The overdrugging of America has spilled over into our troops currently deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan, reports Bruce E. Levine. And as bad as it is for us regular civilians to feel punchy and sluggish and to experience increased rates of suicidal thoughts and behaviors, just imagine how much worse it is for them.
Investigators found that antipsychotic and antiepileptic drugs, approved for bipolar disorder and schizophrenia, are now commonly used to treat post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms such as nightmares, nervousness, and anger outbursts. The use of antipsychotic drugs for non-psychotic conditions such as PTSD is called “off-label” prescribing. The general public is also subject to off-label prescribing, which is considered legal.
In February 2010, Brig. Gen. Loree Sutton, the Army’s highest-ranking psychiatrist, reported to Congress that 17 percent of the active-duty force and as much as 6 percent of deployed troops are on antidepressants.
Just how insane is it to prescribe psychiatric drugs to deployed troops? The Navy Times piece tells us about Spc. Mike Kern who enlisted in 2006 and spent a year deployed in 2008 with the 4th Infantry Division as an armor crewman, running patrols out of southwest Baghdad. Suffering from nervousness, sleep problems and depression, Kern was given the antidepressant Paxil. A few days later, while patrolling the streets in the gunner’s turret of a Humvee, Kern said he began having serious thoughts of suicide for the first time in his life. Kern said:
I had three weapons: a pistol, my rifle and a machine gun. I started to think, ‘I could just do this and then it’s over.’ That’s where my brain was: ‘I can just put this gun right here and pull the trigger and I’m done. All my problems will be gone.’