Both the public and the medical community are becoming more aware that there is an increased risk of homicide and suicide amongst users of antidepressant drugs (known in the medical community as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, or SSRIs). According to Dr. Richard Kapit, a retired scientist for the Federal Drug Administration (FDA), “there is hard data that SSRIs cause mania and manic episodes [that] are frequently accompanied by violence.”
As reported in the Atlanta Journal Constitution, the Georgia Supreme Court is allowing a medical malpractice lawsuit to proceed in the case of a mentally ill man, Victor Bruscato, who killed his mother, Lyn Bruscato, shortly after discontinuing his psychiatric medications. Victor’s father, Vito Bruscato, alleges that the homicide was the result of a psychiatrist improperly taking Victor off of two powerful SSRIs, Zyprexa and Luvox, shortly before Lyn was killed.
As Victor’s guardian, Vito filed a medical malpractice suit, on his son’s behalf, against the psychiatrist who had treated Victor at a Gwinnett County community health center. According to court records, the doctor had taken Victor off of the drugs to ensure that the drugs were not giving him a life-threatening, neurological disorder. However, two and a half weeks after being taken off the drugs, Victor experienced nightmares and panic attacks and reported hearing voices telling him to kill. A day before killing his mother, Victor was seen rocking back and forth on his bed, pleading for the voices in his head to leave him alone. On August 15, 2002, Victor crushed his mother’s head with a battery charger and then stabbed her 72 times at the family’s Norcross home.
Dr. Kapit, who reviewed Prozac, Paxil and Zoloft in the late 1980s, said that he always suspected that SSRIs could cause people to become suicidal or homicidal. “Now we have hard data to back up what everyone sort of believed, that these drugs are capable of causing manic states,” he said.
Dr. Peter R. Breggin, a Harvard-trained psychiatrist who has testified before Congress regarding antidepressants and their role in increasing suicide, violence and mania in military personnel, authored a book detailing the dangers of improperly withdrawing from psychiatric drug use. “Most psychiatric drugs can cause withdrawal reactions, sometimes including life-threatening emotional and physical withdrawal problems. In short, it is not only dangerous to start taking psychiatric drugs, it can also be dangerous to stop them. Withdrawal from psychiatric drugs should be done carefully under experienced clinical supervision,” Dr. Breggin wrote.
Patients who end their psychiatric drug use should be aware of the dangers involved when they quickly stop taking their medications. Withdrawal symptoms can include, but are not limited to:
• A Burning or Tingling Sensation
• Symptoms of Schizophrenia (such as hallucinations or delusions)
• Bipolar Disorder Symptoms (such as mania or depression)
If you believe you or a loved one has been injured due to the use or being improperly taken off of psychiatric medications, please contact a qualified medical malpractice attorney. The Law Office of Sammons & Carpenter, P.C. is a personal injury law firm that handles medical malpractice cases in the Atlanta, Georgia area. We are experienced in handling cases against psychiatrists and psychologists and are dedicated to representing those who have been seriously injured or lost their life due to the negligence of such a doctor. Although our office is located in Atlanta, Georgia, we represent clients throughout Georgia. For a free consultation, call us today at (404) 814-8949 or fill out our confidential online case evaluation form.