written by Mary Hennessey
Roughly fifteen years ago, our family were taken headlong into the turmoil of watching one of its members in the grip of mental ill-health. Prior to this rude awakening, I had very little knowledge or experience of mental health problems. A variety of relatives had suffered ‘depression’ but seemed to eventually recover unscathed.
This episode began in a quiet, relaxed manner. One of our sons developed a poor sleep pattern coupled with an inability to enjoy food. He went along to his doctor, as one does, with complete trust in his ability to explain the situation to him. He was duly told that he was suffering from stress – probably coupled with anxiety and, possibly, depression too. He was prescribed a SSRI antidepressant – small pills that were sure to settle all his worries.
Nothing could be further from the truth. From his early days on these tablets, his condition deteriorated way beyond anything that we had ever experienced in our lives before – and certainly never want to witness again. He suffered three massive rage attacks during the three months that he was on these tablets. He was taken off them completely at that point and for the next ten days had to be supervised 24/7, such were the dangers of withdrawing from them.
By that time, the damage was done. I won’t go into details of the extent of the ‘damage’ at this point; suffice to say that it was enough to continue to cause him problems to this day.
We had no idea that Seroxat ( the particular SSRI that he’d been given) was known to be problematic in its use for some people. Neither did we know for sure that his problems had
been caused by the pills – the medical people kept informing us that he was ‘in crisis’ which caused the unusual behaviours that we saw. Deep inside, we knew that the Seroxat was, in some way, responsible but could get no-one to accept this.
Some months later, his psychiatrist told us that a young psychiatrist here in North Wales was indeed investigating a connection between Seroxat and a variety of adverse reactions in some people, including rage attacks.
This ‘young psychiatrist’ was Dr. (now Professor) David Healy.
Dr. Healy assessed the situation – the facts surrounding it, the unusual behaviours we had witnessed and our son’s own recollections of his time on Seroxat (of which, actually, he remembered very little). From all of this, Dr. Healy was able to report that he had, indeed, suffered adverse reactions to the Seroxat prescribed to him.
SSRI antidepressants have caused havoc for many. Our son’s suffering pales into insignificance when one reads about many of the horrific experiences of other families. One trait runs throughout – doctors fail to recognise the link between the drugs and the problem, the general assumption being that the person’s initial ‘illness’ has re-surfaced.
Dr. Healy’s concern for the hurt caused to so many and the lack of accountability resulted in his setting up a website, in October 2012, which aims to make prescription drugs safer for all users.
RxISK.org is owned and operated by Data Based Americas Ltd. In Toronto, Canada. The CEO and principal founder of
DBA is Dr. David Healy. (His connection with Toronto is a sad but interesting story in itself). He is an internationally respected psychiatrist, psychopharmacologist, scientist and author. He runs RxISK together with a group of high-profile medical experts with international reputations in early drug-side-effects detection and risk mitigation, pharmacovigilance and patient-centred care.
Many have turned to RxISK to help build a better understanding of their suffering. RxISK deals, not only with mental health medication, but with health risks of all prescribed drugs. The website covers many aspects, and is added to as more and more information is gathered, to support patients and professionals alike. They aim to empower patients to have better conversations with their ,doctors about their medications. They also gather information from doctors as to the extent of problems encountered on prescription medications.
One exceptionally useful tool provided is the possibility of getting a RxISK Report which shows the likelihood of your treatment causing the symptoms that you present. This takes just ten minutes to complete but could provide a path to far better health. RxISK is a free, independent drug safety website which can help you weigh the benefits of any medication against its potential dangers.
The RxISK website also runs a Blog which is well supported. The posts cover a wide range of medical issues and comments are always forthcoming, adding to the topic covered – often with many interesting diversions. Many
families use this facility to express their concerns regarding the worrying, modern trend of medicalising an assortment of life issues and the idea of a ‘pill for all ills’.
If you, or anyone you know, seem to have developed some unusual or worrying complaints since being prescribed a medication by your doctor, take a look online. If there is nothing to worry about, it will give you peace of mind. If, however, your problems are related to your medications then this could be your first step to better health. On the other hand, if you are just plain inquisitive then you may find yourself spending many an hour searching this website.
Whatever your reason, I hope that you find the day that you type ‘RxISK . org’ leads you to a better understanding of health issues – especially those of mental health, just as it did for me.