Taylor Quinn, Assistant Features Editor
With mass shootings occurring so frequently in the United States, people will naturally wonder what causes them.
Mad World News released an article in June titled, “Nearly Every Mass Shooting Has This One Thing In Common, And It Isn’t Weapons.” That one thing, according to the article, is anti-depressants.
This is simply not true.
The article lists 43 examples of mass murderers being on some type of anti-depressant, which may seem like a lot until you look at how many people are on anti-depressants in the U.S.
According to CBS News, 13 percent of the overall U.S. population takes anti-depressants. The U.S. Census Bureau reported 313.9 million people living in the U.S. in 2012. This means that roughly 40,807,000 are on anti-depressants in the country. Now, 43 seems a little more insignificant.
These people had previous issues, which is why they were taking anti-depressants in the first place. Maybe it was the depression that led them to kill, not the medication designed to help them.
According to Web MD, depression has side effects such as difficulty making decisions, feelings of guilt, feelings of worthlessness or helplessness, feelings of hopelessness, irritability, sad feelings and thoughts of suicide.
I may be wrong, but these symptoms could easily cause someone to commit violent acts. Difficulty making decisions, feelings of hopelessness and thoughts of suicide can be a dangerous combination.
Two of the medications listed frequently on that original article were Zoloft and Paxil. Zoloft’s side effects, according to WebMD, include drowsiness, dizziness, trouble sleeping, low energy, excessive sweating, weight loss, stomach cramps and feeling weak. Paxil’s side effects according to WebMD include dry mouth, drowsiness, excessive sweating, loss of appetite, head pain, nervousness and sexual problems.
None of those side effects would cause somebody to go on a killing spree.
One could argue that these medications are to blame because they did not properly do their job, and I would agree, but the medications were not directly responsible for these killings. Another thing to consider is that prescribing the right anti-depressant for a patient is a guessing game. There are no tests to see which medications work the best for a given person. There is a lot of trial and error. Some medications simply don’t work for all people. These medications simply didn’t work for the killers.
These medications help many people to live their lives properly when dealing with a mental disorder. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, an estimated 1 in 4 people in the U.S. will experience a mental health disorder, such as depression or anxiety, in a given year. A lot of people suffer from these disorders, and a lot of people are greatly aided by anti-depressant medications.
Personally, I take Zoloft for panic disorder, and it has helped tremendously. I started taking it about a year and a half ago and have not had a full-blown panic attack in about a year.