Sunday, June 10, 2012

Why anti-depressants might be depressing

Sometimes anti-depressants don't work.

Many anti-depressant drugs can potentially make a young person suicidal, as we discovered 26 years ago when my fourteen year old daughter was prescribed a psychiatric medication. She had no history of histrionics, hostility or suicidal thoughts until then. The horrific side effects lasted the two weeks she was on the medicine and resumed many years later when she started taking anti-anxiety pills as an adult.

She tried to quit the medication when she became pregnant but she experienced intense withdrawal and instead of kicking, her unborn child trembled and shook inside her when she skipped her dose.

She suffers guilt now, wondering if something is wrong with her son each time television commercials invite women who took the same drugs while pregnant to join a class action suit.

My husband's doctor recommended he take "happy pills," My husband thought the matter resolved when he said, "I feel happy enough, thank you." The doctor gave him several prescriptions at once and Jerry was unaware that one was for an anti-depressant. He began sleeping 22 hours out of 24.

"I thought I slept so much because I was dying," he said two months later when he learned he'd been on an anti-depressant and discontinued it

Potential effects on the unborn, teenagers and the elderly are recognized now.

According to an article in the Associated Press last year, the number of people taking psychiatric drugs has increased so much that in 2010, one of four women take such medication in a year, most of them 45 or older.

Physicians rarely advise patients if a psychiatric drug is habit forming, addictive, or permanent. They don't say "This medication I prescribe for you is a controlled substance so you  will have to visit me monthly for refills. It's also a street drug sold in dark alleys."

Patients are often unaware of the cost of their medication until they lose their insurance or Medicare/Medicaid coverage -- a bad time to discover a family member has an addiction or "chemical dependency" for drugs that can cost $600 a month or more. Stopping such medication suddenly can lead to the development or worsening of mental problems and seizures possibly leading to death. The warnings are printed on the prescription insert and magazine ads in teeny, tiny print, except for the warning of the financial impact if insurance changes.

People should not reject medication their doctor prescribes, especially if it works for them.

I just wish my family and I knew what we were getting into before we got stuck.

Although psychiatric medication works for lots of people, it didn't work for my daughter or my husband.

We should have searched the internet, read the prescription inserts and recognized when the bad symptoms started, less, not more medication was needed.

Maybe, as some doctors suspect, she has brain damage from concussions in the past, or from seizures she had at birth. Maybe the medicine has made her ill or an illness prevents the medication from helping her, other than keeping her in a twitching, restless zombie state most of the time.

When she started medication, she had just graduated from college, she had many friends and some were famous, she had one single core personality that many of us loved, she had a contract with a recording studio to write lyrics. She developed anxiety. She took a pill. She got depressed. She took another pill. She became outrageous and uninhibited. She was given another pill. She had seizures. She was given another pill. She lost touch with reality. She took another pill. Now she appears to be dying and nothing about her looks or sounds normal. She fluctuates between anger and dependency, defiance and compliance, restlessness and inertia.

I wish we'd read the fine print before we signed my daughter's life away. Maybe we could have reversed her condition before it got this painful for her and so complex for us.

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