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Time: America's Medicated Army (from 2008-Could SSRI's be causing military suicides?) [View all]

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America's Medicated Army
By Mark Thompson Thursday, June 05, 2008

... For the first time in history, a sizable and growing number of U.S. combat troops are taking daily doses of antidepressants to calm nerves strained by repeated and lengthy tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. The medicines are intended not only to help troops keep their cool but also to enable the already strapped Army to preserve its most precious resource: soldiers on the front lines.



"...At a Pentagon that keeps statistics on just about everything, there is no central clearinghouse for this kind of data, and the Army hasn't consistently asked about prescription-drug use, which makes it difficult to track. Given the traditional stigma associated with soldiers seeking mental help, the survey, released in March, probably underestimates antidepressant use.

"...At least 115 soldiers killed themselves last year, including 36 in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Army said on May 29. That's the highest toll since it started keeping such records in 1980. Nearly 40% of Army suicide victims in 2006 and 2007 took psychotropic drugs overwhelmingly, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) like Prozac and Zoloft. While the Army cites failed relationships as the primary cause, some outside experts sense a link between suicides and prescription-drug use though there is also no way of knowing how many suicide attempts the antidepressants may have prevented by improving a soldier's spirits. "The high percentage of U.S. soldiers attempting suicide after taking SSRIs should raise serious concerns," says Dr. Joseph Glenmullen...

"...It wasn't until November 2006 that the Pentagon set a uniform policy for all the services. But the curious thing about it was that it didn't mention the new antidepressants. Instead, it simply barred troops from taking older drugs, including "lithium, anticonvulsants and antipsychotics." The goal, a participant in crafting the policy said, was to give SSRIs a "green light" without saying so. Last July, a paper published by three military psychiatrists in Military Medicine, the independent journal of the Association of Military Surgeons of the United States, urged military doctors headed for Afghanistan and Iraq to "request a considerable quantity of the SSRI they are most comfortable prescribing" for the "treatment of new-onset depressive disorders" once in the war zones. The medications, the doctors concluded, help "to 'conserve the fighting strength,'" the motto of the Army Medical Corps...

http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1812055-1,00.html


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green for victory Jan 2013 OP
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