How Psychiatric Drugs Nearly Turned Me into a Murderer

reposted from:
by Amy Philo

Because of my experience on Zoloft, I can put myself in the shoes of Andrea Yates, Melanie Stokes and all the moms you hear about who kill their kids or commit sui- cide, when it seemed like they had everything to live for. I know what it’s like to have thoughts in your head “telling” you what to do, thoughts that are not yours, thoughts that do not belong. I never had mental health problems in my life before I was on Zoloft, and I never have since. It’s been six years since my last pill.

In July 2004, I had my first baby, Isaac. At three days old, he nearly choked to death on some partially digested formula while trying to vomit. We had checked into the emergency room of Children’s Hospital only moments before this occurred, and the staff saved his life. Had we not noticed something wasn’t right and taken him to the hospital, Isaac could have died in his bassinet that night as we slept.

A home health nurse who visited me two days later told me I was at “high risk” of postpartum depression and needed drugs immediately. She even set up an “emergen- cy” appointment with my OBGYN. My OB gave me Zoloft samples and told me to start taking them right away, as- suring me that the drug was safe for me and Isaac, who was only 6 days old. Three days later, I started hallucinat- ing and having homicidal thoughts and suicidal urges.

I was involuntarily hospitalized for two days and had to fake a miraculous “stabilization” in order to be released. Twice an outpatient psychiatrist raised my dose, and both times my homicidal thoughts worsened. On 150mg of Zoloft I was overcome with intrusive thoughts of killing my mother, husband, son, cats and neighbors before kill- ing myself.

During the time I was on Zoloft, the FDA issued a black box suicide warning on antidepressants. As a result, I did some research of my own for the first time. I later went against medical advice and tapered off Zoloft with the help of my husband and parents. By Thanksgiving I was off Zoloft and able to be alone with Isaac for the first time since he was 9 days old.

My brief experience with psychiatry was the worst time in my life—during what should have been the great- est and most beautiful time in my life. Because my experi- ence was so emblematic of everything that is wrong with the MOTHERS Act and screening of mothers for so-called “risk factors,” I decided not to sit idly by and watch the MOTHERS Act ruin motherhood—not without a fight, anyway. The stories of those I meet in this cause continue to spur me on as an activist in an effort to educate, and thereby save, as many others as possible.

Excerpted from a longer piece by Amy Philo. For her full story, go to or

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