• People Talk and My Ear Bleeds


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    Tuesday, February 01, 2005

    Teen and Zoloft

    Why is it, that people need an excuse to kill someone around here? Whatever happened to the thousands of years of people killing others because they got angry, or they envied them, or they just plain liked to see them scream? Do psychotics need to be licensed these days?

    In South Carolina a teen is accused of killing his two grandparents with a shotgun. His defense? He was on zoloft. As the resident microbiologist, I will disect for you why this makes my ears bleed when I hear it.

    First, this denotes that Zoloft caused the boy to murder. Drugs act in vary different ways on different people, but leading them by the hand to pull a trigger is not one of them. Some drugs decrease the body's ability to recognize pain (Cox-2 inhibitors, aspirin, acetomeniphen, etc.) and some change serotonin levels. Drugs do this by unpreferrentially targeting a receptor or other molecule and changing the way it is produced, functions, or broken down.

    Second, Zoloft has been shown (like other antidepressants) linked to increased instances of attempted suicide in adolescents. Now, I have always been an advocate for decreased prescription of anti-depressant medication. I feel it has a place in treating disorders, but it is far over used. This plays no role here. Although Zoloft has been linked to increased instances of attempted suicide, the studies are far from conclusive, and while I take it as vindiction on my long-held belief, it is true that the correlation could be highly influenced by something the study did not adjust for--a commonality among depressed children on medication.

    Third, or 2b, suicide, by definition, is the act of killing oneself. Killing oneself is not killing another person as can plainly be seen, so why are we so quick to assume suicidal tendancies, whether drug-induced or not, are equivalent to murderous tendancies? From my experience, everyone I know who deals with depression and has suicidal thoughts or attempts has not made the attempt to murder. Any with that wish or prediliction acknowledge that it comes from other feelings than their depression. And does this mean that every young child who gets angry and says "I'm gonna kill you!" is really struggling with depression??

    Fourth, the accused had a history of mental illness, including being put on suicide watch before taking medication. If we make the logical jump that suicide and murder go hand in hand (which I said they don't), then obviously this kid was contemplating murder far before the effects of zoloft entered his body. If we accept my previous arguments, than we see that his suicide watch indicates already fluctuating temperament and his fighting on the bus evinces a pugilistic attitude inherent in the teens nature.

    Sounds to me like this teen, with a combination of anger issues and immaturity, just made a stupid mistake, and now he will pay for it.


    Anonymous said...

    You dumb shit, if you really think that zoloft CAN'T make your brain snap then you need to test it. I'm on it trying to get off and I have had a hell of a time thinking clear at all and things that are very hurtful to me or others seem like a great idea to me and this is not the person I am it is my body stuck to a drug that wont let my mind free.

    Triet said...

    Well, thank you for your eloquent and loquacious words. Your choice of synonyms for me hinders your argument greatly.

    First, Zoloft is a Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor (SSRI) which modifies the serotonin levels in the brain. Serotonin is responsible for many neurological functions, and low Serotonin levels have been linked to mood disorders, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and aggressive behaviors.

    Hence, aggressiveness, and obsessive or compulsive natures, all of which can and do play roles in homicides, are often present BEFORE the use of Zoloft. They are the reason for it.

    Current medical knowledge has shown no conclusive evidence that taking an SSRI will increase a person's risk for suicide. For adults over age 25 or 30, there really is no controversy. For those under 25, the evidence is sketchy at best, and by-and-large weighs in on the side of NO increased risk.

    And that's suicide. Homicidal tendencies are quite different. When working with patients that have behavioral issues, I've been taught as a doctor we are to ask about both suicidal and homicidal ideations to ALL patients. They are often seen together, but not related. Most patients I've seen that have confessed suicidal thoughts, forswear ever thinking of harming another person.

    In a letter to the editor of the American Journal of Psychiatry in 2002, researchers found that only 2.4% of murderers in murder-suicides in New York City during the 1990s (the height of SSRI use) were on antidepressants. That's well below the expected number from the general population, showing that antidepressants do not lead to increased rates of murder.

    I learned a lot about antidepressant medication during my college years. I had a girlfriend with hypermania and saw her trials as her body chemistry changed and physicians looked for a proper drug/dose to help her. I would never wish it on anyone. And I sincerely hope you find the right combination to help your compulsiveness.