President Obama today spoke in Minnesota as part of a second-term push for new firearms laws while attempting to undermine the NRA stance. While the president is attempting to push his new gun control laws, talk about mental health and those like Ilya Galak, editor of Citizens Magazine, the Staten Island Thinker, are questioning medications used to treat mental health patients.
“Why is it that our nation is stricken time and time again with mass shootings? What can be done to counter and prevent future tragedies,” asked Galak.
“In way to many cases, when a person has some mental ailment, or is just in a really bad mood, doctors and psychiatrists put them on medication as quickly as possible. Amongst the most popular and commonly prescribed types of medications are SSRI’s (Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor). Serotonin is a chemical in the brain which when is not produced in balanced amounts can lead to things like depression, anxiety disorders, and OCD symptoms. Some notorious examples of SSRI’s include Paxil, Prozac, Zoloft, and Celexa,” said Galak.
Not all are satisfied that improving mental health issues would have prevented gun violence as noted in the National Journal last week.
The National Journal reported that although “better screening and treatment however, could make a significant difference in preventing one type of violence, which is those who suffer from mental illness, are much more likely to harm themselves than other people.”
Paul Appelbaum, a professor of psychiatry at Columbia University told the National Journal, “Improving the screening, diagnosis, and treatment of people with mental-health problems would, of course, yield many benefits, including reducing violence. But, in the end, it would do little to reduce the risk of gun crimes or eliminate horrific mass murders.”
“To expect a major impact from any policy that targets [the mentally ill] in particular is simply unrealistic,” Appelbaum said.
Still with the talk of mental health issues and violence, Galak brings up a point that tends to be ignored.
“The big problem is that these drugs are prescribed without any sort of tests to see if the patient really needs them,” Galak said.
Galak pointed out the black box alerts that were added to certain types of drugs that treat certain mental health issues and their outcomes:
“Prozac is one of the few antidepressants approved for the treatment of depression in youths. Unfortunately, however, studies on children have linked the drug to increased suicidal thoughts and behavior. As a result, the FDA issued a public warning in October 2004, and two years later extended the advisory to include young adults as old as 24. In 2007, the FDA took an even stronger stance. The agency required antidepressant manufacturers to update existing black-box warnings about the increased risks of suicidal thoughts and behavior during initial treatment, which the FDA defined as the first one to two months.”
“In most situations, before a doctor prescribes something – like say insulin – they run a blood test for said substance before coming to the conclusion that the patient needs that particular chemical worked on. Why isn’t the same happening for these drugs? There are so many risks to just stuffing chemicals into the body without knowing all the details,” said Galak.
“What if for instance, one has normal levels of Serotonin in their brain, and now they are getting even more?” Galak asked.
“Logically it would be up to our federal government to step in. Seeing as how Congress very gratuitously throws money at things like the “Bridge to Nowhere”, couldn’t they invest it in something, which is good for the people and could very well save lives?”
“There is a gaping flaw in our mental health system that needs to be addressed.”