The Prozac, Paxil, Zoloft, Wellbutrin, Celexa, Effexor, Valium, Klonopin, Ativan, Restoril, Xanax, Adderall, Ritalin, Haldol, Risperdal, Seroquel, Ambien, Lunesta, Elavil, Trazodone War

I’m posting another article about veterans, PTSD and psychiatric drugs from the New York Magazine in keeping with the one posted earlier.

I’ve excerpted a few paragraphs from the several page article. I’m struck by how my withdrawal caused so many of the same sorts of PTSD symptoms these soldiers have. These men and women are taking drugs for PTSD that can create PTSD in people who’ve never been to a war zone when they withdrew from them because the withdrawal itself can be so ugly. I’ve seen it numerous times in my networks, I’m hardly alone in this. These psych drugs are not a long term solution. Most of them most likely should not even be being used short term. It’s heartbreaking.

From the article:

“I feel like people with my symptoms are becoming the majority of the Army,” says a major from the New York area who recently started taking Effexor, an antidepressant, and a variety of sleep meds after a second tour in Iraq. “Feeling anxious when you don’t have a reason to, being a little depressed, having low-grade anhedonia, not sleeping well—this is the new normal for those of us who’ve been repeatedly deployed.”

The Army’s own research confirms that drug and alcohol abuse, disciplinary infractions, and criminal activity are increasing among active-duty service members. Most ominously, a growing number of soldiers can’t handle the strains of war at all. Until three years ago, the suicide rate of the Army, the branch with by far the most men and women in this war, was actually lower than the American population’s—a testament to the hardiness of our troops, given that young men with weapons are, at least as a statistical matter, disproportionately prone to suicide. But in 2008, the Army suicide rate surpassed that of the civilian population’s, and the Marines’ surpassed it shortly thereafter. So grim is the problem that this summer, the Army released a remarkably candid suicide report. “If we include accidental death, which frequently is the result of high-risk behavior (e.g., drinking and driving, drug overdose),” it concluded, “we find that less young men and women die in combat than die by their own actions. Simply stated, we are often more dangerous to ourselves than the enemy.”

In other words, nearly as many soldiers are dying at home today as are dying abroad….

….Walk into any of the larger-battalion-aide stations in Iraq or Afghanistan today, and you’ll find Prozac, Paxil, and Zoloft to fight depression, as well as Wellbutrin, Celexa, and Effexor. You’ll see Valium to relax muscles (but also for sleep and combat stress) as well as Klonopin, Ativan, Restoril, and Xanax. There’s Adderall and Ritalin for ADD and Haldol and Risperdal to treat psychosis; there’s Seroquel, at subtherapeutic doses, for sleep, along with Ambien and Lunesta. Sleep, of course, is a huge issue in any war. But in this one, there are enough Red Bulls and Rip Its in the chow halls to light up the city of Kabul, and soldiers often line their pockets with them before missions, creating a cycle where they use caffeine to power up and sleep meds to power down….

…More troubling, nearly one-third of all active-duty Army suicides in 2009 involved prescription drugs, according to the report released this summer. Some of the case histories Chiarelli sees are eerily reminiscent of the toxicology reports one reads after a celebrity suicide…

….“I hear this everywhere I go,” the general replies. “ ‘We’re anti-medication, we’re anti-medication.’ But why do I get these sheets of paper”—profiles of suicides—“with twelve medications listed on them?” He mentions that he’s had two- and three-star generals confide in him that they were addicted to pain medication in the aftermath of their service, and that it took their wives to point it out to them. “Are you guys different?” asks Chiarelli. “Is this place a soda straw that no one else passes through?” read the whole article here

About Monica Cassani

Author/Editor Beyond Meds: Everything Matters