Thought of the Week Archives

What is Primal
Who Is It For?
Working with Sam
About Sam
Thought of the Week
Ask Sam
Suggested Reading
Contact, Location
& Fees

  December 9, 2002

Depression - Part 4: The Dangers of Medication

The intention of the psycho-pharmaceutical complex is to convince the public that our health is best supported through medications. I am not denying the usefulness of medications, but I also cannot deny that the modern emphasis on medicating is excessive and potentially dangerous. I predict that there will be a huge backlash to this approach.

The folly of drugging is that it is based on a fallacious, Newtonian view of reality. Newton's theory was of a universe made of tiny particles independently floating in a sea of space. About a hundred years ago, Einstein and his colleagues replaced this disjointed view with the quantum model, which to simplify, confirms that things are interconnected. In a sense, Einstein presented what aboriginal people and mystics have known for thousands of years. Physics, which is the cornerstone of science, has been based on that model for almost a century now. In spite of that, the Newtonian view is still taught in schools, and most scientists still operate from this cold, clunky concept of universal isolation. Unfortunately, these "heady" viewpoints have very real consequences on our health.

When scientists propose that something is "selective," "contained," and "safe," watch out. It's Newton's ghost with disaster in tow. Here are some examples of "selective containment" gone awry:

• the internal combustion engine - now causing dangerous climate changes
• electricity - creates a field beyond high tension wires that can cause cancer
• the atom bomb - has now spread to many unstable governments
• nuclear power - nuclear waste leakage
• pesticides and herbicides - found in Arctic ice and breast milk
• aluminum pots - aluminum leaches into food and may cause Alzheimer's
• antibiotics and growth hormones injected into beef cattle - found in our bodies
• antibiotics - kills beneficial intestinal flora as well as the "selected" bacteria
• PCBs contained in transformers - now found everywhere on the planet
• genetically modified (GM) plants - now spreading and causing "super weeds"
• pharmaceuticals in closed capsules - now found in city drinking water

The world - and our bodies - have permeable boundaries. How many times has modern medicine prescribed a substance for one thing that is later found out to cause some other problem? The horrors of thalidomide comes to mind. In the field of psychiatry, cocaine and amphetamines were once thought to be beneficial, even harmless. Anti-psychotic medications, thought to be completely safe in the 1950s, have shown to cause Tardive Diskinesia, a debilitating - and permanent - nervous affliction.

No substance that we ingest will only affect one system. "Smart drugs," like "smart bombs," aren't smart. They are bulls in a china shop.

Most drugs (for economic and political reasons) do not get adequate long-term testing before commercial release. The prescription holders become lab rats in a fatal game of "drug roulette." For an in-depth view of the limitations of the drug approval process, read Dr. Peter Breggin's Talking Back to Prozac.

I have discussed the short-term problems of SSRI antidepressants in previous articles, but the long-term problems are more frightening. There is mounting evidence to suggest that SSRIs are causing changes in brain cell physiology.

SSRIs (Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors) were developed in response to findings that depressed people have lower levels of serotonin in their systems. SSRIs are intended to "selectively" increase the level of serotonin. Let me explain the theory of how they work. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter and assists in the sending of information from one neuron to another by acting as a chemical messenger. When the signal comes to the end of one neuron, neurotransmitters like serotonin are released, where they travel across a tiny gap (synapse) and are received by receptor molecules on the surface of the next neuron in line. When each signal transmission is complete, there is often extra serotonin remaining in the synapse. This additional serotonin is reabsorbed by the sending neuron in a process called "reuptake."

Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors do as their name suggests - they inhibit the reuptake of serotonin so that there is more serotonin in the synapse. The theory is that if low serotonin is bad, more serotonin will be good. This is seen as rebalancing a subjectively diagnosed "genetic" imbalance. For those who want to learn more, here are some links that explain the process in greater detail from the Lundbeck Institute, Auburn University, the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth, and the University of Texas:


This neurological process happens many times a second in a billion different locations in our brains. Every voluntary and involuntary action we take, and everything we perceive, sense, think, and feel, is a result of it. This process is delicately coordinated with the release and reuptake of serotonin and other neurotransmitters, and any variation will affect our entire system. It is presumptious to assume that an alien substance (SSRI) that leaves more serotonin floating in the synapse is the answer to the problem and won't cause other dysfunction.

Natural systems are the way they are for a complex of reasons. If you introduce a change, the environment reacts. Low serotonin levels have a purpose that the introduction of an SSRI doesn't address and certainly interferes with. That purpose (perhaps the repression of trauma) will continue to exert itself until its origin is resolved.

If this is true, then the system will react to the additional serotonin as an excess - not a balance - and will adjust itself to the overflow. There is already evidence that this is the case (Breggin, 1994). The biologic reaction being observed is a disappearance of receptor sites on the receiving neuron. That's right. Receptor molecules, which are essential to brain function, are dying off because of an overload of serotonin.

This partly explains why people have such a hard time withdrawing from these drugs. If they stop taking the drug and fall back on their original serotonin levels, the SSRI-induced decrease in receptors will result in a debilitating loss in brain signals - the "blackness" I've heard people mention. The drop is so severe for some that they have terrible pain and feel like killing themselves.

Think "heroin."

Heroin attaches to the receptors in the brain that are designed to receive naturally produced opiates - endorphins (endogenous morphine). When a user introduces an outside source of opiate (heroin or morphine), the inner production/reception diminishes. When the user stops, there is an extreme and painful deficit withdrawal caused by the biologic readjustment. The drug, heroin, is illegal; the user's dependence is said to be caused by a physiological addiction; and the use of the drug is considered a danger to health. The drugs called SSRIs are legal; the user's dependence is said to be caused by a genetic imbalance; and the use of the drug is considered to be an improvement to health.

It all looks like addiction to me.

It's worse than that - it's medically sponsored, commercially promoted, government-sanctioned brain damage. I've seen no evidence that lost receptors "grow" back. It may be less like cutting off your hair and more like cutting off your fingers. Once they're gone, they're gone. Just like the unfortunate people in the horrible contortions of Tardive Diskinesia, those with SSRI-induced brain damage may be scarred for life. That may mean permanent depression (and permanent addiction to legal drugs) or even worse conditions that we haven't seen yet.

With millions of children and adults being given these and other psychoactive medications, we are sitting on a behavioural time bomb waiting to explode. Newtonian-driven scientists have already unsuccessfully experimented with the air, the water, the earth, the food, and the atomic structure. Now they are messing around with our brains - the part of us that can discern what's real and what's not and what's healthy and what's not.

As the problems surface and people are injured and die, the backlash to this irresponsible experimentation gains momentum. There are other, more humane and more efficient methods for dealing with depression. We need to support one another in finding them and using them.

Resource links

The following links may be of interest to you. The opinions expressed on those sites are not necessarily in agreement with the views expressed on Primalworks.









back to index