Culture / January 4, 2020

Antidepressants: Big Pharma’s Secret Weapon

Disclaimer: We are not medical professionals

Throughout the Groyper Wars, we’ve brought up all different kinds of topics. From addiction to pornography to mass immigration, this movement has debated it all, or at least, that’s what we like to think. Antidepressants, or SSRI (selective serotonin reuptake inhibiting) drugs, have never truly been given their own spotlight. Rather, they’re usually just grouped in with opiates and the Big Pharma debate in general. If we want to make a difference in the culture war, we have to address the drug that affects over 12% of the United States’s population directly, and millions more indirectly.

The History of Antidepressants

Antidepressant research technically started in the 1950s, but I’d like to focus on when and why they became a mainstream form of medication. All antidepressants inherently have side effects. However, in the 1970s, the most popular and destructive variant came into the limelight- Methaqualone, or as many knew it: Quaaludes, also known as “ludes”. If you’ve seen The Wolf of Wall Street then you know the backstory behind this drug. If you haven’t, let’s just say it was originally designed to help depressed and anxiety ridden people sleep, but became heavily abused when users realized that you got a high by staying awake. We don’t hear much about it anymore because it was banned in 1984. The epidemic caused the government to realize that the drug was highly addictive and was causing a large number of car crashes and overdoses. They took action and labeled it a Schedule 1 drug, but this wasn’t the only dangerous drug in circulation during the time period. Numerous others were simultaneously taking a large toll on the population and by the 1990s, pharmaceutical companies had sold billions of pills to the American public.

In 1987, just 3 years after the ban, a drug we have all probably heard about took the country by storm. It was called Prozac, and was the first of a new variety of antidepressant called an SSRI, or selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor. In a nutshell, this drug prevents your neurons within the brain from absorbing serotonin too quickly (the chemical that allows the brain to regulate happiness, digestion, hunger, memory, and sexual desire), thus allowing you to reach more stable and higher levels overall. Prozac was so popular that it took over the market and is still in use to this day. Yes, despite the billions of dollars that pharmaceutical companies have made, they are still using a drug made 33 years ago. There are several additional varieties of antidepressants that function in a similar way to SSRIs. SNRIs, or serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors, and NRIs, norepinephrine reputake inhibitors, are both commonly prescribed and utilized by psychiatrists to “treat” patients, sometimes even in conjunction with other forms of antidepressant medications.

The Harms of Using SSRIs

The problem with these drugs is that many of them simply aren’t nearly effective enough for treating severe or even moderate depression. Several studies have been published that discuss the lack of solid evidence to back up the mass prescribing of SSRIs. However, there has been a wealth of information relating to how these drugs hurt the user in the long-term. Some of the most common long-term effects are weight gain, emotional numbness, reduced positive feelings, and suicidal thoughts. Yes, that is correct, an antidepressant can actually increase your desire to commit suicide, especially if you are an adolescent or minor. This side effect becomes a massive concern for individuals who suddenly stop taking their antidepressant medication, whether of their own volition or at the suggestion of a psychiatrist.

In 2004, the FDA required all antidepressants prescribed to children, and in 2007 to adolescents, to state that it may increase the risk of suicide. Why is this? The medical community is incredibly divided on this issue (you can take a guess who is paying their salaries), but users of these drugs have expressed their worries. Many people have reported that they feel addicted or reliant on the drug for their happiness. This is because antidepressants have severe withdrawal effects as if they were heroin or meth. Thus, these drugs can actually make you more depressed than you were before if you get off of them. Additionally, with long term use, users are frequently forced to increase their dose because the effectiveness of SSRI drugs diminishes over time as the brain begins to lag behind in its production of serotonin as a direct result of the drug. Long-term and short-term use can also cause sexual dysfunction. This was reported in a vast majority of users and has been tied to antidepressants as an effect more closely than antidepressants link to lowering depression.

Perhaps the most infamous effect of antidepressant withdrawal (especially immediate withdrawal) is increased rage. 37 mass shooters in the past 50 years have been linked to antidepressants and the most common ones are Zoloft and Prozac. Many of them had trace amounts of the drug in their system, suggesting they had stopped taking the drug. Like many street drugs, it has been shown that people on SSRIs become incredibly aggressive when they stop taking it; and for someone who is depressed and feeling as if they have nothing to lose, this is not a good combination.

The Uncomfortable Truth

I believe that this discussion is so hard to talk about because there are so many people on antidepressants. I personally know several people within the movement who use these drugs and we need to stop pretending like it is fringe. The reality of the situation is that over 30 million Americans alone use the drug and just like the opioid epidemic, it isn’t something that we can just throw to one side of the political spectrum. If you are taking antidepressants, you should not just stop taking them. To clarify, SEE A DOCTOR about any planned changes to a drug you are taking. There are several methods that can help treat your depression, not limited to just medication. If we want to solve this problem on a national level, we need to look at a policy that punishes those responsible, not the victims.

First, what do those who are prescribed antidepressants have in common? If we look at the mass shooters from earlier, a lot of them were raised in broken households. In fact, almost all of the school shooters since 1999 were either being raised by one parent or were in shared custody. In fact, this is the case for almost 50% of children in the United States. My home state of Oklahoma as well as most of the Midwest and South aren’t exceptions either. Antidepressant prescriptions started to rise at the same time that divorces skyrocketed and I do not believe that this is a coincidence. If we are ever to fix this problem, we need to enact policies that encourage couples to stay together and promote a more traditional family structure. A policy that has been historically effective is to give tax cuts to married couples and increase that tax cut for each child the family has. This has been implemented with massively positive results in Hungary.

Second, who should be punished for the crisis affecting our country? The Government, both on the state and federal levels, should be taking further actions against pharmaceutical companies. The FDA found that the studies pharma companies utilized to back their antidepressants were actually incorrectly performed almost two decades ago. So why haven’t we seen any major traction in the fight against Big Pharma? The state of Oklahoma was able to famously sue Johnson&Johnson for over 570 million dollars due to their involvement with the opioid crisis recently. Unfortunately, it was only 1/30th of the amount of money they were initially suing for. These pharmaceutical companies spend so much money on lobbying and deceptive advertisements that they don’t even need to spend money on further development of their products. The most damning fact is that the FDA is not allowed to approve a generic drug anytime that a claim of patent infringement is made. Hence the reason why antidepressants tend to last for decades in the market. There is almost no competition because of the lobbying and shady regulations put in place for pharmaceutical empires.

Third, how do we prevent corporations from destroying the U.S. in the future? This may come as a shock to many people, but direct government intervention can be VERY effective when done correctly. I have had several discussions with Libertarians about this and they always resort back to one argument. They will ignore everything I just told them and say “The War on Drugs wasn’t effective, so why would this be any different?” To this, I would like to say that antidepressants don’t grow in the middle of Colombia. They are made by a couple of massive America-based corporations that have monopolies on the entire pharmaceutical industry. People (especially Libertarians) often forget that the corporations of the past aren’t the same as the ones of the modern-day. Henry Ford voluntarily raised wages in his company so his workers could afford to buy the cars they made and grow with the country. The top 1% realized that they had a responsibility to help grow the United States that gave them the ability to create their company. Meanwhile, modern Big Pharma will exploit and even harm the American people to maintain a profit. If we go after Big Pharma and break up the empire, as well as prosecute those who deceptively advertised the antidepressants, it could be a good start to ensuring this never happens again.

Final Thoughts

Going into 2020 I am sure that we can handle this crisis, but we also need to realize that the Boomers got one thing right: If you want something done, you have to do it yourself. We need Groypers in office if we want legitimate change to come to this great nation. That doesn’t mean we need a Groyper running for President, but it does mean we need people on the city council, or in the state legislature, or somewhere else. We need to gain influence in the institutions. If we are enacting laws that challenge the status quo and therefore Big Pharma, we are doing something that those before us never did. Our kids will never have to be hooked on the drugs that ruined the generations before us to feel happy, but only if we take a stand.

-OkieGroyper, @OkieGroyper