Beware ‘mood stabiliser’ drugs

If you can double the number of people diagnosed as ‘bipolar’ (meaning sometimes up and sometimes down) and prescribe them both an anti-depressant and so-called ‘mood stabiliser’ drug, you have four times the market.

This is exactly what has happened in the past decade as drugs such as Seroquel (quetiapine) and Zyprexa (olanzapine) have become among the most profitable drugs ever made in history.

A new book, ‘The Bitterest Pills: The troubling story of Antipsychotic Drugs’, written by Dr Joanna Moncrieff, senior lecturer in psychiatry and University College London, exposes the true dangers and the vast over-prescription of these heavy duty medications.

An article about the drugs and the book is in today’s Daily Mail and is well worth a read. These drugs do not make people better, they just dampen down emotional responses. According to the article, patients describe their effect as ‘sluggish’, ‘inhibited’, ‘feeling nothing’, ‘feeling weird’, ‘spacey’, and ‘empty’. For people who are acutely psychotic, the damping down of feelings these indicate may be welcomed, but for many they are intolerable. This is one patient’s memorable description: “Beware. This medication is Satan in a flipping pill.”

Even more concerning are the side-effects and long-term effects. These include major weight gain, high cholesterol and other harmful fats, along with raised glucose that can lead to diabetes and heart disease (the drugs have been linked with 1800 deaths from stroke and heart disease a year).

In the long-term they can also shrink the brain. This had long been suspected but it was difficult to prove because schizophrenia is believed to have the same effect.  However earlier this month a long running brain scanning study, reported in the American Journal of Psychiatry, concluded that “the higher the antipsychotic medication, the greater the loss of both grey and white brain tissue.” “Long-term treatment can also cause an irreversible form of brain damage” says the Mail article. These drugs are also extremely hard to get off, so trying them for a ‘trial period’ often means a person becomes hooked.

I find it extremely perverse that, under the guise of science and the authority of psychiatrists, people who are going through a bad patch are often prescribed these drugs with little or no exploration of psychological issues and potential nutritional treatment.

At the Brain Bio Centre we see so many people every year who respond extremely well to correcting blood sugar problems, dealing with allergies or specific nutritional supplementation to correct underlying deficiencies, identified by testing. The idea that these kind of approaches are not even taught to medical students and instead, prescribing these terrible drugs is considered ‘good medicine’ shows just how much psychiatry is still in the dark ages, or in the pockets of big pharma. Well done to Joanna Moncrieff for saying it the way it is.

If you’d like to find out more about nutritional approaches to depression, including so-called bipolar disorder, visit  and read the Feel Good Factor. The book Optimum Nutrition for the Mind  contains more information on known causes of more serious schizophrenia-like disorders, including true manic depression (bipolar disorder). The Brain Bio Centre, which is part of the charitable Food for the Brain Foundation, specialises in these kinds of health problems.