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Charity warns against undue concern over Panorama SSRIs investigation

Mental health charity Mind fears BBC documentary about antidepressants and homicidal behaviour could cause unnecessary worry.
Dr David Healy

Mental health charity Mind said a BBC TV documentary investigating a link between SSRI antidepressants and homicidal behaviour could cause unnessary worry for patients.

The BBC1 Panorama programme, A prescription for murder?, which will be broadcast on Wednesday at 9pm, has investigated the use of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs).

The documentary centres on the mass shootings in the United States in 2012 carried out by 24-year-old student James Holmes. Holmes shot 12 people and injured 70 at a cinema in Aurora, Colorado.

Side effects concern

Psycho-pharmacologist and long-time campaigner about potential dangerous side effects of antidepressants, David Healy, who is quoted in the programme, visited Holmes in prison before his trial.

Professor Healy, who was hired as an expert witness in the case but not called

Mental health charity Mind said a BBC TV documentary investigating a link between SSRI antidepressants and homicidal behaviour could cause unnessary worry for patients.


David Healy, psycho-pharmacologist and campaigner, is featured
in the BBC’s Panorama investigation. Picture: BBC

The BBC1 Panorama programme, A prescription for murder?, which will be broadcast on Wednesday at 9pm, has investigated the use of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs).

The documentary centres on the mass shootings in the United States in 2012 carried out by 24-year-old student James Holmes. Holmes shot 12 people and injured 70 at a cinema in Aurora, Colorado.

Side effects concern

Psycho-pharmacologist and long-time campaigner about potential dangerous side effects of antidepressants, David Healy, who is quoted in the programme, visited Holmes in prison before his trial.

Professor Healy, who was hired as an expert witness in the case but not called to give evidence, was asked to evaluate whether the SSRI antidepressants – which Holmes had been prescribed – could have played a part in the murders.

Unnecessary worry

Mental health charity Mind said the programme might cause people taking SSRI antidepressants to worry unnecessarily. The charity’s head of information Stephen Buckley added that those prescribing medication should listen closely to their patients.

'Millions of people take SSRIs and other antidepressants and many find them useful in managing their mental health problems,' he said.

'Side effects from medication can be serious but it’s important to recognise severe side effects such as those explored in this programme are incredibly rare.'

In the public interest

A BBC statement said: ‘People have not yet seen the programme and should judge it once it is broadcast.

‘It is in the public interest for the BBC to investigate the possible adverse side effects of SSRIs that could potentially affect a minority of people.

‘The programme is a serious and considered work, which includes a range of voices in psychiatry in both the US and the UK. It is stressed throughout the programme that these drugs are safe for the majority of users and people should not change or stop taking medication without seeking medical advice first.’


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