Shocking Study Links Brain Erosion to Antipsychotics
This month, a shocking claim was made by the former chief of the American
Journal of Psychiatry, Nancy Andreasen, when she published her findings that
antipsychotic drugs, such as Risperadone, actually shrink the brain over time.
Ms. Andreasen began a long-running study in 1991 on schizophrenia patients
taking antipsychotics, periodically measuring their brain volumes with magnetic
resonance imaging (MRI) scans. Two years later, she reported "progressive
brain volume reductions" in her patients and initially concluded that the
shrinkage was associated with "a worsening of negative symptoms, functional
impairment and cognitive decline." At that time, her premise was that the
shrinkage was due to the disease and that the antipsychotics failed to stop it.
Concurrent to Andreasen’s findings, other studies in both animals and patients
with schizophrenia indicated that the drugs might very well aggravate or
possibly even cause the shrinkage. Further studies then concluded that the occurrences
of shrinkage were in fact caused by the drugs themselves and were dose-related. Her findings were recently published in the Archives
of General Psychiatry, a journal of the American Medical Association.
The reason these discoveries are so alarming is that antipsychotics are now
widely prescribed to control behavioral issues and treat other
"non-psychotic" conditions such as ADD and autism. Journalistic
investigations have shown that antipsychotics are widely dispensed to children
on Medicaid at a much higher rate, mostly in lieu of individual therapy and
family counseling. Additionally, Medicaid reimbursements for the drug are much
higher than that of traditional therapy, creating many instances of
overprescribing. Courts also often order the use of antipsychotics for those
within the criminal justice system.
Even more upsetting, antipsychotics generate huge profits for pharmaceutical
companies, to the point where they find it cost-effective to absorb the many
lawsuits and false advertising complaints that emerge from their widespread
Long-term use of antipsychotics must be stopped and their use on the still
developing brains of children should be banned. There can be no justification
for giving antipsychotics to someone who is not even psychotic.
Where is the public outrage and mainstream media coverage on this issue?
These findings, along with the horrible side effects of massive weight gain,
permanent tremors and diabetes that are already associated with antipsychotics,
should prompt an immediate review of their rampant, off-label use.
Additionally, the media needs to do a much better job of disseminating this
type of information to the public once it’s known, so individuals
with neurological disorders and their families are better informed of the
potential health risks associated with these types of drugs.