Hindsight is a wonderful thing. Think of all the world events it could have prevented, including Woody’s death. If only we knew then, what we know today, Woody would still be here.

Antidepressants, which were originally designed for major depressive disorder, are heavily advertised as the „happy pill“ cure-all. You can’t go an hour watching TV or pick up any magazine without seeing an antidepressant drug ad.

One of the Paxil commercials shows a group of people in a social setting all wearing nametags with „Hello. My name is _____.“ Insert human emotion (i.e., sad, anxious, nervous). Next, you see the same group of individuals who, after taking the pill, are all looking confident and enjoying the party. Their names have replaced the emotion on the nametag. In a cartoon-like Zoloft commercial there’s a single, lonely bubble looking sad amongst all these happy bubbles, with a voiceover saying, „Do you feel nervous in public? You may have a chemical imbalance in the brain.“ As soon as the sad bubble takes Zoloft, he’s happy and able to play with the other happy bubbles.

You may be thinking since these antidepressants are advertised on TV and have been FDA approved, they must be safe, right? That’s what we thought. Think again.

It is estimated that 3-5 percent of the population taking SSRI antidepressants (e.g. Zoloft, Paxil, Prozac, etc) have adverse/severe side effects with these drugs. There are over 100 million prescriptions for antidepressants written every year totaling over 11 billion dollars in sales. Adults and children are being given antidepressants for a growing number of ailments, including depression, obsessive compulsive disorder, panic disorder, anxiety, PMDD (Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder), menopause, insomnia, pain management, migraines, etc. Do the math and that‘s a lot of people who potentially can have serious issues with these powerful, mind-altering drugs.

Woody experienced every known side effect of Zoloft like diarrhea, night sweats, trembling hands, and his anxiety worsened. He also had the constant need to be moving around. Woody had become easily agitated and kept expressing this feeling of his head being detached from his body. We now know this is called akathisia. Woody was never told about this potentially deadly side effect and his doctor might not have even been aware of the side effect.

What is akathisia?

Akathisia can be described as a neurological phenomenon characterized by extreme internal restlessness, agitation, and emotional turmoil that is drug induced. In fact, Pfizer’s own scientist, Dr. Roger Lane explained in his medical journal article that "most researchers agree that akathisia has a strong psychological (subjective) component," describing it as "subjective distress" and "unbearable discomfort." He also stated that "the subjective components of akathisia are distinct and
overwhelming." He went on to state in another peer reviewed-medical journal article (to which he referred when he admitted that Zoloft can cause this out-of-body feeling) that "it may be less of a question of patients experiencing [SSRI]-induced suicidal ideation, than patients feeling that death is a welcome result when the acutely discomforting symptoms of akathisia are experienced on top of already distressing disorders."

In a past wrongful death lawsuit against Pfizer, one of Pfizer’s own expert witnesses, Dr. John Mann, testified that "akathisia has the potential, when it is severe, of contributing to suicidality and aggression." Another drug company expert testified: "I believe that what akathisia does is it creates a state of severe anxiety which can exacerbate pre-existing proclivities, tendencies, in an individual to engage in either suicide or violence."

To top it off, we personally heard the FDA’s Dr. Robert Temple state, “There isn’t any doubt that these drug cause akathisia. That’s not in doubt.”

Why then, when the FDA and drug companies have known that these drugs can cause akathisia and for some people suffering from akathisia find “death a welcome result“ to escape its symptoms, haven’t they warned the doctors, patients, parents and the public about this potentially deadly side effect?

We learned that these types of warnings already exist in other countries for the same drugs. However, they are just marketed under different names than in the United States. In fact, the BBC did an interesting documentary on the effects of „Seroxat“ and other SSRI drugs and warned of the serious, sometimes deadly side effects. Seroxat is known in the US as Paxil. Lustral is the same thing as Zoloft manufactured by Pfizer. Watch the BBC documentary

Between 60-80 percent of all antidepressant prescriptions are written after about a 5 to 10 minute consultation by general practice or family doctors who don’t necessarily know the significance of all the side effects or have the right monitoring system in place.

In fact, on March 22, 2004, the FDA told all SSRI manufacturers that they should warn the public that adults and children who take antidepressants should be carefully monitored for warning signs of suicide, especially when they first start taking the pills or change the dosage.

Woody was never warned or told about the need to be closely monitored when first taking Zoloft for this possible side effect. In fact, his wife was out of the country for business for the first two-and-a-half weeks he was on Zoloft. At the same time, he was never warned about the issue of watching for suicidal behavior or feelings when the drug dosage changed. The Pfizer three-week Zoloft sample pack Woody was given automatically increased the dosage. The FDA’s warning was a little too late for Woody and his family. If we had been told that there was even a slight risk, a mention of the word 'suicide,' Woody would be with us today.

The FDA and the pharmaceutical industry have long been aware of the suicide risk, certainly since the Prozac-induced suicide link hearings back in 1991. We’ve learned, in fact, that they knew of this risk as early as 1984, long before the drugs even hit the market!. To download PDF, click here. Somehow, the issue was swept under the rug. Now fast forward 13 plus years, and we find a whole batch of new antidepressants are on the market, causing thousands more deaths. Leading experts on this issue estimate more than 20,000 deaths can be directly linked to the drugs.

Watch footage from 1991 FDA hearings on Prozac and suicide.

For the right person, being prescribed by the right doctor for the right diagnosis with the right monitoring, these drugs may help.
(Although even the efficacy of these drugs has begun to be questioned).

But for others, it can be deadly. Be informed. Do your research before taking any of these powerful mind-altering drugs.