Citizens Commission on Human Rights (CCHR) International, a mental health industry watchdog, released figures of drug regulatory agency warnings about psychotropic drug risks, reporting a 34% increase in cautions about violence-related side effects and a 27% increase alerts about self-harm and suicidal effects since June 2017. These figures raise questions about whether the psychiatric-pharmaceutical industry has been misleading consumers for the past 30 years about the potential violence- and suicide-inducing effects of psychotropic drugs, in the same way patients were deceived into believing that a chemical imbalance in the brain causes mental disorders, requiring the drugs to correct it. That theory was recently debunked by University College London (UCL) study.
Jan Eastgate, president of CCHR International, said: “If the psychiatric-pharmaceutical industry got it so wrong about a brain-based chemical abnormality causing depression, what else did they get wrong? And what are the repercussions for consumers from this?”
The official warnings have been issued by agencies such as the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and its counterparts in countries, including Australia, Canada, Denmark, Ireland, European Union, New Zealand, and United Kingdom. Since June 2017, there was also a 112% increase in warnings about addiction or withdrawal and a 19% rise in cautions about death or increased risk of death.
CCHR also posted a chronology on actions it has taken since 1989 to ensure patients were informed about the chemical imbalance ruse and the misinformation stemming from this about, for example, antidepressant efficacy. “There has been a shocking misrepresentation of the facts for decades about violence-related side effects since the first SSRI antidepressant, fluoxetine, was launched and marketed in 1988, violating informed consent rights,” Eastgate said.
Studies have found SSRIs could cause one in four healthy volunteers to become agitated, and in some cases suicidal. The drug regulatory agency warnings reflect such adverse events.
One of CCHR’s first actions was to instigate and participate in the September 20th, 1991, FDA Psychopharmacological Drugs Advisory Committee (PDAC) hearing into the suicide link to the first SSRI antidepressant. During the hearing, a representative of a pharmaceutical-company-funded mental illness advocacy group asserted that depression and manic-depression (“bipolar” disorder) were the result of a “chemical imbalance in the brain.”
The group was critical of CCHR for disputing this, supporting instead the psychiatric-pharmaceutical industry’s espousal of a patently false theory, knowing it was unsupported by science. It took 14 years before CCHR was vindicated when, in 2005, the president of the American Psychiatric Association (APA), conceded that there was no lab test to confirm a chemical imbalance in the brain. It was another 17 years before the groundbreaking UCL study published in in July, 2022 thoroughly debunked the theory. Eastgate said the PDAC hearing could have ended the chemical imbalance marketing scam three decades ago, which could have prevented the further deception of mental health consumers.
One successful businessman testified that two years earlier he had sustained a massive head injury requiring rehabilitation and was unable to work. Feeling anxious, he was referred to a psychiatrist who “declared, through no scientific test, that I had a chemical imbalance in my brain due to the head trauma and which could be corrected by taking America’s new wonder drug, [fluoxetine]….”
The victim experienced devastating effects from the antidepressant and became intensely suicidal, when he had no prior mental health history: “I wanted to throw myself under our large company dump trucks as they were pulling out for work. I fantasized about drinking weed killer, throwing himself on high-voltage power lines,” running across a police practice gun range in full fire, wrestling a gun from a policeman’s belt while in a crowded store….”
By mid-1990, FDA had recorded more than 14,000 adverse events from the antidepressant. Factoring in study findings which show that only 1 to 10% of adverse effects are reported to the FDA, the situation was so potentially life-threatening that CCHR petitioned to have the antidepressant taken off the market. The FDA rejected this but eventually held the PDAC hearing.
Despite even psychiatric evidence of patients developing “intense, obsessive thoughts of suicide,” while on the SSRI, the PDAC–comprised of panel members with conflicts of interest with psychopharmaceutical companies–voted that antidepressants did not induce suicide or violent behavior. This has since been disproved.
CCHR took it upon itself to provide a resource where consumers could get facts they weren’t getting from the industry. It created a psychiatric drugs side effects searchable database online–with effects that it decoded from the FDA’s drug adverse event reporting database, Medwatch. It documented drug regulatory agency warnings that were also posted on the site. By June 2017, it had collected 409 drug agency warnings dating back to 1989 and now has accumulated 630.
Denying this information to consumers could prevent them from seeking non-invasive and harmful alternative medical or other means of help, CCHR proclaims. It reinforces that no one should suddenly stop taking these drugs but to do so only under medical supervision. In June 2021, the World Health Organization-issued mental health guidelines advising that “People wishing to come off psychotropic drugs should also be actively supported to do so.”
Eastgate said: “CCHR demands better informed consent rights be implemented and urges consumer protections against harm that may be caused by psychiatry getting it wrong.”
 Joanna Moncrieff, Ruth E. Cooper, Tom Stockmann, Simone Amendola, Michael P. Hengartner and Mark A. Horowitz, “The serotonin theory of depression: a systematic umbrella review of the evidence,” Molecular Psychiatry, 20 July 2022, www.nature.com/articles/s41380-022-01661-0
 “Will $6.4 Million Verdict Open a New Mass Tort?” Lawyers Weekly, 9 July 2001, www.fitzgeraldlaw.com/paxil-maker-held-liable-in-murder-suicide
 Andrew Gregory, “Little evidence that chemical imbalance causes depression, UCL scientists find,” The Guardian, 20 July 2022, www.theguardian.com/society/2022/jul/20/scientists-question-widespread-use-of-antidepressants-after-survey-on-serotonin
 Paula Span, “The Man Behind the Bitter Pill Debate, Washington Post, 14 Aug 1991, www.washingtonpost.com/archive/lifestyle/1991/08/14/the-man-behind-the-bitter-pill-debate/9128f533-7775-4ff4-9436-1a05cd1d8b97/
 “IS IT REALLY THE ‘WONDER DRUG’ FOR DEPRESSION?” Washington Post, 28 Aug 1990, www.washingtonpost.com/archive/lifestyle/wellness/1990/08/28/is-it-really-the-wonder-drug-for-depression/a204d750-bef1-4276-9500-c3478facdb66/
 “Guidance on Community Mental Health Services: Promoting Person-Centered and Rights-Based Approaches,” World Health Organization, 10 June 2021, pp. 6, 201, www.who.int/publications/i/item/9789240025707
Citizens Commission on Human Rights International
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