Monday, November 13, 2006

feed your head

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~~~kicking antidepressants~~~

The hardest thing to walk away from was a sleep as deep as death and the incredibly vivid and cool dreams sleep brought. I was living my emotional life while I slept, and my sleeping life while awake. There was a nice thick wall between me and everybody I encountered. But don't try to disrupt that wall because the drug also gave me a new hair-trigger temper.

I moved through the days in a fog, got my work done, but had very little memory of the day once the night rolled around. Because a better world existed in my sleep. But the dreams started to diminish after several months, and I had to increase my dosage to bring them back. I remember a point where I didn't think I was dreaming at all. That's when the weird shit started. I would be doing something really normal, some tedious chore, and I'd suddenly have what can only be called a waking dream. One recurring waking dream involved an ax, a person, and a lot of chopping. When that popped into my head for the third time I decided to quit the drugs. But you have to cut back gradually. And deep sleep in the first thing to go.

Now, eight years later, I still miss that sleep and those dreams and that world.

In my particular case antidepressants really screwed up my sleep/dream cycles.

Very simply and unscientifically put, antidepressants artificially replace serotonin so your own body gradually quits making it. Once you've weaned yourself, it can take your body up to a year, sometimes more, to produce serotonin at the pre-drug level.

I want to add that I'm in no way doing a Tom Cruise. I like drugs, and antidepressants are a little like legal acid.

I'll probably take antidepressants again at some point in my life, but I think people need to know the facts before taking them without a damn good reason. Life sucks quite a bit of the time. That's just the way it is.

An interesting article:

paxil is forever

and of course we know about the fish and can all guess what the tadpole on the right has been snorting.

fish story

White Rabbit - Jefferson Airplane
One pill makes you larger
And one pill makes you small
And the ones that mother gives you
Don't do anything at all
Go ask Alice
When she's ten feet tall

And if you go chasing rabbits
And you know you're going to fall
Tell 'em a hookah smoking caterpillar
Has given you the call
Call Alice
When she was just small

When men on the chessboard
Get up and tell you where to go
And you've just had some kind of mushroom
And your mind is moving low
Go ask Alice
I think she'll know

When logic and proportion
Have fallen sloppy dead
And the White Knight is talking backwards
And the Red Queen's "off with her head!"
Remember what the dormouse said:
"Feed your head
Feed your head
Feed your head"


Jaye Wells said...

That's the first I'd heard of the fish stuff, and I live within twenty miles of where those fish were found.

I've never been on antidepressants, but I know plenty of people who are. Your experience is truly scary. Seems we're all becoming way too dependent on drugs to cure everything and ignoring the inevitable side effects.

pattinase (abbott) said...

I have a prescription sitting on my bureau now. I've been hesitant to take it because of the cardio side effects. This makes it even more frightening.

Dee said...

having gone thru some of the antidepressant stuff myself, I can say that it is truly scary when you begin to realize that there are parts of your mind and memory that are not responding being in the middle of a sentence and totally forgetting what you were talking about...or having to stop and search for the simplest of words.

Bill Cameron said...

Medication is a funny thing. I remember that naive time in my life when I thought drugs were either evil, like heroin, or perfect little disease-killing bullets, like penicillin. Side effects, unintended effects, and the complexity of biochemistry wasn't part of my worldview. Then big Pharma marketing came along, and suddenly it wasn't just aspirin and cough syrup, but a pill for everything.

And, of course, I got older, and started needing stuff. Allergies are a fairly new part of my life, for example. My sinuses are always full. But I also have a family history of high blood pressure, don't exercise as much as I should, so those magic decongestants are dangerous for me. No magic bullet there, but rather a possible heart attack or stroke if I take the medication designed to eased the unrelenting pressure in my skull.

All those drugs advertised on TV now include a long list of "may cause the condition known as hot dog fingers" side effects. Reality has sunk in. Yeah, they may do what we hope, but even with something as simply as an over-the-counter analgesic, it's a crapshoot. Take a Tylenol after a night of heavy drinking to fend off the headache? You might be killing your liver.

And yet, these days, I couldn't live without the anti-histamine cocktail that keeps my skin from leaping off my frame. If I forget take my very expensive mix of Loratadine and Famitodine for one day, oh lord, save me. It's enough to make me consider the merits of heroin.

Stephen Blackmoore said...

Choosing to go on or go off these kinds of meds is not a decision that anyone should take lightly. I'm sorry it got so bad that medication was the direction to choose, but believe me, I get it. I'm also glad that you were able to wean yourself off of them when they didn't work for you.

There comes a point where you have to ask yourself, "Is this helping more than it's hurting?" I've seen both sides of that coin.

Yeah, things suck and that's part of life, but so is bad vision, but we wear glasses, anyway. I guess my point is that nobody "needs" this stuff, but sometimes for some people it helps. And for others it's very much the wrong choice.

Heather Harper said...

I did not stay on Paxil long enough (I don't think it was even a full year) to become addicted, but coming off of it was a beotch. I also tried Zoloft, but could not cope with the side effects. I wasn't even on Z a full week.

If anything ever happened to my husband, I would have to go back on meds. His attitude and companionship defeat my mood swings better than the drugs.

Ali Karim said...

I can't believe Anne you posted the Lyrics to WHITE RABBIT - my all time favourite track -

I remember it being featured in David Fincher's THE GAME - and getting all goosebumpy when I heard it after so many years -

I have tried to understand the lyrics over the years, and they only make sense when under the influence of Chemicals I guess.



anne frasier said...

jaye, this post came about because it seems that almost everybody i've talked to lately is on antidepressants. i really worry about kids taking it, because they aren't going to be as likely to notice problems. because the drug is constantly shifting your head around and changing your perspective.

patti, it's a tough call. i guess you just have to weigh everything before making a decision. good luck!

dee, i recall the two of us trying to have a conversation and neither of us able to remember what we were talking about. it was like smoking pot. at that time i was just on a really, really low dose of an old school antidepressant for chronic pain. you were on the same stuff, and we were like the village idiots. :D

anne frasier said...

"may cause the condition known as hot dog fingers"


i've developed asthma in the last year, so i've been on almost everything now. things the dr assures me won't cause problems usually do. i think i'm on the last one now -- been on it several months, but i've noticed i'm actually getting wheezy when i take it so apparently my body has had enough of that one too.

heather, lock him up in a soft room and don't let him leave! but seriously, what a sweet thing to say!

daily exercise is also excellent. i used to jog and that kept me pretty level.

anne frasier said...

ali, isn't that one of the best songs EVER???
my son is a recording engineer, and we're always talking about the songs from that period of time -- how good they were, and nothing now can really compare. and we always circle around to why? was it the drugs people were taking back then? and are the current prescription drugs making people less creative now? and making the audience more passive and willing to accept crap? we've discussed this for years and have a lot of ideas, but no solid answer.

anne frasier said...

stephen, i couldn't agree more. i'm not anti-drugs. just say YES!!

Tami said...

Great post Anne. I've come across a few people recently on them as well. It's funny how you don't think of situations like this until you know someone going through it or even someone in the news. Look at Anna Nicole Smith's son who died recently from a bad mix of antidepressants! Drugs definitely do different things to different people.

It does seem like most drugs out on the market, no matter what they are have the worst side effects. Some worse than what they were supposed to cure. Funny story, I had an inner ear infection awhile back and was so dizzy at times I couldn't stand. I went to the doctor and she prescribed me this medicine that had a side effect of dizziness. I was like, "WHAT IN THE WORLD?" Funny enough, it was a DIFFERENT dizziness than I was feeling on my own and it ended up curing my inner ear infection in the end.

anne frasier said...

tami, isn't that the truth about people in the news. i think most/all of the shooters involved in school shootings have been on antidepressants. the question is did the drugs help them step into a world that seemed very removed and unreal so they could plan and do something they wouldn't have done if they'd been "clean", or were they kids with problems (obviously) and the drugs had nothing to do with anything?

Sandra Ruttan said...

Well, you know a bit about my history on the drug score - on the other side of the equation. I've watched them mess up the minds of others, so I'm nervous where antidepressants are concerned.

It's the reality that for every positive there can be a negative. You really have to be careful with that stuff. But your description of your experience is so vivid, it's a testament to how great you write. For a moment, I thought you'd posted a short story.

anne frasier said...

sanda, you hit it when you said you have to be careful. so simple and so true.

and about it seeming like a short story? i started typing in the middle of an idea. I'd planned to go back and write an intro. i got lazy and didn't do it, so i just dropped people into the middle of a thought. i'm sure it was confusing at first. :D

anne frasier said...



angie said...

"daily exercise is also excellent. i used to jog and that kept me pretty level."

Yup. One hour of walking a week has the same therapeutic value as one hour of talk therapy. I'm am so not knocking talk therapy (or anti-depressants, for that matter), but if we use our bodies for what they were designed for, our overall mental and physical health improves.

A lot of folks have had experience with situational depression, and sometimes short-term use of anti-depressants can be helpful. The other category of depression involves a chemical imbalance (seratonin, primarily) that is chronic. While the same thing happens to the brain during situational depression, it is NOT the normal state of that person's brain chemistry. Uh, I think I'm making this too confusing.

I guess my point is that anti-depressants alter your brain chemistry. Sometimes it's an aid needed to cope with (emotionally, psychologically, whatever) a situational depression - basically a way to level you out enough to deal with the real issue. For those with an innate chemical imbalance, they are necessary to function. The problem is that so many folks who are situationally depressed go on anti-depressants and stay on them too long (IMHO).

Your brain is a wonderful and complicated thing. Messing with it too much pharmacologically speaking just isn't a good idea. Do what you have to, but get off the bus when you've gotten where you need to be.

Dee said...

having been on the "old school" antidepressant for quite a long time, a doctor suggested to me that there were several newer and better ones on the market. He gave me some samples and sent me on my way. Being a bit leery of experimenting, I dropped them in the "junk drawer" in a kitchen cabinet. That winter a tribe of mice moved into my house to escape the brutal midwestern weather. I could hear them everywhere and set traps all over the house. I caught a total of 23 of them and one seemingly committed suicide under the coffee table in my living room...very embarrassing when a guest points something like that out to you! Later, as I was cleaning out the awful mess that they can make, I came upon the sample and empty! At that time I was part of a book discussion group. When I related this story, one guy practically fell out of his chair laughing at what those mice must have looked like on that high...and commented that with me having caught 23 of them (plus the one that died under mysterious circumstances) maybe the pills had also acted as either a fertility drug...or an aphrodesiac...or both!!

anne frasier said...

angie, great post! thank you. :)

i think many are situational -- mine was -- but doctors just keep their patients on the stuff. once they prescribe it and things are going okay they just keep it coming. you are so right about knowing when to get off the bus!

anne frasier said...


that is hilarious!!!
i actually found myself feeling sorry for the mice. they were clueless. probably freaking out and paranoid with no idea why. just think if they'd had weapons. no telling what they would have done. oh, but they were making love not war.

Jeff said...

During the past ten years I have noticed a huge increase in the number of patients I see coming for surgery who are on some form of antidepressant medication.

Sandra Ruttan said...

It's okay Anne. Some of the children I worked with used to call me Santa.

Personally, I thought it was an awesome way to pull me right in. Loved what you wrote.

Helen Brenna said...

Anne, this topic hits home for me, as you know.

Significantly more women take antidepressants than men. I read a statistic on the percentage of women coming out of doctor offices with prescriptions for antidepressants - something like 30%. It's the vallium of the new century. How depressing!

I think the bottom line is that we all like quick fixes. Proper diets, exercise, good supplements, relaxation, etc... all take time and effort. More time and energy than most of us have, I think.

Why bother with it all if popping a pill promises the same results?

Did you know that the symptoms of depression are amazingly close to the syptoms of menopause?

Now I'd better shut up.

Anonymous said...

Very good and important advice, Anne. You should only take these drugs if you have a damn good reason.

There is an interesting term that the drug companies have been putting into their warning labels and training physicians to use. It's "discontinuation effects." For all the normal people out there, they mean withdrawal symptoms. And as I've talked to a friend getting off OCD medicine, those "discontinuation effects" are pretty hard to endure.

anne frasier said...

sandra, you're kind like santa to me too.

that's interesting, jeff.

helen, i think in some cases something like valium might be better. something that is for a few hours rather than months. and you're right about people wanting a quick fix, but i would know nothing about menopause. :D antidepressants are prescribed for menopause.

jason: discontinuation effects. LOL!!

M. G. Tarquini said...

Yeah, things suck and that's part of life, but so is bad vision, but we wear glasses, anyway. I guess my point is that nobody "needs" this stuff, but sometimes for some people it helps. And for others it's very much the wrong choice.

I'm a day late to this party, but I disagree with you, Stephen. Plenty of people 'need' this stuff. For some, it's the difference between living and dying, the deciding factor between going on or putting a bullet in the brain.

It can be argued that people don't 'need' cancer meds either, but they can prolong life. So can antidepressants. Like cancer meds, only people who need them should be taking them.

I don't know any physicians who use the term 'discontinuation effect'. They all say 'withdrawal.' Guess they were too busy working to read the memo.

Jaye Wells said...

I think the thing is that this is another case where there is a minority that really needs these medications to live. But it has been applied in less severe cases as a quick fix--a panacea. It's similar to calling all rambunctious boys ADD and filling them full of Ritalin, even though what they probably need is a trip to the neighborhood park to run off some energy. But MG is right, there are people who need these drugs to live. But, as others have said exercise, diet and perhaps talk therapy would be enough to help a lot of people.

anne frasier said...

mindy, i think stephen was pretty much agreeing with you. we don't ignore bad vision -- we get glasses.

jaye, i completely agree. if 30% of women walk out of a doctor's office with a prescription for antidepressants -- that's too many and it's being over-prescribed.

mai wen said...

I agree with Sanda or Santa, or whoever that cutie pie kid in that picture is! :) I thought the writing was really great and I also thought for a moment that I was reading a short story! I really enjoyed reading about your experiences.

I was on anti-depressants briefly, very briefly. I stopped within a week of taking them. I'm the type of person who doesn't even like to take advil when I have a headache, I always try to find a natural way to cure my ailments, but of course after whining for about an hour my husband usually makes me take something just to shut me up. As for the anti-depressants, I just got freaked out that my feelings were being controlled by drugs and plus I was suicidal at the time (probably why the drugs were prescribed) and one bad day I took about five at once and got really sick. I decided I'd rather not have them at my disposal and also not have something alter my mood for me, that I'd rather learn how to alter my mood myself through therapy, etc. That's probably why during that time I never drank or used drugs either, I'm not against alcohol at all, but only for fun, not to use as a medicine for your woes.

But that's just me. I'm willful and ridiculously indedpendent, I know that the drugs help a lot of people if used correctly and don't think they're a bad thing, just a dangerous tool that can't be taken advantage of and needs to be used carefully.

M. G. Tarquini said...

Thanks, Anne. I thought he meant that people can pull themselves up by their bootstraps if they want. Would that it were true with mental illness, but it's a disease like any other.

The presumptions about Ritalin are interesting to me. It is not a sedative. It's an amphetamine. Most people who take an amphetamine get hyper. In people with ADD, the amphetamine has the opposite effect, it calms them down. There is no upside to handing a rambunctious boy who does not have ADD an amphetamine. It will only serve to make that boy even more rambunctious. For this reason, I take exception to the notion that people are overprescribing amphetamines to rambunctious boys. The drug simply doesn't work that way.

Ritalin is like insulin. It takes effect almost as quickly. If the rambunctious boy suddenly stops swinging from the chandeliers, sits down and starts doing his math, the presumptive diagnosis becomes a real one.

I don't mean to sound aggressive, but I don't believe blanket statements regarding these medicines, their uses, or their efficacies can be made. All commentary here is anecdotal and may or may not reflect the facts. Proper evaluation and diagnosis by a trained professional is crucial with mental illness, as with any disease. There should no more stigma attached to taking these medicines than there should be stigma attached to getting an epidural for chilbirth.

Pain is pain. Mental anguish is the most ignored, marginalized and unpalliated pain in our society. There's something really messed up with that.

Thanks for letting me talk, Anne.

anne frasier said...

mai wen, thanks so much!
your experience sounds like my daughter's. a week was enough for her. she was bouncing off the walls, nervous paranoid.
and i hate to even take tylenol! i swear it makes me feel strange and sad, but i'm just really sensitive to all drugs.

mindy, we've all run into people who say just get over it. nothing pisses me off faster than an ignorant comment like that. it's matter of finding the right drugs, and not prescribing them to people who really don't need them. i have a relative who was institutionalize for 10 years. everybody had given up on him, but a groundbreaking specialist determined he wasn't being given a high enough dosage of several medications. they tripled his meds and he's been living a fairly normal life for several years. this wouldn't be AT ALL possible without medication.

Hulles said...

I have to talk about this one. I find myself in complete agreement with m. g. tarquini. I am one of those people who probably wouldn't be here without the benefit of antidepressants. After a few months of laying in a foetal position on the couch, not working, not eating, not talking to anyone, I finally got some help -- antidepressants and therapy both -- and am today (mostly) functional and am here to write this. All of this was fairly recent history, FYI. Consequently I feel strongly about the benefits of these medications. I also understand they are far from a panacea, but I'm glad they exist for those of us who need them.

Didn't mean to rant, but this one hit close to home. Also, just so you know, various antidepressants work differently. The ones that alter the level of serotonin in your brain are known as SSRI's, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (I believe, not gonna look it up now). There are other ones that affect other chemical levels, notably the levels of dopamine and norepinepherine. The reason I mention this is that if you are clinically depressed, there are a number of alternatives, and if one does not work a responsible prescribing physician will try another that may be more effective.

Again, sorry to go on so. But as I say, this hit close to home.

I liked the mouse story too.

Hulles said...

...and what I originally meant to say was that I once owned the vinyl album of Surrealistic Pillow that was not stereo, but "hi-fi", which was a fancy term for decent monoaural sound at the time. (Sigh) Once again I feel like an old codger....

Daniel Hatadi said...

Damned interesting article on Paxil. I love reading about people's experiences with drugs, whether enjoyable or otherwise.

But yes, antidepressants are the new antibiotics, and I would seriously like to know the amount of kickbacks doctors get for prescribing them.

No offense meant to those taking them for good reasons.

M. G. Tarquini said...

But yes, antidepressants are the new antibiotics, and I would seriously like to know the amount of kickbacks doctors get for prescribing them.


They do not get kickbacks. They don't get any kickbacks at all. Not in this country. They don't get kickbacks for prescribing antibiotics and they don't get kickbacks for prescribing antidepressants. They don't get kickbacks for choosing to inject contrast when they do your CT and they don't get kickbacks for choosing one type of stent over another when they do your angioplasty. They don't get kickbacks.

They don't.


There is no vast medical conspiracy out there.

Trust me on this one.

Daniel Hatadi said...

"Alright, listen up, people. Our fugitive has been on the run for ninety minutes. Average foot speed over uneven ground barring injuries is 4 miles-per-hour. That gives us a radius of six miles. What I want from each and every one of you is a hard-target search of every gas station, residence, warehouse, farmhouse, henhouse, outhouse and doghouse in that area. Checkpoints go up at fifteen miles. Your fugitive's name is M. G. Tarquini. Go get her."

anne frasier said...

i really appreciate your sharing your story. not a rant at all, but a solid and positive perspective. thanks!

and the mouse story -- that was great!
i remember when vinyl went from mono to stereo. and yes, hi-fi. and i'm glad vinyl has made such a big comeback.

M. G. Tarquini said...

Yo, Daniel, Dude!

I gotch yer prosthetic arm right here...

Come and get it.

angie said...

Mindy's throwin' down the plastic guantlet! Go, kids, GO!!!

anne frasier said...

daniel, that was funny as hell. :D didn't make sense, but funny as hell. it has lack of sleep and red bull written all over it.

two weeks to go.

i hope the fugitive comes back and reads it.

anne frasier said...

oops. she's already seen it!!

anne frasier said...

this was my favorite part:

warehouse, farmhouse, henhouse, outhouse and doghouse

M. G. Tarquini said...

Mindy's throwin' down the plastic guantlet! Go, kids, GO!!!

Why...yes, Angie. And, Look! It's giving the girl scout salute!

angie said...

Woohooooo! Better watch out, Aussie boy!

M. G. Tarquini said...

Yeah, bring it on, Aussie Boy. We'll put another shrimp on the barby for ya.

Daniel Hatadi said...

Anne, what do you mean that doesn't make sense? I ripped the quote directly from the movie, The Fugitive. Who's drinking Red Bull now?

And Mindy, speaking of the Red Bull, sounds to me like not enough of your coffee is being sprayed onto your keyboard.

"Shrimp on the barby" as fighting words? Why, in my country, that's a lunch invitation.

Gimme that prosthetic. I'm hungry.

M. G. Tarquini said...

Shrimp is a metaphor, Baby.

angie said...

*counts money, places bet on The Great Ginsu Tongue*

Daniel Hatadi said...

Angie, you ain't nuthin but trouble, trying to fire us all up into a war of epic proportions, over events that are now lost in the long-forgotten history of this blog post...

Mindy, where did it all go wrong? How can we return to the Snowdens of yesteryear?

M. G. Tarquini said...

Lala Scrivano wants to know what the f*ck a Snowden is.

angie said...

Dude, I'm just an innocent bystander, busy avoiding NaNo madness. I don't know nuthin' about no trouble...

anne frasier said...

i wondered about a snowden too. i immediately pictured a precious moments' figurine.

*grabs another handful of popcorn*

angie said...

Hey man, my hair is blurple, my hubby is out of town, and I've had 3 glasses of wine. Nuff said. Plus, I know Mindy and no puny Aussie boy is gonna take her!

Daniel Hatadi said...

Three glasses of wine is all it takes? I've had blurple hair myself, and it don't make me into a schoolyard fight encourager.

'Snowden's of yesteryear' is a quote from Catch 22. I would have thought ALL of you would know that.

Now, back to eating my manly dinner of Chicken Masala. If being 5"11' and 94 kilos means I'm puny, I better make sure to have some meat on me before the slaughter.

Mindy, I make it a point to never fight with a Bunion: I'd only be hurting my own foot.

Daniel Hatadi said...

Whoops. Almost forgot:

*takes a handful of Anne's popcorn, jumps into the audience and taps a viewer on the shoulder - "So, who's winning so far?"*

angie said...

"I make it a point to never fight with a Bunion: I'd only be hurting my own foot."

At least you got that part right. And yeah, better beef up before ya take on da Mindy.

What do you mean "schoolyard fight encourager?" *bats eyes innocently* I'm sure I don't know what you mean...

M. G. Tarquini said...

*Scratches head.*
*steps over passed out Angie*
*reads comments*

5'11', 94 KILOS?

Multiply by 2.2, carry the one, divide by 7, take to the fifth power...

F*ck it. Too much math for me this early in the morning.

anne frasier said...

i love the path this thread took. i'm not kidding. angie, daniel, and mindy closed the bar. :)

Stephen Blackmoore said...

"I thought he meant that people can pull themselves up by their bootstraps if they want. Would that it were true with mental illness, but it's a disease like any other."

Hoo boy. I had no idea I'd tossed a grenade into the conversation. Go away for a day and look what happens.

Mindy, I absolutely agree with you on this. Some people can pull them up from their bootstraps, but that really depends on what they're dealing with and what they're capabilities are in handling it. Mental illness is a disease and I have a problem with the "just suck it up" mentality that too many people espouse.

Sometimes things happen that it's more appropriate to not be medicated for, that either time, or talking with friends or therapy can help a person cope with.

Then there are those things that can't be handled just by "dealing with it", or by going through therapy, etc. Or maybe therapy isn't helping, or maybe there's a chemical imbalance, or whatever.

What I was trying to get across about the bad vision comment was exactly what Anne said. If there's a problem then we have the option of doing something about it, whether it be through therapy, drugs or stuffing it down into our souls until they becomes dark, twisted things full of rage and hate, a seething ball of homicidal thoughts, murderous impulses, leaving a string of bodies stuffed into lockers, trunks and buried in the foundations of new buildings.

Um... sorry. I was having a moment.

Anyway, I have my own issues with these sorts of medications. Not because I think they're bad, because they're not. They're useful and appropriate for a lot of people.

I think they can be overprescribed, and I think some people (and who the hell am I to say who these people are?) can use them as a crutch to avoid having to deal with some things in their lives. I think some of them are a bad idea for some people and they're maybe not being monitored by their doctor enough.

I've known people on Paxil, Prozac Celexa, Lexapro, whatever, who took it and it was very much the WRONG drug for them. In some cases they shouldn't have been on anything. In some cases they just shouldn't have been on that particular medication.

There are some fascinating side effects with some SSRIs, like fluoxetine that can be downright dangerous. "Can you say Priapism boys and girls? I knew you could."

So no, I'm very much not against these medications. I'm against their misuse, misdiagnosis and overprescription. I'm against the doctors who prescribe them without effective monitoring or lack of information or simple lack of caring because it's a quick fix. I'm against the lack of emotional support and understanding out there for the people who take these medications and either get hassled for it or just don't have a network of family or friends to turn to that can help them deal with what's going on with them.

My biggest issue with these meds is entirely and completely personal. As they say, "I'm not just the president, I'm also a client." It pisses me off on a very deep and visceral level that I'm on these things, too.

There's a nagging sense of weakness, a sense that there's something deeply flawed with me that requires that I take pills to keep me from becoming a raging asshole, or self loathing wormshit. Ironic, when you think about it, but there you have it.

Better living through chemistry indeed.

angie said...

"Hoo boy. I had no idea I'd tossed a grenade into the conversation. Go away for a day and look what happens."

Sheesh...we were just havin' a little tho' down. All in good fun. No Aussies or Arizonans were injured in the staging of this blogger bar-fight. Swear!

Depression sucks, it's a serious issue and I think most people know that. Sorry that you're pissed about the anti-depression med issue, but would you be pissed about taking meds for high blood-pressure? or a heart condition? or diabetes? It's the same thing, really. I can't tell you how many times I've had this conversation with kids about meds for ADD, ADHD, depression, bipolar disorder, etc., etc. It's a physical, chemical imbalance. It says nothing about how strong or smart or good a person you are. Not a damn thing. And yes, I know it's hard when folks who don't have a clue what they are talking about pop off about what "should" be done to address these disorders.

There's a long ways to go in terms of education, research and people generally treating each other with respect regarding mental health issues. It really is getting better - just not as fast as I'd like it to.

anne frasier said...

damn blogger!!!!


yeah, stephen. drop and bomb and run.

but really, i got what you meant. i think when some people see a subject that is deeply personal they tend to miss some of the content. i know i do that.

i don't see your taking medication as a weakness at all. weakness is when someone recognizes a problem but does nothing about it. i admire you and hulles and everybody else out there who is dealing with their own dark place and doing what needs to be done. that takes courage.

Stephen Blackmoore said...

"...but would you be pissed about taking meds for high blood-pressure? or a heart condition? or diabetes?"

Well, actually, yes. You have to understand that I have profound problems with the fact that I have to breathe. Sleep is my lifelong enemy. I am deeply and personally offended by the simple fact that I'm not bulletproof. ;-)

M. G. Tarquini said...

I'm against their misuse, misdiagnosis and overprescription. I'm against the doctors who prescribe them without effective monitoring or lack of information or simple lack of caring because it's a quick fix. I'm against the lack of emotional support and understanding out there for the people who take these medications and either get hassled for it or just don't have a network of family or friends to turn to that can help them deal with what's going on with them.

You realize the indictment inherent in that remark, Stephen? Listen, I'm sorry I misread your comment. I understand it now.

Something you need to understand about the state of psychiatri medicine in general, not just in this country:

It's a crapshoot. A true crapshoot. The physicians know it. They have a chemical arsenal at their disposal, but it's still trial and error to find what will be effective. They try one drug. If it helps, great. If it doesn't help, they try something else.

Kind of like the early days of computer design.

Diagnosis is difficult, and often presumptive. It's not like cancer. There's no tumor to send to pathology. Blood tests aren't always conclusive. Markers are uncertain. Insurance covers mental health needs so poorly that many psychiatrists won't waste their time dealing with it. That means that appropriate care is often left to those who can afford the price of the office visit.

And for when insurance or public assistance will cover...have you ANY idea what a psychiatrist has to go through to get a patient admitted?

Call to mental hospital from Physician: "He's standing on the window ledge, twenty floors up."

Hospital: "Call us when he gets to thirty floors."

Physician: "She's got a gun. She's holding it to her temple."

Hospital: "But has she got it cocked?"

Effective monitoring? The patient has to return.
Misuse? For what purpose? What's the upside to the physician to misuse, misdiagnose or overprescribe such powerful drugs?

Why do people talk about doctors like they are some alien lifeform. They're not.

Daniel Hatadi said...

Bar's open? Cool. Time for some hair of the dog then.

Back to serious issues, I love reading about crossovers between Western medicine and Eastern philosophies. In particular, neuro-scientists mixing it up with Buddhist monks.

I think in the Western world, the view that the brain is a fixed thing--both chemically and biologically--is a common one. Turns out that even Western scientists have realised just how 'plastic' the brain is in the last few years, with proof that new brain cells can grow and be used, even when we are older.

The thing that really got me was when they did brain scans of a monk during different states of meditation. The parts of the brain that relate to happiness were shooting off past the expected levels.

It's an eye opener, that. The conclusion here is that our thoughts, over time, actually affect the chemistry of our brains. The way I see it, meditation is like exercising the brain's muscles.

I'm not saying this is the only way to help those with chemical imbalances, but it certainly is a healthy way, with no side effects and no withdrawal symptoms: the human body is a wonderful thing when it's used well.

And I know that the psychiatric world is starting to take on board techniques that don't involve drugs. With OCDs, for instance, cognitive behavioural therapy is just a fancy label for retraining the mind.

I'm sure it's different for everyone, on a case-by-case basis, what treatments are sensible to prescribe, but I thought that we were missing this particular side of the coin in this extended bar-brawl/ethical debate.

Anne, time for you to open a forum. This blog's gonna keel over. :)

angie said...

Actually, this debate/brawl/whatever ya wanna call it really got sparked over 2 points - the idea medications are being prescribed/used by people who may not need them and (what got Mindy on her high horse) the whole unethical doctors/kickbacks thing. Like I said before, this is a complicated issue, and I'd actually prefer watching Daniel and Mindy duke it out. *Sigh*

Mindy is absolutely right about the problems inherent in psychiatric medecine. There are no lab tests to prove conclusively whether or not someone has depression. There is progress being made in terms of brain scans, but that is still several years away from being used diagnostically.

People lie. People don't return for follow-up exams. A physician is not psychic and cannot make appropriate med adjustments if a)the patient does not tell the truth, or b)the patient does not return.

It is almost impossible to get someone hospitalized for med stabilization. Mindy's scenario isn't far from the truth. I went through that hellish process several times - "yes, she has a plan...yes, she has had her meds adjusted by her pschyiatrist and it's not helping...she's having command hallucinations to hurt herself and kill her dog..." A few times, I couldn't get a kid admitted and had to advise the parent to take their child to the E.R. if the problems escalated. The system is crazy. We all do the best we can.

Antidepressants CAN be misused (though I don't think Stephen was talking about by docs). Wellbutrin is often sold as a street drug. Other antidepressants/hypnotics such as ambien are also often misused/abused. Welcome to America. If it can be used recreationally, someone, somewhere has figured out how and will be looking to make a buck off it. However, that someone is not usually a physician.

I'm down with non-pharmacological interventions where appropriate and effective. Meditation techniques are frequently taught as ways to deal with stress. Eastern philosophy is a huge part of Linehan's system for treating Borderline Personality Disorder, as is cognitive behavioral therapy (which is in no way a "new" methodology). Art therapy, music therapy, body work, diet, exercise,yoga, etc., etc. and can all be extremely helpful for some people.

Daniel's points on meditation are interesting, but inconclusive. We don't understand the implications, much less know how to replicate the results for the average Joe/Joan. hopefully something will come of this research that can be generalized to deal with depression. That is not currently the case.

What it comes down to is this. There is no one answer, and no magic wand/silver bullet. So tossing around ideas is all fine and good, but no two people have exactly the same body chemistry (excepting identical twins, of course) much less identical psyches. It is insane to suggest that one approach is better than another (talk therapy vs. pharmacological intervention, individual therapy vs. group therapy, etc., etc.) and to make snap judgements or statements based on knee-jerk opinion rather than fact. Not to mention hurtful and harmful.

Dammit, I much prefer prosthetics and Snowdens to this. See why I got out of behavioral health?!!! Time for another double mocha...

anne frasier said...

daniel, i've been thinking about a forum, but not sure i could handle it. maybe at some point in the future.

angie, this is what so much of this comes down to:

"no two people have exactly the same body chemistry"

M. G. Tarquini said...

I took a closer look at the article that started this thread. With all due respect to everybody here...I'm discounting it. I think the author, Ms. Hawkins, had an idea where she wanted to go and provided just enough information to take everybody there. Plus, the article looks to be four years old. Hardly current.

Consider the following:

Despite the innuendo, there's no evidence that the
little girl, Kelly, received inappropriate treatment. She was having panic attacks. She took Paxil. The attacks went away. She went off Paxil, the attacks returned. Her doctor did not stop her abruptly, he weaned her. When that didn't work, he weaned her slowly. When THAT didn't work, he weaned her even more slowly, Kelly is a
kid with panic attacks. Ms. Hawkins has no way of knowing if the physical symptoms are related to the panic attacks themselves or withdrawal from the Paxil. It would be interesting to know how the class action suit played out.

As far as what the current protocol is for prescribing Paxil, or what side effects are currently recognized, I couldn't tell you.

The lady in the ER was on the medicine for eight years.

Eight years.

She was weaning herself off the med. I'm going to presume she hadn't told her psychiatrist about it. She failed to tell the ER docs about it, then has the nerve to be insulted that they weren't clairvoyant. They asked questions and considered diagnoses appropriate to the information they had.

Medicine is an art, as well as a science and, as Angie very eloquently points out, as exacting in it's artistic aspects as it can be inexacting in the scientific.

Regarding those kickbacks...I'm all for them. Should that lucky day ever come, I've a closet earmarked for squirreling away the cash. It's right next to the room I'm redecorating for the clandestine Vast Medical Conspiracy meetings.

Daniel Hatadi said...

No two people have the same body chemistry? What about these two?

I think we can close this here. Angie's put together an excellent summary.

Let the credits roll.

anne frasier said...

i agree that the article could definitely be slanted. but i know in my own case i was prescribed antidepressants as if they were kiddie vitamins. there was never a follow up, and when i went back to the dr. for other things there was never any discussion about the antidepressants. at that time the information doctors were getting from the drug companies made them feel very positive and confident about what they were prescribing. and many doctors tend to not believe patients and will instead look at the info they've been supplied by the drug companies.

i've known a lot of very nice doctors, but a high percentage of them are arrogant assholes who refuse to listen to their patients. you tend to see more of the AA variety at university hospitals. my kids had some of the best pediatricians in the country. how i miss those guys. it sucks when kids grow up and have to move on to new doctors.

anne frasier said...


oh my god!!


Daniel Hatadi said...

Anne: I KNOW! Freaky! I saw the MJ pic on the front page of The Australian and it took me a total of three seconds to find the second pic.

Whoops, didn't mean to start the credits prematurely.

Oh well, story of my life.

M. G. Tarquini said...

Angie found a good link re: the results of that law suit.

I know all about the AA docs, Anne. I trained with some of the best. University settings are ivory towers, unsullied by the real world. There's no denying, however, that the research that brings you new surgical techniques and better cancer protocols emanates from those ivory towers.

Ya takes the good with the bad, I suppose.

angie said...

y'know, I actually liked "V" for Vendetta and have tried really, really hard to overlook the abomination on Daniel's blog. Evil Aussie bastard...

Here's the linky to the Paxil story. I knew I'd heard something about a lawsuit and kids. It's shit like this that reaffirms the "pharmaceutical companies are money-grubbing whores who don't give a shit about actually helping people" stereotype!

Daniel Hatadi said...

Funny that you say evil Aussie bastard. I mean, one of those people is Hugo Weaving.

I LOVED V for Vendetta. In fact, I'm fired up to go buy the DVD now.

angie said...

OMG, Pricilla, Queen of the Desert AND The Matrix...I think Hugo Weaving is amazing.

And yeah, V for Vendetta is one of the best graphic novel to film adaptations I've ever seen. I freely admit to being a big sniffly baby at the end of the movie.

anne frasier said...

mindy, i agree about those AA. i've certainly chosen the asshole surgeon over the nice guy for that very reason! :D
angie, thanks so much for the link. that kind of goes back to what i was saying about doctors not having all the facts.

i don't know what has happened to my movie viewing. i used to watch movies....

note to self: watch some movies when this book is done.

Hulles said...

Thanks, Anne.