US Military and Psychiatry
The US military are being exposed to psychiatric drugs like never before. Combat personnel are being sent into active war zones while being prescribed potent cocktails of psychiatric drugs. Even as biological psychiatry has increased its influence and drug treatments among active military the suicide rates for US military have skyrocketed. Following are some key commentaries and resources to increase our understanding of this crisis.
TBI, PTSD, and Psychiatric Drugs: A Perfect Storm for Causing Abnormal Mental States and Aberrant Behavior Dr. Peter R. Breggin, M.D.
Recent years have seen a marked increase in the prescription of psychiatric drugs to activity duty military personnel and to veterans. Until the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, soldiers were rarely if ever sent into combat while taking psychiatric drugs,l but now it is commonplace, and may occur in 20% or considerably more of combat troopS.2 Nearly all soldiers returning from combat with psychiatric diagnoses will be placed on multiple psychiatric drugs and maintained on them during treatment at the VA....
Evidence pertaining to violence and suicide induced by the newer antidepressants has been growing for years.3 Recently, public concern has been expressed about the increased prescription of psychiatric medications, especially antidepressants, to military personnel. At the same time, the military has voiced concern about escalating rates of suicide among active duty soldiers.s4
Combat soldiers and veterans frequently suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and/or Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). The two disorders are often combined, for example, where an improvised explosive device (lED) explodes beneath a military vehicle causing the occupants trauma to the brain as well as severe psychological stress. Soldiers suffering from PTSD and TBI are frequently treated with psychiatric drugs. Some of these drugs, especially antidepressants, stimulants, and benzodiazepines, closely mimic the effects of both PTSD and TBI, and are likely to worsen their condition. Read the rest of the chapter here.
Peter R. Breggin MD testifies before the Veterans' Affairs Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives on February 24, 2010. Dr. Breggin's written testimony to Congress was published in a peer-reviewed scientific journal with references to the studies cited in his spoken testimony. Further details on Dr. Breggin's testimony before Congress are available here.
"Inability to track prescriptions adds to Marine drug abuse problem, IG finds" by Bob Brewin, 4/11/2012 Nextgov.com. Fifteenth story in an ongoing series: Broken Warriors: Examining the invisible wounds of war. See all of Bob Brewin's Broken Warrior series here.
"There needs to be a complete overhaul from the top down of military psychiatry to stop the current policy of pouring drugs into our soldiers as if they were a combination of experimental guinea pig and marketing bonanza for the drug companies" Peter R. Breggin, MD
A fog of drugs and war: More than 110,000 active duty Army troops last year took antidepressants, sedatives and other prescription medications. Some see a link to aberrant behavior. Kim Murphy, Los Angeles Times April 7, 2012
"Prior to the Iraq war, soldiers could not go into combat on psychiatric drugs, period. Not very long ago, going back maybe 10 or 12 years, you couldn't even go into the armed services if you used any of these drugs, in particular stimulants," said Peter Breggin, a New York psychiatrist who has written widely about psychiatric drugs and violence.
"Why Are We Drugging Our Soldiers?" by Richard Friedman, NY Times, April 21, 2012. "the number of Ritalin and Adderall prescriptions written for active-duty service members increased by nearly 1,000 percent in five years, to 32,000 from 3,000."
Military—OTSG/MEDCOM Policy Memo 12-035 10 April 2012 “Policy Guidance on the Assessment and Treatment of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)”