WHY KIDS KILL? PROZAC AND ALTERNATIVES
by Lawrence Wilson, MD
© January 2010, The Center For Development
Causes for childhood depression, anxiety and attention deficit range from nutritional imbalances and chemical exposure to home and school problems. Instead of addressing causes, many doctors and psychologists treat the symptoms with powerful medications. Today, almost nine million children, or almost one out of every five children, take psychoactive drugs for their behavior disorders, many of which are questionable diagnoses.
SIDE EFFECTS OF PROZAC
Prozac, Luvox, Paxil, and Zoloft belong to a class of drugs called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors or SSRI's. These drugs can induce akathisia - mental and physical agitation that sparks self-destructive, violent behavior. They can also induce dissociative reactions. The one taking the drug becomes insensitive to the consequences of his behavior.
The combination of these effects can lead to anti-social behavior of the worst kind. In one study, 6% of the children on Prozac became psychotic (1).
Here are the sad results. Eric Harris was on Luvox before taking part in the shooting at Columbine High School in April 1999. Fifteen-year-old Shawn Cooper fired on students and high school staff in Notus, Idaho in April 1999. He was taking an SSRI. Thirteen-year-old Chris Fetters of Iowa killed her favorite aunt. She was on Prozac. Kip Kinkel, a 15-year-old, first shot his parents, then killed two and wounded 22 fellow students at Thurston High School in Oregon. He was taking Prozac.
Joseph Wesbecker was on Prozac when he killed seven people at a printing plant in Kentucky, before taking his own life. In September 1999, Buford O'Neal Furrow, Jr. fired 70 rounds at the North Valley Jewish Community Center in Los Angeles wounding 5 people. A month earlier Mark Barton murdered his wife and two children and then methodically gunned down 21 people in two brokerage firms in Atlanta.
Jeff Weise was another school killer in Red lake, Minnesota. His dose of Prozac had just been increased to 60 mg daily. The story is the same - those involved were taking SSRI drugs. Since 1998, eight of the thirteen ‘school shooters’ were on psychiatric drugs. The records on the remaining five are sealed. Did the drugs cause the violence?
Ann Blake Tracy, PhD has studied Prozac for ten years. She researched 32 murder
cases involving women and their children. In 24 of the cases, the women were
taking Prozac or another SSRI.
Why isn't this on the news? Perhaps because drug company advertising supports most TV and radio stations, newspapers and medical journals. Drug companies spend $11 billion a year on advertising. An article in California Lawyer, Dec. 1998, reported that Eli Lilly, manufacturer of Prozac, settled nearly a dozen cases involving Prozac out of court in one year. They did this to avoid unwanted publicity that would unleash an avalanche of Prozac horror stories.
In many areas, one of every five children is labeled with 'attention deficit' or ADHD. The number of children so diagnosed increased by 90% between 1989 and 1996! Three-fourths of the doctor visits resulted in drug treatment. Clinical Psychiatric News, July 1998 reported that 223 children under age 3 who enrolled in Michigan's Medicaid program before December 1996 were labeled ADHD. The author adds: "Amazingly, 57% of these children were treated with one or more psychotropic drugs including Ritalin, Prozac, Dexedrine, Aventyl and Syban. Thirty-three percent were medicated with two or more of these drugs."
Combining anti-depressants (Prozac or Luvox) and psychostimulants (Ritalin) increases the risk of cardiovascular collapse, seizures, euphoria and psychosis (3). Researchers at the Brookhaven National Laboratory reported that "when Ritalin was given to cocaine users, they couldn't distinguish the Ritalin high from the cocaine high".
Why the epidemic? Lack of parental supervision, loss of values, poor role models, too much TV, and outmoded educational systems may all contribute. Schools often receive money for every child they diagnose with ADHD. It seems easier to prescribe a drug than spend the time to investigate the problem. There are other reasons, however, that are well-documented but hardly ever discussed.
Pellagra is a vitamin B3 deficiency disease. In 1938, the American Journal of Medical Science, Vol. 196 published an article titled, "The Mental Symptoms of Subclinical Pellagra (in children)" by T.D. Spies et al. Symptoms include hyperactivity, perceptual difficulties, inappropriate social behavior, and problems in school. Sound familiar?
How can a child today develop this syndrome? Easily! Live on a standard diet of products made from white flour, white rice, and refined sugar. In a California study involving 400 prisoners, 200 were given a multi-vitamin-mineral supplement, while the others were given a placebo. Neither the prisoners nor the prison staff knew who was getting the placebo. The number of discipline violations in the treated group fell 38% in the 15 weeks of the study. There was no change in violations in the placebo group.
Psychiatrist Abram Hoffer, MD has added much to our understanding of human nutrition. Two of his contributions concern food allergies and dosages of vitamins. He writes that "food allergy can reproduce almost every known psychiatric syndrome, from autism and schizophrenia to mood and behavioral disorders". His work with concentration camp victims proved that some people need much higher doses of vitamins than others to maintain health.
CRIME AND NUTRITION
Many studies support the concept that better nutrition reduces crime and delinquency in adults as well as in children. A recent study appeared in the British Journal of Psychiatry in 2002. This was a well-controlled study in which half of a group of 230 young offenders were given a food supplement containing vitamins, minerals and essential fatty acids. The other half were given a placebo or dummy pill (an excellent choice of words, in this case).
Those who took the real food supplement over an eighteen-month period experienced a reduction in all repeat offenses of 25%. Violent crime was reduced by nearly 40%. Those who took the placebo had no reduction in their repeat offenses over the same period of months.
OLD BRAIN AND NEW BRAIN
Our brain has several parts. The so-called ‘old brain’ is the diencephalon, often referred to as the brain stem. It is responsible for our animal responses, including the desire to harm or kill another. It is a natural defensive response. The ‘new brain’ is the cortex, which sits on top of the old brain. One of its functions is to modify the animal responses, substituting the higher emotions such as forgiveness, patience and compassion.
Copper stimulates the old brain, whereas zinc is needed in greater quantity for the new brain. In fact, zinc is considered by some researchers as a calming neurotransmitter in its own right. Hair analyses reveal today that over 50% of the population is zinc deficient and copper toxic. Symptoms of copper toxicity from a standard textbook include psychosis, schizophrenia, and emotional instability.
Why are the copper levels high? Among the important reasons are zinc-deficient (refined food) diets, adrenal gland weakness, use of birth control pills and copper intra-uterine devices in mothers, vegetarian diets, and stress.
THE PEPSI GENERATION
Many children today are overstimulated with caffeine and sugar. Refined caffeine - a more potent stimulant than that found in foods such as tea or coffee, is readily available to youngsters of all ages. It gives a temporary lift, but eventually exhausts the adrenal glands, leading to fatigue and irritability. It is ironic that the FDA is very tough on vitamin manufacturers, but ignores children’s access to this well-known stimulant drug.
Refined sugar, labeled fructose, corn sweeteners, honey, dextrose, liquid sugar or other names, depletes the body of B-complex vitamins needed for its digestion. It also feeds fungal and other subclinical infections. Substituting Nutrasweet is even worse for many people.
Calcium, magnesium and zinc are called the "sedative minerals". They are essential for mental well-being. Soda pop contains phosphoric acid that binds and eliminates calcium, magnesium and zinc from the body.
Lead, cadmium, and mercury can damage children's brains and cause mood swings and violent thoughts. This is not a debatable issue. Tissue mineral tests on several serial killers found they had high tissue levels of these metals. A study of Naval recruits found the higher the cadmium level, the more disciplinary problems.
The "mad hatters" of Alice in Wonderland were real people. They became poisoned with mercury working in the hat industry in the mid 1800's. Today, American children are poisoned with mercury on a much larger scale from their dental fillings. Many European nations have banned amalgam fillings. The American Dental Association knows about the problem. If they told you the truth, there might be law suits, so the poisoning continues.
A troubled teen consulted the author some years ago. He had been expelled from several high schools, and lived at the Arizona Boys Ranch. His driver said he had "a bad attitude". In my office, he said "Doc, my brain doesn't work". A mineral analysis indicated high levels of cadmium and aluminum. Both are neurotoxic. I just improved his diet by removing sugar and refined flour products, and recommended several supplements.
Six months later he returned for a follow-up. His cadmium and aluminum levels had improved. The driver said, "His attitude has turned around". In my office the boy said, "Doc, my brain works".
When the diet is low in vital minerals, the body absorbs much more of the toxic metals from food and the environment.
Pesticide exposure can induce homicidal behavior. Many pesticides affect cholinesterase activity. This enzyme affects the level of acetylcholine, a calming neurotransmitter. This can induce states of agitation and irritability. Studies show that many children by age five have reached a dangerous level of pesticide exposure.
Schools are often built today without windows for better insulation. Many have carpeting, which formerly was never used in schools. This creates a closed environment with carpet molds, dust, toxic cleaning products and formaldehyde in furniture and building materials. The result is called "sick building syndrome". Excellent books such as Is This Your Child's World? by Doris Rapp, MD document the harmful effects these chemicals can have on children's behavior.
What can be done about all this? A lot, at least with younger children whose diets can be controlled. Use the resources at the end of this article to become informed and help your children feel their best. Explain to your children that you are responsible for their health and safety, and your rules are for their sake.
Have fun explaining nutrition to kids. Tell them that fluffy, bleached, preserved white bread is good for two things: cleaning up a mess on the floor, and for blowing your nose if you don't have Kleenex. It has no place in a healthful diet. Bleached white flour is great for paper mache, but not for eating.
Don't keep junk food in the house, substitute healthier products and set a good example for children. Yell and scream until they take the soda machines and McDonald's-style meals out of the schools. If they refuse, consider taking your child out of that school. While you are at school, note if there is proper ventilation, and how many toxic carpets and other items your child will be exposed to.
Natural light, provided by windows or full-spectrum bulbs, is also much healthier for children than windowless school buildings and standard fluorescent lights.
Spend more time with your children. Although TV violence is probably not the main cause of school violence, why support violence on TV and movies? Ratings are everything. If enough people tune out, the programming will change.
GUN CONTROL AS AN ANSWER
It is tempting to pass gun control laws to “control” the violence. Clearly children should not be able to buy guns, and in most states they cannot. Also, it is obvious that parents are responsible to keep their children away from all potentially lethal items that may be in a home. However, gun control is a much larger issue. Only by reviewing the statistics does one begin to realize that guns in the hands of the citizens are an excellent deterrent to crime, and in fact they prevent thousands of rapes, robberies and murders every year.
If the nutritionally atrocious diets continue and if biochemical imbalances that are easily seen on a hair mineral analysis are not addressed, the violence will only escalate. If guns are not available, it will be with bombs, knives, chemicals or other weapons that could be far worse than a gun.
Statistics clearly reveal that gun control is not effective in reducing crime. Kennesaw, Georgia passed a law requiring heads of households to have at least one gun in the house. The crime rate dropped and has remained low. There are excellent books detailing the benefits of gun ownership. Click here to read about gun statistics in America.
LOVE THE CHILDREN
If your child is diagnosed with ADHD or depression, use drugs as a last resort. Seek for causes, including nutritional imbalances, candida albicans infections, food allergies and chemical sensitivity among others. Other natural therapies can also be most helpful. For example, St. John's wort or 5-HTP for mild depression do not have the side effects of Prozac and often work as well.
Children need to be loved and cared for carefully. Too many parents are burned out, too busy, or some just don’t care enough about their children. When children are not loved and cared for properly, most cannot articulate their needs. Instead, they "act out" - sometimes violently. Under the influence of drugs and other imbalances, it can be deadly. Perhaps we can be grateful for these incidents. They may point us in directions that are needed to better love the children.
1. Breggin, P.R., Talking Back to Prozac, St. Martin's Paperbacks, New York, NY, 1994.
2. Breggin, P.R., Your Drug May Be Your Problem, Perseus Books, Reading, MA 1999.
3. Breggin, P.R., also Talking Back to Ritalin and Toxic Psychiatry.
4. Dishinger, R.C., Bad Behavior and Illness are Caused by Biochemical Imbalances, available free at www.biochemimbal-bahavior.com or call 502-684-9233.
5. Doctor Visits by Youngsters with ADHD, Arch. of Ped. and Adolescent Med., Dec. 1999;153,1257-1263,1220-1221.
6. Drug Company Advertising to Doctors, J. of the AMA,2000;373-380 and 391-393.
7. Eck, P. and Wilson, L., Toxic Metals in Human Health and Disease, Eck Institute of Applied Nutrition, Phoenix, AZ, 1989.
8. Greeley, R.E., Thomas Jefferson's Freethought Legacy, Prometheus Books, Amherst, NY, 1995.
9. Hoffer, A, Dr. Hoffer's ABC of Natural Nutrition for Children, Quarry Press, Inc., Ontario, Canada 1999.
10. Johnson, J.A. et al., Drug-related Morbidity and Mortality, A Cost-of-Illness Model, Arch. Intern. Med., Oct. 9, 1995;155(18)1949-1956.
11.Olarsch, I.G., and Stockton, S., Why are Kids Killing...The Nutrition-Mind Connection, Townsend Letter for Doctors, April 2000;201,108-111.
12.O'Meara, K.P., Doping Kids, Insight Magazine, June 28, 1999, available at www.freerepublic.com
Prozac Survivor's Support Group, at www.pssg.org
13. Rapp, D., Is This Your Child?, Quill William Morrow, New York, 1991.
14. Rappaport, John, Why Did They Do It? An Inquiry Into The School Shootings in America, (available at www.truthseeker.com)
15. Schauss, A., Diet, Crime and Delinquency, Parker House Press, Berkeley, CA, 1980.
16. Thiel, R.J, Nutrition-based Interventions for ADD and ADHD, Amer. Naturo. Med. Assoc. Monitor, 1999, or at www.healthresearch.com.
17. Tracy, A.B., Prozac: Panacea or Pandora?, Cassia Publications, West Jordan, UT, 1994.
18. Tracy, Ann Black, International Coalition for Drug Awareness, www.drugawareness.org
19. Wiley, H., The History of the Crime Against the Food Law, available from the national Health Federation, Monrovia, CA.
20. Williams, D.G., Teach Your Children Well, Alternatives For the Health Conscious Individual, September 1999, 800-219-8591.