My Sister, My Son and An Irish Coincidence.

Shane and his aunt... Pub quiz May 2009Ireland is a fairly small incestuous country, notoriously resistant to change and outside influence. Our leading ‘experts’ are given free rein to spout whatever gospel they wish, largely uncontested, much like the erroneous messages the catholic church spouted not so long ago. Look how that ended for our ‘land of saints and scholars’ (sorry mam!).

This week, despite saying in my last post that I was done arguing, I ended up doing just that. I spoke on Newstalk radio along with Prof Healy and a highly indignant Dr Moosajee Bhamjee (the same Dr Bhamjee who wanted to put Lithium in our water). Okay, maybe I’m biased here; you can make up your own mind by accessing the recording via the newstalk picture below:

The Right Hook

Getting back to the incestuous reference, it seems that being a small country, most of us will have come into contact with someone who happens to have worked with, be related to, was married to, divorced by, or was a neighbour to someone else that we both knew. Now how’s this for a coincidence….

The latter radio discussion came about after I sent an e-mail to the show expressing my concerns over the resident expert Dr Ciara Kelly and her portrayal that SSRI antidepressants were, and I quote “the drugs themselves are not dangerous, they’re not addictive, they’re not even dangerous at high levels of overdose.” She also said, regarding Niamh Drohan’s investigation into over-prescribing (see last 2 posts here and here), that the 7 doctors did the right thing in prescribing antidepressants for a first time patient with mild depression.

Dr Ciara Kelly

Referring to the toxicity of SSRIs, George asked Dr Kelly: “What would happen if I took 55 of them (antidepressants) with my cup of tea?” Doctor Kelly answeredOne of the reasons that the SSRI tablets are as popular as they are, is that compared to older type of antidepressants, is that they are safer in overdose. So there are not the same levels as Cardio Toxicity …”. OH GOD, seriously, was I supposed to ignore that?

Anyway back to the coincidence; in 2011 my sister, whom I wrote about before here, was very unhappy about going back to work. She had just had a new baby and was besotted by her, but as needs must, needed to return to her job in the bank. The thoughts of leaving her daughter filled her with dread and she was feeling terribly unhappy. She was also dealing with the recent horrific death of her much-loved nephew Shane. She dispatched herself off to the local doctor who promptly, after about 10 minutes, told her she needed to go on antidepressants. My sister refused, explaining what had happened to Shane, her nephew, and the terrible consequences because of these drugs. Alas, to no avail; the doctor seemed to ignore her protestations and insisted that she needed antidepressants. As she was leaving my sister asked the doctor if she thought she “would get better?” The doctor’s response was.. “Not without the tablets!” My sister who politely and tearfully refused, left without a prescription, feeling much worse than she had when she went in. For my sister, who is a big softie and nothing like me, and who would never argue with anyone (husband not included), making a stand such as this would have been a huge thing for her to do.

She duly went back to work and was back to her old cheery self soon afterwards. Did I say she lives in Greystones, where Dr Kelly practices? You can see where this is going? Absolutely! I discovered last night that Dr Kelly is the very same doctor who told my sister she wouldn’t get better without taking antidepressants. You were wrong AGAIN Dr Kelly. By the way, I’m not singling out Dr Kelly; she is doing what most other GPs are probably doing. It doesn’t follow though, that the practice of going against the recommended guidelines is good practice, even if they’re all doing it. It’s sad though that Dr Kelly, instead of listening to the testimony of her patient, Shane’s aunt, instead chose to believe the ‘Irish Psychiatry’ stance that antidepressants can ‘do no harm’.

Information for the concerned doctor:

Toxicology tests are widely under-reported mostly due to the cost factor. This is where Coroners and families need to step up to the plate, otherwise uninformed doctor’s will still think these drugs are safe. Here are some victims who have died by a safe ‘SSRI only’ overdose, courtesy of Brian at ‘AntiDepAware‘.

Citalopram/Cipramil/Celexa:  Karen Gloster (2005), Barbara BerryDeborah Owens (2006), Rhian Evans (2007), Rodney Harrop (2008), Philip Bromley (2009), Belinda KellyMichael MillerNatalie CashinSusan Mealing (2010), Patrick Carroll (2011), Malcolm AverissRobert Lennon (2012)

Fluoxetine/Prozac: Donna ChaseMark Cain (2003), Christine ByrneDianne Pickersgill (2008)

Sertraline/Zoloft: Dale Pashley (2007), Brian Elder (2010), Afsheen Khan (2011)



14 thoughts on “My Sister, My Son and An Irish Coincidence.”

  1. You have my permission to add my daughter Catherine Mahon to the Cipramil list. You are doing a brilliant job of keeping us mere mortals informed of the dangers of these super harmless SSRIs. Why don’t the Irish Medicines Board update their warnings? Another question is who is responsible for keeping our trusted GPs informed and have they got time to listen?


  2. Thanks Truthman and Chris. I e-mailed the IMB. You do know they’re almost fully funded by the pharmaceutical industry? Anyway after the usual waffle where they said it’s not their area and that depression itself can cause suicide, blah, blah, blah, this direct quote might answer your question:

    “It has been known for some time that there is a potential increased risk of suicide-related behaviour particularly in the early stages of treatment with anti-depressants.
    Healthcare professionals have been advised of these risks and the product information accompanying these products advises that patients and their care-givers should be alerted about the need to monitor for any clinical worsening, suicidal behaviour or thoughts, or unusual changes in behaviour and to seek medical advice immediately if these symptoms appear.”

    I also e-mailed the European Medicines Agency and a few others. I’ll let you know the result. I have linked to the NICE guidelines in the last 2 posts where you can see that antidepressants are not recommended in mild depression. They are not actually approved for mild depression but it looks as if Irish doctors are either stupid or acting as God.

    PS. Also from an older FOI request:

    “Antidepressants should not be used in the treatment of children and adolescents under the age of 18 years. Suicide related behaviours (suicide attempt and suicidal thoughts), and hostility (predominantly aggression, oppositional behaviour and anger) were more frequently observed in clinical trials among children and adolescents treated with antidepressants compared to those treated with placebo. If, based on clinical need, a decision to treat is nevertheless taken, the patient should be carefully monitored for the appearance of suicidal symptoms.”

    PS2 I supppose I could go on forever but this is particularly worrying:

    Clinical experience of use in pregnant women is limited but no reports, which may cause concern have been received. (The IMB has an ‘intrauterine death’ logged in it’s database, so that is either a lie or there is no communication and babies are dying because of it!)


  3. The claims of information in the PIL’s and the advice of the IMB to Irish doctors are misnomers and misconceptions of the reality of prescribing. SSRI’s can induce a range of side effects at ANY stage during treatment- therefore to claim that the chances of suicide during SSRI treatment is merely because in the initial stages of treatment the patient could be suicidal anyhow suggests this is solely because of the patients condition. It exonerates SSRI’s and it puts all blame on the patient. SSRI’s can actually be at their most dangerous when they are at the height of their toxicity in the bloodstream. The body tolerates them initially- as it does other poisons. But eventually the liver cannot metabolize such a poisonous assault on the body and the side effects increase the longer you are on them. Personally the worst for me- on Seroxat was halfway through it- around a year and a half after taking it- I began to experience severe side effects- suicidal thoughts, mania, nightmares, muscle spasms, akathisia etc…


    1. So true Truthman. It looks as if a person can develop a build up of these drugs in their system which looks similar to an overdose but wasn’t. I wonder how many people have died and their families have been left wondering why this person took an overdose, when it was actually the prescribed dosage?

      On the adverse Seroxat effects: Dr Bhamjee would argue that it’s your ‘illness’ which causes all these symptoms, not the drugs (as he did on that show). He went on to explain why the suicide warning was put on the leaflets- ‘due to the media and other issues, I think they have to write that these tablets can cause you to commit suicide’. Well there you have it, the expert has spoken! Now run along Truthman with your silly accusations. Don’t you know that GlaxoSmithKline only have your best interests in mind?

      Just as Dr Kelly did not listen to the testimony of my sister, it seems that all ‘consumer’ reports, including yours, are ignored and written off as the imaginations of the mentally ill. Abused by the doctors they trusted, the Government which turn a blind eye and psychiatry who are protecting their cash cow!


      1. Absolutely spot on there Leonie…

        In regards to Dr Bhamjee- on the newstalk show with George hook, Dr Healy and your good self – I had to stop myself from spluttering out my cup of tea on to my laptop when he said the side effects in the PIL’s were really just a media-creation!!! WTF. seriously? That’s quite a statement.. Even I was astounded at that..

        I have never ever heard such an utter load of bollocks in my entire life (well maybe I have but you know what I mean- it’s kinda up there with ‘a small class of suicidal children’) It would be sublime if it weren’t so ridiculous.

        And the most frightening thing is it is influential academic psychiatric figure heads like him whom create public policy for the ‘mentally ill’. Very disturbing indeed. I’d rather take my chances with voodoo!

        Keep up the good work – you’re shining a light on their incongruities, hypocrisy and exposing the- excuse the expression- utter horse shit which they sprout in defense of the indefensible…



  4. Hi Truthman,
    Yep, he was unbelievable wasn’t he? It was indeed very disturbing, but no more disturbing than Dr Kelly saying on radio that SSRIs are safe in overdose…even 55 of them!!

    It occurred to me this morning when reading Bobby’s blog http://networkedblogs.com/KlF6F that Ireland and NZ both have a population of 4.4 million. Both have a huge suicide rate ranking among the worst in the world. Both have no regulation in the way doctors are dishing out dangerous drugs. I wonder when people will start joining the dots here? It would be interesting if people started asking whether people who have killed themselves had been to the doctor recently…. http://www.sciencemediacentre.co.nz/2012/04/26/nz-ranks-poorly-in-adolescent-mortality-and-suicide-study/


    1. Hi Leone- yes the (conscious) ignorance of Irish GP’s and psychiatrists is astounding and deeply disturbing. And you make a good point there- why does Ireland have such a high suicide rate? SSRI’s?


  5. Sorry about going off-topic here. But have you seen this whistleblower allegation yet?

    Whistleblower Claims Forest Bribed Study’s Investigator To Favor Celexa / Bloomberg BNA


    ” In the litigation, he alleged that the bias was the result of kickbacks, bribes, and other improper financial inducements that were paid by Forest to Dr. John Rush, the principal investigator of the study, and to one or more of the project’s other investigators.”

    TMAP Director John Rush left the US for Singapore in 2008.



  6. What I find most interesting about this SSRI dose/overdose discussion is the question of dose itself. For example- Seroxat is sold in 10mg, 20mg, and 30mg tablets and for some (so called) psychiatric disorders they are recommended up to 60mg. It all seems very subjective and arbitrary to me but besides that- surely we all metabolize dosages of different things we ingest – and digest- differently- according to our metabolism, age, general health, genetic make up etc? So when it comes to dose- this idea that say 20mg of an SSRI will alleviate a mild depression, 30mg for clinical depression and 60mg for post traumatic stress – for all individuals- seems to me inherently dubious. Not only that- and individual physicality aside- each individual also has a unique psychological make up- and each case of depression, (anxiety etc) experienced by the individual has unique triggers, manifestations, life circumstance, etc etc. Therefore this idea that 20mg of an SSRI will benefit every single sufferer of depression is not credible. Each pill might be the same- but every individual is vastly more complex. Some people might respond well to SSRI’s, some people might not be able to tolerate them at all, and I think most people fall somewhere in the middle. Which brings me again to the question of dose

    Dosage also brings with it, the question of ‘tolerability’. One individual in a severe depression might be able to tolerate the side effects and claim that the SSRI is beneficial to them- someone else might not be able to tolerate the side effects and the side effects could make them feel worse.

    These issues are vastly complex, because life is complex- as is the human condition.
    It disturbs me when I hear high profile psychiatrists compare depression to diabetes.
    Depression is no more like diabetes than grief is like influenza….
    If the psychiatrist treating the individual has no direct experience of depression, anxiety, panic attacks, psychological trauma etc then he should not be in practice because , particularly when it comes to ‘mental health problems’- to know there you have to go there…


  7. Truthman you have brilliantly described the problem with the one size fits all method of diagnosis and prescribing that is so prevalent. Surely you are not suggesting mental health professionals listen to the individual’s personal story and perhaps empathise. You quite rightly say they can’t if they haven’t been there. Besides their time is limited so it’s usually a tick box exercise. Some are lucky, some die.


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