Another shooting incident happened this week at the Army base in Ft. Hood, Texas. A US soldier named Ivan Lopez age34 shot and killed three fellow soldiers and wounded 16 others before killing himself.
In early press reports officials revealed that last month Lopez was fully examined by a psychiatrist and was undergoing a variety of treatments for conditions including depression, anxiety and sleep disturbances.
When asked specifically about psychiatric medications, “SSRI’s, antidepressants, anything of that nature” Army spokesman Lt. Gen. Mark A. Milley told reporters “He was on medications, that’s correct.”
Included with his anti-depression medications was Ambien, a sleep aid that carries an FDA warning label.
General Milley also stated, “We have very strong evidence that he had a medical history that indicates an unstable psychiatric or psychological condition. (We’re) going through all records to ensure that is, in fact, correct. But we believe that to be the fundamental underlying causal factor.”
Lopez’s record doesn’t show any specific traumatic event, wound received in action or contact with the enemy but it does state that Lopez had self-reported a traumatic brain injury (TBI) that he had suffered while deployed.
Congressman Tim Murphy is also a trained clinical psychologist and does work at The Walter Reed Hospital National Military Medical Center. During an interview on CNN he said that most TBI events in the military are not related to combat but occur in auto accidents, falls, fights, etc.
So, Lopez may well have had the physical traumatic brain injury that he reported to the doctors. Perhaps it was ignored by the psychiatrists who assumed that Lopez’s complaints of depression, anxiety and sleep problems must be caused by mental conditions requiring antidepressants and Ambien.
If the psychiatrists had looked into Lopez’s report of a TBI injury, they might have learned what medical science knows. A TBI is a physical condition that can cause depression, anxiety and sleep problems.
Charles Bombardier, Ph.D., professor of rehabilitation medicine at the University Of Washington School Of Medicine reported in “The Journal of the American Medical Association” back in 2010 that more than half of all people who suffer a traumatic brain injury will become depressed in the year after the injury, a rate eight times higher than in the general population.
A medical report from Queensland, NZ states that after a brain injury, it is estimated that between 18% and 60% of people will experience an anxiety disorder.
And a research center devoted to TBI reports that “many people who have brain injuries suffer from sleep disturbances. Not sleeping well can increase or worsen depression, anxiety, fatigue, irritability, and one’s sense of well-being. It can also lead to poor work performance and traffic or workplace accidents. A review of sleep disorder studies and surveys suggest that sleep disorders are three times more common in TBI patients than in the general population and that nearly 60% of people with TBI experience long-term difficulties with sleep.”
So, what about the medications Lopez received after his likely physical injury was ignored?
The doctors at The Veterans Administration rely on SSRI drugs to address what they see as mental problems in war veterans hoping to get the right combination and dose – one that doesn’t trigger the known violent and suicidal side effects of antidepressants.
Congressman Murphy is concerned that the use of these drugs is often done with insufficient monitoring of the patients reaction to them. He stated in his CNN interview that taking depression and anxiety drugs can itself create depression, hostility and suicidal thoughts as side effects. So, by giving psychiatric drugs, you end up exaggerating the symptoms you set out to cure.
What about Ambien, this seemingly innocent sleep aid?
Ambien is famous due to a few incidents involving celebrity Ambien users.
In 2006 former Rhode Island Representative Patrick Kennedy drove to Capitol Hill under its influence supposedly to “vote” at 2:45 a.m., crashing his car.
Law enforcement officials reported Ambien users “sleep driving” and unable to recognize that police officers were there arresting them.
Then it was found that some Ambien users were “sleep eating” – devouring pizza, donuts and ice cream and waking up horrified to see the pile of empty containers they created during the night.
While on Ambien, Kerry Kennedy, daughter of Robert F. Kennedy and former wife of New York Governor Andrew Cuomo swerved into a tractor-trailer and kept driving. Witnesses reported she was had been weaving for miles.
Homicides committed while on Ambien have been reported in medical journals. In two cases neither party had any history of aggressive behavior before killing his or her spouse yet they did so with uncharacteristic, complex acts of violence.
Both of the individuals claimed total or partial amnesia about the murders they committed on Ambien.
The FDA prints the side effects of Ambien right on the fact sheet insert that comes with the drug:
· A variety of abnormal thinking and behavior changes have been reported to occur in association with the use of sedative/hypnotics. Some of these changes may be characterized by decreased inhibition (e.g., aggressiveness and extroversion that seemed out of character)
· Visual and auditory hallucinations have been reported as well as behavioral changes such as bizarre behavior, agitation and depersonalization.
· Complex behaviors such as “sleep-driving” (i.e., driving while not fully awake after ingestion of a sedative-hypnotic, with amnesia for the event) have been reported with sedative-hypnotics, including zolpidem (Ambien).
· Other complex behaviors (e.g., preparing and eating food, making phone calls, or having sex) have been reported in patients who are not fully awake after taking a sedative-hypnotic. As with “sleep-driving”, patients usually do not remember these events. Amnesia, anxiety and other neuro-psychiatric symptoms may occur unpredictably
· In primarily depressed patients, worsening of depression, including suicidal thoughts and actions (including completed suicides), has been reported in association with the use of sedative/hypnotics
Fortunately, the idea that psychiatric drugs create the behavior they claim to cure is being reported a bit more widely in the press during this recent drug induced mass killing at Ft.Hood. And military officials did not hide the fact that Lopez was on antidepressants and Ambien.
Ron Paul, former Congressman from Texas and Presidential candidate is known for his common sense and clear view of situations. He is both a medical doctor and military veteran well qualified to discuss the topic.
In a recent interview when asked what he had to say about the news that Lopez was on psychiatric drugs and Ambien, Congressman Paul wisely summed up the situation.
“Almost all the time where’s there high school shootings or this occurs, they’re receiving this government directed care for psychological problems and there are psychotropic drugs. It’s happening all the time – so that’s the immediate thing that crosses my mind when I hear of it. And then when you hear of it being related to government, military and veterans, you can be guaranteed they’re getting the wrong kind of treatment. So medically the diagnosis is wrong, the treatment is wrong and we take one thing and make it worse.”