Antidepressants suppress emotions

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in: Co`med - specialist magazine for complementary medicine (FRG), 3rd year (1997), No. 5, pp. 20-21

Peter Lehmann

With antidepressants and neuroleptics, so-called antipsychotic drugs, feelings defined as sick and the behavior associated with them can be suppressed, as can physical ailments and reactions. Whether a sensible, conflict-uncovering and conflict-processing therapy is possible under psychopharmacological influence seems more than questionable. When considering the psychological effects of antidepressants and neuroleptics, massive doubts arise about the assertion that psychotropic drugs enable psychotherapeutic approaches to those affected. Unless one understands it as a measure of psychological control.

The short-term pharmaceutical effects, if they occur at all as desired, often lead to a chronification of the original problems in the medium and long term, not to mention the various damaging effects on the central nervous system, the vegetative system and the muscular system as well as tendencies towards dependency and related ones Withdrawal problems (which should be excluded from this post). Or new disturbing feelings arise which, based on changes in the nerve conduction system, hardly have anything to do with life-historical attempts to come to terms with conflict and, in order to neutralize them at the moment, entail new, more deeply penetrating measures with even greater risks and consequential damage, e.g. electric shocks and even brain surgery Interventions. The new psychotropic drugs, whether antidepressant serotonin reuptake inhibitors à la Fluctin or atypical neuroleptics à la Leponex, Risperdal and Zyprexa, can have serious effects based on deep interventions in the transmitter system.

The feelings of the treated may change superficially, malaise, helplessness, fear and despair are sometimes suppressed by the measures used: all the unpleasant feelings, defined as sick, expressions of life problems of a social and psychological nature, remain with those affected. The chemo treatment has the effect that only you yourself are disturbed by your feelings, if you still feel them at all. However, they can no longer express these feelings, they are virtually chemically gagged.


In the psychological area, antidepressants tend to have an effect in such a way that some of those treated are immobilized, passive, dull, unemotional, frozen or suicidal. Others become restless, aroused, disoriented, confused, delirious, anxious, aggressive or manic, they hallucinate and occasionally develop toxic psychoses. The personality changes, the risk of suicide increases enormously. All of these disorders occur under so-called therapeutic as well as moderate and low doses, regardless of the reason for the administration and also in test subjects who are considered normal. The antidepressant effect consists largely of a flattening of the sensibility. Suffering is no longer felt. In the medium and long term, depression can worsen. In these cases, those affected run the risk of increasing the dose, using an additional psychotropic drug or a mixture of these substances, or even using electric shocks.

Concern has been voiced that antidepressants may make depression chronic. As early as the mid-1960s it became apparent that depressive phases in so-called endogenous depressives did not stop properly, but made it appear necessary to continue to administer the antidepressants. Previous phases of the same patients had lasted much shorter without antidepressants. The suspicion arose that this unusual lengthening of phases was the result of the antidepressants themselves.

The new antidepressants, the serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI), also change the transmitter system, the concentration of serotonin increases in the synaptic gap. However, the organism reacts with a decrease in receptors: the result of down-regulation, the body's attempt to compensate for external interventions. In the long run there is a reduced serotonin effect. Marc Rufer, doctor and psychotherapist in Zurich, also warned:

“If the serotonin deficiency hypothesis of depression were correct, the SSRIs should cause the most severe depression.


Neuroleptics tend to lower the psychological energy level with the result of apathy, lack of interest, impoverishment of initiative, loss or reduction of drive and will, dulling, emotional dullness, emotional armoring and freezing of the emotional life. Motor skills and mood are split, drives, affects and psychomotor skills are suppressed. The personality of the person treated changes. In addition, there can be feelings of inability to perform, inferiority and despair, including the tendency to put an end to this suffering when there is still a rest of energy that can be mobilized, especially in the case of extremely agonizing physical effects such as seated restlessness. For many people, equanimity would be tolerable in view of the often depressive and suicidal effects of neuroleptics. Frank Ayd from the Psychiatric Department of Franklin Square Hospital in Baltimore, for example, drew attention to possible suicidal tendencies as a neuroleptic effect with clear words:

“There is now general consensus that mild to severe suicidal depression can occur with any depot neuroleptic, just as it can occur with any oral neuroleptic.

Neuroleptics, which are actually supposed to fight a suspected excess of dopamine, can lead to a specific change in the nervous system over time: to an unnatural and chronic increase in the number of dopamine receptors and to an increased dopamine level. The organism reacts to the artificial chemical blockade of the dopamine receptors with the formation of additional receptors, which do not always regress after the end of the neuroleptic administration, so that an imbalance of transmitters and receptors and / or an over-sensitivity of the dopamine receptors can occur. There is a development of tolerance towards the so-called antipsychotic effect, i.e. the dose must be constantly increased in order to maintain the original effect. In the last stage, neuroleptics have no effect at all; an irreversible, organically induced psychosis has developed. Atypical neuroleptics in particular harbor this risk, which has been proven in animal experiments. In Sweden, for example, where clozapine (Leponex) was used intensively, a number of people who had stopped taking clozapine had psychotic symptoms that were not present before. Urban Ungerstedt and Tomas Ljungberg, employees of the histological department of the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, asked in 1977 after neuroleptic experiments on rats whether the new ›antipsychotic drugs‹, which block ›specific‹ receptors, did not have a ›specific‹ receptor super-sensitivity and thus ›specific‹ Causing side effects, ie potentiating the psychological problem being treated.

Therapy under psychiatric drugs?

Apart from the risk of acute toxic reactions or chronic changes, even with normal psychopharmaceutical effects, the question arises of how psychotherapy can take place under emotional armor, especially with antidepressants and neuroleptics, which uncover and help resolve hidden conflicts. Internally, this problem is also quite clear to biological psychiatrists. After his self-experiment with the neuroleptic prototype chlorpromazine (Swiss trade name Largactil), Klaus Ernst from the Psychiatric University of Zurich pointed out the double-edged character of modern psychopharmacological symptom suppression as early as the 1950s when he described the main neuroleptic effect:

“For us, the focus is on the creation of a - as far as we know to this day - reversible brain-local psychosyndrome. This view also brings with it the question of the relationship to accompanying work therapy and psychotherapy. Regarding the former, we can be brief. The Largactil cure goes well with any routine occupational therapy. The sick get up after a few days and take part in the work without significant orthostatic problems. Of course, it is light work under nursing supervision. The problem of interaction with psychotherapy is more complex. In the memory of our self-experiments, we can hardly imagine a simultaneous psychotherapy on ourselves. (...) We also have to distinguish between leading and developing psychotherapy. For the former, the relaxing effect of the drug is a good prerequisite. We are however clear about the fact that the remedy dampens the entire and not only the pathological affectivity. Such a comprehensive dampening could perhaps also capture those impulses that arise from self-healing tendencies. Individual, admittedly uncontrollable, impressions in acutely ill patients even raised the question of whether a stagnation of psychotic development could not occur under the drug apathization, which not only affects recurrence but also remission. "

An indispensable prerequisite for the possibility of solving psychological problems is a psychological potential free of chemical impairments. Whether those affected want to deal with their own weaknesses, problems, fears and blockages, if any, alone, together with loved ones, in self-help groups, in psychotherapeutic relationships or with the help of homeopaths or naturopaths: this is just as difficult to imagine under the influence of psychotropic drugs as under the influence of alcohol or the influence of other personality-changing and drowsy psychotropic substances. With the belief in effective help from the right doctor and the right psychopill in the right dose, too often the possibility of recognizing a crisis as an opportunity to process reality appropriately, to gain insight into the continuity of one's own life in all its diversity and the existing ones ends too often to tackle real existential problems on your own responsibility and with suitable professional help.

This critical presentation is certainly vehemently contradicted by the prevailing medicine. Psychotropic drugs would create a new balance of disturbed transmitter functions and thereby also make the treated persons accessible to psychotherapeutic measures. Many psychological problems under psychiatric drug treatment are symptom shifts of the postulated primary illness. However, if you read the specialist literature, you see yourself wronged and recognize in this argument an easily transparent protective claim. By means of omission and double-blind experiments, during which the psychological state of the treated person changed dramatically, it becomes easy to recognize disorders as effects of the psychotropic drugs. The matching results of self and animal experiments also speak for themselves. Serious therapists should really no longer be surprised why their clients often appear so closed under psychopharmacological influence. Therapists who do not want to rely on statements from pharmaceutical advertisements or melodious textbook promises made by psychiatrists would do well to study how psychodrugs work and to form a well-founded and independent opinion.

further reading

Peter Lehmann: Nice new psychiatry. Volume 1: How chemistry and electricity affect the mind and psyche, Volume 2: How psychotropic drugs change the body, Berlin: Peter Lehmann Antipsychiatrieverlag 1996 (edited E-Büük edition 2018)

Copyright by Peter Lehmann 1997