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Medication and Mass Shootings: When The Remedy Is The Cause

Affiliate Disclosure | in Everything Else | by | with 28 Comments

antidepressants and school shootings

Dear mamas and papas, though I have tried for days I have been unable to write anything that expresses my grief over this most recent tragedy. I can’t go back to business as usual, but I simply cannot find the words, either. So I am holding them in my heart and pressing on to discuss a topic we’ve covered before, but that warrants a LOT more attention.

I Have Held Someone’s Hand . . .

As they watched their life explode on the 10 o’clock news.  The crime scene was barely processed when we began to sift through the puzzle pieces of a life gone wrong. As you can imagine, this is not a chapter from my life I often speak of, and never really planned to here.

I was 19 years old when my then (now ex) boyfriend’s father murdered his mother and turned the gun on himself. I was a straight “A” college student. I came from a safe, middle class suburban neighborhood. I volunteered my time at a nearby elementary school, where I tutored first graders in reading. None of this shielded me from this destructive thing we call mental illness. One minute I was studying for a psychology test, the next I was keeping watch over his 16 year old sister, a sweet girl who went to school one day and came home to discover in the most horrific way possible that she was an orphan.

Back then I didn’t even think to ask certain questions, like whether or not his father was on antidepressants. To this day I don’t know. What I can say, though, is that I’ve had more than a passing interest in the relationship between mental illness (especially depression) and violence. Today, as we continue to grieve the unspeakable loss at Sandy Hook Elementary School, I offer these resources for those who are asking the same questions.

Antidepressants Should Carry A Black Box Warning For Homicidal & Suicidal Tendencies

antidepressants and school shootings

Did you know that FIVE of the top ten most violence inducing drugs are antidepressants? (source)  Would it surprise you to learn that about one quarter of depressed individuals actually do worse when prescribed antidepressants instead of a placebo? (source)

Though it’s easy to equate a discussion on “mental healthcare solutions” with “access to medication” for troubled individuals, we need to keep in mind that these drugs have a well-documented history of inducing violence in otherwise loving, caring people . . . people who adore their families and yet find themselves acting out their worst nightmares. I am not saying that there is never a time where they are appropriate, but we need to weigh the risks carefully.

According to CCHR:

[P]eople with no prior history of violence (or suicide) became homicidal and suicidal under the influence of antidepressants. … However, despite all the documented violence-inducing side effects of these drugs, the FDA has never issued black box warnings on antidepressants causing violence or homicide despite the fact that at least 11 recent school shootings were committed by kids documented to be on or in withdrawal from psychiatric drugs.” (emphasis mine)

For more information read: Antidepressants And School Shootings – What Every Parent Needs To Know

Microbes Affect Your Mind

antidepressants and school shootings

Though the genetic component of mental illness is commonly accepted, what’s often not mentioned is that the microbes in our digestive tracts affect whether certain genes are either expressed or silenced. You can read more about the gut-brain connection here.

Beneficial bacteria also help regulate and even manufacture neurotransmitters that help us function normally. (source) Unfortunately we live in the age of antibiotics, the contraceptive pill, junk food, personal care products and stress, all of which kill off the beneficial bacteria in our digestive tract while making room for pathogenic microbes that may induce conditions like depression, schizophrenia, and anxiety. Excessive intake of processed foods can also cause nutritional deficiencies like pellagra, which can produce symptoms nearly identical to schizophrenia and lead to violent behavior. (source 1, source 2)

Healing the ecosystem within and correcting deficiencies is possible according to Gut & Psychology Syndrome author Dr. Campbell-McBride, but it can take significant commitment depending on the condition.

There Are Effective Natural Remedies For Depression

antidepressants and school shootings

Though each person is unique and what works for one individual may not be the key for another, I am aware of two healing protocols which have had significant success with a variety of disorders. Julia Ross, psychotherapist and pioneer of amino acid therapy, has written extensively on the subject of helping people restore proper neurotransmitter function with the help of nutrition and a few key supplements. Her book, The Mood Cure, details her approach. You can take her questionnaire here to determine whether you might have a neurotransmitter deficiency.

Dr. Campbell-McBride, whom I mentioned above, is the author of Gut & Psychology Syndrome. Her program – nicknamed the GAPS Diet – is an intensive healing protocol that is used to treat a variety of disorders including depression, schizophrenia, anxiety, compulsive disorders, behavioral problems and mood swings.

Also, here are 7 natural remedies for depression that will benefit just about everyone.

When I Woke Up This Morning . . .

I planned to write a post about gingerbread cookies. Halfway through this post I was STILL trying to write a post about gingerbread cookies. In the aftermath of what’s happened, finding moments of joy with my kids – reading, baking, listening to Micah sing jingle bells at warp speed – these are my top priorities, and I want to inspire you to do the same.

If I am being honest with myself, though, the real reason I fought writing this post is that I knew it could not convey how broken my heart is for the parents and families involved in this tragedy. I suspected then – and know with absolute certainty now – that simply discussing what I’ve learned would do nothing to take the sting of grief away. And yet, as incomplete as it may be, I offer this contribution to the conversation that is happening right now in hopes that it may be useful. If you have found it to be so, please share it with those you love.

What do you think is the most important step we can take to prevent future tragedies?

Note: Please see my disclaimer regarding medical advice.

photo credit 1, photo credit 2photo credit 3photo credit 4



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28 Responses to Medication and Mass Shootings: When The Remedy Is The Cause

  1. Jeannette says:

    I am one of those who get worse with medication. I have tried many different types when my anxiety and depression got to be too much to handle and each time it simply dug my hole deeper and caused more panic attacks. I stick to counseling now. I also have a very strong mind-gut relationship. My “IBS” and anxiety go hand in hand. When one cleared, so did the other and when one flares I can expect the other to get worse as well. Thanks for the resources. I’m interested to see what those Drs have to say about the correlation between the two and how it might help me to feel better during those times when I’m feeling down.

    • Heather says:

      Thank you for sharing your story, Jeannette. I had a very similar experience. I used to be extremely underweight due to malabsorption issues – during that time I suffered from anxiety issues as well. When my digestive function was restored the anxiety completely disappeared. So glad you joined the conversation today.

  2. Rebekkah Smith says:

    I’m not sure of the effects of the drugs themselves, but it definitely seems like they are (at best) only treating the symptoms and not addressing the route cause. I really believe that digestive health plays a huge role in mental health. Everyone is wondering why there is a mental health crisis in our country, and I think it’s because we have a food crisis. I’ve seen many kids with major mental and behavioral issues have extreme improvement because of being on GAPS or simply cutting out sugar and grain!

    But, really, the drugs that have mental side-effects are numerous! What about Tamiflu, which yields 12% of the kids who take it with some type of psychological problem, including hallucinations, depression, and suicidal tendencies? How many people have the flu right now?! It’s everywhere, and everyone takes tamiflu (not us!). I wonder if he had just taken something like that?

    • Heather says:

      Rebekkah, I had no idea about Tamiflu! It took me less than a minute to find the info you mentioned, including 15 deaths in minors. The report doesn’t say they were suicides, but cautions against “an increased risk of self-injury and confusion” in children in the next sentence. Thank you for sharing this.

    • Brittany Ardito says:

      Thank you for the Tamiflu information. This shocked me! I know so many people that use this :-(

  3. Sad Holidays « Flying Kites at Night says:

    […] And anti-depressants- another mama blogger wrote about this – Medications and Mass Shootings- When the Remedy is the Cause. […]

  4. SW says:

    This is so right! After using medications all through my childhood for treating acne. I developed what my doctor’s described “Depression”. I tried committing suicide at 17. I have been off and on antidepressants for 15 years. It helped some. But, now that I am off them and working to heal my gut…I feel worse. I have anger, rage, foggy brain, blurred vision. severe anxiety, fatigue. I don’t have depression…I was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s disease. Guess who diagnosed me…not some western medicine schmuck. But, my chiropractor. Now after years of feeling like a horrid mother to my children. I can probably start to feel normal again. Just trying to guide myself in the right way to feel better until I clean the gut. Breastfeeding has the trump card on that for now. Just tired of feeling like crap!

    To add, I have friend who fell to the pressure of her family to medicate her son for ADHD. She says when he comes off his medicine. He is far worse than when he never took it. Sad thing is to, every couple of months they have to up his strength in dosage because it does not work enough!

    • love says:

      I could have written this post. i have hashi’s as well. :-( along with PCOS. i took synthroid fro 4 months this past year and i wanted to hurt myself and my family. i quit taking it and started taking armour thyroid and i am starting to get my life back.

  5. Lisa C says:

    I once took a prescribed muscle relaxant and immediately started having dark, suicidal thoughts. Thankfully, I realized it was the drug and I stopped taking it immediately, but I was lucky to have realized that. When these side effects occur, irrationality comes with it, and it can be hard to know what is happening unless someone is actively monitoring the person being medicated.

    There are a lot of hurting people in this world. With these shootings, it is easy to think that the person has become evil and heartless, but what if they are just suffering a pharmaceutical side effect? It’s really, really sad, and trying to pass new gun laws doesn’t even come close to the root of the problem.

  6. Colleen B says:

    Thanks for writing this. As a real foodie who has recently started to delve into the link between auto-immune diseases and all the GMO, chemical laden foods we eat, I have started to see how some professionals are starting to consider Autism an auto-immune disease (our body attacking itself). I have not had the news on much this weekend so I don’t know what they have been saying about his medical condition or medications, but I was musing that he is a 20-something…the first generation of kids who have grown up on GMO food without the approval by their parents or themselves. It may be no coincidence that he also had aspergers, if that is indeed correct information. So how did that affect what happened on Friday? I am hoping someone in the scientific community would feel compelled to dive into this. But you add in medications and it gets even more complicated. Wow.

  7. Brenna says:

    Thank you! This is such pertinent information we need to share all around!

  8. Amanda says:

    Heather, Thank you for sharing this! I too have had a hard time expressing my feelings on this topic. I have a mentally ill brother-in-law who has these exact same issues. I have tried sharing different dietary and vitamin related solutions with him and my mil without any success, continually being blown off and told “You’re not a doctor so you can’t know what he needs.” My bil tried to kill my husband (his younger brother) earlier this year, and threatened to kill me while I was still pregnant with our baby. The amount of damage that has occurred to my husband’s entire family because of this situation is tragic. We have had to completely cut that brother out of our lives for the safety of ourselves and our child. My mil thinks that we’re trying to be malicious and hold a grudge against him for being sick, but it’s just not the case. We love him, and pray for him, and forgive him for what he tried to do in a fit of irrationality, but we cannot have him in our lives. It is truly tragic because the solution to this problem is so easy! Do the GAPS diet, or high dosage vitamin treatment, or any number of other natural methods of healing! Instead they rely on the Doctors ability to “properly diagnose” (because NOW he’s been properly diagnosed…. and all the other Dr.’s were just inept…) and the magical “medicine” to make him better. I wish there were a way to help people understand how easy it is to be healthy in all aspects of life!

  9. Morgan says:

    Thank you for this insightful, wonderfully written article. The same things have been on my mind, along w/ the effects if heavy metals and parasites, that all seem to be interrelated. Sharing this..

  10. Tracy Konoske MS RD says:

    I am trained in natural, integrative and functional medicine. I’m taught that if the gut ain’t happy, no one’s happy. Our neurotransmitters are made IN the gut, then travel out to do their work. About 80% of our immune system is in the gut and so it fires at any foreigner – GMO’s, or other. In the process, it produces what is called “mediators” and those mediators now go and act locally as well as systemically. The same way folks have a leaky gut, they can have a leaky brain. In my world, the gut is the “2nd brain” b/c so much goes on there an it affects so many other organ systems. I have treated a lot of mild mental illness with diet changes and gut healing – not necessarily the GAPS but I am a Weston Price lover. Drugs arent for everyone and often then the patient needs to heal from the original crisis, as well as the side effects of the drug. Thanks for writing this and keep up the good work.

  11. jane says:

    WOW, found your article through facebook. This is something that I’m studying right now is natural remedies for depression etc.
    One thing that you didn’t mention is magnesium, Magnesium Calm drink before bed is great for getting a good nights rest, which helps for a great day.

  12. Heather says:

    Another huge thing that I haven’t seen anyone mention regarding mental health, is how diets like the Feingold diet and gluten free have helped so many families with children that suffer from ADHD, Autism, Aspergers, and anger issues. And even other foods…as a child dairy made me mean and grumpy. For my four year old I have to avoid foods high in oxolates or she turns into a raging maniac and become violent and cries about every little thing. No one seems to know or understand just how much food can affect how a person feels.

  13. Nancy says:

    Here is another must-read on this important topic.

    AND, the body’s response to trauma or any kind of overwhelm, physiologically, is another contribution to mood and can be addressed without medication. Here are a couple of resources:

    thank you for the important information and adding this perspective to the conversation.

  14. Anthony Korahais says:

    Thank you for writing about this, and not about gingerbread cookies, Heather. It’s important information that needs to get out there. I’m going to share it on my page.

    BTW, I cured myself of clinical depression using Qigong (it’s similar to Tai Chi). I’ve also helped a lot of my students to do the same. So add that to your list of natural remedies. I wrote an article (“Depression Kills; Qigong Saves”) on the subject if you’re interested:

  15. Sandy McG-B says:

    I discovered that my Seasonal Affective Disorder (winter depression, not winter blues) practically disappeared when I stopped drinking diet sodas daily. It was the aspartame, the Nutrisweet that I am sensitive to, and by avoiding it, I am no longer a completely different, withdrawn and poorly functioning person during winter. Not suicidal or violent but significantly underfunctioning with depression. Nutrisweet may be FDA approved but it causes harm to me, and was difficult to discover. Luckily for me I had already gone gluten and dairy free, and had completely changed all the chemicals in my life, having changed countries twice, so I was glad when I realised the one unchanging thing over those previous few years was my daily Coke Zero habit. And very noticeable improvements soon after cutting out Nutrisweet.

  16. Pakalani says:

    I’ve been a vegetarian since 1979 and my husband and I went organic over 15 years ago when he became ill with leukemia. We avoided his having to have chemo and radiation, then switched to Traditional Chinese Medicine with a doctor who used to practice as an oncologist for many years, then went back to TCM because he felt he wasn’t treating the whole patient. I believe he saved my husband’s life, then we stayed with organic foods. We don’t drink any kind of soda, don’t buy prepackaged foods with ingredient lists that look like chemicals (and are). We eat very simply and all these years later, my husband is alive and well. But we also have a daughter who has Bipolar I Disorder, and neither TCM or our diet could help her. We spent tons of money and went through some lousy, stupid doctors before we found the one that literally saved her life. And it took years of going on and off her meds, because they have strong side effects. After years of therapy, hospitalizations, and problems, she is compliant with her meds, has a good life and we are very proud of her determination and achievements. She is very intelligent and beautiful; mental illnesses like Bipolar Disorder seem to strike the extremely intelligent. That’s why it seems so unfair that she and others like her should have to fight to rebuild their lives and remain part of society. We used to feel the stigma of mental illness until we joined NAMI, an organization for families and people interested in removing the stigma. As far as GMOs and medication prescriptions used indiscriminately, I believe many doctors and our own government care more about making money than guaranteeing our food safety and medical safety. GMOs are poison and our society is overmedicated. But with regard to the tragedy in Newtown, as the parent of a grown daughter with a mental disorder, I hate to see “mental illness” and “mental breakdown” bandied about as the answer for this terrible slaughter. We will probably never know what made this shooter commit mass slaughter. It may take months or years to find a reason, if one exists.

  17. Medication and Mass Shootings: When The Remedy Is The Cause « The Mommypotamus The Mommypotamus | Through The Puzzle says:

    […] via Medication and Mass Shootings: When The Remedy Is The Cause « The Mommypotamus The Mommypotamus. […]

  18. Leah G says:

    My medical history is long and sorted. severe asthma and allergies as child meant countless rounds of antibiotics and steroids for pneumonia not to mention all the inhalers and other medications. As a very young teen a too tried suicide. I have had anxiety issues and then after years of an eating disorder was diagnosed with MS. I took interferon injections and countless drugs for the MS and anxiety before I read the MS Recovery Diet and discovered WAPF. I actually have had several doctors kick me out of their practice because I refuse to take any medications anymore. Know I kinda feel that a lot of my history stems from bad bad gut and poor nutrition. Its why I fight tooth and nail for my children. What I find so alarming in this situation is that everyone is focusing on the guns. More people are killed my pharmaceuticals than guns but we dont move to kill guns and last time I checked law abiding citizens are not the ones killing people. criminals will always find a way to get a weapon, My heart breaks for these families and I pray for them and for all of us every night!

  19. Michelle Barr says:

    This is a completely unfair post towards those who are on antidepression/antianxiety medicine and do not have these adverse symptoms. Consider this: you are a Christian, you believe in the power of prayer and in Jesus’ healing, you struggle with anxiety/depression, you pray in total faith and try those natural remedies, the depression/anxiety still continues. What do you do then when you can’t function in society? When you can’t go to work because you can’t stop crying and can’t focus? I want you to understand that it’s not ALWAYS an option to not be on medicine. I struggled with guilt for months for being on medication. It was a very diffcult decision for me. I tried to get off of it 3 separate times. I was finally given peace from my mother, who also believes in the power of prayer, when she told me, “Would you tell someone with diabetes that they were wrong for taking insulin? Would you tell someone with hyperthyroidism that they were wrong for taking medicine to help that? Jesus heals, yes. But right now you need medicine to help you balance your levels. I am confident the healing will come, but until then, God has provided doctors that can give you medicine to help you.” Please be careful in how you write a post like this. Not everyone desires to be on medicine, but they don’t see other options when they’ve tried all of the natural help and it’s not working. We aren’t just using medicine as a cop out. Yes, some people do and yes, maybe anti depressants are given too quickly without attempting other ways. But don’t be so quick to judge others when they have thought long and hard about their decision.

  20. L K Tucker says:

    You are missing a key piece of information. About fifty years ago engineers hired to modernize the business office discovered a simple problem of human physiology when it caused mental breaks for office workers. The cubicle was designed to block peripheral vision for a concentrating knowledge worker to stop it in offices by 1968. Today computers situated or used incorrectly where there is repeating detectable movement in peripheral vision bring the problem into homes, college dorms, and small business offices that do not use cubicles or peripheral vision blocking protection.
    There is evidence in news reporting to conclude that the Virginia Tech, Redlake tribal school, Jokela Finland school, and Atlanta day trader shooters all created the “special circumstances” for Subliminal Distraction exposure; then had the mental break it has been known to cause since 1964 to precipitate the shootings. Other shooters had jobs requiring Cubicle Level Protection, were students, or video game players thus placing them at high risk for the believed-harmless psychotic-like episode of confusion.

    When it happened to my wife Connie heard voices and had depressive crying episodes about impossible delusional situations she hallucinated.

    While the drugs are useless they don’t contribute to suicides or shootings. When a student manages to have enough SD exposure for the full mental break then hallucinates an unsolvable, unbearable outcome for a real or delusional situation they can be a suicide before the episode spontaneously remits after massive exposure stops. Mass shooters are also hallucinating some great wrong has been done to them. That’s why counseling doesn’t work to stop these events.

    Each semester during times of intense study such as midterms and finals college students begin to commit suicide or vanish. A few recover in a few days and return. Some have walked up to police and asked for help. With amnesia they had recovered enough to know they had a problem but not enough to know who they were or where they should be. Another group of these missing students are found as suicides. A very small number are never found. Remember Brian Shaffer, Maura Murray, Michael Negrete, Justin Gains, or Josh Guimond are all still missing.
    Although Subliminal Distraction is explained in first semester college psychology under peripheral vision reflexes schools do not provide Cubicle Level Protection where needed nor do they warn students.

    It isn’t the drugs; it’s the failure to recognize chronic Subliminal Distraction exposure and stop it. With simple, usually FREE, precautions these deaths can be prevented.

    In nine years searching I found only one psychiatrist from Tuffs University who said he had seen the episodes from offices when he was in residency. Otherwise it is unknown in mental health services. Every one aware of the problem believes it is harmless because the low level episode from offices remits without treatment or after effects if exposure is found and stopped. Home computer users and students can have longer exposure and more severe outcomes.

    VisionAndPsychosis.Net Perform the demonstration of subliminal sight and habituation in peripheral vision to observe something vanish as you observe it in peripheral vision. This shows how exposure happens subliminally and cannot be consciously experienced It’s undetectable.

  21. Elora says:

    Thank you for this brave post

  22. Emily says:

    I have had big improvements on antidepressants. I’m taking 15 mg of Celexa right now and it has significantly improved my life. A friend of mine went on antidepressants a while ago and had suicidal thoughts, she actually considered jumping off a parking ramp. Scary to think about if she had gone through with it. But it just goes to show we all respond to medications differently. I’m grateful for my antidepressants, they have truly helped.

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