This article describes “shell shock” as neurological functional symptoms, one of the diagnoses I have been given. I prefer the term “shell shock”, it gives a much better idea of the cause of the symptoms, the trauma of war, just as I prefer PBWS which gives a clear indication of the cause of the symptoms of withdrawal.
I was listening to the discussions of the Petitions Committee yesterday at the Scottish Parliament. The subject was mental health and young people. The petitioner’s teenage daughter had tragically taken her own life after being prescribed anti-anxiety drugs. Concern was expressed during the discussion that the (psychiatric) drugs were being demonised and those taking them stigmatised. I find these views extremely concerning. I actually feel a physical pain when I hear these words, as once again it seems that those of us in the prescribed harmed community are being criticised for making public the extensive harm we have sustained and asking very legitimate questions about the nature of the drugs we were advised to consume. The RCPsych and other mental health organisations express these views whenever the harmful effects of the drugs are made public in mainstream media. I have yet to hear any of these organisations express concern for the way those patients who are damaged are being mis-treated by their prescribing doctors and specialists to whom they are referred. There is by and large a complete denial of the harm done to us unless the harmed patient is very very determined and willing to fight for years to achieve acknowledgement. This of course is the way the system operates and most members of the public know it and assume it cannot be changed. Iatrogenic harm is just as devastating as any other medical condition.
The current mesh scandal is another example, but there are so many others. Vaccine damage is frequently denied and those who campaign against vaccines are vilified. Patients who do sustain iatrogenic harm often have their concerns dismissed and their suffering is often deemed psychological. I believe this is a deliberate strategy by doctors, not the result of any ignorance on their part. This sort of denial causes as much distress as the physical harm. It causes a great deal of anxiety, depression and emotional turmoil But it seems that is deemed acceptable. Perhaps there should be a campaign to raise public awareness of iatrogenic harm, the denial that more often than not ensues, and the adverse effects on patients’ mental well-being. After all. mental health awareness campaigns are now a regular feature. The public is encouraged to seek help for any mental health difficulties they are experiencing and this is absolutely as it should be. We are encouraged to talk about our emotional difficulties but when patients in the prescribed harmed community talk to their prescribing doctors their questions are most certainly not welcome. So it seems there is one rule for those who experience mental health issues and quite a different set of rules for those who are damaged by medical treatment.
If the medical establishment and individual doctors were open and honest about the treatment they offer and about the possibilities of harm and also about the harm to an individual patient then none of this would be an issue. It isn’t good enough to say “all drugs have side effects”, “all drugs can cause harm if prescribed inappropriately” but then to deny all knowledge when the patient thus harmed is in the consulting room. My own GP said “benzos are poison”, “I never prescribe them” … but he has no understanding at all of the iatrogenic harm I have sustained after consuming them for 40 years and withdrawing from them on his advice. What sort of professional behaviour is this? The psychological and emotional damage done to me as a result is unforgivable. Perhaps the medical establishment could take this on board, Perhaps we could have some research into the impact on patients’ mental health due to denial of iatrogenic harm. Perhaps patients thus harmed could be treated with respect and understanding. Perhaps, perhaps, perhaps ….
And i had another letter published re polypharmacy.
Tom Jefferson: The UK turns to Witty, Vallance, and Van Tam for leadership: revolving doors?
And my response which may not be published by BMJ.
The close ties between the pharmaceutical industry and the UK Government is damaging the reputation of the medical profession. Many patients are now well aware of what is happening and the trust between doctor and patient is being eroded as a result. The mass prescribing of harmful medications to the public without proper long term trials to assess the potential for harm has had devastating consequences to so many. I speak here of benzodiazepines and antidepressants and other psychiatric drugs. We now have little trust in those who choose to prescribe them, I realise now too late at age 63 that the public is used as guinea pigs and they are not even advised that this is what is happening. Benefits of drugs are greatly inflated by prescribing doctors and the possible harms often never even mentioned. The issue of lifelong dependency was never mentioned to me in 40 years. So many patients were “hooked” in being advised they had a “chemical imbalance” which needed to be “fixed”. Now brain damaged as a result of withdrawal I realise that doctors have little idea how to safely taper patients off these drugs and yet again I became an “experiment”. Now that the damage is done, I cannot find a doctor willing to discuss the subject with me. Perhaps they are at a loss to understand the devastation they have caused. A class action against the drug companies re benzodiazepines was brought to a halt in the 1990s as Government withdrew legal aid. Patients were never compensated. I would like to think that younger generations will realise they cannot actually trust medical advice because it is likely to be based on flawed evidence or misleading marketing tactics. And so just as we cannot trust our politicians, it seems we also have to be very wary when we seek medical advice. Patients who do not have the ability to research and read around these subjects will of course be left in the dark.