The Big Ideas of 2012

Zyprexa

An American psychosis.
Zyprexa

Rin Zebramädchen

Imagine that a virus suddenly appears in our society that makes people sleep 12–14 hours a day. Those infected with it move about somewhat slowly and seem emotionally disengaged.

Many gain huge amounts of weight – 20, 40, 60, and even 100 pounds. Often their blood sugar levels soar, and so do their cholesterol levels. A number of those struck by the mysterious illness – including young children and teenagers – become diabetic in very short order. Reports of patients occasionally dying from pancreatitis appear in the medical literature. Newspapers and magazines fill their pages with accounts of this new scourge, which is dubbed metabolic dysfunction illness, and parents are in a panic over the thought that their children might contract this horrible disease. The federal government gives hundreds of millions of dollars to scientists at the best universities to decipher the inner workings of this virus, and they report that the reason it causes such global dysfunction is that it blocks a multitude of neurotransmitter receptors in the brain – dopaminergic, serotoninergic, muscarinic, adrenergic, and histaminergic. All of those neuronal pathways in the brain are compromised. Meanwhile, MRI studies find that over a period of several years the virus shrinks the cerebral cortex, and this shrinkage is tied to cognitive decline. A terrified public clamors for a cure. Now, such an illness has in fact hit millions of American children and adults. We have just described the effects of Eli Lilly’s best-selling antipsychotic, Zyprexa.

Robert Whitaker in Anatomy of an Epidemic: Magic Bullets, Psychiatric Drugs, and the Astonishing Rise of Mental Illness in America..

45 comments on the article “Zyprexa”

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Eisce

I have been diagnosed with Paranoid Schizoprenia, I function normally when I get sleep. Loss of sleep due to symptoms have been so severe in the past I had to go to the E.R. for help (of which I received none.) I have been experimenting with psychotropics, three so far. Not a one of them have taken my severe symptoms away, but they sure have given me side effects. I do not battle keeping myself out of psychotic episodes on the drugs, that is the one positive I have from drug taking.

Before my symptoms started I very much felt like our society was pushing the pharma's to the edge, I still do believe we have an overmedicated society especially regarding children, but I now have compassion for those that are experiencing mental illness and related issues.

Condemning the FDA for rush passes and swinging door employment with pharmacology corporations is where the focus needs to be. Attacking persons and entire illnesses as false or over reactions to disorders is not healthy and treats the symptom not the illness, much like the drugs we are condemning.

bipolar in cali...

Some people are born with defective legs, some people are born with defective eyes, some people are born with defective hearts, etc. Why is it so hard to believe that some people are born with defective brains? Certainly, autistic people are born with brains where the social connection mechanism is defective -- why can't people be born with the emotional regulatory system being defective, i.e., bipolar people (like me).

All of this arguing about whether mental illnesses actually exist, etc., I think takes time and energy away from the more important issue of whether these powerful drugs should be given to people under 18. I take Zyprexa and it has worked for me for the past ten year, but I would not give such a powerful drug to minors -- I don't think I would give ritalin either to a kid.

Being bipolar is really specific and very different from anything 99% of the population ever undergoes -- when you're manic it feels like someone is injecting the purest grade of cocaine directly into your brain for weeks, or even months. It is basically like going on an extended cocaine binge, or maybe cocaine and heroin combined (I've never taken heroin). I think probably most people currently diagnosed (misdiagnosed) as having bipolar illness never have this "Pure cocaine in the brain" feeling spontaneously occurring. They aren't mentally ill. But just because bipolar illness is overdiagnosed for some reason doesn't mean it hasn't happened to me!

Peace to anyone on the Anti-Psychiatry side of things, but I think concentrating on the very bad problem of giving these powerful drugs to minors is the thing you all should be concentrating on, not taking away the drug that I as an adult have chosen to take and that has saved my (and other people's) lives.

Anonymous

Eli Lilly Zyprexa scandal
They called it the *Five at Five* (5 mg at 5 pm to keep nursing home patients subdued and sleepy) and *VIVA ZYPREXA* (Zyprexa for everybody) campaigns to off label market Eli Lilly Zyprexa as a fix for unapproved usage.
Big Pharma companies that have relied on fraud to market industry’s worst pharmaceuticals–antipsychotic drugs–which have become industry’s most profitable cash cow. —
Daniel Haszard Zyprexa victim activist
FMI http://www.zyprexa-victims.com

Anonymous

After being taken to a hospital for "drug induced psychosis", which the police made aware to the psych unit doctor, and I did too, explaining that I just did too much drugs and got a little paranoid. I was placed on a 72 hour hold in the locked psych unit to see if I 'cleared up' or what was going on.

At nighttime, I was having trouble sleeping (it was a stimulant I took after all), and plus I normally take a benadryl (otc antihistamine, also sold as otc sleep aid), and asked the nurse for one. She said no, because the doctor never wrote an order for it, but there was an order for Verapamil (which I later found out to be calcium channel blocker). Since I didn't recognize the name as any psychiatric medication (which psychiatrists are all to eager to hand out to people to satisfy there own personal curiosity with no concern for possible risks), and the nurse told me it would help me sleep I agreed.

The next day something was wrong with me but I assumed drug withdrawal or anxiety.

Then another pill at night. The third day my eyelids started blinking uncontrollably, I couldn't breath (or at least consciously control my breath) muscles all over my body were contracting and releasing for no reason. It was unbearably painful. I was waiting for a staff to notice. I had no idea what was happening, and had not even tied it to the meds at this point. I was so embarrassed, I was incapable of talking, drooling on myself, acting severely physically and mentally handicapped- so I stayed in my room for meals. I was unable to swallow, ever bite I choked down would get stuck in my throat.

I had assumed I got some bad drugs, and I was sufferring from drug induced Parkinsonism, and would be dying within several hours. It kept getting worse and was more scary than any bad trip I have ever been on. Finally I decided to check with the nurses (who didn't seem particularly involved or intelligent). One nurse said very casually "Oh yes, that is a very common side effect, known as tardive dyskinesia, she also used another term for it. Many people get it from the meds you are on. Don't worry, there is an antidote for it, but your nurse just went on break (I could see her eating lunch through the window), so when she is done she can help you. One half hour later she slowly got up and admitted that she made a mistake, the medicine she had been giving me was not verapamil it was zyprexa. I instantly knew that name just from hearing people complain about it in treatment, along with things like thorazine ("thorazine shuffle"). She had to call a Dr. for official doctors orders to give me the antidote, so another hour passed before the doctor called back.

She came in with an injection, Cogentin I believe, gave it to me in my a** cheek, and within 15 minutes I had returned 50% to my normal self. I left the hospital at 85% mental and physical capacity that I went in with (in other words I would be better off permanently intoxicated on amph.) The nurse later said very nonchalantly , "Oh, it says here you are in the prime demographic for an allergic reaction to this medication, being a mid-20's skinny white male". Oh, great!

It took several months and I would experience flashbacks where I would lose control over swallowing, panic, and choke. After maybe 6 months I was at 95% capacity of my normal self. That was 2 years ago, I haven't noticed anymore improvements, but I have also forgotten what to compare it too. Despite quitting drugs I now get accused of being intoxicated more often than when I was doing them.

This medicine is the devil. I realize some people -may- need it, but seeing as how they knew full well the risks (which, for people on those drugs for months, those symptoms become permanent, and also for those allergic like me, they can be deadly), they should not be handed out like candy. There is no legal reason that should have been a substitute over the time tested and very safe and non addictive benadryl for sleeping.

Moshe

This excerpt from Whitaker's book and Fleet's article, "American Psychosis" in the last Adbusters Journal, overlook the most critical factor influencing prescribing practices: our laziness.

Clearly, these meds are needed. The demand for them preceded their creation. If anything, depression remains inadequately treated -- as evidenced by the demand for alcohol and street drugs.

But, although depression and other psychopathology remains under-diagnosed, the meds are frequently over-prescribed once a diagnosis is made. The resulting pathology supports Whitaker and Fleet's argument. For example, it's well-documented that if you give a person with mild depression or anxiety a high dose of an SSRI, you can cause acute mania.

Reasons for the over-prescribing are numerous. Drug reps & direct-to-consumer advertising play enormous roles. But so does a culture of desiring (and frequently only paying for) a quick fix. Anyone who is taking psychoactive substances should be in therapy. Therapy, good therapy, should be just as easy to access as Zyprexa, fluoxetine, or a bottle of beer.

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