is not yet FDA
approved.

Kern is currently working on a piece called “Creating an
Activist,” which details his struggles overseas and as well as back home, both
inside and outside the Army.

Could there be something more to the Fort
Hood shooting than Islamist extremism? Hasan himself was a psychiatrist,
prescribing meds to soldiers in order to make them “deployable,” and was about
to be deployed to Afghanistan before the shooting. What happened on November 5,
2009, was truly devastating, but the event can serve as an eye opener for the
state of the country, for the state of our soldiers, and for the state of the
wars.

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ANTIDEPRESSANTS: Antidepressant-Induced Violence in America

Paragraphs 23 through 25 read:  “Breggin studied medical
and other records of 50 cases of the newer antidepressants and violence, suicide
or disruptive behavior for his book, he said.”

In one case, a man
on an antidepressant wanted to die so badly that he ran into a police
officer with his car so he could knock him down, get his gun and try to shoot
himself.
Breggin said the police officer
didn’t press for a lengthy jail sentence because he thought the drug had
essentially driven the man crazy.”

“He said there is

no question that antidepressants can lead to
violence.”

Are claims just an excuse?

Poyner said she’s aware that critics will charge that antidepressant
claims merely offer criminals an excuse.

“I know that and I would have
said the same thing until I read this research,” Poyner said. “I worked
in prisons. I’ve treated inmates and so I tend to be very skeptical of somebody
trying to blame something on something else, especially a medication that is
prescribed by a doctor. But now I’m taking a second look at that thought and
saying, ‘Wait a minute.’”

http://newsok.com/oklahom-experts-look-at-antidepressants/article/3419386

Oklahoma experts look at antidepressants
Recent violence in Fort Hood,
Nichols Hills has some looking at links with medication

BY SONYA COLBERG
Published: November 22, 2009

As soon as news hit that the alleged Fort
Hood
, Texas,
shooter was a military psychiatrist, a disturbing thought struck Oklahoma
psychologist Gail Poyner.

  • Questions
    remain
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  • 11/22/2009 The debate over whether antidepressants play a role in suicides
    and homicides has taken twists and turns over the years. Drug company
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“I wondered if….

“I think it would be interesting to know if
he had been taking an SSRI (antidepressant). It seems, based on news reports,
that he was very depressed. He may have taken an SSRI and that may have played a
part. Hopefully that will be investigated to determine,” said Poyner, a Ph.D.
with a practice in Choctaw.

Poyner was out of state and was shocked to
hear of the local allegations against Dr.
Stephen Paul Wolf
, jailed on murder and assault complaints in connection
with the recent stabbing death of his 9-year-old son, Tommy. The Nichols
Hills
doctor told the medical licensure board that he took antidepressants,
records show.

Wolf told the board he was hospitalized for depression and
under psychotherapy until his 1988 graduation from medical school at the University
of Oklahoma
.

He told the board in 1996 that he was hospitalized
again for three days in 1995 for acute depression.

“I suffered this as a
result of all of the stress in my busy practice of internal medicine and all the
demands in making the final arrangements for my marriage,” Wolf wrote in a
letter to the board. “I returned to work after my hospitalization on adjusted
dosages of antidepressants.”

It is unclear whether antidepressant usage
might have played any role in the Nov. 16 stabbing.

“Crimes that involve
this horrendous departure from one’s character and typical behavior may warrant
an investigation,” Poyner said. “Investigators may want to look into a possible
connection between his behavior and a recent introduction or increase in an

antidepressant.”

She added that every crime committed by someone taking
an antidepressant isn’t necessarily related to the antidepressant. A small
percentage of people have a genetic abnormality that can cause a violent
reaction to certain antidepressants, she said.

“We’re finding there are
cases of criminal behavior, especially violent and out-of-character criminal
behavior, that may be linked to these antidepressants,” Poyner said.

If
there’s blood on someone’s hands, investigate whether antidepressants were in

their systems, some experts say. The drugs are considered particularly dangerous
when certain patients are just beginning antidepressants, increasing the dosage
or getting off antidepressants, Poyner said.

But other experts say
there’s no clear evidence that antidepressants and violence go hand-in-hand.

Fort Hood raises questions
Dr.
Peter Breggin
, a medical doctor, former Johns
Hopkins University
faculty associate and author of “Medication Madness: The
Role of Psychiatric Drugs in Violence, Suicide and Murder,” said he immediately
wondered if Maj.
Nidal Hasan
was self-medicating.

“I think it was very likely,”
Breggin said.

Hasan was charged recently with 13 premeditated murder
counts stemming from the shootings. Investigators have made allegations about
Hasan exchanging e-mail with a radical imam, connecting with al-Qaida

members, lionizing suicide bombings and yelling “Allahu Akbar!” as the shootings
began. But Breggin said something more subtle might have been missed.

“It’s very possible that if he was … self-medicating, it could have
been Xanax.
I would say not that the drug did it but it might have pushed him over. But we
don’t know,” Breggin said.

He said that, as a psychiatrist, Hasan could
have easily taken antidepressant samples, and he could write his own
prescriptions for antidepressants. The FBI
removed possible evidence from Hasan’s apartment and then allowed media into the
dingy rooms. Among the things reported left behind were bottles of medications,
including some that he prescribed to himself.

Some call studies
inconclusive
For some people, Breggin said, newer antidepressants are “a
virtual prescription for violence.”

Dr.
Jayson Hymes
, though, said the studies are somewhat inconclusive. Some
research suggests the newer family of antidepressants, SSRIs (selective
serotonin reuptake inhibitors), might have a role in causing violence. But
British studies show they decrease the likelihood, he noted.

“Walking
past a bottle of antidepressants is not going to do anything,” Hymes said. “It
sounds to me, in this situation, that a lot of things just got missed by a lot
of people.”

He said the drugs under question are those antidepressants

that have become popular in the past 10 or 15 years: drugs such as Zoloft
and Celexa.
Probably the most violent behavior is a desire in some people to commit suicide,
he said.

A personal theory Hymes has developed indicates that along with
the suicidal thoughts come fatigue and the inability to make a decision and act
on it. The SSRIs work fast so the person’s energy level increases more quickly
than the mood elevation, he said. So the patient, particularly children and
young people, may still feel depressed and suicidal but suddenly has the energy
to act out.

Researcher claims violence tie
Breggin studied medical
and other records of 50 cases of the newer antidepressants and violence, suicide
or disruptive behavior for his book, he said.

In one case, a man on an

antidepressant wanted to die so badly that he ran into a police officer with his
car so he could knock him down, get his gun and try to shoot himself. Breggin
said the police officer didn’t press for a lengthy jail sentence because he
thought the drug had essentially driven the man crazy.

He said there is
no question that antidepressants can lead to violence.

But Hymes said
controversy over antidepressants can lead to frightening people away from drugs
that they may need.

“People can … moan about antidepressants all day
until they look at a loved one lying on the couch, only able to get up and go to
the bathroom and that’s it. In which case, it’s like, ‘Where’s that

antidepressant?’” Hymes said.

Oklahoma’s Poyner recently testified as an
expert witness in a murder case in which the defendant had been on
antidepressants. In the weeks leading up to the trial she examined studies and
stories on the correlation of antidepressants and violence. That research opened
her eyes to the possibilities of some famous cases such as housewife Andrea
Yates
’ drowning of her five children in 2001. But she remains shocked about
the horrible nature of such crimes, she said.

Are claims just an
excuse?

Poyner said she’s aware that critics will charge that antidepressant
claims merely offer criminals an excuse.

“I know that and I would have
said the same thing until I read this research,” Poyner said. “I worked in
prisons. I’ve treated inmates and so I tend to be very skeptical of somebody
trying to blame something on something else, especially a medication that is
prescribed by a doctor. But now I’m taking a second look at that thought and
saying, ‘Wait a minute.’”

Read more: http://newsok.com/oklahom-experts-look-at-antidepressants/article/3419386#ixzz0Xb21LiSq

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ANTIDEPRESSANTS: Suicide of Soldier: Iraq/Oklahoma

Paragraphs four & five read:  “”He e-mailed his best friend and told her what to do with all of his stuff, and he said he was going to visit his brother,” Brazil said by telephone from Claremore.  ‘Our brother died five years ago’.

“Hastings had trouble sleeping and had been taking antidepressants, but family members don’t know if the medication played a role, Brazil said.”

http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/ap/tx/6582147.html

OKLAHOMA CITY The latest Oklahoma soldier to die in Iraq had become depressed and demoralized by the deaths of friends in combat, and family members suspect he committed suicide, his sister said Friday.

The Defense Department announced Thursday that Spc. Matthew Hastings, 23, of Claremore, died Monday from injuries he received in an incident not related to combat in Baghdad. A cause of death hasn’t been released by military officials, who say an investigation is under way.

Michelle Brazil believes her brother committed suicide based on a recent e-mail his best friend received just before he died.

“He e-mailed his best friend and told her what to do with all of his stuff, and he said he was going to visit his brother,” Brazil said by telephone from Claremore. “Our brother died five years ago.”

Hastings had trouble sleeping and had been taking antidepressants, but family members don’t know if the medication played a role, Brazil said.

His yearlong deployment was scheduled to end in December, she said. Family and friends got to see him during a two-week visit in April.

“He told us his plans for when he got back,” Brazil said. “He recently did some shopping online and ordered some clothing and that package arrived here in July, so he didn’t plan this for very long.”

Hastings was assigned to the 582nd Medical Logistics Company, 1st Medical Brigade, 13th Sustainment Command out of Fort Hood, Texas.

He joined the military in August 2006 as a light-wheel vehicle mechanic and had been stationed at Fort Hood since February 2007. The unit provides basic medical services, said Tyler Broadway, a Fort Hood spokesman.

Hastings, a 2005 graduate from high school in Broken Arrow, liked to hunt and fish and “was just a comic,” Brazil said.

“He had a lot of friends. He always made everybody laugh,” she said.

Although Hastings’ death is still under investigation, the U.S. Army has developed a program to respond to increased suicides among soldiers. Beginning Oct. 1, soldiers will take a test to see how they respond to stress and to assess their resiliency, officials announced this week.

The Army said Aug. 13 that there were 62 confirmed suicides and 34 unconfirmed cases from Jan. 1 through July 31.

As for Hastings, Brazil said an autopsy is being conducted on her brother and his body hadn’t arrived in Oklahoma yet.

“I’m fine right now. I go in and out,” Brazil said. “I wake up in the morning and realize it’s not a nightmare and I cry for hours. After that, it’s just planning for the funeral. I’m sure it will soak in again soon.

“It’s such a shock.”

Hayhurst Funeral Home in Broken Arrow is handling funeral arrangements for Hastings, Brazil said.

Besides his sister, Hastings is survived by his mother and stepfather, Lawanda and Roger Lowry of Coweta; his father, Clark Hastings Jr., of Redfield, Ark.; grandfather Clark Hastings Sr., of Jacksonville, Ark.; and grandparents, Wanda and Vernon Cline of Pryor.

Hastings was going through a divorce and had no children, Brazil said.

An AP database based on Department of Defense news releases indicates Hastings was at least the 75th Oklahoma military serviceman to die in the war in Iraq.

Their brother, Clark Hastings III, preceded him in death.

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