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How safe are Anti-depressants? Do they work for you?

By sexyblonde in Culture
Tue Jul 24, 2001 at 11:46:40 PM EST
Tags: Culture (all tags)

About 7 months ago my sister died of lung cancer at 38, and all of my sisters decided to get on some type of anti-depressant pill to ease their pain through this very difficult time. I soon found out my nieces ages ranging from 11 to 18 were also put on the anti-depressant pills. Well, I've been observing them and listening to my sister's talk about their kids, and this is how the drugs have affected me and my family.

I will start out with niece "a" age 17. She's a junior in high school. Before my sister passed away my niece "a" was an honor student, played sports, and was very fit. Soon after my sister's death, my niece's grades started to slip. Her mother started to get worried and took my niece to see a counselor. My sister found out that her daughter was depressed and made an appointment for her to see a counselor. He diagnosed her with depression and prescribed some anti-depresant pills for her to take. Months later, my niece started having thoughts of suicide, her grades dropped more, she lost interest in sports, started gaining weight, started using marijuana and cigarettes. She became extremely withdrawn, and started having panic attacks. Her doctor then decided to put her on a lower dose of anti-depressants. It still hasn't helped because just last week she smoked 3 bowls of marijuana with a friend and started having an anxiety attack. She ran home to tell her mom and dad about what she had done. They immediately rushed to the emergency room. She has now stopped taking her anti-depressants. I just saw her yesterday and she seems much better. Her mother has also been taking anti-depressants to help with her panic attacks/depression. I have seen a change in her as well. Her moods are up and down like a roller coaster. She's more short tempered and easily agitated.

On to my 2nd niece "b" age 12. She has suffered from feelings of depression in the past. Her best friend also suffers from depression and has been admitted to a mental hospital on many occasions. Her mom noticed that her daughter was having some mental problems and decided to put her on anti-depressants. Weeks later my niece "b" started drawing pictures of her auntie who died and writing stories about death. Then she tried to cut her wrist. She has also been put on a different anti-depressant. I'm hoping this one works. I'm very scared for her knowing what she was capable of doing to herself.

My 3rd niece "c" is a Senior in high school. Was an honor student, lettering in swimming. Soon after taking her anti-depressant pills, she started feeling anxiety, grades started to slip, she had no desire to continue swimming, and she started smoking marijuana. Her mom has recently taken her off of the anti-depressants. I'll keep you updated on her status.

My four older sisters and younger sister have the same story when it comes to anti-depressants. The drug makes them feel numb like a zombie and when they come off of it they feel severe anxiety, depression, and just weird like they are in a dream.

I have a teenage daughter and pre-teen who also have to deal with my sister's death and all the b.s. the comes with being a teenager. We talk everything out. As far as I know, they are not depressed and their grades are better than ever.

My question: How safe are anti-depressants? Do they work for you?

What are you thoughts on this.


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How safe are Anti-depressants? Do they work for you? | 158 comments (140 topical, 18 editorial, 0 hidden)
Hang on there ... (1.10 / 19) (#2)
by StrontiumDog on Tue Jul 24, 2001 at 08:55:23 AM EST

... a vapid, inexperienced, dumb little soccer mom like yourself is not supposed to know what pine or telnet are, much less how to use them. That kind of knowledge doesn't fit with your image.

You're slipping there. Be more careful next time.

Stop it (2.00 / 1) (#57)
by suick on Tue Jul 24, 2001 at 10:14:38 PM EST

Why can't you just leave me alone? I never claimed to be vapid, and I've personally had enough of this abuse here. If you want to be a jerk, post your opinion over at http://www.stupidjerk.com, just leave me alone.

order in to with the will I around my effort sentences an i of more be fuck annoying.
[ Parent ]
Your entitled to your opinion (none / 0) (#133)
by sexyblonde on Sat Jul 28, 2001 at 05:48:46 AM EST

Who said I was dumb, inexperienced, and a soccer mom? I'm none of the above. I used an isp called Blarg back in 1995. My brother taught me how to telnet into Blarg.net and how to edit my webpages that I coded by myself using html. Yes, I checked my email with pine and I irc'd. I have a lot of knowledge when it comes to programming languages by the way. I love to code shit! Just because I write like I'm uneducated doesn't mean I'm stupid. What kind of image am I suppose to have??

I show my sensitive side and you refer to me as stupid.

[ Parent ]
Good Comeback! (none / 0) (#150)
by fenugeek on Tue Jul 31, 2001 at 02:51:26 AM EST

Couldn't have said it better myself... What a presumptuous thing for him to say to you. You go, grrl!

[ Parent ]
Thanks :-) (none / 0) (#155)
by sexyblonde on Tue Jul 31, 2001 at 09:30:09 PM EST

[ Parent ]
About a friend... (3.77 / 9) (#4)
by Jim on Tue Jul 24, 2001 at 08:58:31 AM EST

One of my friends suffers from borderline personal disorder. She goes through both manic and depressive stages frequently, and taking several drugs (I forget which ones) have helped her to stabilize. Of course, this process has also been assisted by finding new supportive people in her life, which helps to take some of the edge off.

The impression I got from your article was that the doctor just diagnosed them, perscribed drugs, and wiped his/her hands clean. What your neices really need is to talk about what happened and get it out of their system - there's no magical pill to take away a troubled mind.

Pills aren't the answer... People are! (4.00 / 15) (#5)
by Builder on Tue Jul 24, 2001 at 09:06:34 AM EST

Too many people rely on a combination of chemicals in a small, easy to swallow package to get them through the hard times. This is not the answer and in most cases that I've witnessed the people who choose this option have been worse off for their choice.

I know about hard times. The last time I saw my Mother was on a slab in a mortuary at the identification of her body. She died of a gunshot wound in the head, and the people at the mortuary made NO effort to clean her up at all before the ID session As the oldest son, I was chosen to perform the task of ID'ing her and signing the paperwork to claim the body. That is where I am coming from.

I could have taken pills. My medical aid would have payed for them, and it was the first suggestion of many of my friends (or so I thought) and some family members.

Fortunately I have some true friends and some truly loving family members. They stood by me, talked to me, took time out of their own lives to be with me as companions. We remebered the good times. We glossed over the bad times.

The downside is that I remeber, clearly, every single minute from that period. I remember the song that was playing on the radio when I was told. I remember the spot in the passage of the office I was working in where I sat down and burst in to tears. I remember the face of every single person at the funeral. I did not take pills to desensitise me to these things, and they will be forever in my mind.

The upside is that I remember, clearly, every single minute from that time. I remember my girlfriend (now my wife) rushing from her place of work to meet me. I remember my boss talking to me. I remember my friends being there. I remember seeing people I thought couldn't give a damn, and the pain they were in for me.

My sister chose the other route. She sees a shrink regularly. She has been booked off of work for stress several times and is on a couple of different medications. She has drifted further and further away from her friends. This has been influenced by mood swings and general apathy on her part to the plight of others. She has become self centered and in some cases mean.

I'm glad I chose my route. My friends are closer now. My perceptions are clearer. And I've dealt with the incident. I won't be in a position 10 years from now when I come off of the pills and finally have to face what happened. It's done. It's over.

Just my 2c. YMMV :)

Be nice to your daemons
You couldn't be any more right (3.66 / 3) (#17)
by MicroBerto on Tue Jul 24, 2001 at 10:36:59 AM EST

It's quite like our society to rely on a chemical change to counteract social change, and I think that it couldn't be any more wrong. People have to be strong and turn tragedies into growing experiences.

Yeah, it sucks, but that's what crying is for. That's what weightlifting, running, and punching bags are for. Blow some steam, get a few endorphins, and rely on your body, friends, and relatives to take care of the rest.

Life sucks when there's a tragedy - my story isn't as awful as yours (for which i'm sorry), but the point is that when you tough it out, you climb uphill. When you use drugs, you just leave yourself in the gutter. Except for you become addicted to drugs as well. Why? Because you couldn't soberly handle a problem? I won't have any part of it.

- GAIM: MicroBerto
Bertoline - My comic strip
[ Parent ]

I agree (3.00 / 1) (#39)
by marimba on Tue Jul 24, 2001 at 06:39:46 PM EST

I have a real problem with prescribing anti-depressants for people who are grieving. You're supposed to be depressed when people die. It's a natural reaction. People may need counseling to help them through the grief, and they do need supportive people around them. Now, in extreme cases (such as the cutting mentioned) some medication may be appropriate. I'm still doubtful, though. I've never been on any anti-depressant (other than self-prescribed St. John's Wort), but of the people I know who have been, or whose kids have been, or both, the results have been largely negative. I know of two people who had positive results with Prozac, and five who have had negative effects, e.g., zombied out (which is not depressed, but it made them entirely non-functional in society) or aggressive.

[ Parent ]
Therapy and drugs as training wheels (3.00 / 1) (#73)
by ToastyKen on Wed Jul 25, 2001 at 04:10:50 AM EST

First, I'd like to say that I wholeheartedly agree that having supportive friends and family is absolutely crucial. However, that's easier said than done. What I would like to argue against is your implication that your sister's failure to get better means that therapy and pills are "bad" and friends are "good". They are not opposing forces.. It's important to have friends AND to seek professional help.

The thing is, therapy and drugs are not cure-alls; they're there as tools, as training wheels. It's important not to use them as a crutch and grow to rely on them instead of seeing them as a stepping-stone to self-reliance. Please see also joegee's excellent post on refuting common myths about anti-depressants.

So again, I think the keep to improvement is to seek professional therapy for guidance, to possibly use drugs if your downswings are hard enough to make them helpful to maintain rationality, but, above all, to try to figure out your problem and motivate change yourself, using this help.. and to also seek support from friends and family where possible.

There is no quick fix, and if that's what you seek from therapy or drugs, you'll fail. But if you see therapy or drugs as temporary support mechanisms to help you help yourself, then you'll be better off than you would be without them.

[ Parent ]

Worked for me... (3.00 / 7) (#6)
by daystar on Tue Jul 24, 2001 at 09:07:25 AM EST

It's amazing to look back and see how close I was to dying. I think most anti-depressants are imperfect, but sometimes they beat the hell out of the alternative.

I took Celexa (which was great, except that I couldn't SLEEP on it, so after about two weeks I was a mess again) and then Effexor XR, which worked fine. I took it for about 6 months, about two years ago. I had the usual mild sexual supression, but I was still able to perform. I've never regretted any of it.

I do agree, though, that doctors don't do a lot of analysis before they throw a drug at you. That was a little disturbing....

There is no God, and I am his prophet.

Take away those pills and give her back the bowl! (2.58 / 12) (#7)
by noop on Tue Jul 24, 2001 at 09:11:15 AM EST

Jeesh. Who the hell knows what effects SSRI's have long term? I certainly don't trust them. But the pot is perfectly safe. Let the kid work it out with her friends and get stoned; she'll come around in time. However, if she starts abusing alcohol, hard/prescription drugs, or seriously mentions suicide get the kid real psychiatric help.

Just say no (3.00 / 3) (#37)
by MugginsM on Tue Jul 24, 2001 at 06:32:54 PM EST

> Let the kid work it out with her friends and get stoned; she'll come around in time.

Yeeees, that's what friends told my sister.

Of course one evening of marijuana triggered
her (unidentified at the time) schitzophrenia
and landed her in the funny farm for several months.

Mind-altering drugs have such varied effects on
different people that positive anectodal evidence
is pretty useless and often dangerously misleading.

- Muggins

[ Parent ]
Yeah right. (4.25 / 4) (#45)
by Hillman on Tue Jul 24, 2001 at 08:30:37 PM EST

The toxic psychosis syndrome you're talking about is VERY VERY rare with powerfull hallucinogens like LSD, and the occurence is less than 0.0002% in LSD users and most of the time it's mild and doesn't need serious medical attention. And with THC(psychoactive component in pot) it's even less frequent.

What psychoactives substances can do is opening doors in your brain by seeing things differently(pattern perception). Pot is physiologically harmless, heck it's safer than coffee. Not a single death due to cannabis overdose as been recorded in history but the LD50 of caffeine is about 45 100mg pills(wake-ups).

Schizophrenia doesn't, if my memory serves good, last months, it last a lifetime or a good part of it. Also, if amind-altering drug trigger a mental illness, she was bound to having it one day or an another, the drug just Triggered it.

So either your sister was VERY VERY VERY unlucky or she was pulling your leg or she was misdiagnosed(sp?).

Remeber kids don't say: "Just say no", say "Just say know". I know it's corny, but if Nancy Regan can pull this one, why couldn't i?

[ Parent ]

If I remember Psych class... (none / 0) (#119)
by dasunt on Thu Jul 26, 2001 at 06:39:14 PM EST

Schizophrenia is considered the "common cold" of mental illness, and frequently appears between the ages of 15-25. So, correlation is not causation.

Speaking of which, sometimes depressed people will commit suicide. If I recall correctly, depressed people are most likely to commit suicide when they are beginning to get better, since when they are in the lowest depths of depression, they usually don't find the energy to kill themselves. Ironically, some anti-depressives can make a person feel just good enough to have the energy to commit suicide.

On the other hand, I'm not convinced that medication should be the only treatment for depression caused by an event. Medication may be used to allow the person to function through his or her life, but it denies the pain, and in denying the pain it prevents healing. OTOH, if depression has a genetic root (as it appears it does for some people), then a chemical treatment for the rest of a person's life might be the only way for that person to maintain a normal life, even if we don't know the risks of taking anti-depressives for the long-term.

Oh, and my theory is, legalize pot. Its mostly harmless, hell, alcohol and tobacco are stronger then pot, and more harmful, and they are legalized. Coffee is more addictive, and you can buy it over the counter. Mankind has seeked out mind-altering drugs throughout his history, maybe we all need to get stoned once in awhile.

Disclaimer: I've never done any illegal drugs, been drunk, or smoked. The worst I do is the occasional drink.

[ Parent ]

Anti-depressant is not anti-sadness (none / 0) (#126)
by afeldspar on Fri Jul 27, 2001 at 12:38:05 PM EST

If I remember Psych class... Schizophrenia is considered the "common cold" of mental illness

Then you don't remember Psych class.

Medication may be used to allow the person to function through his or her life, but it denies the pain, and in denying the pain it prevents healing.

Good grief what bunkum. We are talking about anti-depressants, not opiates or tranquilizers or narcotics. If you had ever been on an anti-depressant, you might realize that it does not take away the pain. What it does is prevents healthy sadness (that which has a legitimate cause) from becoming depression (which feeds back upon itself and becomes its own cause.)

Oh, and my theory is, legalize pot. Its mostly harmless, hell, alcohol and tobacco are stronger then pot, and more harmful, and they are legalized.

As based on the educated opinion of the guy who sold you your baggie.

-- For those concerned about the "virality" of the GPL, a suggestion: Write Your Own Damn Code.
[ Parent ]
Well (none / 0) (#131)
by Hillman on Fri Jul 27, 2001 at 11:57:12 PM EST

As based on the educated opinion of the guy who sold you your baggie.

These kind of comments don't bring anything to the discussion.

It's true alcohol and tobacco are more harmfull than pot. Pot is not physically addictive like alcohol and tobacco, the LD50 of alcohol and nicotine is much lower than the LD50 of pot. Nobody even died of OD on weed but several people die each week of alcohol OD. Unless you smoke 25 or more joints(if it's even possible) a day, pot is harmless for the lungs. Most pot users will smoke 1-4 time a week and this don't have a meaningfull incidence on your lungs.

If you do some research you'll find that pot has been outlawed because of racial and commercial reasons not health reasons.

And did you ever saw somebody stonned beating his wife? What about a drunk? And i think that the previous poster talked about emotional pain and not physical pain like you pointed out. And narcotics(subs. that bring sleep. Cocaine isn't an narcotic even if the DEA say so) are a drug category that opiates belongs to.

[ Parent ]

pills are worse than windows (2.57 / 7) (#8)
by gromgull on Tue Jul 24, 2001 at 09:38:26 AM EST

1. Good to see you cleaned up the story and reposted it. Better this time.

2. General comment: Wby care about the grammatical errors? Nobody is perfect, the meaning came through anyway.

3. Pills are not the solution when you are in a bad mood.
I am sure they have their uses, especially as someone pointed out in a comment to the previous story, when you are so low down you cannot not even get out of bed. BUT in most cases they are used as quick uppers, when the sun isn't shining, and when it is still 10 minutes till Oprah comes on. IT IS ALL WRONG!
LIFE SUCKS, get a fucking helmet. One will never learn if one can escape every single small problem by popping a pill.

Small tangent: Anyone read "Do androids dream of electrid sheep?" ?, remember the wife who uses the mood organ to do two hours of anxiety and depressions every week?
A agree with her.

- Gromgull
If I had my way I'd have all of you shot

Lacks conclusion (2.57 / 7) (#10)
by Refrag on Tue Jul 24, 2001 at 09:45:02 AM EST

I think this article should have been posted after a sufficient observing period had passed after each girl was taken off of anti-depressent drugs. That would have given a better indication of the effects in several example subjects. But, the sample is still tainted by the fact that all of the subjects are related.

On a personal note, I think anti-depressent drugs are bogus, revenue-generating products. Beer works just as well, which is to say that is doesn't. I would never take them myself, nor would I allow anyone in my family to take them. I do not believe that psychoactive drugs could ever be researched enough to provide enough assurance of their effects due to the innate complexity of the brain.


Kuro5hin: ...and culture, from the trenches

They're just like any other drug (4.55 / 9) (#11)
by natael on Tue Jul 24, 2001 at 09:46:48 AM EST

Anti-Depressants act like most other drugs doctors prescribe. They effect different people in different ways. Generally they have possitive effects in people, but sometimes they either don't work, or have effects like those experienced by your nieces.

In those situations, the patients should be monitored by a doctor or a friend/parent, and at the first sign of a negative downturn, they should be switched to a new drug, or have their dosage modified. Many times the drug will simply have no effect on the person, and their depression will continue to effect them. People assume the drug is working, so the logical conclusion is that the problems are being caused by the drugs. More likely, it is simply that they are not being treated properly.

Mixtures of drugs can also be more effective. I generally take prozac for anti-depression and OCD, along with a complimenting drug that does the same thing in a different way. Every two weeks I'd have to meet with the doctor, and if something had changed suddenly, it was his job to fix it. Patients should never be allowed to go months like you describe without someone stepping in and evaluating problem on a regular bases.

Alternate or multiple drugs can be very effective. Quick research on the net will show that most anti-depressants are grouped together by the way they work. If one is ineffective, its likely another will work out for you. I'm currently taking topamax, which isn't even designed or approved for treating depression. In my case it works though, so I continue to take it.

There are other problems with taking such medications which must be taken into consideration. Side effects like anxiety and weight gain (and with it lose of self esteem) are common, and listed on the side of the package. Again, they don't effect everyone, but if you notice the side effects are effecting you, then you need to switch to another drug or increase your dosage more slowly.

Overdosing is also very dangerous. Something like prozac you can take over 1000Mg without problem, but many of the other drugs can kill you with far less. If at all possible, the patient should not have direct access to the medication. Also, you need to make sure they take it as prescribed. If the person misses a dose, or does not take it regularly, it will cause mood swings and other abnormal behaviour. In many drugs it can even be life threatening to be taking the medication regularly and then suddenly stop. When taking a medication, take it as prescribed, and if you want to stop taking it, decrease your dosage over time. Don't go from 60Mg to 0Mg in a day. Go 60-40-20-0Mg during a week.

Related Drugs (3.00 / 2) (#23)
by SEWilco on Tue Jul 24, 2001 at 12:38:08 PM EST

Yes, drugs affect people in different ways. Notice that the article is all about one family, so they were sharing many of the same genes. If the unnamed drugs were all the same drug, they might have similar effects on these family members. Negative on one, negative on all.

[ Parent ]
Misc. advice (3.25 / 4) (#13)
by Skwirl on Tue Jul 24, 2001 at 10:02:35 AM EST

I was doing some research and ran across this article, which offers some advice on helping cutters. My understanding of the article is that self-inflicted violence is a way of dealing with strong emotions that someone doesn't know any other way to cope with. Friends and family need to provide an alternative outlet for these emotions, by being supportive, without being squeemish about the subject of cutting.

As far as antidepressants are concerned, it's pretty important to be consistent with your doses and follow the prescription, since sudden drops in some meds will result in even worse depression. Mixing meds and marijuana can't help the situation, either.

"Nothing in the world is more distasteful to a man than to take the path that leads to himself." -- Herman Hesse
Borderline Personality Disorder (4.00 / 1) (#53)
by anthrem on Tue Jul 24, 2001 at 09:40:15 PM EST

Criteria for Borderline Personality Disorder

A pervasive pattern of instability of interpersonal relationships, self-image, and affects, and marked impulsivity beginning by early adulthood and present in a variety of contexts, as indicated by five (or more) of the following:

  1. frantic efforts to avoid real or imagined abandonment. Note: Do not include suicidal or self-mutilating behavior covered in Criterion 5.
  2. a pattern of unstable and intense interpersonal relationships characterized by alternating between extremes of idealization and devaluation
  3. identity disturbance: markedly and persistently unstable self-image or sense of self
  4. impulsivity in at least two areas that are potentially self-damaging (e.g., spending, sex, substance abuse, reckless driving, binge eating). Note: Do not include suicidal or self-mutilating behavior covered in Criterion 5.
  5. recurrent suicidal behavior, gestures, or threats, or self-mutilating behavior
  6. affective instability due to a marked reactivity of mood (e.g., intense episodic dysphoria, irritability, or anxiety usually lasting a few hours and only rarely more than a few days)
  7. chronic feelings of emptiness
  8. inappropriate, intense anger or difficulty controlling anger (e.g., frequent displays of temper, constant anger, recurrent physical fights)
  9. transient, stress-related paranoid ideation or severe dissociative symptoms

There has been a lot of success treating Borderline Personality Disorder with DBT, Dialectical Behavioral Therapy.

- Slashdot is for the simpleminded -
[ Parent ]
Adolescents on anti-depressants? (4.10 / 10) (#16)
by starbreeze on Tue Jul 24, 2001 at 10:30:11 AM EST

The general consensus here seems to be "pills are bad mmmmkay." Have you ever considered that just cuz they didn't work for you or someone you knew, they might work for others? It sounds like sexyblonde's nieces didn't really need them but went to a doctor who tends to throw pills at the situation. It sounds like they need to deal with their grief, and to my knowledge, pills aren't really going to help that in the long run. Clinical depression is usually depression that is constant for no good reason.

I tried numerous things before resorting to medicine. I don't like relying on a pill. But I've ever tried several types, Paxil has been the only one to even make a dent in my issues.

"Life's hard, get a helmet." You know people with chemical imbalances sometimes get depressed for no reason. I know theres no logical reason for my depression or anxiety sometimes, and yet I can't talk myself out of it. My doctors have concurred it's a lack of seratonin.

I went off the pills for several months. Withdrawal is HELL. The shocks or whatever they call them are the worst. It's like licking a 9-volt battery and having that feeling shooting out of you from your mouth down and through your limbs. It's hard to explain unless you've experienced it. But i was determined not to be dependant on pills. I thought I'd broken the behavior of getting into tantrums everytime my anxiety got bad. I was fine for a few months and the cycle started and I couldn't overcome it. And so I went back on the Paxil.

I'm not sure I agree with adolescents being put on anti-depressants. I know it's a rough time but IIRC from what I've read, most chemical imbalances and depression don't show up until later. Anti-depressants may be masking the real problems in adolescents and they may not learn to deal with things properly. But this is all just my opinions.

"There's something strangely musical about noise." ~Trent Reznor

re: Adolescents on antidepressants (3.66 / 3) (#25)
by danceswithcrows on Tue Jul 24, 2001 at 02:17:40 PM EST

Have you ever considered that just cuz they didn't work for you or someone you knew, they might work for others? It sounds like sexyblonde's nieces didn't really need them but went to a doctor who tends to throw pills at the situation. It sounds like they need to deal with their grief, and to my knowledge, pills aren't really going to help that in the long run. Clinical depression is usually depression that is constant for no good reason.

Yep. Pills are not always the best solution, or even any solution at all. I was on Zoloft (150mg/day, a medium to high dose) for ~9 months back in 1997-98, and as far as I could determine, it didn't do a thing for me. No weird side effects, but no improvement in my mental state either. What helped me was finding something I liked to do (C. I'm going to regret that one of these days, but it was the right thing to do at the time) that was at least partially socially acceptable and possibly constructive, then devoting a lot of time to it.

Later on, one of my friends said, "You seemed a lot happier when you were on those pills." That doesn't make much sense to me, since I didn't feel any different, but what the heck. Some drugs (Ritalin in particular) may be prescribed due to societal pressure, but I assume this is not the case with sexyblonde's daughters.

I know theres no logical reason for my depression or anxiety sometimes, and yet I can't talk myself out of it. My doctors have concurred it's a lack of seratonin.

In other words, they don't know what's going on either. "The mind is its own place, and of itself, can make a heav'n of hell, a hell of heav'n." (Satan obviously needed some Prozac and an anger-management course.) Some people get bummed out a lot. Some people are happy all the time. At some point, will citizens be forced to take their daily soma so they can be happy workers and consumers? That would be interesting. . . .

Matt G (aka Dances With Crows) There is no Darkness in Eternity/But only Light too dim for us to see
[ Parent ]

Depression (3.50 / 2) (#31)
by starbreeze on Tue Jul 24, 2001 at 03:25:29 PM EST

Part of the definition of clinical depression is finding no joy in doing things you used to enjoy. So how is finding something you like to do going to help? When i get depressed, *nothing* makes me happy. I'm beginning to wonder how people are genuinely depressed and how many people are just kinda typically blah.

"There's something strangely musical about noise." ~Trent Reznor
[ Parent ]

Check out the visuals on 2C-T-7 (2.20 / 5) (#18)
by ubu on Tue Jul 24, 2001 at 10:38:30 AM EST

Anti-depressants suck ass. The doctors who prescribe them love to split the invisible hair between "addictive" and "severe withdrawal symptoms". Yes, I experienced the nausea and "electric head", and I swore to God I would never touch that shit again.

The name always struck me as a sort of double-negative, anyway. I suggest AMT, 2C-T-7, 5-MEO-DiPT, MDMA, Mescaline, GHB, and other serious weapons in the war against the demons in your head.

You can win. You just need more firepower. Avoid benzodiazepenes.


Interesting "facts" leaflet (3.50 / 4) (#19)
by gromgull on Tue Jul 24, 2001 at 10:45:19 AM EST

I found this: Prozac And Other New AntiDepressants - Pros & Cons.

Quite a good site in genereal btw.

If I had my way I'd have all of you shot

My experience... (4.22 / 9) (#20)
by egerlach on Tue Jul 24, 2001 at 11:33:41 AM EST

I was on anti-deps for a couple of months in grade 12. I was under a lot of stress, in all of my school work, my extra-curricular life, and my social life. My grandmother had just died, and one of my old friends committed suicide. I was a wreck, and I thought about committing suicide myself several times.

My parents eventually booked an appt. with a psychiatrist, who determined (rightly so) that I was quite depressed. The first thing she did was give me a swift mental kick in the ass as a wake up call. Then she put me on 50mg of Zoloft (small dose) and sent me to see a psychologist.

The Zoloft works like a magic pill, it makes all the bad feelings of anxiety and depression go away. But the problem is that it doesn't make the underlying problems go away. I needed other help for that. Fortunately I was able to find help in my parents, one close friend, and the psychologist. If not for that support net, after coming off the pills I would have been a wreck just as bad as before.

As far as the safety of the anti-deps, well, I heard about some pretty farfetched side-effects from Zoloft, like spontaneous orgasms... I never had any of those... From what I know of them (I did my research while I was on them), they're pretty safe, especially in small doses.

In conclusion, yes, the anti-deps worked for me. They can help take the edge off a depression streak. But they don't fix the problems, they just treat the symptoms. You have to find some way to fix the disease as well. As you have rightly discovered, talking about it is often the best way.


P.S. I'm interested in knowing what anti-deps your nieces are taking... it doesn't seem as if they're helping much.

If you really want to know, ask your doctor. (3.00 / 4) (#21)
by Vladinator on Tue Jul 24, 2001 at 12:03:06 PM EST

Anecdotal evidence may sound good or not - but it isn't a reliable source of information on the subject. Your relatives may have other problems, and drugs are never meant to be a theraputic end in and of themselves - they should ALWAYS be an adjunct to therapy. When I lost custody of my children, anti-depressants were a huge help - but not a cure. Years of therapy was the only help for that. Now, I don't have to take them anylonger. Others are not so lucky. Bottom line: No one here (myself included) should be giving you advise on this - only your doctor can do that.
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Doctors (none / 0) (#33)
by treat on Tue Jul 24, 2001 at 05:19:20 PM EST

No one here (myself included) should be giving you advise on this - only your doctor can do that.

There may be people here who know more about the subject than your doctor is likely to, or at least care more to actually help. If you're lucky enough to have a good doctor, their advice would certainly be valuable. If they're just treating depression by trying out antidepressants essentially at random (while, of course, pretending that they know exactly what they're doing as sure as if they were prescribing antibiotics to cure strep throat), it may make sense to do your own research.

[ Parent ]

You coudn't be more in error. (1.00 / 1) (#69)
by Vladinator on Wed Jul 25, 2001 at 02:24:07 AM EST

Doing your own research is fine - however, did you go to school for 8 years, plus 5 more (longer in some fields) to specialize to learn how to interprit, discuss, explain, and conduct such reasearch? No? Then I'm sorry, but you're just pissing in the wind. Period. We tried this in the 1990's. We gave ph.d's the right, on a limmited basis to give out meds, and it was an UTTER disaster. People often think they know more about something than the medical professionals do. They are wrong. NOTE: I am a former medical professional. My opinion certainly is a reflection of the most common opinion in the field at the moment. If you are one of those paranoid wackos who thinks that medical professional's don't know what they are talking about, go eat some more St. John's Wart, and come back and talk to me in a few years when it's eaten your liver and kidneys, and your depression hasn't gone away still.
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[ Parent ]
My Trip to the Hospital (5.00 / 1) (#120)
by dasunt on Thu Jul 26, 2001 at 07:08:08 PM EST

Vladinator writes: People often think they know more about something than the medical professionals do.

Let me share my experience. One day, I was struck on the head with the metal edge of a garage door. I was instantly teleported to the ground, on my back, with a good second of my life missing. I got up, thought to myself that I would have a hell of a headache in the morning, and went back to what I was doing. (It was a nice warm (30F) late winter day in Minnesota and I was working outside).

About a minute later, I went to rub my scalp, and my hand came back all bloody. Oopsie. I went inside to treat myself. A washcloth held to my head was soaked in blood in 5 to 10 seconds. I decided it was time to seek medical attention.

On the phone, the hospital decided it wasn't that serious, and I should go the their attached clinic. I sat in the waiting room for awhile, trying to stop the bleeding, until they decided I was disturbing the other patrons, and put me in one of the examining rooms. So, there I was for awhile when a nurse came in, looked at me, and told me I needed stitches. I waited some more, spending the time by soaking up my blood with paper towels. Obviously my case wasn't considered critical. I waited for a few hours in the clinic until someone had time to stitch me up. Around this time, the blood clotted and the bleeding seemed to have slowed down. My hair was well matted with dried blood. The nurse finally showed up to prep me for stitches. That's when she found the more major wound on my head, and burst the bubble of blood under my scalp. I was later told by her that I bled so much that I soaked through her sneakers and onto her socks.

Since it turned out that I had a 6" gash on my head and it was too late for the clinic to do anything, I was transfered to the emergency room. Of course, they didn't do it for me, I had to get my own ride to the other end of the building. I tried not to bleed all over my ride's car, even though my white shirt had magically turned to red by now.

In the emergency room, I learned that I almost succeeded in scalping myself. I had the dried blood washed out of my hair (which hurts, but I was tired and close to pucking so I didn't care), then my head shaved, then novicaine (IIRC) injected at the site (which took the pain away), and finally 22 staples into my scalp. A person who knew me had to go to the emergency wound for a few stitches that night, and didn't recognize me since I was covered in blood.

All in all, I spent about 3 - 4 hours at the clinic, and another 2 in the emergency room. I had a great deal of blood loss, and a concussion, I was complaining about it being cold, about the nausea, and how I was tired, and my skin was clammy, so I was obviously healthy enough to be sent home. I don't remember any tests of any kind, but they did tell me to have someone wake me every two hours and make sure I was coherent. They suggested tylenol for the pain.

I think next time I'm grapping a bottle of H202 and a stapler.

[ Parent ]

Sigh (1.00 / 1) (#122)
by Vladinator on Fri Jul 27, 2001 at 12:26:38 AM EST

Which has absolutely nothing to do with what we were discussing. I am aware that there is bad medical care out there. More than you know. It is the exception, not the rule. Just like airplane crashes. Which is usually reasuring - unless it's your plane going down... Psychological medicine is even more complex than simple trauma. Not to be dabbled in by dime store psychology buffs. As an aside, I'd have sued their asses off for that - what did you do?
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[ Parent ]
True, but... (none / 0) (#135)
by dasunt on Sat Jul 28, 2001 at 12:00:08 PM EST

Vladinator writes: Which has absolutely nothing to do with what we were discussing. I am aware that there is bad medical care out there.

Except, where I live, with my circumstances, the only medical care available to me is horrible. From minor annoyances, such as their record keeping being a joke, to larger problems, misdiagosing potential life-threatening conditions, etc, the local clinic/hospital is terrible. A family member had her appendicitis dismissed as a stomach ailment and later had to be rushed to the emergency room with a burst appendix. (Pain in the lower quadrant of the torso? Nah, couldn't be a life threatening problem, lets recommend tylenol and send her on her way.) I've been told that a broken bone couldn't be broken because there was no swelling. I've had a doctor walk in, look at my chart, say something along the lines of "I think that last shot you had was too much", walk out, and return later and say "nope, the chart was wrong, you've been getting exactly what you needed." (Which I really wish they wouldn't work out these problems in front of me).

I only expect doctors to be able to diagnose and treat the basics, and to have the wisdom to send me to a specialist if they need advanced knowledge in a specific field. I only wish for doctors to actually take my complaints as something to be listened too. And I wish, when I hurt myself, they give me painkillers appropriate for the injury, instead of recommending tylenol. (Broke your jaw in two places - okay, here's some tylenol. What do you mean, you're in pain?). I would like emergency room visits to not have an insane delay, at the very least, I think their priority should be to at least check if I have anything life-threatening before putting me on the back burner.

Of course, I'm probably being unreasonable.

[ Parent ]

No, not at all. (1.50 / 2) (#136)
by Vladinator on Sat Jul 28, 2001 at 12:42:31 PM EST

This STILL doesn't have anything to do with what was originally discussed, but your problems (while seperate and unrelated) are very real and valid. Were I you, I would move. Seriously. Or, I'd get active within the pollitical community and try to get something done about the shoddy medicine you describe.
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[ Parent ]
Drugs, drugs, drugs (3.66 / 3) (#26)
by treat on Tue Jul 24, 2001 at 02:17:43 PM EST

Before taking prescription antidepressants for mild to moderate depression, I feel strongly that there's three other pharmaceutical solutions everyone should try. They are less risky, and may work for you.

Doctors will tell you that depression is caused by a lack of serotonin in your brain. This is a misstatement of the truth. What they mean is, serotonin is the neurotransmitter associated with depression/happiness, and that by manipulating its levels, we can sometimes affect how happy people feel. There is no test for low serotonin levels in your brain. For all modern medicine's knowledge about this, we understand quantum physics a lot better than the human brain.

5-HTP is the last step before the creation of serotonin in the body. If you take it before MDMA (which has its primary effects by releasing massive amounts of serotonin), it makes the experience more powerful. If you take it after, it makes any depression (from depleted serotonin) in the days after much less severe, if not preventing it altogether. Taken alone, some people find that 5-HTP makes them happier. Perhaps these people just don't have enough serotonin floating around - or having more floating around is causing the brain to put more to use. It has few side effects, but little is known about long-term use.

St John's Wort works similarly to the prescription antidepressants, but it is more mild. It's not more mild because it is natural, but this is a convenient coincidence since many people equate natural with safe. It has fewer side effects than the SSRIs, but there is less information about long-term use.

Many people combine them to good results. Combining them creates the risk of serotonin syndrome, which is extremely unpleasant.

My advice isn't meant for anyone to follow without doing their own research. Web searches work great, but be careful of information that was just written with the intent of selling "herbal medicine".

The third suggestion I promised - illegal drugs. The prescription antidepressants are powerful mind-altering drugs. If the responsible use of weed - a more mild mind-altering drug - makes you feel better, you may find this preferable. Or even if it makes you feel worse, it may help you in the long run. Or you may end up smoking weed all day every day in a futile attempt to cure your depression, while making yourself more depressed, taking up a serious heroin addiction, and then dying in an overdose with your survivors wondering whether it was purposeful or accidental. So be careful, duh.

And if the occasional, or one-time, use of a very powerful mind-alerting drug, say LSD or MDMA, helps you, you may find it preferable to the daily use of some other drug. Make sure you know what you're in for first.

Seratonin (none / 0) (#30)
by starbreeze on Tue Jul 24, 2001 at 03:16:49 PM EST

Combining St John's Wort and SSRI's can be very dangerous.

What is seratonin syndrome?

"There's something strangely musical about noise." ~Trent Reznor
[ Parent ]

serotonin syndrome (4.50 / 2) (#36)
by treat on Tue Jul 24, 2001 at 06:09:32 PM EST

Combining St John's Wort and SSRI's can be very dangerous.

What is seratonin syndrome?

It's why combining St John's Wort and SSRIs is very dangerous. It is caused by an excess of serotonin, usually because of combining drugs that increase serotonin levels using different mechanisms. It ranges in severity from unpleasantness to death. A google search for "serotonin syndrome" finds many hits.

In general, any drug combination should be considered dangerous until proven otherwise - regardless of the safety of each drug separately. Drugs that cause serotonin syndrome are the classic examples of why this is something to be careful of.

Sometimes they can be combined safely - SSRIs are prescribed along with other serotonergic antidepressants. Sometimes it's almost guaranteed serotonin syndrome, like SSRIs with MAOIs. Sometimes it may or may not happen, depending on the individual or dose, like St John's Wort with 5HTP.

[ Parent ]

Ignore this advice (2.00 / 5) (#51)
by anthrem on Tue Jul 24, 2001 at 09:28:30 PM EST

This is like taking medical advice from the guy in junior that wore the same Metallica "Metal Up Your Ass" t-shirt for three days in a row. DO NOT FOLLOW THESE SUGGESTIONS!!!!!!!!

Shall I go point for point?

If you don't have long term studies, don't take it. Remember Thalidomide?

St. John's Wart
There have been some studies in Germany that suggest that this is a beneficial treatment. However, the quality and quanity needed for effective treatment does not exist because no company in the US can claim a patent on medicine that is derived completely from natural sources. So they are not regulated, and are advertised as an herbal remedy for depression. Blah! And as for combining this with ANY other anti-depressant, the suggestion that this may be a good idea is criminal. Don't do it. Serotonin syndrome is more than just 'unpleasant'.

As for illegal drugs......if you need a reason to understand why this is as dumb as a rock, then let me tell you. For all of the good things that advocates of marijuana legalization have to say, marijuana causes demotivational syndrome, and long term use leads to....DEPRESSION. Crack, heroin, smack, junk, meth, stick, ice, crystal, are nice methods for covering depression, good ways to kill youself, or go to jail. LSD? I am stunned by this kind of suggestion. This would be good if you wish to induce a psychotic episode. Dealing with depression? I don't think so. One hit of LSD can be enough to cause you to become forever schizophrenic. What's worse, sometimes marijuana can do it to the right people.

The only way to deal with depression, reasonably, is to seek medical assistance. You may need to try several different medications to find one that is effective for you, but, there is a reason that the FDA has drug trials and extensive testing. To emperically determine, what will work. Not playing around with half-baked and likely ineffective treatments. To suggest anything else is idiotic.

- Slashdot is for the simpleminded -
[ Parent ]
Ignore this ignorance (4.33 / 3) (#60)
by treat on Tue Jul 24, 2001 at 11:08:09 PM EST

5-HTP If you don't have long term studies, don't take it. Remember Thalidomide?

At least we know how 5-HTP works. L-tryptophan (found in many foods) is converted to 5-HTP. 5-HTP is then converted to serotonin in the brain. 5-HTP is also converted to serotonin in the blood, and excess blood levels of serotonin is one known concern.

You have to weigh the risks. Consider the fact that many people are taking 5-HTP and there have been no problems reported from chronic use. Limit yourself to the minimum effective dose, and limit how long you use it for. Peruse the medical studies and see what the longest trials were. If 5-HTP cures your depression, and the alternative would be a prescription antidepressant with known side effects and other risks (e.g. physical addiction), 5-HTP might be the better choice. It's not as if 5-HTP is completely unstudied. But it is less studied than the SSRIs.

[St John's Wort]
So they are not regulated, and are advertised as an herbal remedy for depression. Blah!

This is true. Inconsistant dosages, poor quality control, etc. This is a travesty of the way "herbal medicines" are regulated. You can choose brands which have specifically been used in studies, or which have been tested by independent labs to be consistantly accurately labeled. At least it is unlikely that any produced in the US will be outright contaminated with something harmful.

And as for combining this with ANY other anti-depressant, the suggestion that this may be a good idea is criminal. Don't do it. Serotonin syndrome is more than just 'unpleasant'.

Well, I made no such suggestion, I suggested to research the issue before doing it. It's unlikely that there is any prescription antidepressant that should be combined with St John's Wort. But 5-HTP + St John's Wort is a successful combination for many people. If you do some web searches, you find a couple reports that it caused mild cases of serotonin syndrome, which is indeed simply unpleasant - not life threatening. You also find many success stories, or at least reports that it didn't help but didn't cause any problems. The last time I searched medline, I was unable to find any clinical trials of the combination. marijuana causes demotivational syndrome, and long term use leads to....DEPRESSION.

It's called amotivational syndrome. It's questionable if amotivational syndrome is even a real phenomenon.

I warned of depression, but I'm not aware of any credible study (or really anything outside of anecdotal evidence) that marijuana causes depression. I'm sure it may in some people. I think you see marijuana affecting depression in every possible way - but it seems to be more likely to help than to hurt.

Crack, heroin, smack, junk, meth, stick, ice, crystal, are nice methods for covering depression, good ways to kill youself, or go to jail.

I don't really think that stimulants or opiates are generally good cures for depression. Not a long term fix, not the kind of drugs you want to be using regularly.

One hit of LSD can be enough to cause you to become forever schizophrenic.

Not that I believe that this is true, but my advice isn't meant for people with serious mental illnesses. How you define serious is up to you.

The only way to deal with depression, reasonably, is to seek medical assistance.

Where you will be prescribed mind-altering drugs at random until one works or you give up. These drugs may have severe, unpleasant side effects. These drugs may be absolutely perfect for you. But for many people, milder drugs would work better.

I'm not trying to give medical advice here. I'm trying to give an overview of the issues so that people can do their own research based on what I've said.

[ Parent ]

Drugs suck... (3.20 / 5) (#32)
by halo64 on Tue Jul 24, 2001 at 04:20:05 PM EST

I've always found that a couple of good ol' fashioned bong hits do wonders for my depression when I'm feeling really down. I've never been one to agree with the idea that taking a little pill everyday is going to solve a person's problems. I don't feel bad everyday, all day, so why take a "happy" pill everyday?

/* begin sig here
I don't have one because I'm lame
finish sig here */

Amen.. (none / 0) (#44)
by Da Unicorn on Tue Jul 24, 2001 at 08:25:58 PM EST

I would rather take a couple of bong hits which are relatively safe and effective than any pill.

I hate pills. Period. Legal or otherwise.


[ Parent ]

and yet... (none / 0) (#59)
by physicsgod on Tue Jul 24, 2001 at 11:03:37 PM EST

You'd willfully put all the shit that comes with incomplete combustion of plant matter into your lungs? One of the main reasons I've never tried marijuana is I think deliberatly inhaling smoke is a great way to qualify for a Darwin.

--- "Those not wearing body armor are hereby advised to keep their arguments on-topic" Schlock Mercenary
[ Parent ]
Plant matter? (none / 0) (#62)
by treat on Tue Jul 24, 2001 at 11:21:46 PM EST

You can smoke it in a vaporizer, which will vaporize the THC but not burn the plant matter. A good vaporizer will leave you with what looks like unaffected plant matter, but if you then smoke it, it has almost no potency.

You can eat it.

You can extract the THC and smoke just your extract.

[ Parent ]
I still think... (none / 0) (#67)
by physicsgod on Wed Jul 25, 2001 at 01:20:50 AM EST

It's rather ironic that someone who would voluntarily inhale smoke (that's my impression of Da Unicorns' method of choice) and shut down brain cells on a semi-permanent basis doesn't like pills. Ah well, no accounting for taste.

--- "Those not wearing body armor are hereby advised to keep their arguments on-topic" Schlock Mercenary
[ Parent ]
Antidepressants aren't bad... (4.87 / 8) (#35)
by cyclopatra on Tue Jul 24, 2001 at 05:46:35 PM EST

...doctors who prescribe them indiscriminately are. Just like all the non-hyperactive kids running around on Ritalin (and acting *really* hyperactive because of it), people on antidepressants who don't really need them aren't going to be helped by their little pink pills, and may be adversely affected. People who *are* good candidates for antidepressants may be adversely affected as well, of course, but the point is that there are people that they help, and people they don't. Your nieces were suffering from depression caused (at least, according to your article) by grief over your sister's death. It sounds more as if they needed some counseling, and a lot of love, to get them past it, and not a prescription. (disclaimer: IANA doctor, and I'm talking out of my ass based on the fact that these nieces were diagnosed "soon after" your sister's death).

So. you've got a bunch of anecdotal evidence that antidepressents are BadThings(tm). I've got some anecdotal evidence that they're GoodThings: I've been off and on Wellbutrin for the last couple of years, and I can say that my life is a *lot* better with it than without it. I spend my life (off the antidepressants) in a cloud of generalized terror/anxiety, second-guessing every word I say and decision I make, because my brain turns each one into the first step on a slide into Hell. I become paranoid, convinced that everyone hates me, and sometimes that they're trying to drive me crazy. There are monsters under my bed and behind my shower curtain. Etc, etc.

On the antidepressants, I still get unreasoning bouts of fear and anxiety. But what I get from my little pills is a minute or two to think *rationally* about it. Will something really grab my ankle if I get up to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night? No, probably not. So I manage to walk to the bathroom like a normal human being, instead of running like a 6 year old. What are the chances that saying hello to that cute guy in Marketing will actually reveal my crush to him and inspire him to make me the laughingstock of the company? Not very high - so I can carry on a conversation without shaking.

I'm trying to work through some of this without the antidepressants right now, but it's an uphill battle. My point is, there *are* people who have real, dramatic improvements on them, just as your family may have had dramatic, negative changes.


All your .sigs are belong to us.
remove mypants to email

Exactly! (none / 0) (#49)
by anthrem on Tue Jul 24, 2001 at 08:50:30 PM EST

The big thing that antidepressants do is to clear the fog; you end up having to still do alot of work to help fix things. Congratulations to you for having some success!

Doctors, due to the success of Prozac eight or nine years ago, have overprescribed antidepressants. If you do not need an antidepressant, then your physical reaction can include serotonin poisoning. This is highly unlikely, but, those who have natural depression, due to a life event, can react negatively to the drug when their body does not need it to correct a chemical imbalance.

- Slashdot is for the simpleminded -
[ Parent ]
Understanding Depression (4.33 / 6) (#38)
by f00b4r on Tue Jul 24, 2001 at 06:33:53 PM EST

After reading through these comments I get the feeling that a majority of the posters do not understand what depression is, or how it can effect ones life. Some people suggest taking up a hobby you enjoy, and becoming closer with loved ones. These are excelent ideas for someone who has a fully functional brain and emotional system. But for someone who is truly depressed, their brain is NOT functioning properly. Any emotions resulting from an activity that would normally cause joy are muted. Loved ones can try to provide support but the depressed person is not able to accept the support. These are the people who benifit from drugs. The drugs are able to take the edge off just enough so that they can respond to the love that they are recieving, and take joy from everyday life.

Depression is NOT grief and it is NOT feeling sad. I agree that sometimes doctors and patients can get these two confused, but they are DIFFERENT. When you are feeling down, you have the ability to 'snap' out of it. When you are depressed it takes a lot more will power.

I would highly recomend the following link to people who wish to understand what is it like to be depressed:


The following site contains some more usefull information:


Perhaps the story could use a little information about what depression is and how/why it is treated in the way that it is... I think if more of the readers understood depression, the discussion would be more helpfull.

Understanding Depression (4.50 / 4) (#40)
by MugginsM on Tue Jul 24, 2001 at 06:52:44 PM EST

> When you are feeling down, you have the ability to 'snap' out of it. When you are depressed it takes a lot more will power.

Especially when friends and family keep telling you to "just snap out of it".

I spent about ten years feeling like the world was about to collapse
the next day. I used to lie awake at night dreading the next
morning. I spent hours curled up in a little ball in the corner, crying.

For no apparent reason. Everyone kept reminding me how good my life was,
how happy I was as a child. Telling me to get over it. Telling me I
was selfish and inconsiderate and useless. And so on. Big sob story.

And then one day it got bad enough that I was pretty much forced
to go see a doctor (I was seriously contemplating suicide at that point)
by an employer who cared more than I realised at the time.

Since then I've had about 6 months of psychiatrists, psychologists,
and counsellors probing my mind and trying different drugs.

Prozac got me really confused. Not depressed as such, just in a kind
of "blocked" daze. Aropax had a similar effect. Moclobemide(sp?) worked
fairly well for a few weeks but stopped having an effect after that.
Then they tried Serzone, and my life changed. A further few months
of psychologists and various "courses" teaching me how to deal with the
various phobias I'd developed over the years.

Flash forward to now, about four years later, and
I have a life. I can
make plans beyond this evening because I believe the world will at least
still be around tomorrow. I've been able to save
money because I'll get
a chance to spend it. I've been able to hold down a job because I don't
spend 3/4 of my time in a terrified funk.

I'm still on antidepressants (Serzone), but the dosage comes down
every six months or so. Should be off it completely in a year.
I still get "weird" moods, but I am also able to snap out of them with
a bit of effort and analyse them more rationally.

Life is good.

I could never even *conceive* of being able to live like there *is* a tomorrow before.

Are the drugs magic bullets? No.

It took the drugs + many hours of experts + the constant support of
a few friends, even if I wasn't able to believe that someone
else cared at the time.

- Muggins

[ Parent ]
People who never dealt with it rarely understand. (5.00 / 3) (#52)
by loualbano on Tue Jul 24, 2001 at 09:34:04 PM EST

The idea that depression is a mood or a feeling has pissed me off more than one time, and while being depressed having someone tell you to "snap out of it" or something similar does wonders for making you feel more fucked up.

Look at it this way. You feel like dying, like just hiding under a rock for the rest of your life. You're generally pissed off at almost everything that happens. Throw some paranoia in there and have some body tell you that all of this is now YOUR fault. They point to your "peers" and tell you how they function and ask you why you can't act like them. Tell me that wouldn't piss a person off.

The truth is you almost have no choice if you are truly depressed in a clinical manner. Feeling that way is a way of life that you may get used to, but never get over without a lot of help. Drugs are only part of this help.

When I was "crazy", I was violent. I wanted to hurt people I didn't like or agree with or for whatever reason I decided. I had temper problems that usually led to panic attacks so tough I would frequently pass out from exhaustion. That was the main reason I was put on anti-depressants. I calmed down alot after that, and was able to clear my mind enough to figure out ways to achieve the same effect without the pills. They were a crutch, and should really only be used as such in all but the most extreme cases.

The question is whether antidepressants are good or not. I for one would either be in jail or dead if it were not for these tools. Does that make them good? Hell no, they suck to be on and they suck to get off of. The point being you have to use the tools you have to solve a problem as best as you can. The tools in this case worked, which in a sense made them good.


[ Parent ]
Safety (4.50 / 4) (#42)
by Signal 11 on Tue Jul 24, 2001 at 07:47:26 PM EST

I have been on three different anti-depressants. One in particular, Zoloft, caused seizures and panic in me (a friend was with me at the time that I had the first attack, and was able to talk me through it and arrange a ride home - I had some difficulty walking at the peak of it) and this was at a relatively low dose. The doctors insist that it is rare, and possibly due to undiagnosed 'bipolar' disorder, but I wasn't convinced and did my own research. My results weren't conclusive by any means, but I found out that most anti-depressants are prescribed without much attention to dosage levels (they go by your weight only, apparently) -> without taking into consideration things like diet, past psychological problems, etc. In short, if you don't mention it... you're up a creek. I've been on two others, one of which had almost identical effects on me as speed (an illegal stimulant) and the other had absolutely no effect on me whatsoever (I believe it was in the MAOI class of drugs) over a three month period.

The sad part is that the medical community in general does not do extensive testing with potent drugs like this. I have used illegal drugs before and I had a much better success than with these "controlled" and "safer" drugs that were prescribed to me. The main reason for this is that I could start at a small dose, test my responses, and then increase the dosage slowly, checking for problems. And without the (false) idea that I had a safety net to fall back on in the event of problems, I was much more careful. How many people have been sentenced to jail time or harmed others as a result of their use of doctor prescribed medication? The authorities often dismiss such claims as a lie by someone trying to get out of serving time... how often were they right?

Most people who are placed on anti-depressants don't have that kind of lead-in, it's basically a trial by fire, and if something goes wrong, you may wind up with a dead body (or several) on your hands. I'm sorry to say, but I've had more common sense in my own drug use than the so-called medical "professionals" have in diagnosing and prescribing drugs to fix my depression. People have the attitude that the doctors will take care of them, all they need to do is take the little pills at the prescribed times and in the right number, and all their problems will go away. Nobody ever tells them "this might not work", or what the side effects might be... how many people know that dehydration can result in mood swings and erratic behavior? People lack a basic medical education out there - they've taken to simple trust of the authorities, and the authorities are not dispensing timely and useful advice on drugs - inaccurate or missing information seems to be the norm, not the exception. And people are getting hurt by hidden political agendas.

So this is some anecdotal evidence you can use to slap anti-drug advocates in the face with - people have got to realize that drugs like this are just as dangerous as the ones you can get off the street.

But that's just my own rant. If you think the medical community really is there to take care of you, and that's their number one goal, please look at a book called "The Politically Correct Doctor"... it is illuminating to say the least.

Society needs therapy. It's having
trouble accepting itself.

drug testing and effects (5.00 / 2) (#46)
by Maniac_Dervish on Tue Jul 24, 2001 at 08:32:04 PM EST

a lot of drug testing only insures that the LD (lethal dose) is calculated while the effective dose is known to be somewhat lower than that. if something has an LD50 rating, it kills half of the people who take it. obviously, this is undesirable.

doctors have it tough... they're often asked to give you things that could easily kill you, and sometimes are asked to prescribe drugs to treat ailments for which the medications have not necessarily been certified or approved as a means of safe treatment.


[ Parent ]

Medical Community exists FOR you.... (4.66 / 3) (#50)
by anthrem on Tue Jul 24, 2001 at 09:09:16 PM EST

Signal, I would love to sit down with you over some coffee, and hammer out this issue. This is just not the case....not exactly.

The medical community exists because there is a need for people to take care of their problems. People I work with, doctors, nurses, social workers, caseworkers, all got into the field of caring for people because, suprise, they wanted to help people.

Now, there is another side of the matter. The moneychangers. In the United States, it is a well known fact that health care spending represents the lowest percentage of the GDP in the world!! Maybe one country is beyond us; but considering the number of people that are living and working in this country, that is sad.

Recently, I almost was restructured out of a job. I am a social worker, and in the agency I work, having a master's degree puts me into a very busy position. My collegues and myself have an average case load of 110 people. That's right, 110 individual people, who need casemanagement, medication, and counseling. But, the state of Illinois, being 48th in the 50 United States in mental health spending, in its infinite wisdom, has decided that our focus should be more on groups, and not on individual work. So, luckly, I was not laid off. But since less individual work is needed, why keep a more expensive master's employee on, when you can pay cheaper, bachelor level people to do the work you were paying the master's employee?

I escaped the layoff this time, but when you reduce the contact and water down the treatment, you affect the quality of said treatment. We have 1200 clients, give or take a 100, at my facility. Guess how many psychiatrists there are? Two.

If you have doctors, nurses, social workers, or anyone who gives you substandard care, don't sit around and let it happen. Complain. But remember, the people you need to complain about are the people sitting in nice, cool, clean offices in state capitols and Washington, D.C. Not those who are not given the tools they need to serve those they spent 6 or 8 years in school preparing to serve to the best of their ability.

- Slashdot is for the simpleminded -
[ Parent ]
Not assigning blame... (none / 0) (#55)
by Signal 11 on Tue Jul 24, 2001 at 09:58:58 PM EST

I'm not assigning blame, I'm just saying there's a distinct lack of information available to people when they seek treatment... whether the poor quality of the treatment is due to doctors being overworked due to financial constraints or poor practice, I can't say.

But thank you for your insight on the matter!

Society needs therapy. It's having
trouble accepting itself.
[ Parent ]

anti-depressants (4.57 / 7) (#43)
by Ender Ryan on Tue Jul 24, 2001 at 07:59:04 PM EST

Anti-depressants are like any other drug, they can do good and bad, and from person to person it varies WIDELY.

Luckily, there are MANY anti-depressant drugs, and for people who truly suffer from depression at least 1 of them will probably help a lot.

Most people, even here(I can't believe it!), have absolutely no understanding of real clinical depression. Real clinical depression is not something you can combat easily on your own. You cannot go to a shrink and have your head shrunk and solve all your problems, you cannot concentrate on hobbies and feel better, and you cannot depend on others to cheer you up. It simply DOES NOT WORK.

The ONLY mental practice _I_ have found _helps_ me, is simply to think about the fact that my clinical depression is a medical problem caused by abnormal chemical imbalances in my brain. You'd think that that understanding would make it simple, but it doesn't. Sometimes(often for me) that's simply not enough.

No amount of cheering up, no amount of thinking, concentrating on other things will fix the fact that the chemicals in your brain are telling you, "YOUR INSIGNIFICANT LIFE IS POINTLESS YOU WORTHLESS FUCK, JUST FUCKING END THIS NONSENSE. HURRY THE FUCK UP, GET THE DAMN KNIFE, SLASH IT ACCROSS YOUR THROAT. PATHETIC, FUCKER, DIE, DIE DIE YOU PIECE OF SHIT MOTHER FUCKER!"

Imagine someone screaming that in your ear, 24 7 for weeks, months, or even years at a time, with never a break. That is what clinical depression can feel like, and sometimes there isn't a damn thing you can do.

Clinical depression is a MEDICAL PROBLEM. No amount of psychology will fix it, it is nothing more than a chemical imbalance in your brain. Whether you like it or not, your thoughts, feelings, everyone you know and understand is affected by chemicals in your brain that you don't necessarily have any control over.

With all that said, when there is a real reason that someone is depressed, I don't have any idea if it is healthy to use an anti-depressant. Under proper supervision I don't see how it could hurt though, except people need to learn to deal with their true feelings instead of running from them.

In my experience though, Paxil has worked very well for me.

Exposing vast conspiracies! Experts at everything even outside our expertise! Liberators of the world from the oppression of the evil USian Empire!

We are Kuro5hin!

Clinically, you have something seriously wrong (2.50 / 2) (#47)
by anthrem on Tue Jul 24, 2001 at 08:39:26 PM EST

Signal 11 wrote:

Clinical depression is a MEDICAL PROBLEM. No amount of psychology will fix it, it is nothing more than a chemical imbalance in your brain. Whether you like it or not, your thoughts, feelings, everyone you know and understand is affected by chemicals in your brain that you don't necessarily have any control over.

       This is simply not true. I work in a community mental health facility in the state of Illinois, and I can tell you that, from personal experience and from professional experience, this is not true.

       After all, those who drink, and are alcoholics, must first decide to deal with the physical urge to drink alcohol, and then change their perceptions as to how they view the world. Ask anyone who has dealt with a substance abuse problem, and they can tell you about "a dry drunk". Anyone who tells you that they just 'quit' has not dealt with a number of issues that relates to how they perceive the world, and this will affect them in the abscence of the alcohol use.

       There are two sides to treatment for depression. One, is the chemical side of things. An anti-depressent for those who actually suffer from a diagnosis of clinical depression (i.e., major depression or dsythmia) can improve one's mood. Second, one must work with someone who can assist them in dealing with the perceptions and world views that can continue to leave a person in a depression. One does not work without the other.

- Slashdot is for the simpleminded -
[ Parent ]
what the hell are you talking about? (3.66 / 3) (#58)
by Ender Ryan on Tue Jul 24, 2001 at 10:49:45 PM EST

First off, I'm not Signal 11... (WTF?)

Second, your response doesn't appear to relate at all to my post, except the text you quoted.

If you think I meant that drugs and drugs alone are the only solution, that isn't what I said. I said that no amount of psychology can work for me because my clinical depression is too severe.

A few extra points...

I do not have terribly negative views about the world that leave me in a depression. In fact, depression seems to just hit me randomly, whether I'm happy or my father just died. It doesn't make a bit of difference.

I have not been depressed since I started taking Paxil.

I have a friend who has dealt with depression, he went everywhere he could to get help, then a doctor recommended Paxil. He has been a much happier person every since.

Clinical depression is often not even partially related to the psychology of the individual suffering from it. Often times with people that drugs actually do work for, they are (nearly) completely rid of their depression when on drugs.

Psychology cannot fix a physical malfunction in your brain.

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We are Kuro5hin!

[ Parent ]

Functional vs. organic depression and treatment (none / 0) (#99)
by afeldspar on Wed Jul 25, 2001 at 06:50:51 PM EST

There are two sides to treatment for depression. One, is the chemical side of things. An anti-depressent for those who actually suffer from a diagnosis of clinical depression (i.e., major depression or dsythmia) can improve one's mood. Second, one must work with someone who can assist them in dealing with the perceptions and world views that can continue to leave a person in a depression. One does not work without the other.

Clinical depression is often not even partially related to the psychology of the individual suffering from it. Often times with people that drugs actually do work for, they are (nearly) completely rid of their depression when on drugs.

Psychology cannot fix a physical malfunction in your brain.

I'm afraid it's anthrem who is correct here (except of course about attributing your words to Signal 11.) Many people speak confidently and even forcefully about depression being caused by a "chemical imbalance"; they do not realize that this is still only conjecture, based on the facts that depression occurs so often alongside measurable deficits in specific neurochemicals, and that up until fairly recently, chemical treatments for depression have been far more effective than psychological approaches.

The first fact, of course, must be taken with the well-known caution that two things occurring together does not tell you whether the first thing causes the second thing, the second causes the first, or they are both caused by other factors entirely that relate only quite indirectly.

The second fact has to be taken with the caution that it says more about the current state of psychotherapy than it does about psychotherapy in general and in potential. When you realize how much of practiced psychotherapy is still based on Sigmund "I Say It Therefore It's So" Freud, this is by no means an insignificant consideration

There have been famous experiments done to study what the actual effects of alcohol are, as opposed to how many of its effects are actually culturally induced. People were put at a party and served either an alcoholic drink or a non-alcoholic drink, both flavored to have the same taste. They were also told that they were drinking alcohol or a non-alcoholic drink, but they were not necessarily told correctly: some who thought they were drinking alcohol were in fact drinking water, and vice versa.

With very, very few exceptions, those who showed the physical and mental symptoms of being affected by the alcohol were those who thought they had alcohol. Not those who had actually had it.

There were more experiments. This time patients who had been diagnosed with severe alcoholism were given either alcohol or flavored water, and again they might be told they were getting alcohol or that they were getting flavored water.

Many of the alcoholics exhibited severe withdrawal symptoms, if they were told that they had just drunk flavored water -- even if, in fact, they had drunk the alcohol that they claimed they had a physical craving for. And the alcoholics reported their cravings almost unanimously soothed when they drank what they were told was alcohol -- even if in fact it was flavored water.

We should be very wary indeed of which subjective experiences we declare to be objective and physical, and to what extent.

-- For those concerned about the "virality" of the GPL, a suggestion: Write Your Own Damn Code.
[ Parent ]

blah blah blah (none / 0) (#105)
by Ender Ryan on Wed Jul 25, 2001 at 09:57:54 PM EST

That's a bunch of shit. If you're correct, then why the hell does depression seem to run in families, even when people are separated and grow up in entirely differing conditions.

I found out way later in life that my uncle suffered from severe clinical depression since he was an early teen. My enviornment growing up was not in any way similar to his, yet I have the exact same problem.

Alcohol studies prove nothing about clinical depression.

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We are Kuro5hin!

[ Parent ]

Reducing psychology to absolutes is a bad idea (none / 0) (#111)
by afeldspar on Thu Jul 26, 2001 at 01:15:55 AM EST

That's a bunch of shit. If you're correct, then why the hell does depression seem to run in families, even when people are separated and grow up in entirely differing conditions.

Because there may indeed be, in fact, probably are genetic factors which greatly affect one's vulnerability to clinical depression.

You see, I never said that clinical depression had absolutely nothing to do with physiological factors. I merely disputed your assertion that it had nothing to do with anything but physiological factors.

Alcohol studies prove nothing about clinical depression.

These particular studies prove that psychological conditions can masquerade very successfully as physiological conditions.

-- For those concerned about the "virality" of the GPL, a suggestion: Write Your Own Damn Code.
[ Parent ]

ok, agreed (none / 0) (#115)
by Ender Ryan on Thu Jul 26, 2001 at 08:07:01 AM EST

I agree that psychological conditions can masquerade as physiological conditions, and often does.

In the case of clinical depression, it seems to be caused largely by physiological problems.

In fact, someone can actually become clinically depressed by physical problems that they have not yet noticed.

I'm not saying it can't be caused in part by psychological problems, but in many cases the problem seems to be entirely physical.

Exposing vast conspiracies! Experts at everything even outside our expertise! Liberators of the world from the oppression of the evil USian Empire!

We are Kuro5hin!

[ Parent ]

My apologies (3.00 / 1) (#103)
by anthrem on Wed Jul 25, 2001 at 08:31:53 PM EST

....for misidentifying you. However, I maintain, that my personal and professional experience suggest that even severe clinical depression benefits from both medication and counseling.

- Slashdot is for the simpleminded -
[ Parent ]
np (none / 0) (#104)
by Ender Ryan on Wed Jul 25, 2001 at 09:49:59 PM EST

"However, I maintain, that my personal and professional experience suggest that even severe clinical depression benefits from both medication and counseling."

I won't disagree with that. I don't see how counseling could hurt, especially if someone doesn't understand what it is they're suffering from.

Exposing vast conspiracies! Experts at everything even outside our expertise! Liberators of the world from the oppression of the evil USian Empire!

We are Kuro5hin!

[ Parent ]

Causal Relationships and Victim Culture (4.33 / 3) (#80)
by Obvious Pseudonym on Wed Jul 25, 2001 at 09:15:24 AM EST

Clinical depression is a MEDICAL PROBLEM. No amount of psychology will fix it, it is nothing more than a chemical imbalance in your brain. Whether you like it or not, your thoughts, feelings, everyone you know and understand is affected by chemicals in your brain that you don't necessarily have any control over.

This is an attitude that really winds me up (to the point of persuading me to get off my backside and create a K5 login so that I could reply to it). It is a part of the 'victim culture' that seems so prevalent at the moment.

Sure there is a correlation between seratonin levels and depression - but the leap from a correlation to a causal relationship is by no means natural and 'obvious'.

As an example: if I am nervous, I will have a lot of adrenaline (epinephrine for you Americans) floating around in your brain. If I am nervous and stressed all the time, then I will usually have a high adrenaline level. This does not mean that I am nervous all the time because I have a chemical imbalance and my nervousness is caused by too much adrenaline. Rather it means that I am both nervous all the time and have high adrenaline levels because of some other factor.

Depression works the same way. If you are depressed all the time for psychological reasons you will have high seratonin levels. This doesn't mean that you are depressed because you have an unfortunate medical problem causing your seratonin to be high that is beyond your control. That is just the cop-out 'it's not your fault' response which people always like to hear.

It is like saying that you are not an antisocial violent person, you just suffer from 'road rage'. It absolves you of responsibility and makes your problems someone elses (either societies, evolutions or Gods depending on your point of view) fault.

Depression treatments need to attack the psychological causes of the depression, not just blanket-bomb the brain with emotion supressants which just treat the symptoms. Sure, stopping the symptoms temporarily can help manage the depression until it is fixed, but unless the causes of the depression are sorted out then you've got a friend for life.

Obvious Pseudonym

Obvious Pseudonym

I am obviously right, and as you disagree with me, then logically you must be wrong.
[ Parent ]

You've never been throught it, have you? (3.50 / 2) (#81)
by Karmakaze on Wed Jul 25, 2001 at 10:01:36 AM EST

The fact that a great many people are misdiagnosed or mismedicated for clinical depression, anxiety disorders, attention deficit disorders, etc. does not mean that some people do not have a genuine problem. The fact that we do not know the exact causality of the chemical rections does not mean that mood disorders do not have a chemical basis.

Approximately every 28 days, all other factors being constant, I will develop a slight acne problem (due to increased skin oil production) and be about three times as likely to cry at sad movies than at any other time in my cycle. It is a noticable, regular mood effect resulting from a chemical shift, and not from environment or my innate personality. Aside from switching to a stronger astringent for a few days and monitoring my viewing habits, it doesn't affect me much. I note the effect and take the action that controls it.

On a much more serious level, I suffer from clinical depression. I have been hospitalized in the past (which mostly served to convince me that mental hospitals only make me sicker), and I have been medicated in the past. In fact, I should probably be taking meds right now, but I'm afraid to go through my company's medical insurance because it would be leaked from HR in a matter of days to the whole department. There is little more obnoxious than advice or pity/contempt from people who have no idea what they're talking about. I function much better on the meds than off them. Psychotherapy, on the other hand, did practically nothing for me, except drain my wallet.

I am not a victim. I have a medical problem. And I'm dealing with it. Some people with depression can control it with psychotherapy alone. Some people with diabetes can control it with diet alone. But, just as an insulin-dependant diabetic still needs to make lifestyle adjustements, so does a depressive on anti-depressants.

There is no magic pill. There is no excuses. If I see myself as a victim, I'm letting the depression win. I have a complication in my life I need to deal with. So does the person whose parents couldn't pay for college for them (mine did). Everybody has complications. Just because fate throws a speedbump in your way is not an excuse to throw up your hands and say "look at the terrible speedbump! Its not my fault!".

What do I do? I don't sleep in, even when I really want to, so I never have the excuse to sleep away a whole week (which I have done.) I watch my diet to avoid binge-starve cycles. I have arrangements with my friends that if they do not hear from me regularly, they will come get me and make me leave the house. I schedule regular events for most days that force me to be sociable and deal with the outside world all the time. I don't take vacations from work without activities involving other people scheduled for each day. I have every bill possible set up as an autopayment in case I don't check my mail for a month. I set up a support system when I am feeling well to catch me when I am crashing.

None of my coworkers and not all of my casual friends know that I have a mental illness. It's not their problem. It's mine.

There's a world of difference between accepting that there are parts of my life that are outside of my control and being a helpless victim. It's not my fault I have a chemical imbalance that makes me prone to depression. It's only my fault if I let that stop me.

[ Parent ]

you have no idea (1.00 / 2) (#84)
by Ender Ryan on Wed Jul 25, 2001 at 10:38:42 AM EST

You do not have any idea at all what you are talking about, you do not even know what "Clinical Depression" is.

Normal depression is the result of a bad attitude, or the result of tragedy which leaves you feeling like you can't go on, or whatever.

CLINICAL depression is completely different. It has NOTHING to do with your attitude, or ANYTHING psychological. Clinical depression is a physical problem that causes chemical imbalances in your brain.

What you said in your post is equivalent to telling a person with no legs to walk on his feet instead of rolling around in his wheel chair.

Depression has not one fucking thing to do with this goddam victim culture that is present in the world today.

People with your attitude towards people with depression are the reason people with clinical depression often do not get proper treatment.

Exposing vast conspiracies! Experts at everything even outside our expertise! Liberators of the world from the oppression of the evil USian Empire!

We are Kuro5hin!

[ Parent ]

Who has no idea? (4.00 / 1) (#86)
by Mekanix on Wed Jul 25, 2001 at 12:46:17 PM EST

CLINICAL depression is completely different. It has NOTHING to do with your attitude, or ANYTHING psychological. Clinical depression is a physical problem that causes chemical imbalances in your brain.

Do you know anything about clinical depression? Or are you just citing that praise that came with your antidepressant?

Firstly, depression doesn't cause chemical imbalance in your brain, but rather depression is caused by eg. chemical imbalance in your brain. Which again are caused by stress, trauma, stress, polution, stress, medicine and stress.

It's people like you that's guilty of depressive people not receiving propper treatment. Antidepressant doesn't solve anything.


[ Parent ]
you could not be more wrong (1.00 / 2) (#90)
by Ender Ryan on Wed Jul 25, 2001 at 02:51:35 PM EST

CLINICAL DEPRESSION is caused by a chemical imbalance in your brain, which is caused by a physical problem, not some psychological bullshit.

Antidepressants(when they work) normalize the chemical levels in the brain making you feel normal. They can be used and they can be abused, like any other drug.

In lots of cases(most? I dunno) with clinical depression no amount of psychology or any mental exercises will fix the fact that your brain just doesn't work correctly.

"It's people like you that's guilty of depressive people not receiving propper treatment. Antidepressant doesn't solve anything."

Total fucking bullshit. People who suffer from clinical depression, a physical problem, often need a physical solution. Whiny mother fuckers who are depressed because thier boyfriend dumped them, lost thier job, abuse drugs, have a horrible view about themselves, or their lives just generally suck in some way need other kinds of help.

Depression and Clinical Depression are completely different problems with completely different treatments.

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We are Kuro5hin!

[ Parent ]

Feeding the troll... (3.33 / 3) (#117)
by Mekanix on Thu Jul 26, 2001 at 02:50:24 PM EST

CLINICAL DEPRESSION is caused by a chemical imbalance in your brain, which is caused by a physical problem, not some psychological bullshit.

You really do not have a clue, do you? Try asking here on K5 what are likely to happen when you pull 14 hrs/day 7 days a week? Yeah, that's right a nice little depression. Stress (emotional, physical, psychological) is perhaps the number one cause/trigger of depression and the reason WHO have put depression on the 5 five deseases.

But I guess you'd just ague that stress is nothing more than at pure physical problem that a pill cannot solve. So go right ahead an pull another 14 hrs/day.

In lots of cases(most? I dunno) with clinical depression no amount of psychology or any mental exercises will fix the fact that your brain just doesn't work correctly.

You're just proving my point. You know absolutely nothing! Studies contradict your "facts". With the right psychological therapy you get the same effect as with antidepressant: reestablishing the chemical balances, eg. raising serotonine level. Physical exercise also have a positive influence on the imbalance in your brain.

Consensus among professional (in these part of the world anyway) seems to be that a combination of therapy and medication is the optimal solution. Sadly though most a left with medication along due to lack of resources.

My personally experience is that (intensive) physical exersice and therapy have proven the best solution for me. While medication with all their sideeffects only seemed to make matters worse.

So, drop your wisecrack and try reading up on your knowledge. That Lundbeck pamphlet isn't your best source!


[ Parent ]
Of course I don't... (2.00 / 3) (#93)
by Obvious Pseudonym on Wed Jul 25, 2001 at 04:47:01 PM EST

You do not have any idea at all what you are talking about, you do not even know what "Clinical Depression" is.

Of course I don't know what I'm talking about. After all, I've only studied Neuropharmacology, Clinical Psychology and Developmental Psychology at university.

I haven't had any depression my self, of course, well - not for more than a year anyway.

Oh... and by the way, I have a mother who is on Prozac and I have watched a good friend and flatmate go through severe depression.

Obvious Pseudonym

I am obviously right, and as you disagree with me, then logically you must be wrong.
[ Parent ]

and what did you learn? (1.00 / 3) (#96)
by Ender Ryan on Wed Jul 25, 2001 at 05:45:47 PM EST

I really don't care what/where you've studied, psychology is such a bullshit field to study in school. It is 99.999% utter bullshit and .0001% DUH, no shit sherlock.

I know plenty of people who have studied psychology, and most of them say pretty much the same thing.

Further, I am going on experience, of myself and others who have had fairly severe clinical depression. You can, in fact, have severe depression for no reason at all. There doens't have to be anything bothering you, and there isn't necessarily any psychological remedy for it.

If your brain physically doesn't function correctly, how is pretending that your problem psychological going to help?

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[ Parent ]

For K5 Teenagers (3.88 / 9) (#56)
by snowlion on Tue Jul 24, 2001 at 10:02:35 PM EST

I sympathise with sexyblonde's perspective on this issue.

I was, like most kids in US high school and college, was severely depressed.

How did it end?

The reasons that I was depressed were, as far as I was concerned:

  • Society told me that if you didn't get good grades, that you were a slacker, unintelligent, and not really doing your part in things. I was not making good grades. I was programming computers in 5 languages and teaching myself mathematics. But for some reason, I hadn't put two and two together (so to speak), and accepted what my parents and teachers said: That I was a slacker, unintelligent, and not really doing my part for the world.
  • My body was telling me to have sex. My eyes were telling me to have sex. My peers were telling me to have sex. My teachers were telling me not to have sex. The law said that it is illegal to have sex. Girls didn't want to have sex with me. I was telling myself not to masturbate, even though I did. I was ashamed.
  • I was interested in girls. Girls were not interested in me. I was jelous of my friends with girlfriends.
  • I was/am incredibly interested in science. What my teachers were calling science was only sometimes science.
  • I didn't like doing my homework because it was stupid and pointless, or it something that I just didn't care about. I told myself that I had severe character flaws.

Our society is ill, it does not have to be this way.

I discovered the Light and Sound paths. I meditated on God's Name, and reconsidered everything about Reality. I looked at different paths about living in the world, and investigated those that harmonized with Love, as I had learned to do.

My life is now completely different. I have been restructuring my life around Love for 7 years now. I am happy with the results so far, and recommend it to others.

I would recommend to anyone who is considering taking (psychologist approved, school sanctioned) mind altering drugs to instead take an inventory of their life. I would recommend taking an inventory of what people are telling you, and what you are telling yourself. It will take months and perhaps years, but it will be well worth the investment in yourself. Find Loving peers.

All the above said, there are probably cases where someone's brain is physically messed up. You will think about this possibility, and there will be many times where you are certain it is true. The same happened to me, and I've got the reams of paper with scribbling on it to prove it.

If you are vastly depressed, and you are not a teenager, your case may have some merit. Again, I urge you to look to what people are telling you, and to what you are telling yourself.

If you are a teenager, don't even bother considering the drugs: Look at the list of reasons I was depressed, and compare them with your own. Consider, deep down, what you think about your principles. It is okay for you to come to your own principles. You are at the age where that is your full time job.

If you haven't noticed, our society does not have principles based on any of the following:

  • Nobility
  • Friendship
  • Love
  • Care
  • Understanding
  • Knowledge
  • Growth

Our US societies conventional wisdom (things that are accepted, but not questioned) centers on the following:

  • General Pessism
  • Independence
  • Males: You can dream about sex, but you can't have it. Females: You are supposed to hate sex. Sex for males can start at 16. Females have no well defined starting point. The later the better. College is okay, provided that you hook up with a clean cut boy.
  • It is okay for homosexuals to be beaten, but maybe we should change that.
  • Comradarie
  • Live with Hypocracy. Pot is bad but alchohol's fine. Don't take mushrooms, but use psychologist approved anti-depressant drugs. Regularly.
  • Commercials are a Necessary Evil.
  • Behave. Model for those who are uncapable of behaving: Rebel, party, and then join the military. Then you will behave.
  • Teachers: Control the students. Students: Rebel from the teachers. (See Independence above)
  • Knowledge is something that is put into you by a copy mechanism called "homework." When you have enough information copied into you, you are "educated". Then you can get a "real" job and be happy. While all paths are equally valid, this one is sure, and the others are not worth investigating. They probably lead to unhappiness.
  • Good Grades are Really Important.
  • Independent thought isn't as important as sticking with the pack. (Then again, your friends are the only thing that have enabled you to get this far in life, so I can understand how this comes about.)

Of those, the only that I value are Independence and Comradarie. The remainders are causes for depression. Watch what you let into your head. Find your own values. You have interests. Figure out what they are, and dwell on them.

It's okay to permit Love inside, by whatever name you give it.

Let me add that it is okay to be athiest, agnostic, or theistic. Whichever of the three you choose, choose it out of Love and Reason. You have plenty of time to sort out those questions if you like, later on. The important thing here is not how you classify yourself. The important thing here is that you seek out lasting happiness for yourself. You can find it as an athiest, you can find it as an agnostic, you can find it as a theist. I am concerned about you and your happiness. That is all. The rest of this is just so much stuff. If I said something here that doesn't help you, forget that I ever said it. I was a depressed teenager, so I know what it was like. Again, I've got the stack of journals with scribbling on it. I hand for you here the best that I have come up with so far. I hope that it is useful for you.

If you are caught in the public school system, like I was, I would recommend checking out the Harry Potter books. If they are banned from your library, buy them. Save money, beg relatives, steal if you have to. Don't mind that "they are for little kids", and don't tell your friends if you are embarrassed about it. Read, enjoy, and study. Your friends will tell you that they are just for entertainment They are not just for entertainment.

I'm done now. Thank you for your time. {:)}=

Map Your Thoughts
A bit more (5.00 / 2) (#92)
by Wah on Wed Jul 25, 2001 at 04:38:44 PM EST

I know this won't get much coverage many places, but here's a study linking another American past-time and idealogical wunderkind with depression. I don't have access to the actual study, so you just get a synopsis (note it's the same synopsis on almost every site).

Anyway, I agree with you, and was discouraged that the word "environment" hasn't been discussed much here. As someone else mentioned, treating only symptoms with drugs does nothing to solve a problem. There's a reason for depression and "my brain doesn't work right" is only half of it. Unless you are a mutant (and I mean that in the nicest way) chances are that your current brain situation is a culmination of a lifetime of experience. If you have stuck with a job you hate, a place you despise, friends who suck, etc. etc. and think treating depression with a pill and nothing else will solve your problem, well, I hope there's pretty sunsets in your dream world.

And to stay somewhat on topic, I think treating children and/or teenagers for natural depression with chemicals is horrid. Learning how to deal with loss and death is a part of life. Avoiding bad feelings does not address them. A child having to deal with an unresolved pain in this manner would likely lead to suicide. Or a lifetime of problems. Note: by "natural depression" I mean stuff that comes with life, like getting a call that your father has inoperable cancer and a few weeks to live, to pull from personal experience. It is only by living through these types of circumstances in their full pain-inducing glory that you can adequately deal with them, and you are not born with that skill.

As far as "clinical depression" goes, I think of that like alcoholism. Yes, you do now have a medical problem, but it didn't come from no-where. And if you don't address the problems that led to your "disease" then no amount of further chemical fiddling is gonna do much good in the long run.

And finally for those of you on the edge of depression, here's a quick tactic that might help. I wear a black bracelet on one of my arms. It is there simply to remind me that right now, somewhere on this planet, a young girl is being raped, a boy is being filleted, people are starving, dying, dealing with crippling pain, rotting in jail, heck, I'm sure right now someone is getting that phone call that changes their life forever. It is this understanding that allows my to put my problems in perspective. The adaptability, both emotionally and physically, of the human species is an astounding, powerful force, but it's the same thing that keeps battered women in destructive, often life-threatening situations. Most people need help to get out, some need a lot, but don't believe for a second that your only chance is a pill.
Some things, bandwidth can't buy. For everything else, there's Real Life | SSP
[ Parent ]

I'm sorry, I don't agree. (none / 0) (#123)
by csbarry on Fri Jul 27, 2001 at 12:26:55 AM EST

I couldn't help but waste a little time pointing out what I see as an incredible contradiction at the core of your views. I'll try to avoid the temptation (I'm sure you can see how I might feel it) to make obnoxious and inflamatory comments about nutcase philosophies, etc.

You claim to revere love, friendship, and comraderie. And yet, when it comes to people who don't agree with everything you believe, you seem to have no tolerance at all. It's subtle, because you condemn "society" as worthless and the cause of your former unhappiness. But who is society? People. The vast majority of people, in fact.

There is a disturbing trend, I believe, in modern American counterculture towards social isolation. We (smart intellectual bohemian-ish people, of whom I count myself as one) pride ourselves on our lack of racial, sexual, or gender-based stereotypes. But we indulge in an equally-damaging manner of profiling. We shun the "straights," the masses of people who don't necessarily see value in ugly kids who refuse to do homework (nasty personal swipe, but meh). The people who don't dress and think and act as we do.

I don't really see how removing myself from the world most people live in (i.e. "dwell[ing] on [my interests]") is necessarily a good thing. How is a worldview you describe, a place in which all positive values are capitalized and all people who agree with you are unworthly of your attention, a realistic one. To take it a step further, how is your course of living any different from me, say, rolling around in the mud with three people like me for the next fifty years?

This wasn't intended to be a flame. I'd be interested in a thoughtful response (please don't just flame me, snowlion). Ok. I'm done, too.

"Everyone wave your hands around in the air as though there are no reprecussions."
- kenny mayne, sportscenter

"Crime paid for this burrito."
- me
[ Parent ]
Meta-Intolerance (none / 0) (#158)
by snowlion on Sat Aug 04, 2001 at 06:43:24 AM EST

(Note: I wanted to write a lot more, but I really need sleep right now. I may post a second reply.)

I'm not sure I fully understand your question(s), but the main theme seems to be this: "Why should I join a group that's merely alternatively tolerant? This group is tolerant of homosexuality, but intolerant of intolerance of homosexuality, an equal sin."

I'd argue with your claim that they are equal sins: If Group A hates homosexuals (and Group B), and Group B hates Group A, and they were made to be put into a pit and fight against each other, untill one side was wiped out, I would hope that Group B won. Why? Because if Group A won, homosexuals would be in danger. If Group B won, homophobes would be in danger. Since there is nothing wrong with being a homosexual, I'd rather that homophobes be in danger rather than homosexuals. Put another way that ma\y make this argument a little clearer: I'd rather Nazis be in danger than Jews.

But, we don't believe in extermination, and we value human life more than ideals. We've got friends who are in Group A, and we'd like to get along with them.

So you could say this is about meta-intolerance: Should we be intolerant of intolerance? That's a complicated question to answer because there are many things to talk about being tolerant or intolerant of. We might endorse one intolerance but not another; the question is overly general for a good discussion. But understanding the basic gist of what is being talked about, I would say that we should tolerate the intolerance around us, but that we should fight against it, because it is wrong and injust. I believe that there are ideas that have more merit than other ideas, and I find that hatred towards gays and lesbians is a bad idea. We should show tolerance towards people who don't agree, but we should argue with them and educate their children not to believe like their parents.

Map Your Thoughts
[ Parent ]
Thoughts (2.50 / 2) (#61)
by vinay on Tue Jul 24, 2001 at 11:20:26 PM EST

Well, alrighty. It sounds like your family has a history of depression. It also sounds like Anti-depressants as a class of treatments doesn't work for your family

I don't have a link for it, unfortunately but a recent discover article noted that one of the very rare sideeffects for Prozac included an increase in suicidal thoughts.

It should be noted that I am not a psychologist, but I do have some experience and classwork in this area. My (partially educated) guess is that your family reacts similarly to antidepressants (do to genetic factors), and other treatments should be sought.

On the other side, antidepressants can be very helpful. I've seen them turn people's lives around in conjunction with other treatment.

I will try to post a link, or at least bibliographic information concerning the discover article.


Discover Link (none / 0) (#63)
by vinay on Tue Jul 24, 2001 at 11:25:21 PM EST

Well. That didn't take long. I had the wrong title for it, but here it is:
July 2001: Vol 22, No. 7 - Serotonin Surprise


[ Parent ]
thoughts... (4.33 / 6) (#65)
by jungleboogie on Wed Jul 25, 2001 at 12:41:04 AM EST

Prozac has a half life of 15 days, it stays in your system for quite some time! It can lead to serotonin syndrome, and even before that happens, it is still toxic to your cells. This is because of how strong of a serotonin reuptake inhibitor it is, and how long it lasts. I was prescribed Prozac for quite a while, but I found that the normal dosage prescribed was too often and too large for myself. I took it at most every two or three days... Every day @20mg was too often. When I learned more about its potential brain damage, I started taking it a lot less. Other drugs like Paxil have a similar effect, but, they also have reasonable half lives like 12 hours. Unfortunately, I found that the mind burning Prozac was the best anti-depressant for me. When I take it, I notice an effect to where I can let go of things that are bothering me too much, things I am not dealing with very well. I only had to take it for about three weeks, on and off, in the last few years.

I have never found its effect to make me feel suicidal, but let's be realistic here, nobody can promise that it is completely safe for everyone. It is a psychoactive drug which causes chemical changes in your brain, temporarily, or permanent cell changes (deaths) if your doctor has protracted a 20mg/day prescription. There are articles in some mainstream medical journals like JAMA about this potential cell damage. Anyways, like any drug, Prozac has risks, and with the way it is prescribed now, they could be serious. The FDA never approved Prozac for long-term use as far as I know, but the way they allow it on the market, doctors have no problem prescribing it for long term usage. The fact is, the marketing power of Eli Lilly will push this drug much harder then it should be. This is big business, USA style.

Ok, so I will get off my soap box. One point I would like to make is that many psychoactive drugs carry potential risks. Some are more serious then others. Psychological changes with any drug cannot be extensively predicted before hand. Anyone with psychedelics experience knows this first hand! If someone is seriously suicidal or extremely depressed to begin with, you cannot expect their behavior to be rational, even with anti-depressant drugs. Drugs simply are not as predictable as we would like to think. Certainly, we cannot blame Prozac or any other drug for each instance of suicide from a depressed person, and at the same time we need to be aware of the possibility that this (or any) drug may not be appropriate for all users. Some people may not be fit for taking drugs at all. Some people may choose not to. Unfortunately, the people who are teaching doctors how to prescribe and use these drugs are not other doctors with formal, accepted, peer-reviewed work, they are marketing people at corporations like Eli Lilly. There is going to be an imbalance in doing what is right versus doing what is profitable. People are always searching for alternatives in this paradigm, because they know this.

The other point I would like to make is that these drugs would not be on the market if they did not have some positive effects. I took them during periods of time when I needed assistance that wasn't available otherwise. It worked! This evil greedy business nature is what drives these large drug companies and their government ties, and that is the accepted culture in the USA. People are standing around it, waiting for it to evolve, as we see progress and research in the face of greed. I don't think there is so much intentional harm to the public (at least this intent isn't quite as visible) as there is good old greedy minded business.

Check out Sarafem, it is a 20mg/day Prozac (fluoxetine) pill that is marketed for "Irritability, sadness, sudden mood changes, tension, bloating." In other words, it is a cure all for most women's monthly cycles. Are psychoactive drugs good? Are anti-depressant psychoactives always good?? It depends on how they are used, which in turn depends on how they are perceived. (If it isn't clear from the previous statements, I think that this new "product" is very irresponsible.) Who is to determine what drugs are good and bad? At least members of the public have access to medical journals and research materials so that they can learn more about what is going on. I think it is vital for people to take responsibilty for their own situations.

My personal analysis of your own situation is that your nieces were possibly taking much larger dosages then they needed, and nobody (certainly not the doctor!!) knew of what signs or effects to look for. They probably didn't know this was an issue. They probably didn't know that it can have much of the beneficial effect without as much sife effects with lower and less frequent dosages. Nope, they simply follow Eli Lilly's directions. And, I would seriously doubt that since all three of them magically started smoking marijuana at this time, I would doubt that this was really the beginning of their new habit. Now, I've seen it first hand several times, it is certainly possible for people prone to panic attacks to have them when they are smoking marijuana, brought on by the mental state. Marijuana is no where near as harmful as Prozac can be, at least not physically. (Unless you value your lungs.) But, it can be addictive, and if that becomes an issue, then you may find that to be another source of apathy and depression. This again isn't so much a fault of marijuana, but rather the way it is used. It can also be very beneficial. Unfortunately, some people need to use it in excess in order to learn how to use it appropriately (and some never make that transition.)

Finally, I can completely agree with your end statement, "I have a teenage daughter and pre-teen who also have to deal with my sister's death and all the b.s. the comes with being a teenager. We talk everything out. As far as I know, they are not depressed and their grades are better than ever" There isn't a better way to resolve problems then to find someone who is understanding, someone who can help you feel better, someone who can help you learn and grow. Unfortunately, some people are not lucky enough to have those kind of resources. (Sometimes, even in a room full of their closest family members.)

Wellbutrin/Zyban Anecdote (3.00 / 2) (#66)
by Blarney on Wed Jul 25, 2001 at 01:09:43 AM EST

I quit smoking about 8 weeks ago, and considered various medications before deciding upon nicotine patches (and nicotine gum as well, the first two weeks, to replace 2 packs of Camel Filters). The doctor was willing to prescribe me Zyban, which is a repackaged version of the antidepressant Wellbutrin. I believe that it is classified as a SSRI. I checked it out, reading the Physicians Desk Reference and stuff like that, but finally chickened out of asking for a prescription after finding out what happened to a guy at my father's workplace who took Zyban.

Apparently the gentleman had some sort of reaction - possibly he took a massive dose of the drug - and went into a coma for several weeks. He was somewhat deranged afterwards, and had to be fired as he was a danger to the other workers. Permanent brain damage may have happened.

Anecdotal evidence isn't always the best thing to use when making medical decisions, but it was good enough to convince me not to take Wellbutrin or Zyban.

Judge it as a tool with uses, not a magic bullet (4.60 / 5) (#68)
by afeldspar on Wed Jul 25, 2001 at 01:48:59 AM EST

Suppose a friend of yours told you about the problems in his workplace, problems on a project that was far behind schedule and underfunded and understaffed. To try and rein in this project and get it back under some kind of control, they tried switching in mid-stream to Linux and yet that only made things worse because no one there had worked with Linux before, and the training required time and money they just didn't have.

Would you agree with the conclusion your friend seemed to be trying to draw, that because there was a situation in which Linux could not be a cure-all, that all the claims and testimony about how useful Linux could be, must be false?

I think the same misguidedness is in play here: trying to judge the entire class of anti-depressants based on one instance where they were applied (and unless these girls were also receiving "talking therapy" that the original description forgot to mention, this is not even a case where they were applied correctly.)

I have been tried on several anti-depressants. One of them induced a rare allergic reaction called "drug fever" which gave me over a month's worth of fever and agonizing headache and severe pain. It disrupted my work, it disrupted my graduate studies, it disrupted my daily life.

If I had incorrectly extrapolated from that one anti-depressant which had such a horrible effect on me, I never would have tried the next one, which turned out to have no side effects worse than wakefulness (not really a problem if it's taken on a morning schedule).

That antidepressant served its purpose: during the time that I took it, it cleared my head enough that I could actually think through the painful fog depression induces and get actual, real benefit from the talking therapy I was in. Because the antidepressant was used properly and at the right time, the therapy had its desired effect, which was to help me back onto my feet again, and to get strong enough that I no longer needed the pills or the therapy.

-- For those concerned about the "virality" of the GPL, a suggestion: Write Your Own Damn Code.

Wellbutrin story- Good and Bad (4.40 / 5) (#70)
by King Salamander on Wed Jul 25, 2001 at 02:31:52 AM EST

I am not going to say why I was depressed but a way to measure my depression.
I started to feel symptoms of what could be depression during my junior year in highschool. I became more lethargic and lost interest in good friend of mine who I had been dating. I began to lose interest in swimming. I had been on an U.S.S. Team for a year and was about to advance a level. I didn't think I was depressed so I went on with my life and kept swimming. I began to not show up to practice for most of that summer. I became captain of the highschool swim team in the fall and started swimming everyday again. That lasted for a month, then i started to skip practice. I began to try out St. John's Wort(herb that affects seritonin), but I was hiding my feelings from my parents and i didn't have much money so i took a fraction of the suggested dose.It had some good effect, but not much. In the winter I had a big breakdown. I told the coach that I was quitting the team. I let my mother set up an appointment with a psychologist. She gave me an interview and decided to prescribe for me Celexa an SSRI. I also made an appointment with a therapist. Before I had any appointment with the therapist, I was feeling very happy. My interest in my old friend increased dramatically(but she had a boyfriend). A week later, I stopped sleeping and got very jittery. I stopped taking celexa and made another appointment with the doctor. She said different drugs affect different people differently. This time she prescribed wellbutrin. Her description of wellbutrin was something along the lines of:
-weak dopamine(happiness), seritonin(calmness), and norepinephrine(adrenaline) uptake inhibitor
-like other antidepressants, it is unknown how it works
-it is marketed under another name as a stop smoking aide.
So, I started on a small dose felt good and gradually increased to her prescribed dose since it seemed to be working well. I was happy. I started going out again. I swam a little bit as opposed to none. I also took up learning to use and administer linux as a major hobby. Through talking with my therapist, I was able to determine why I came to this point in my life and ways around the problems for the future. I got a job over the summer and stuck with it. At the university, I rushed with a frat. One of the brothers was also taking wellbutrin. He was taking it for ADD. He said it was working for that, but he got really agressive sometimes to the point of violence. I was surprised since I didn't find myself overly agressive or at all violent. A month later, my roommate was prescribed wellbutrin for his ADD which the neurologist siad was caused by mild depression. he is about 2/3 my weight and was prescribed 1/3 more welbutrin than me bringing him to the maximum suggested dose 400mg/day. He had no problems with that. Soon he was prescirbed adderoll on top of that. My mother and sister were feeling depressed and were both prescribed wellbutrin. My mother was not helped by it. My sister started to but then she stopped taking it regularly and stopped altogether for a while. I ran out and had no more refills and went 2 weeks without it waiting for an appointment with the university doctor. during that time, I had terrible withdrawal symptoms which are the same as symptoms of depression. I missed a bunch of class, dropped one class after the deadline for this reason and got Cs in my other classes. The doctor started my prescripton again and I was feeling better within a few weeks. He told me that I should try to get off of it in May(two months ago). I was unhappy to hear this at the time, but a month passed and I was happy to know I'd be getting off of my chemical dependancy.
Therapy at this point became an outlet for all of the things going on in my life and gave me directed time to think. It felt good and in the future I will continue to see a therapist. I still haven't gotten around to talking to the doctor beacause of other stresses related to school and the dept. of Comp. Sci. This stress caused me to start erratically dropping my dose in half and bringing it back to normal. i.e. one day 300mg the next couple 150mg and back to 300mg again. Now I am steady at 150mg and I feel great like i did when it was first prescribed. I have an appointment with the doctor for next week to get prescribed an even lower dose(1 pill is 150mg and its sustained release). I think I will be off before the fall semester. Hooray!

I am overall satisfied with my experience with antidepressants and therapy. It is very important that medication be accompanied by therapy though.

So from personal and second hand experience I have seen that antidepressants are good if they are prescribed for the right reasons to the right person who uses them properly. Unfortunately, determining the right drug for the right person is at this time only possible through trial and error.

I hope this was useful to anybody who feels like they might be depressed. I would personally suggest to my family(i will have one in the future) in sexyblonde's situation to go to a therapist and talk about anything not just the recent death. this is a kind of preventative maintenance to make sure one doesn't require anitdepressants.

My thoughts... (4.16 / 6) (#71)
by geekgrrl on Wed Jul 25, 2001 at 02:39:53 AM EST

I have been on and off anti-depressants for a long time, I suffer from bipolar disorder and have done for as long as I can remember. One of the most important things I tell people when the ask me about anti-depressants is this: You need to find the right one!!! I went through many many different kinds before they put me on one that works for me, it took years. Another thing to note is that you don't always remember you are sick. Sometimes when you are on them you start to feel better (and it isn't like a miricle cure or like floating around, life can still really suck), you can find yourself thinking you can get through without them and stop taking them. A lot of doctors these days are so quick to throw pills in anyones direction and sometimes this isn't what they need at all, but it is a quick fix and lets face it they do opt for them. Also, and i can't stress this strongly enough, no anti-depresant is a miracle cure, there is still deep problems the person needs to seek help for, they aim to make life bareable until you can work through your issues with a trained professional. At least thats my take on it....

Not a lot of MD's around here ... (4.72 / 11) (#72)
by joegee on Wed Jul 25, 2001 at 03:00:18 AM EST

I assume you're not one, and even if you were most MD's know better than to diagnose themselves. Although I realize you have reasons for asking this question in an open forum, I strongly suggest you take any adamant advice or warnings from anyone in here lightly, at best.

As some of the more experienced posters in here have said, try to recognize that modern antidepressants are one more tool available to people who are suffering from clinical depression. By all means, if you are uncomfortable with psychotropics then first talk for a few weeks with a therapist, a pastor, or someone whose advice you trust, and see if that helps lift your mood.

If talking doesn't work for you, then please be aware that there are safe alternatives. I recommend very strongly that you use all the tools available to you.

Here are a few myths that I'll take a stab at addressing:
  • Once you start antidepressants you'll have to take them for the rest of your life. This is not true for most people. The majority of people who take antidepressants only need them until their mood has returned to normal and they show no signs of the depression returning. Most people who take antidepressants do so for only several months.
  • Antidepressants are addictive. No, they are not. Although some antidepressents require the person taking them to wean themselves from the medication once it is no longer needed, this is not addiction per se. Like any regularly-taken medication a certain serum level is required for antidepressants to be effective. The body adjusts to the presence of this chemical, and then must readjust to the lack of the chemical. The weaning process assures that the patient's mood remains stable as the medication is withdrawn. There are no shakes. There are no cravings. There are no compulsions.
  • Antidepressants have severe side effects. Many older antidepressants (in particular the MAO inhibitors) required dietary changes, caused excessive weight gain, could cause severe drowsiness, or could require testing of liver function. The only common effect of most modern antidepressants is the person being treated feels better. That's the point.
  • Depression is not really a problem. Mental illness will affect one out of every four people at some time in their life. A brain scan of a person with depression shows significant difference to that of a "normal" person. Depression can get worse if left untreated. Depression can be fatal. If it doesn't go away, seek professional help.
  • Taking antidepressants is a sign of weakness. Personally I believe seeking help for any problem is a sign of strength, not weakness.
Here's a major caveat for what I am telling you. I no longer recall the exact numbers that I quoted above (specifically the average number of months/weeks of treatment for a person taking antidepressants, and the ratio of people who will face a mental illness) and it's late -- I am too tired to go look them up on the net. I know I am close, but in all fairness my only source is dim, sleepy memory.

Again don't trust what I or anyone else in here have to say, TALK WITH A PROFESSIONAL. If you have health benefits, TALK WITH SEVERAL.

In closing, also realize when dealing with "professionals" that you as the patient have the right to deny anything that has not been sufficiently been explained to you. You have the right to request a different counselor/therapist, or even psychiatrist. Finally, you have the right to refuse any medication -- it's your body. It's your life.

I wish you well.

-Joe G.

<sig>I always learn something on K5, sometimes in spite of myself.</sig>
Talking about myths (4.50 / 2) (#74)
by Mekanix on Wed Jul 25, 2001 at 04:20:23 AM EST

Talking about myths you seem to repeat one of the biggest:

Antidepressants have severe side effects. Many older antidepressants (in particular the MAO inhibitors) required dietary changes, caused excessive weight gain, could cause severe drowsiness, or could require testing of liver function. The only common effect of most modern antidepressants is the person being treated feels better. That's the point.

This is just not true. Mordern antidepressant do have serious sideeffects. Perhaps not as severe as the older but serious enough.

  • Many experiences weightgain/loss. Since many depressive also suffers from low selfesteme(sp?) this then is not helping.
  • Drowsiness and fatigue are very common as well.
  • Ruined sexlife. If you have a healthy sexlife before using antidepressant you could end up making your situation worse. Sex is good for many things, depression is one of them. Ruined sexlife can put another strain on an already strained relationship.
  • Mooddampening. Sure, the antidepressant might take away (some) of the depressive symptons. But it also work the other way around it also dampens your happy moments. Antidepressant doesn't make your happier just less depressive.
  • Sleepdeprevation(sp?). No need to go into details what lack of sleep will do to your mind.

and then there are all those minor sideeffects like dry mouth, sweating etc..

And you forgot one important myth:

  • Antidepressant cures depression. Not so. Antidepressant is purely symptontreatment and if that's all treatment you recive then the cause still lurs out there and just waits to return.

For the rest I agree. Seek professionel help.


[ Parent ]
I have to disagree with just one point ... (none / 0) (#88)
by joegee on Wed Jul 25, 2001 at 01:43:34 PM EST

I take issue with this comment:

Modern antidepressants do have serious side effects.

The side effects you mention* are:
  • Sexual disfunction. Zoloft can cause delayed orgasm and/or decreased sexual appetite. I do not believe that altered sexual function is a side effect of Effexor, Prozac, or Serzone ...
  • Weight loss/gain. If you check the reported side effects with your pharmacist, this occurs in a small percentage of individuals. Most of the newer antidepressants have no effect on weight or appetite.
  • Mood dampening. Loss of depressive feelings? That's the point. :)
  • Sleep deprivation. This is not a side effect that I have either experienced or seen, but Prozac is known to cause excitability.
Interestingly enough depression on its own can cause changes in appetite, loss of sexual desire/function, and an irregular sleep cycle.

If you tell your MD ahead of time that sexual disfunction is a concern for you, that you are anorexic, or that you are an insomniac then the side effects to which you refer can be avoided.

The other point that you miss is that these side effects are not nearly as serious as the disease the antidepressant is intended to help treat. These side effects are not even as serious as the side effects of many other widely prescribed drugs. Propecia, for hair regrowth, can cause severe liver damage. The ever-popular Viagra can cause heart failure. Where's the jihad against these medications?

Even over the counter medications can have serious side effects but people continue to take aspirin, diphenhydramine, acetaminophen, pseudoephedrine, and ibuprofen because they have real benefits that outweigh their risks.

You are correct in observinging that antidepressants treat the symptoms of depression, not the cause, that's another reason why counseling/talking is an important part of the successful treatment of depression.

Again it is important that people realize that clinical depression is a real disease, with very real risks, that in many cases requires some sort of intervention for it to go away. I do not want to discourage anyone from seeking professional help.

* One very rare side effect that I am surprised you do not mention is a profound change in affect that can occur in an extremely small group of people with the antidepressant Prozac. If you begin experiencing deeply irrational thoughts, become severely suicidal, begin hearing voices, and/or hallucinating soon after beginning Prozac therapy -- immediately call the prescribing physician. The change is temporary, and reverses quickly, but it can be very disturbing.

<sig>I always learn something on K5, sometimes in spite of myself.</sig>
[ Parent ]
... my last 2 cents (none / 0) (#124)
by Mekanix on Fri Jul 27, 2001 at 05:09:44 AM EST

Sexual disfunction. Zoloft can cause delayed orgasm and/or decreased sexual appetite. I do not believe that altered sexual function is a side effect of Effexor, Prozac, or Serzone ...

Zoloft, Cipramil and another handfull are known to wreck hawock in your sexual life. Especially Cipramil are notoriously known for this.

Weight loss/gain. If you check the reported side effects with your pharmacist, this occurs in a small percentage of individuals. Most of the newer antidepressants have no effect on weight or appetite.

There is the so called documented few occurences doesn't really stand up against what users experiences. When I started on antidepressant I was a bit baffled since I've apperently caught all of those rarely occuring sideeffect. Then I started meeting other people using antidepressant and almost everybody seemed to be a special case, with weight loss/gain the most common sideeffect. :-)

I also seem to recall that some usenetgroup made a survey a couple of years back. The various "rare" sideeffects was reported by ~20%-30% (depending on sideeffect).

Mood dampening. Loss of depressive feelings? That's the point. :)

That's the point, yes. But it works in both end of the moodspectrum. You might loose the depressive feeling, but might also end up not feeling joy. Most people don't notice this though until long into the treatment because they feel "happy" of not being in hell anymore. But after a year or so of no-joy you'll notice.

Sleep deprivation. This is not a side effect that I have either experienced or seen, but Prozac is known to cause excitability.

I had this with Cipramil. a year with no sleep marks you!

Again it is important that people realize that clinical depression is a real disease, with very real risks, that in many cases requires some sort of intervention for it to go away. I do not want to discourage anyone from seeking professional help.

No argument from me there. I'm just saying that antidepressant aren't that glamour (some) people wants to make of it.

And as a sidenote, antidepressant doesn't solve your problem but might be a help dealing with them.


[ Parent ]
Heh ... (none / 0) (#145)
by joegee on Mon Jul 30, 2001 at 12:37:59 PM EST

I have taken Zoloft for better than seven years. I have a different type of depression, mine recurs chronically. Alternately I have had direct experience with doxepin, effexor, trazodone, and prozac.

Effexor works OK with me, prozac makes me loopy (see my previous post -- the cautionary statement. I am one of the documented cases.) Doxepin makes me very drowsy. Trazodone does the same.

From my own perspective taking Zoloft at 200 Mg per day I note occasional sexual disfunction, no drowsiness, no weight gain, and no reduction of joy.

You'll note that whenever like-minded individuals congregate into a group a group psychology can take over. Especially when dealing with diseases, if I were to go into a group and say "antidepressant X has given me a rash on my tongue" suddenly not only would tongue rashes become the vogue topic, there would be dozens of "me too" posts from other rash-sufferers, current and past.

Of course, antidepressant X is probably not responsible for the rash, but suddenly it's a symptom to be quoted to scare people away from the evils of X, even though it is undocumented and unobserved by any medical professionals ...

Antidepressants are not a cure, but they are a tool which as part of a treatment plan under the supervision of a qualified medical doctor can help a person to feel better. At the risk of contributing to someone's demise I will not risk discouraging anyone who needs it from seeking out professional help for a mental illness.

<sig>I always learn something on K5, sometimes in spite of myself.</sig>
[ Parent ]
Anti-deps alone are not enough. (none / 0) (#75)
by szap on Wed Jul 25, 2001 at 05:12:12 AM EST

I was on Luvox[1] a few years ago for a few months. They did have a lot of effect of my behavior. Following is my take, based on my personal experience:

When a person's (clinically) depressed, their behavior can be very irrational, whether they're on anti-deps or not. The difference is the type of irrationality. Former tends towards death/suicidal thoughts. Latter tends towards dreaminess, dizziness. Both includes panic and anxiety attacks. The trick is to get away from suicidal thoughts by taking anti-depressants and work towards a more normal routine, coping with the more cope-able dizziness. Only after a routine is established that you can try slowly getting off anti-deps and back into life.

I'm wandering off a bit, but my point is: anyone who's irrational (e.g. depressed with or without medication) could be "unsafe". You really need someone who's level-headed, unjudgemental and patient looking after the depressed person(s). Worrying about them, or trying to find a magical solution or treatment to the problem does NOT help. You have to actively monitor, talk to, and help them. Don't leave them alone, even if they want to be.

I'm off the medication now, but I won't call myself fully cured. Trying to cope and suppress any relapse and get back into life. Be patient, caring and don't give up on them. It might take some time, years even, but family and friends' support is the most important.

P.S. Your niece "b"'s medication probably didn't have enough time to work. It takes about a few weeks to a month of regular medication before you see positive effects! Be patient. When you're trying out a new medication, stick to it for a month, and make sure they do really take them! And make sure they don't try anything stupid in the meantime.

P.P.S. In case this is too rambling, my point REALLY is: "you are asking the wrong question, since YMMV on medication, but human support is more important". Read and learn more about depression and their medication and their treatment, there're tons of information on the net.

[1] Infamous after at least a high-school killer was found to be on it. Another reason why the medications alone don't help.

Six months of prozac (3.00 / 1) (#76)
by katie on Wed Jul 25, 2001 at 06:20:39 AM EST

I was put on 20mg/day of prozac six months ago, after I became rather depressed as a side effect of another medical condition (It's fairly common that people need treatment for depression along with this.)

It solved things in the short term - it meant I could concentrate on solving the underlying problems, and so after 6 months I'm being taken off it.

I have to say, I've had a LOT of side effects. Taking them in the evening gives me insomnia, taking them in the morning means that by about lunchtime I've got a lot of joint pain. I have migraine attacks occaisionally, bouts of feeling sick. I occaisionally have bizarre mood swings, giggling fits, crying fits and on several occaisions I've ended up completely stoned: people thought I was drunk.

None of which is any fun, especially the insomnia - the other medication I'm on tires me out very quickly.

In general I felt numb, unable to concentrate properly and I've been REALLY irritable. I don't really know how much is down to the prozac and how much is the other drugs, but I don't think I was as bad before.

The only lasting side effect is that while slightly stoned one night I got out of bed to go to the bathroom and walked into a table, which has left a bit of a scar on my leg...

But short term it seems to have worked. It gave me enough space to fix the causes of the depression (I hope) and got me through a particularly bad patch at a particularly pivotal time in my life.

I'd hate to be on them long term though.

Depression (3.33 / 3) (#77)
by gromgull on Wed Jul 25, 2001 at 07:10:11 AM EST

This is slightly off-topics, moving from anti-depressants to depressions.

Someone wrote: "I was, like most kids in US high school and college, was severely depressed."

I would like to quote Denis Leary:

God.. "I'm just not happy. I'm just not happy. I'm just not happy because my life didn't turn out the way I thought it would." Hey! Join the fucking club, ok!? I thought I was going to be the starting center fielder for the Boston Red Socks. Life sucks, get a fucking helmet, allright?! "I'm not happy. I'm not happy." Nobody's happy, ok!? Happiness comes in small doses folks. It's a cigarette, or a chocolate cookie, or a five second orgasm. That's it, ok! You cum, you eat the cookie, you smoke the butt, you go to sleep, you get up in the morning and go to fucking work, ok!? That is it! End of fucking list! "I'm just not happy." Shut the fuck up, allright?

- Denis Leary

I am not trying to be mean here, I am sure your depression was real and it sucked, and you couldn't snap out of it and it was the fault of society, your family, your teacher, your school, your friends etc. etc. BUT FOR FUCKS SAKE! Its a state of MIND, you affect (control?) your way of thinking, but it takes slightly more effort than watching Ally McBeal... ARGH !

Right then...
Sorry for rambling, I dont expect this to make me popular.

If I had my way I'd have all of you shot

state of mind (none / 0) (#107)
by f00b4r on Wed Jul 25, 2001 at 11:45:03 PM EST

I agree that depression is a state of mind, however it is a state of mind in which you do not posses the tools to change or control it. What you have to understand is that not everybodies mind operates like yours, or Denis Leary's.

Depression is a state of mind, and part of being in that state is that no matter what you do you can not change the state...

Its like the dead state in an automaton... there are ways to reach the depressed state, but no matter what link you use to get out of this dead state, it brings you right back.

[ Parent ]
Re: state of mind (none / 0) (#114)
by gromgull on Thu Jul 26, 2001 at 04:15:14 AM EST

What you have to understand is that not everybodies mind operates like yours, or Denis Leary's.

And thank fuck for that :)
If I had my way I'd have all of you shot

[ Parent ]
And paralysis is just "a state of body" (none / 0) (#113)
by Macrobat on Thu Jul 26, 2001 at 01:44:29 AM EST

Yes, depression is a state of mind. And paralysis is a state of body. Nobody tells a quadruplegic that a good run around the block will cure what ails them. But we do say that thinking cheerful thoughts or assuming a stoic philosophy will cure depression.

Oh, and by the way...Dennis Leary is a chain-smoker. Tobacco is a psychotropic drug. (That's why people use it as a substitute for Zyban :) So I don't think he's exactly the model spokesman for drug-free self-reliance.

"Hardly used" will not fetch a better price for your brain.
[ Parent ]

Unrealistic expectations (none / 0) (#138)
by sy5tematic on Sun Jul 29, 2001 at 02:12:40 PM EST

I'll buck the trend and throw some support to gromgull on this.

The point as I see it is the quoted opinion (In the comment titled "For K5 Teenagers") that: "I was, like most kids in US high school and college, was severely depressed." The assumption that most kids in high school are Severely Depressed seems like a bit of hyperbole to me. I was given to understand that conditions like "severe depression" were defined in (at least in part) by their relation to a "normal" human's emotional state. Saying that most people in a group are severely depressed is like saying that most of them are below average (and not just below average, severely below average). Now I'm not entirely up on the new math, but the only way I can see that most high-school and college students could be severely depressed is to have a very screwed up view of what depressed means.

The author of the quote appeared to be speaking from personal experience, and not quoting any published studies. I'm not trying to attack them. I'm trying to point out an example that many people are under the impression that most people are severely depressed, unless properly medicated. The root of this is the belief that if youre not happy all the time, you're depressed, and if you're actually depressed once and a while, you're severely depressed.

It's become an endemic belief in our society that happy, pain and illness free is the "normal" state and anything less means something is terribly wrong with you. This is not limited to anti-depressants. Not happy? have a Prozac. Can't sleep? try a Valium. Headache? Asprin. Head Cold? Sudafed. Hyperactive child? try Ritalin ("The only thing more effective is regular exercise.")

These unrealistic expectations are a big part of what causes drugs (anti-depressants, pain-killers, etc.) to be overprescribed. They have the secondary effect of telling people who might be slightly depressed that something is wrong with them, driving them further down.

Its NOT normal to be happy all the time. Its not normal to be depressed all the time either. Some times you're happy, sometimes you're sad, and somoe times you're neither happy or sad, you just are.

This is normal.

That's the point that Dennis Leary was trying to make, in his own tender and caring way.

[ Parent ]

What Anti-Depressants (4.00 / 1) (#78)
by dagoski on Wed Jul 25, 2001 at 08:25:38 AM EST

The story here is sobering and more than a little worrisome. Anti-depressants should not behave the way the author described. However, such medications can have that affect if prescribed in combination with other drugs. Furthermore, at least some of the symptoms sound like what happens when someone without ADD is given ritalin. What meds are they on? Oh, and children are affected very differently by medications than adults are. In my experience, anti-depressants have been a life saver. What they did for me was subtle: They put a bottom in my black moods; I could only fall so far before I hit bottom. That singular affect is what enabled me to climb out of a serious, multi year long depression. I would like to point out that what I was going through was quite a bit different than what the event described in the story here. I'd been suffering for a quite a long time, and I was depressed in the absence of any recent traumatic event. In my opinion, the grief and sadness arising from the loss of a loved one is quite normal, and is something that needs to be experienced. You shouldn't try to medicate that because the feelings of loss and sadness in this instance is what makes you human.

SSRIs are scary... (4.33 / 3) (#79)
by tapir on Wed Jul 25, 2001 at 08:55:16 AM EST

I couldn't handle more than a week of Prozac. It was like something out of a science fiction. I'd have hallucinations and other people would see them -- I couldn't do anything without it having an effect on people hundreds of miles away.

I had an uncomfortable feeling in my solar plexus and I couldn't work. I hated the way the drug made me feel, but every morning I had a little craving for my pill.

Fluoxetine (Prozac) has a 7-day half-life in the body and it's active metabolite Norfluoxetine last 15 days. I did a fast and drank nettle tea to clean out my system and after about three days the worst of the effects lifted -- I was getting hope I'd be normal again. For maybe two weeks afterwards I was worrying that I'd permanently damaged by brain.

My friends tell me that Prozac isn't half as bad as Effexor, which has both an SSRI and amphetamine-like effect. Most SSRIs don't have the long half-life of Prozac, and going cold turkey on SSRIs is one of the worst things you can experience -- unless you're going cold turkey on speed at the same time, the way you are with Effexor. If you take Effexor for more than a month, you'll be taking it for the rest of your life.

Many people think SSRIs go great with pot. However, it's not unusual for people to have panic attacks when they smoke pot, particularly if they smoke a lot or if they're new to smoking it. Either quit smoking pot, smoke less, or just realize that the THC is going to wash out of your system and you'll be OK.

A lot of people go see their primary care physician when they have a mental health problem. Trouble is, in America's "world leading" health care system, HMO doctors have an average of eight minutes to diagnose and treat depression. At best you take a twenty-question test and then get a prescription... From a doctor that knows practically nothing about the drugs and their effects, who certainly has never taken them and doesn't know what they do. Given that depression is such a crippling illness, this is a tragedy.

Anti-Depresants are a tricky thing... (2.00 / 1) (#83)
by t3chie on Wed Jul 25, 2001 at 10:17:25 AM EST

I've seen a fair bit of the anti-depresant craze America is in right now. Isn't depresion normal? Feeling sad happens! When someone dies that is sad. It just interferes with our life style so we now change it with drugs... wahoo... Anti-Depresants are not to be tkaen lightly (the subject that is)... A friend was diagnosed with depresion and given prozac... turns out the biggest problem was not the depresion, but the anxioty... Prozac just made the anxioty worse... The doc said... woops sorry! -- durring this time she started cutting herself... While I wouldn't put it as cause and effect, I would say it accelerated the problem... She has now been through countless psych wards and drugs... Nothing has really changed for the better with the drugs... I'd say she'd be in about the same place w/o any of the drugs.

Depression IS NOT Sadness (4.20 / 5) (#91)
by afeldspar on Wed Jul 25, 2001 at 04:32:28 PM EST

I've seen a fair bit of the anti-depresant craze America is in right now. Isn't depresion normal? Feeling sad happens!

Depression and sadness are not the same thing. This is probably the single most widespread misunderstanding about depression.

Sadness is an emotional reaction to the events of life. Depression is an emotional reaction to a distorted and unrealistic perception of the events of life. Take for example these two possible reactions to the breakup of a relationship:

  1. "This is very sad. I loved this person a lot; now it's going to hurt to not be close to them any more, and it's going to feel lonely without them."
  2. "This is unbearable. This person was the only one I could ever be happy with; I already know that I'll never find anyone else that I can have a relationship with. I must be a terrible person; if I had only been a better person, the breakup never would have happened."

Clearly, the second reaction is extremely distorted, jumping to several unwarranted conclusions. Sadness based on the relatively accurate perceptions of 1) is true, healthy sadness; sadness, however, based on the distorted and untrue perceptions of 2) is untrue and unhealthy depression.

Depression also inhibits a sufferer's ability to think clearly; this is an effect observable in the laboratory. This causes a feedback loop: if you are depressed (and especially if you mistakenly think that depressed thinking is just "part of life" and something you should give in to) then it will inhibit your ability to think clearly, which in turn will lead to more distorted perceptions, which will in turn lead to more depression.

Depression is perhaps best thought of as a parasite or as an opportunistic infection -- it will take advantage of any existing weakness it finds. This leads many people to incorrectly conclude that because the weakness may be inevitable, and denying it unhealthy, that depression is inevitable and denying it unhealthy.

Nothing could be further from the truth. We see how wrong this belief is if we recast it in terms of phsyical health. "If your leg gets broken, it's inevitable that it will heal crookedly. And if it becomes gangrenous, well, then, you must accept that too as inevitable, and it would be unhealthy to try to get rid of that infection."

Does that accord at all with what we know of modern medicine? Or does anyone with any sense at all say "We can't make a broken leg heal any faster, but we can and should straighten it so that it heals properly, and eliminate any infection trying to take advantage of the body's trauma"?

-- For those concerned about the "virality" of the GPL, a suggestion: Write Your Own Damn Code.
[ Parent ]

Comment I'd like to make (none / 0) (#101)
by sexyblonde on Wed Jul 25, 2001 at 08:05:15 PM EST

You wrote: Depression and sadness are not the same thing. This is probably the single most widespread misunderstanding about depression.

I believe that depression and sadness go hand in hand.
Here is the definition of depression
The New Merriam-Webster Dictionary

Depression: \di'presh-en\ n 1: an act of depressing. : a state of being depressed 2: a pressing down lowering : 3: a state of feeling SAD 4: an emotional disorder especially marked esp. by SADNESS, inactivity, difficulty in thinking and concentration, and feelings of dejection

[ Parent ]
Note that, in the definition... (none / 0) (#102)
by nytes on Wed Jul 25, 2001 at 08:26:21 PM EST

it says "an emotional disorder marked esp. by..."

That indicates that depression is not sadness. Sadness is a symptom.

When the word "depression" is used in a medical sense, it refers to an extended, and frequently incapacitating, condition.

Everyone feels sad now and then, but not everyone is clinically depressed.

[ Parent ]
It also says a state of feeling sad. (none / 0) (#109)
by sexyblonde on Thu Jul 26, 2001 at 12:37:32 AM EST

[ Parent ]
Yes, but it's NOT A *MEDICAL* DICTIONARY (none / 0) (#112)
by Macrobat on Thu Jul 26, 2001 at 01:17:56 AM EST

Folks, sometimes professionals use words in ways that are different from everyday parlance.

We computer folks use words like "mouse", "desktop", "window", and "scroll" in ways that make little sense outside of the computer world. A Webster dictionary definition of "window" as, say "a pane of flat glass" or something does not help the discussion if we're talking about the little rectangles on our video screens. We do not control the unwinding of ancient rolls of papyrus with the aid of tiny, long-tailed rodents.

So, as long as we're talking about clinical depression, let's stick to the clinical definition, 'kay?

"Hardly used" will not fetch a better price for your brain.
[ Parent ]

Dictionaries are not proof (2.00 / 1) (#108)
by afeldspar on Thu Jul 26, 2001 at 12:25:00 AM EST

Dictionaries are an attempt to reflect the way language is actually used. If a great many people use a term incorrectly (especially if it is a term with a specific technical meaning which is widely interpreted by non-professionals.)

Try looking up "Frankenstein" in a number of dictionaries and see how many of them list the Monster in Mary Shelley's novel as a meaning even though that is clearly incorrect.

-- For those concerned about the "virality" of the GPL, a suggestion: Write Your Own Damn Code.
[ Parent ]

Definition of depression (4.00 / 2) (#118)
by kjeldar on Thu Jul 26, 2001 at 04:10:39 PM EST

You wrote:
I believe that depression and sadness go hand in hand.

Whatever you may believe and whatever Webster may say are both irrelevant. When discussing "depression" in a medical context, it's important to be informed about what the word actually *means* within that context.

The discussion relates to what most people with no formal training call "clinical depression." What K5ers here are referring to (for the most part) is what psychologists and psychiatrists call Major Depressive Disorder.

It's defined in the psychiatric profession's bible, DSM-IV, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders - Fourth Edition, which is published by the American Psychiatric Association.

Major Depressive Disorder
  1. At least one of the following three abnormal moods which significantly interfered with the person's life:

    1. Abnormal depressed mood most of the day, nearly every day, for at least 2 weeks.

    2. Abnormal loss of all interest and pleasure most of the day, nearly every day, for at least 2 weeks.

    3. If 18 or younger, abnormal irritable mood most of the day, nearly every day, for at least 2 weeks.

  2. At least five of the following symptoms have been present during the same 2 week depressed period.

    1. Abnormal depressed mood (or irritable mood if a child or adolescent) [as defined in criterion A].

    2. Abnormal loss of all interest and pleasure [as defined in criterion A2].

    3. Appetite or weight disturbance, either:

      • Abnormal weight loss (when not dieting) or decrease in appetite.
      • Abnormal weight gain or increase in appetite.

    4. Sleep disturbance, either abnormal insomnia or abnormal hypersomnia.

    5. Activity disturbance, either abnormal agitation or abnormal slowing (observable by others).

    6. Abnormal fatigue or loss of energy.

    7. Abnormal self-reproach or inappropriate guilt.

    8. Abnormal poor concentration or indecisiveness.

    9. Abnormal morbid thoughts of death (not just fear of dying) or suicide.

  3. The symptoms are not due to a mood-incongruent psychosis.

  4. There has never been a Manic Episode, a Mixed Episode, or a Hypomanic Episode.

  5. The symptoms are not due to physical illness, alcohol, medication, or street drugs.

  6. The symptoms are not due to normal bereavement.

 Essential Features 

By definition, Major Depressive Disorder cannot be due to:

  • Physical illness, alcohol, medication, or street drug use.
  • Normal bereavement.
  • Bipolar Disorder
  • Mood-incongruent psychosis (e.g., Schizoaffective Disorder, Schizophrenia, Schizophreniform Disorder, Delusional Disorder, or Psychotic Disorder Not Otherwise Specified).

Major Depressive Disorder causes the following  mood  symptoms:

  • Abnormal depressed mood:

    Sadness is usually a normal reaction to loss. However, in Major Depressive Disorder, sadness is abnormal because it:

    • Persists continuously for at least 2 weeks.
    • Causes marked functional impairment.
    • Causes disabling physical symptoms (e.g., disturbances in sleep, appetite, weight, energy, and psychomotor activity).
    • Causes disabling psychological symptoms (e.g., apathy, morbid preoccupation with worthlessness, suicidal ideation, or psychotic symptoms).

    The sadness in this disorder is often described as a depressed, hopeless, discouraged, "down in the dumps," "blah," or empty. This sadness may be denied at first. Many complain of bodily aches and pains, rather than admitting to their true feelings of sadness.

  • Abnormal loss of interest and pleasure mood:

    • The loss of interest and pleasure in this disorder is a reduced capacity to experience pleasure which in its most extreme form is called anhedonia.
    • The resulting lack of motivation can be quite crippling.

  • Abnormal irritable mood:

    • This disorder may present primarily with irritable, rather than depressed or apathetic mood. This is not officially recognized yet for adults, but it is recognized for children and adolescents.
    • Unfortunately, irritable depressed individuals often alienate their loved ones with their cranky mood and constant criticisms.

Major Depressive Disorder causes the following  physical  symptoms:

  • Abnormal appetite: Most depressed patients experience loss of appetite and weight loss. The opposite, excessive eating and weight gain, occurs in a minority of depressed patients. Changes in weight can be significant.
  • Abnormal sleep: Most depressed patients experience difficulty falling asleep, frequent awakenings during the night or very early morning awakening. The opposite, excessive sleeping, occurs in a minority of depressed patients.
  • Fatigue or loss of energy: Profound fatigue and lack of energy usually is very prominent and disabling.
  • Agitation or slowing: Psychomotor retardation (an actual physical slowing of speech, movement and thinking) or psychomotor agitation (observable pacing and physical restlessness) often are present in severe Major Depressive Disorder.

Major Depressive Disorder causes the following  cognitive  symptoms:

  • Abnormal self-reproach or inappropriate guilt:

    • This disorder usually causes a marked lowering of self-esteem and self-confidence with increased thoughts of pessimism, hopelessness, and helplessness. In the extreme, the person may feel excessively and unreasonably guilty.
    • The "negative thinking" caused by depression can become extremely dangerous as it can eventually lead to extremely self-defeating or suicidal behavior.

  • Abnormal poor concentration or indecisiveness:

    • Poor concentration is often an early symptom of this disorder. The depressed person quickly becomes mentally fatigued when asked to read, study, or solve complicated problems.
    • Marked forgetfulness often accompanies this disorder. As it worsens, this memory loss can be easily mistaken for early senility (dementia).

  • Abnormal morbid thoughts of death (not just fear of dying) or suicide:

    • The symptom most highly correlated with suicidal behavior in depression is hopelessness.

  1. History: If depressive symptoms are present, determine:

    • Time course and severity.
    • Any prior episodes and level of recovery.
    • Any history of manic or hypomanic episodes.
    • If other major psychiatric disorders are present. Any suicidal ideation, plan, or intent.

    May use Beck Inventory, or Geriatric Depression Scale to screen for high-risk patients.

  2. Examination: Evaluate for possible related medical conditions: anemia, hypothyroidism, chronic infection, substance abuse, or medication side effects (oral contraceptives, antihypertensives, etc.).

  3. Lab tests: Screen for medical causes of depression (if suspected by history or physical examination). Lab tests may include complete blood count with differential, electrolytes, renal and liver functions, thyroid studies, etc.

  1. Hospitalization: Indicated if serious suicidal ideation is present (with a plan and access to the means), patient is dangerous to self or others, there is a complicating medical condition, or there is a lack of support system at home.

  2. Medication: Most antidepressants believed to be equally effective in equivalent therapeutic doses. Expect a 2- to 6- week latent period before the full effect is seen at therapeutic doses. To prevent relapse, continue medication for at least 4 to 9 months after patient becomes asymptomatic. For recurrent depression, consider chronic prophylactic therapy.

    1. Tricyclic Antidepressants (TCAs): A rational method for selecting a TCA is to narrow the choice to a dimethylated TCA (such as imipramine) and a monomethylated TCA (such as nortriptyline). Choose between them based on patient's sedation requirements and ability to tolerate orthostatic hypotension, weight gain, and anticholinergic adverse effects. TCAs are usually given QHS to take advantage of sedating effects. All TCAs may cause slowing of cardiac conduction. May be fatal in overdoses around 2000 mg or more in adults. A therapeutic trial usually is considered >100 mg/day of amitriptyline or its equivalent for at least 3 weeks. Note: Nortriptyline (Pamelor) has a "therapeutic window" plasma level of 50 to 150 ng/ml for optimal efficacy. It has the lowest risk for orthostatic hypotension of all TCAs making it a safe choice in the geriatric patient.

    2. Second-generation Antidepressants:

      • Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs): Much safer in overdose than TCAs. Expensive in contrast to generic TCAs. Initial dose often an effective dose. May need to start at lower doses in the elderly or others sensitive to side effects. Side effects vary and may include nausea, anorexia, insomnia or mild sedation, sweating, headache, tremor, sexual dysfunction, and nervousness. Fluoxetine (Prozac) may have a slower onset of action than other SSRIs. Safety in patients with cardiovascular disease not well studied. Fluvoxamine (Luvox) is contraindicated with astemizole and terfenadine. All SSRIs contraindicated with MAOIs. If switching from a SSRI to a MAOI, need a drug-free period of 14 days for paroxetine (Paxil), sertraline (Zoloft) or fluvoxamine (Luvox) or 5 weeks for fluoxetine (Prozac) .

      • Bupropion (Wellbutrin): Safer in overdose than TCAs. Safer choice in patients with history of cardiac disease. Very low incidence of sexual dysfunction compared to SSRIs, TCAs, and MAOIs. TID schedule and 150 mg maximum single dose to minimize the risk of seizures (0.4%). Contraindicated in patients with seizure disorder, bulimia, or anorexia nervosa.

      • Venlafaxine (Effexor): Monitor for blood pressure elevation.

      • Trazodone (Desyrel):. Patients with cardiac disease should be closely monitored. Used as monotherapy or adjunct to certain antidepressants for sedation at bedtime. Risk of priapism 1:6000.

      • Nefazodone (Serzone): A newer treatment option for patients experiencing either poor response or intolerable side effects from other antidepressants. Contraindicated with astemizole and terfenadine.

      • Mirtazapine (Remeron): A newer option for patients with a poor response or an inability to tolerate other antidepressants.

    3. Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitors (MAOIs): Sometimes used in depression refractory to the other treatments. Consider consulting psychiatrist before starting because of the serious adverse effect potential.

  3. Psychotherapy: Supportive therapy is always part of depression treatment. Other types of psychotherapy may be helpful in mild to moderate depression, alone or with medication.

  4. Electroconvulsive Therapy: Highly controversial treatment and the jury is still out. No explanation or theory for its sometimes surprising efficacy has yet been produced. However, ECT is sometimes the most effective, rapid method of treating severe major depressive disorder (MDD). Indicated for patients with poor response to medications, poor tolerance of usual antidepressants, severe vegetative symptoms, or psychotic features. The decision to administer ECT should be made by a psychiatrist.

 Associated Features and Comorbitity 


  • 80 to 90% of individuals with Major Depressive Disorder also have anxiety symptoms (e.g., anxiety, obsessive preoccupations, panic attacks, phobias, and excessive health concerns).
  • Separation Anxiety may be prominent in children.
  • About one third of individuals with Major Depressive Disorder also have a full-blown anxiety disorder (usually either Panic Disorder, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, or Social Phobia).
  • Anxiety in a person with major depression leads to a poorer response to treatment, poorer social and work function, greater likelihood of chronicity and an increased risk of suicidal behavior.

Eating Disorders:

  • Individuals with Anorexia Nervosa and Bulimia Nervosa often develop Major Depressive Disorder.


  • Mood congruent delusions or hallucinations may accompany severe Major Depressive Disorder.

Substance Abuse:

  • The combination of Major Depressive Disorder and substance abuse is common (especially Alcohol and Cocaine).
  • Alcohol or street drugs are often mistakenly used as a remedy for depression. However, this abuse of alcohol or street drugs actually worsens Major Depressive Disorder.
  • Depression may also be a consequence of drug or alcohol withdrawal and is commonly seen after cocaine and amphetamine use.

Medical Illness:

  • 25% of individuals with severe, chronic medical illness (e.g., diabetes, myocardial infarction, carcinomas, stroke) develop depression.
  • About 5% of individuals initially diagnosed as having Major Depressive Disorder subsequently are found to have another medical illness which was the cause of their depression.
  • Medical conditions often causing depression are:

    • Endocrine disorders: hypothyroidism, hyperparathyroidism, Cushing's disease, and diabetes mellitus.
    • Neurological disorders: multiple sclerosis, Parkinson's disease, migraine, various forms of epilepsy, encephalitis, brain tumors.
    • Medications: many medications can cause depression, especially antihypertensive agents such as calcium channel blockers, beta blockers, analgesics and some anti-migraine medications.

Mortality: Up to 15% of patients with severe Major Depressive Disorder die by suicide. Over age 55, there is a fourfold increase in death rate.

Premorbid History: 10-25% of patients with Major Depressive Disorder have preexisting Dysthymic Disorder. These "double depressions" (i.e., Dysthymia + Major Depressive Disorder) have a poorer prognosis.

Gender: Males and females are equally affected by Major Depressive Disorder prior to puberty. After puberty, this disorder is twice as common in females as in males. The highest rates for this disorder are in the 25- to 44-year-old age group.

Prevalence: The lifetime risk for Major Depressive Disorder is 10% to 25% for women and from 5% to 12% for men. At any point in time, 5% to 9% of women and 2% to 3% of men suffer from this disorder. Prevalence is unrelated to ethnicity, education, income, or marital status.

Onset: Average age at onset is 25, but this disorder may begin at any age.

Psychological stress: Stress appears to play a prominent role in triggering the first 1-2 episodes of this disorder, but not in subsequent episodes.

Duration: An average episode lasts about 9 months.

Course: Course is variable. Some people have isolated episodes that are separated by many years, whereas others have clusters of episodes, and still others have increasingly frequent episodes as they grow older.
About 20% of individuals with this disorder have a chronic course.

Recurrence: The risk of recurrence is about 70% at 5 year follow up and at least 80% at 8 year follow-up.
After the first episode of Major Depressive Disorder, there is a 50%-60% chance of having a second episode, and a 5-10% chance of having a Manic Episode (i.e., developing Bipolar I Disorder). After the second episode, there is a 70% chance of having a third. After the third episode, there a 90% chance of having a fourth.
The greater number of previous episodes is an important risk factor for recurrence.

Recovery: For patients with severe Major Depressive Disorder, 76% on antidepressant therapy recover, whereas only 18% on placebo recover. For these severely depressed patients, significantly more recover on antidepressant therapy than on interpersonal psychotherapy. For these same patients, cognitive therapy has been shown to be no more effective than placebo.

New research shows that a medication/psychotherapy combination - preferably Cognitive Behavior Therapy - seems to be most effective.

Poor Outcome: Poor outcome or chronicity in Major Depressive Disorder is associated with the following:

  • Inadequate treatment
  • Severe initial symptoms
  • Early age of onset
  • Greater number of previous episodes
  • Only partial recovery after one year
  • Having another severe mental disorder (e.g. Alcohol Dependency, Cocaine Dependency)
  • Severe chronic medical illness
  • Family dysfunction

Familial Pattern And Genetics: There is strong evidence that major depression is, in part, a genetic disorder:

  • Individuals who have parents or siblings with Major Depressive Disorder have a 1.5-3 times higher risk of developing this disorder.
  • The concordance for major depression in monozygotic twins is substantially higher than it is in dizygotic twins. However, the concordance in monozygotic twins is in the order of about 50%, suggesting that factors other than genetic factors are also involved.
  • Children adopted away at birth from biological parents who have a depressive illness carry the same high risk as a child not adopted away, even if they are raised in a family where no depressive illness exists.
  • Interestingly, families having Major Depressive Disorder have an increased risk of developing Alcoholism and AttentionDeficit/Hyperactivity Disorder.
 Differential Diagnosis 

Some disorders display similar or sometimes even the same symptoms. The clinician, therefore, in his diagnostic attempt has to differentiate against the following disorders which he needs to rule out to establish a precise diagnosis.
  1. Exclude depressions due to physical illness, medications, or street drug use:

    • If due to physical illness, diagnose: Mood Disorder Due to a General Medical Condition.
    • If due to alcohol, diagnose: Alcohol-Induced Mood Disorder.
    • If due to other substance use, diagnose: Other Substance-Induced Mood Disorder.

     Organic Causes Of Severe Depression: 

    Illnesses: Organic Mood Syndromes caused by: Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS), Adrenal (Cushing's or Addison's Diseases), Cancer (especially pancreatic and other GI), Cardiopulmonary disease, Dementias (including Alzheimer's Disease); Epilepsy, Fahr's Syndrome, Huntington's Disease, Hydrocephalus, Hyperaldosteronism, Infections (including HIV and neurosyphilis), Migraines, Mononucleosis, Multiple Sclerosis, Narcolepsy, Neoplasms, Parathyroid Disorders (hyper- and hypo-), Parkinson's Disease, Pneumonia (viral and bacterial), Porphyria, Postpartum, Premenstrual Syndrome, Progressive Supranuclear Palsy, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Sjogren's Arteritis, Sleep Apnea, Stroke, Systemic Lupus Erythematosus, Temporal Arteritis, Trauma, Thyroid Disorders (hypothyroid and "apathetic" hyperthyroidism), Tuberculosis, Uremia (and other renal diseases), Vitamin Deficiencies (B12, C, folate, niacin, thiamine), Wilson's Disease.

    Drugs: Acetazolamine, Alphamethyldopa, Amantadine, Amphetamines, Ampicillin, Azathioprine (AZT), 6-Azauridine, Baclofen, Beta Blockers, Bethanidine, Bleomycin, Bromocriptine, C-Asparaginase, Carbamazepine, Choline, Cimetidine, Clonidine, Clycloserin, Cocaine, Corticosteroids (including ACTH), Cyproheptadine, Danazol, Digitalis, Diphenoxylate, Disulfiram, Ethionamide, Fenfluramine, Griseofulvin, Guanethidine, Hydralazine, Ibuprofen, Indomethacin, Lidocaine, Levodopa, Methoserpidine, Methysergide, Metronidazole, Nalidixic Acid, Neuroleptics (butyrophenones, phenothiazines, oxyindoles), Nitrofurantoin, Opiates, Oral Contraceptives, Phenacetin, Phenytoin, Prazosin, Prednisone, Procainamide, Procyclidine, Quanabenzacetate, Rescinnamine, Reserpine, Sedative/Hypnotics (barbiturates, benzodiazepines, chloral hydrate), Streptomycin, Sulfamethoxazole, Sulfonamides, Tetrabenazine, Tetracycline, Triamcinolone, Trimethoprim, Veratrum, Vincristine.

  2. Exclude depressions having a previous history of elevated, expansive, or euphoric mood:

    • If previous history of a Manic Episode, diagnose: Bipolar I Disorder.
    • If previous history of recurrent Major Depressive Episodes and at least one Hypomanic Episode, diagnose: Bipolar II Disorder.
    • If previous history of recurrent Hypomanic Episodes and brief, mild depressive episodes (milder than Major Depressive Episodes), diagnose: Cyclothymic Disorder.

  3. Exclude depressions that merely represent normal bereavement, instead diagnose: Uncomplicated Bereavement.

  4. Exclude depressions associated with mood-incongruent psychosis:

    • If previous history of at least 2 weeks of delusions or hallucinations occurring in the absence of prominent mood symptoms, diagnose either: Schizoaffective Disorder, Schizophrenia, Schizophreniform Disorder, Delusional Disorder, or Psychotic Disorder Not Otherwise Specified.

  5. Exclude mild depressions:

    • If only mild depression present for most of past 2 years (or 1 year in children), diagnose: Dysthymic Disorder.
    • If only brief mild depression clearly triggered by stress, diagnose: Adjustment Disorder with Depressed Mood, or Adjustment Disorder with Mixed Anxiety and Depressed Mood.
    • If mild depression is clinically significant, but does not meet the criteria for any of the previously described disorders, diagnose: Depressive Disorder Not Otherwise Specified.

  6. In the elderly, it is often difficult to distinguish between early dementia or Major Depressive Disorder:

    • If there is a premorbid history of declining cognitive function in the absence of severe depression, diagnose: Dementia.
    • If there was a relatively normal premorbid state and somewhat abrupt cognitive decline associated with severe depression, diagnose: Major Depressive Disorder.

(end quote)

I'm afraid it's not as simple as Webster's would lead you to believe. DSM-IV only scratches the surface, as well.

[ Parent ]
A bit of synchronicity (none / 0) (#127)
by afeldspar on Fri Jul 27, 2001 at 12:54:47 PM EST

With a slow job market giving me much more down-time than I'm used to, I'm checking out websites I formerly had to start skipping due to lack of time. One of my favorites today had an article that gave me this particularly appropriate quote:

"There's good pain and there's bad pain. Good pain, though we don't usually think of it as `good,' is the usual kind we all experience. We cut ourselves and it hurts, or we touch a hot burner and we pull away because we feel pain. That helps us survive and protects us. Bad pain is pathological pain that persists long after your wound has healed. It serves no purpose."

-- For those concerned about the "virality" of the GPL, a suggestion: Write Your Own Damn Code.
[ Parent ]

Subtle poll (4.00 / 2) (#85)
by Scrymarch on Wed Jul 25, 2001 at 11:18:34 AM EST

Note that all the poll responses are questions. Essentially it is a poll about the most important question to ask about pine.

Following k5's individualistic tendencies, a lot of people answered "Do you like it?", implying this was the important question for evaluating pine, rather than "Did it suck" which involves an objective value judgement. Many also asked if the poll sucked, following a k5 tradition of overanalysis.

I simply felt compelled to continue this tradition :)

responsibility (5.00 / 1) (#87)
by pistols on Wed Jul 25, 2001 at 01:04:18 PM EST

I've read a lot of comments attacking the doctors for just prescribing medicines without really analysing the depression. And while I agree that's terrible, ultimately it is the individual's responsibility to figure out what is best for them. It's really hard to just look at someone, maybe ask them a few questions, and then just 'know' what's going on in their head.

Especially with mind altering drugs, it is really stupid to just start taking them without doing any research. SSRI's for example typically take ~3 months before the side effects settle down and they desired effects begin to take place. And they aren't 'happy' drugs, they won't give you any wonderful joyus or drugged feelings; they just smooth out the ability to cope with extreme stress. On to the down side of SSRI's: they have possibly the worst collection of side effects known for any type of drugs. SSRI's increase the efficiency of the brain's use of seratonin, one of only a handful of neurotransmitters that are used for every function in the brain. Everyone responds differently to SSRI's, and differently to each incarnation too. The common thread is an increased ability to cope with stress, but other common effects include: appetite increase/decrease, bizzare (often violent) emotions, insomnia/increased sleep, feelings of being drugged, increased empathy, laziness. Some of these can be dangerous and/or very undesirable, and require the patient to immediatly stop using the drug (although other incarnations may not bring the effect, the patient may not wish to try any others after a bad experience with one).

Is this the kind of drug you want to take to help get over a one time problem like a death in the family?

On a side note, there are several online discussion groups where you can talk with people who do use each type of drug: here is an example. Very useful if you want to know what people are actually experiencing as side effects, why they are taking them, what they think of them and so on.

One last thing, drugs are tools, not toys :)

Paxil worked for me. (5.00 / 3) (#89)
by kindall on Wed Jul 25, 2001 at 02:29:07 PM EST

I took Paxil for about nine months beginning in the summer of 1999. My depression was pretty mild as those things did, but I was definitely suffering from a lack of interest in nearly everything, including work. Since I was self-employed at the time, this was having a direct effect on my livelihood. In fact, looking back over things now, it had probably been doing so for years by then, only slowly getting bad enough that I noticed it and sought help. I was 30 years old.

My doctor started me on Paxil because in his experience, most people saw results with it within a few days, as opposed to weeks with Prozac. The day I started taking it, I found myself with an urge to go for a walk. I just felt like some physical activity, is all. I hadn't felt like this in a long time. But the problem is, I had work to do. So I said to myself, I'll do my work, then go for a walk as a reward. Needless to say, I ripped through that work and was soon enjoying a pleasant walk. You'd have to know me, I think, but this was completely out of character for me at the time.

That weekend I assessed my financial situation for the first time in several years. It wasn't a pretty picture and it was pretty stressful to me, but I didn't panic and I took care of it. It had been sitting there, lurking like Dirk Gently's fridge, for years, getting worse and defying me to deal with it. But even thinking about dealing with it made me feel awful, so I didn't, which meant it kept getting worse. A week on Paxil, and it was taken care of. Over the next weeks and months I made a number of changes to my life, addressing or just removing the things that were causing me stress. By the end of my time on Paxil I had realized I wasn't as good a self-manager as I wanted to think I was, and that I'd probably be happier working at a more traditional job rather than trying to make a living as a freelance writer. Eventually I got the hell out of Detroit (a depressing place in itself) and moved to Seattle to take a job with a technology startup.

I did notice the much-vaunted sexual side effects. However, before I went on SSRIs I wasn't interested in sex that much, and so to be interested at all was a distinct improvement. I did experience "delayed orgasm," but my girlfriend of the time was pleased with my improved "staying power." ;) And when I did get there, it was way better than when I was depressed.

Since I was on a fairly low dosage, I didn't have too tough of a time coming off the Paxil. The "zaps" people talk about are real: the best way I can describe them is that they feel like you've noticed something in your peripheral vision, distracting your attention from whatever you were doing. Except that there's nothing there, and it happens every few seconds. It's a weird feeling, sort of like a mild startle reaction. If you were on a higher dose than I was, it'd probably be worse, but I didn't have any real problem with withdrawal. I dropped the dose from 20mg, to 10mg, and then started taking 10mg every other day. At that point I started getting "zaps" toward the end of the day on my off-days, and I decided that rather than put up with that for a couple of weeks, I'd just stop altogether and get it over with. The "zaps" lasted about two days and then went away.

Everyone's different. I have a friend who was rather more seriously depressed than I ever was, and her doctor had her trying different drugs and combinations of drugs for years until they finally found something that worked. But for me, Paxil was a godsend. It really helped me get my life back on track. The problems that seemed overwhelming when I was depressed were suddenly more manageable. In reality they were manageable all along; my perspective was distorted. Paxil straightened it out for me.

I received unlicensed medical advice.... (5.00 / 3) (#94)
by Macrobat on Wed Jul 25, 2001 at 04:59:43 PM EST

I'd been taking Wellbutrin for five years and had no bad side effects with it. Sure, for the first couple of weeks I had the typical Wellbutrin headache, but really, nothing else, and even those went away.in a while.

So my girlfriend decides one day that I have to stop taking it. "It fries your brains!" she says Seems she took it a couple of years ago and had a bad reaction to it. (Of course, some people also have bad reactions to penicillin...doesn't mean it's bad for everyone.) Now, mind you, she had no idea that I was on this until I told her, but after that, every brief lapse of memory, or every moment that I was feeling a little down (no, contrary to popular belief, it doesn't prevent you from feeling sad if you have a real reason to), she attributed to my being on Wellbutrin.

After much debate, I decide I'll give it a go. I'll try her way. Fast forward a couple of months, when she decides to dump me because I'm no fun anymore and I don't pay any attention to her. And she knows the reason why: the Wellbutrin is "frying my brain!" (Side note, this is a girl who can't face the day without getting baked at least twice daily, and who had just been in a car accident because one of her "non-drug-dependent" friends had driven while drunk with her in the car.) Well, I didn't tell her I went off of it, so surprise, she must be wrong, but she's so convinced at this point that nothing saves the relationship. She breaks up with me (and I didn't even have the decency to thank her : )

Oh yeah, and I start missing deadlines at work and get called into my manager's office a few times, when previously I'd been doing excellent work.

Now that I'm back on it, of course, things are looking up at work, my social life has recovered from the hit, and I even got a tearful phone call from the unlicensed Doctor herself, wanting to get back. Apparently, all of her friends have left her. Could it be because they don't like her telling them how they should live their lives? Hmmm...

What's my point? Not sure. There's a lot of them in this story: 1) Just because a drug has bad effects for some people, doesn't mean it's bad for everyone. 2) People who take antidepressants risk facing hostility and prejudice from the people around them if they come out about their medications. 3) Just because she's good in the sack doesn't mean I should take her back. (Didn't know that rhymed until I typed it out.) 4) Have this discussion with a doctor, and think for yourself.

"Hardly used" will not fetch a better price for your brain.

Thanks for the post (none / 0) (#141)
by Steeltoe on Sun Jul 29, 2001 at 06:30:48 PM EST

I'm generally against medication against emotional problems, but if it works for you then that's great and I support you! Seems like "clinical depression" is the key here. So thanks for writing this and making my world more colourful. As for your number 3 point:

"Just because she's good in the sack doesn't mean I should take her back."

Excellent! Hillarious! And so Very True :-) (Btw, was she REALLY good in the hay, or just cute? I've yet to find a girl that is anything more than a stiff lying on a bed ;)

- Steeltoe
Explore the Art of Living

[ Parent ]
No Stigma (4.50 / 2) (#95)
by Fon2d2 on Wed Jul 25, 2001 at 05:23:09 PM EST

It seems interesting and I just wrote a letter to a friend about this the other day but we seem to have very low standards of love and affection. So what happens when a personal tragedy blocks out the sun from our world? Do we fall back on friends and family? Do we look to others for support and affection that we suddenly need or, taken from the other perspective, do we offer the love that we feel somebody else needs? Apparently a lot of times we don't. Apparently a lof of times its just pills, like pills fix everything. I've had a friend on Zoloft and I've had a friend on Paxil. These drugs don't help anything because they target the symptom and not the cause. We're talking about people who have been left feeling dissaffected by the low standards of affection in our society.

In relation to this I was wondering if anybody has ever had any experience with a website known as No Stigma. When I first saw it advertised, I thought to myself, Great!, now there will finally be some type of global community for people feeling dissaffected by modern life to turn to. Upon looking at it though my heart sank. It does not appear to be an online community of any sort, just a website touting the benefits of seeking treatment and medication. I was dissappointed. Maybe I'm all wrong. Maybe not. Has anybody else ever heard of this website?

Clinical Depression (none / 0) (#100)
by BoredByPolitics on Wed Jul 25, 2001 at 07:33:58 PM EST

As has been pointed out by others here already, there is a world of difference between feeling low, and clinical depression.

In an ideal world, where the GP has the time and strength to correctly diagnose the difference, we would hear less of the experiences related by the OP, as it is clear that the medication proscribed was inappropriate under the circumstances. I'd like to think that most of these cases are caused by underfunding, but in the private medical establishment I fear the reason may be more mercenary.

I suspect this is going to be an amazing thread to read, considering the handful of responses I've read so far. I hope so, as clinical depression is a subject much misunderstood; I have experienced the negative reactions of certain people when they discovered I was a sufferer.

I've had two bouts diagnosed, and in each instance was proscribed Prozac. The first time at the direction of my GP, and in that instance it did the trick. My confidence increased, I was in control of my life again. The second time I requested it when diagnosed, mainly because of my prior positive experience with it. Unfortunately this time it didn't work, and I grew more anxious and scared of people.

I was eventually offered counselling, when it became apparent that the Prozac wasn't working, but reacted quite negatively to it. It was fighting the shrink that woke me up to the fact that this time I was going to have to sort myself out - my Rubycon, if you like. I stopped taking the Prozac immediately, thinking I now knew the root cause of my problems. I guess that means the counselling worked, ultimately :-)

Since then I've tried to stay one step ahead of my depression, watching for the signs, and trying to deal with them when they appear. I've accepted the fact that I'm probably going to have to play this game for the rest of my life.

My point, eventually, is that despite the sometimes misguided use of anti-depressants, I would encourage anyone who thinks they may be suffering from depression to consult their GP. The right drugs in the right situation can make all the difference, and give the sufferer the ability to take control of their life again (or even for once). And it's a shame that some sections of society only see the difficulties in someone who suffers depression, and not the person struggling with a disease.

"Every contract has a sanity clause", "Sanity clause! Sanity clause! You can't fool me, there's no such thing as Sanity Claus"
[ Parent ]

get your nieces off that stuff (4.50 / 2) (#97)
by brinktank on Wed Jul 25, 2001 at 05:46:38 PM EST

I recently spent a year playing the medication game with terrible results, I still don't believe that I have recovered from the poisoning of my mind and body. However, I don't necessarily think that medication is always ineffective for adults suffering from depression. But only a solid relationship with a good doctor can make any kind of medication treatment work, only a really good doctor. Mine sent me home with prozac after a fifteen minute meeting and ignored my cries for help six weeks later.

But for kids medication is not the answer. They are giving that stuff out like candy these days and it is wrong. Kids are still growing, their cognitive abilities are still developing and the strain that antidepressants put on their brains and livers is not worth it. get them some professional counseling, talk to them about their issues, but get them off the meds.

the pharmaceutical industry is worse than the tobacco industry when it comes to marketing their products to kids. they have the audacity to do their work behind the guise of science and medical professionals. their only aim is to get kids hooked on this stuff so they are pill poppers for the rest of their adult lives.

I wish I could take the pills away from them (none / 0) (#106)
by sexyblonde on Wed Jul 25, 2001 at 10:46:24 PM EST

Since my nieces are not my children it's out of my control. I truly believe that anti-depressants should only be prescribed to people who are (clinically) depressed or have other mental disorders. We all feel depressed here and there. I haven't known anyone who is soooo drepressed that they can't even get out of bed. If your that depressed then yes you need some help. We have had a lot of tradgedies in our family. We've had 6 deaths in our family within the last 10 years. My father & twin were the hardest for me to deal with. My twin passed away in 1990 and yes I was depressed. It felt like someone came and cut off half of me. It's very hard to describe. I did seek a one time counseling session and talked about how I felt. The counselor whom I had seen tried to prescribe anti-depressant pills to me and I said no I don't want them. I then continued to talk about my depression with my family and friends. I started to exercise knowing that physical exercise releases endorphines which help to lift your mood. I also started to participate in more outside activities. It helped and I was able to move on.

I guess the point I'm trying to make is I believe that you can overcome depression without taking pills. I'm not saying that people with schitzophrenia or are clinically depressed people should stop taking them. I think that people who are just depressed and are looking for a quick fix need to re-think their options on how to deal with their feelings.

[ Parent ]
Talk to their parents (none / 0) (#140)
by Steeltoe on Sun Jul 29, 2001 at 06:17:23 PM EST

Really, but dig through some websites that offers information about the experience of other people. People that know what they're talking about. There have been lots of incidents, where schoolchildren have been drugged down at school etc. If you really care about your nieces, you'll want to convince their parents and take a stand. Your other option is of course apathy. Doesn't sound so good, no?

Anyways, even if this fails, know that you have really tried. Sometimes people need to experience "the shit" themselves in order to learn how it is and why go around it.

Personally, I believe this is a fault of our entire culture. We seek replacements for everything connected with life and we run away from anything unpleasant. However, how can anyone appreciate a good moment, without having experienced bad ones? I know it's a cliche, but I believe we have the wrong attitude today and it's set us on a path away from being natural.

- Steeltoe
Explore the Art of Living

[ Parent ]
I agree with you. (none / 0) (#152)
by sexyblonde on Tue Jul 31, 2001 at 12:29:53 PM EST

[ Parent ]
Absolutely - take charge of your life (none / 0) (#151)
by Kat Goodwin on Tue Jul 31, 2001 at 04:45:07 AM EST

I was a depressive teenager, at the time I was convinced that there was something seriously wrong with me, but now I think that I was just an unfortunate teenagers, with a few worse problems than your average teenager (mentally ill mother who has now been diagnosed with split personality disorder I beleive, has certainly been accepted to be seriously mentally ill, warping my perspective on life) and I took them badly. However, once I got to unversity, I found my life changed almost overnight. I felt like I had taken control of my life, and have found that the symptoms of my depression have reduced over those last 3 years, and now I really feel in control. Getting away from damaging influences, being able to make my own decisions for the first time in my life, made me feel empowered. I think that taking control, ordering your own life is one of the most important things. By all means seek the help of professionals and friends, take their support, but accept resoponsibility for your own life, get out there and do something, anything positive, and I am sure it will improve your life. However I do understand that sometimes its not that easy - I woke up every day for a few years wondering what there was to get out of bed for, why I should bother, so often I didn't, but many of the less seriously depressed people can do so much to help themselves. Also I agree with allowing people some time to grieve after a loss. It is ok to be sad for a while, and only after some time if no progress is being made at all, do I beleive that they should be forced to seek help.

[ Parent ]
counseling... (none / 0) (#132)
by krkrbt on Sat Jul 28, 2001 at 04:39:05 AM EST

... get them some professional counseling...

I don't mean to knock any professional counselors out there, but the traditional kind of counseling (ie, most of the ones you'd find in a phone book) is rather ineffective, requiring many sessions over a long drawn out period of time. Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP) is a much more effective "brand" of therapy.. A recommended intro book is _N L P : The New Technology of Achievement_, by the NLP Comprehensive Training Team (I bought my copy at Amazon), or Anthony Robbin's _Unlimited Power_. A search for 'NLP' will turn up lots of links too..

[ Parent ]

200mg (4.00 / 1) (#98)
by goosedaemon on Wed Jul 25, 2001 at 05:47:39 PM EST

My shrinks, up to but not including the current one, were all in military employ and my family paid no money directly; my dad was in the marines for 20 years. It's handy to stick around because you get free medical care if you live close to a military post.

Anyway, around puberty I got depression. There were a lot of other factors, and I do not know if any one was a major cause.

Incidentally, depression runs in my family.

I stress runs in my family. This isn't an emotional trauma or tragedy. This isn't nurture, this is nature. This a chemical imbalance in the brain.

...anyway, gradually my dose was increased from 25 to 50 to 100 to 200. I've been on for around three years. Sertraline, that is. aka Zoloft.

I feel acceptable. I know I don't feel normal, like everyone else feels, but I'm satisfied with how I feel. Many people think I still act depressed ... I know I do, most of the time I'm rather poker-faced. I only seem to show much emotion when I either feel overcome with it or when I feel comfortable (like, around family). I would like to be free of having to take medication, but so far every time I forget to take it, a couple days later (half-life of the previous doses) my thought feels clouded with anger and unhappiness and I get real pissed real easy, you know?

I feel calm most of the time. I think this is advantageous; when I'm losing at some game or other I don't get stressed or frustrated ... I just keep going. Sometimes it results in me winning even.

I can't think of anything else to say, but I know there are lots and lots more I could.

pill happy doctors (5.00 / 2) (#121)
by jdcatron on Thu Jul 26, 2001 at 09:41:25 PM EST

I'm going to preface this by saying that anti-depressants *have* saved lives, and that they *have* improved the lives of some people.

That said, I think that they are horribly over prescribed and not nearly as safe as some doctors would have you believe.

When I was seventeen I was diagnosed as depressed because I wasn't doing what my parents wanted me to. This was the real reason. I was put on anti-depressants. I went from being a fairly normal kid to having killer anxiety attacks. Imagine the fear most people would feel if they were put naked in front of a crowd of very important people to give a speech they had forgotten to write. Now, imagine having that kind of fear twenty four hours a day, seven days a week. Not surprisingly, after several months of this, I *did* become suicidal -- the answer, more prozac and wellbutrin. Eventually I learned not to complain (since complaining only got my dosage increased) but before I did I was on dosages of both greater than that recommended by the PDR.

At seventeen.

When I turned eighteen I went cold turkey off of anti-depressants. The anxiety remained. It's decreased slowly over the past six years, but I've spent most of the last six years dealing with daily panic attacks, constant ones, not feeling calm for literally months at a time -- only now am I getting to the point where I'm not panicked more than half the time. And I have to work through that panic -- I have to go to work and pay the rent like anyone else. Only with tons of adreneline. Every day.

Now, that story in and of itself is both a sign that anti-depressants are not the 'harmless' (literally, I was told that they'd have no effect on me if I wasn't depressed) drugs that they are portrayed to and by doctors as, and a story about how one psychiatrist was a bad doctor. But it doesn't end there. A year later, when I was pregnant, I pulled myself off the topical steroids that kept my eczema (a rather itchy but mostly harmless skin condition, usually caused by allergies) in check. I went to my doctor to find out if there was something safer I could take. He wrote me a script for prozac. I'm not joking. I refused to take it.

After my kid was born, I went back because my asthma was acting up (different doctor) and the doctor writes a script for prozac, saying that he thinks my asthma is due to stress and the prozac should destress me (btw, my asthma is not hopeless, I was never on steroid inhalers beforehand, and after a few months on Aerobid, prescribed by another doc, I was fine again) so I tried it -- the anxiety, which had been slowly but surely decreasing, spiked again. I quit after less than a week.

I note, btw, that there's concerted attempts to get my kid (now nearly four) on antidepressants as well.

Doctors are way too drug happy, imo.


an advice for you (none / 0) (#139)
by Steeltoe on Sun Jul 29, 2001 at 06:04:29 PM EST

Reading about how you can feel that bad 24 hours a day really makes me feel for you. I really hope you will find the way of getting up to 100% free of depression. I can only tell you that in my (limited) experience, there has been natural treatments that has really worked. It requires you to adjust your life though. I've learned to prioritize myself, relaxing when I need it, stop worrying about all the things I should do/should have done and eat & sleep regularly. Whatever you need to do, is up to you to figure out I think.

Here's a quick advice: Stop thinking. Yes, that's right. You heard me. Words hurt us, so if we just stop them, we get rest in our minds. How much burden do you put on yourself through your thinking every day? Think about that, or don't. ;) Try to stop thinking whenever you don't really need to. Or, you can even think about something else. It's not dangerous, it's a natural state. You'll learn to know yourself better, instead of just the chatter/images in your mind.

Don't start to think "positive" though. That technique usually just buries the problems under the carpet. It won't help you, it's an illusion. You need to go through your problems sometimes. Just don't take it so seriously. Surprises makes life interesting, even the events we label as "bad".

I learned all this and more doing courses in breath-exercises, yoga and meditation (a course that combines them). If you're still having problems, I would recommend trying it out. If not, I'd still recommend it ;) Doing daily breath-exercises to energize the body really helps. I'm not completely free of old and negative habits yet, but it's getting better every day and my determination increases whenever I dip down in a low period. My lows are still here with me, but they now pass quicker and quicker. Especially when I realize I feel bad because of _external events_. Then I "let it be", stop worrying and let whatever may happen happen. Let go of the control, I never had it in the first place anyways. Somehow it always turns okay when I do that, when I truly don't expect anything. I almost enjoy my lows now because they make me experience them again, learn more and transcend them.

I hope this may help you. I know many people who have been burned by drugs, especially party-drugs. I met them at the course and they're doing great.

- Steeltoe
Explore the Art of Living

[ Parent ]
I have depression.. (5.00 / 1) (#125)
by bsdave on Fri Jul 27, 2001 at 06:47:54 AM EST

Basically, I have one screwed up coconut.

The mothers side of my family has a history of extreme clinical depression, raymens phenomena (poor blood circulation), obsessive compulsive disorder (an uncontrollable urge to organise things for no reason, and a constant 'thought train' that everythings dirty), and to top all that off, bipolar disease (wild mood swings)..

I seem to of inherited all of these. Lucky Me.

I went to a psychitrist a few months ago for a diagnosis to see if I'd inherited any of these, but I was too scared to say anything, so I just made up some stupid story about being dumped by a girlfriend, he swallowed it up and they've never asked me to go back. *Phew* My mum takes around 14-16 pills a day depending on what day of the week it is. I don't want to end up like this, which is why I lied to the psychitrist. However my mum's had several episodes that always involved her skipping medication beforehand. So here I sit, a 15 year old misguided boy anonymously using the internet as a father figure. I've got friends at school, I'm not stupid or anything, and for now I've managed to control my depression/ocd/bipolar by smoking pot on a daily basis.

It's not pretty, but it works. I'd rather put my confidence in cannabis then anything else. I wish I could tell my parents but they'd freak out because they're born again christians. D'oh.

I should probably go back to the psychitrist in a few months, I'm just putting it off as long as possible, has anyone here had GOOD experiences with any of those medications mentioned in the story?

Yes, I have had good experiences (none / 0) (#129)
by afeldspar on Fri Jul 27, 2001 at 08:53:18 PM EST

I should probably go back to the psychitrist in a few months, I'm just putting it off as long as possible, has anyone here had GOOD experiences with any of those medications mentioned in the story?

Yes. I've been on three different anti-depressants. Prozac did not work for me; this may have been due to a misunderstanding between me and the prescribing doctor. Desipramine worked extremely well for the first week and then an allergic reaction called "drug fever" set in which was extremely painful and disabling.

But then I was put on Wellbutrin, and that worked extremely well for me. It did not prevent me from having emotions; it did not 'numb' me; what it did was prevent sad thoughts (and given what was going on in my life, I had plenty) from turning into obsessive, self-perpetuating "thought trains".

So, yes, I have had good experiences with anti-depressants.

-- For those concerned about the "virality" of the GPL, a suggestion: Write Your Own Damn Code.
[ Parent ]

I've had good results (none / 0) (#130)
by snakelady on Fri Jul 27, 2001 at 09:41:21 PM EST

I've been depressed on and off most of my life - also ADD and dysfunctional family, including heavy alcohol use and incest. I did OK but never felt that I was working at anything close to my full potential, and some days it was a struggle to force myself to do what had to be done, and things I usually liked I had no interest in.

I got really bad in 94 and took Zoloft. That worked great for the depression, but killed my libido. So I switched to Wellbutrin, and it works fine. My boyfriend has been taking Zoloft for a couple of years without that side effect, since 2 separate internet friends suggested he needed some help. I guess he was able to relay the amount of pain he was feeling in text chats.

Different anti-depressants work differently for different people. They can make a real difference in your life - when the Zoloft started working about 2 weeks after I started it I felt like myself for the first time in years. Anti-depressants don't make your emotions different, they just help you climb out of the pit where all the negative thoughts keep circling.

Please don't be afraid to tell your psychiatrist about your family history, as well as all you can about your feelings and behavior. They've heard it all before, and certainly won't be judgmental.

I wish you the very best, and hope that you soon find a treatment that frees you from the depression.


[ Parent ]
Talk to your shrink again (none / 0) (#146)
by Macrobat on Mon Jul 30, 2001 at 01:03:01 PM EST

Couple of things (well, three):

  • Whatever you do, tell your doctor the truth. Don't lie; if there's a question you can't comfortably answer, say you can't answer that right now. (Although my real advice is, be uncomfortable for a moment and tell the whole story.)
  • Don't treat yourself with cannabis. Now, I think the U.S. laws on this substance are fscked up, but even if they weren't, I don't think you should be self-medicating. (I'm reminded of my ex-girlfriend who said she didn't need drugs to feel good about herself since she found Jesus, but still acted uptight and tense unless she got stoned twice a day.)
  • Manic depression and OCD are different beasts from clinical depression. I can tell you that I've had good results with Wellbutrin, but (as I've said before on this topic) you really need to speak with your doctor.

    Good luck in any case.

    "Hardly used" will not fetch a better price for your brain.
    [ Parent ]

  • Yes, but be careful (none / 0) (#159)
    by darr3n on Tue Aug 07, 2001 at 10:52:48 AM EST

    Yes, but be careful. I had a friend who was bipolar as such, and anti-depressents didn't quite work perfectly for her. They ended up putting her on lithium and that sure as hell didn't work. Quite a nightmare. Stick with the pot thing tho... I don't smoke but a good amount of my friends do. One of them deals with her diabetes much better now because of pot (well, and taking care of her blood sugar levels like she's supposed to). It obviously has medicinal purposes i think. besides, its kinda fun (who's hungry?).

    [ Parent ]
    They can save lives (1.00 / 1) (#128)
    by flimflam on Fri Jul 27, 2001 at 05:16:45 PM EST

    I was on prozac for a few years (not anymore) and it was extremely beneficial to me. But the most dramatic effect I've seen was with my wife.

    My wife has gone through several undiagnosed bouts of depression throughout her life. The worst was about three years ago, when she started hallucinating and having panic attacks. She kept apologizing to me for having hit me when she hadn't done anything at all. It is truly frightening to see someone you love going through this -- I tried to remain calm, but inside I was completly freaked -- I didn't know if she was going to recover. I should point out that my wife has been through some truly horrific experiences in her life:

    She is from El Salvador. After growing up in an abusive household (and losing a younger sister because her mother was too poor to get her to a hospital), she lived through about 14 years of civil war. Her only brother was inducted into the army at the age of 13 and died 7 years later. One of her sisters was raped and murdered by a group of armed men. She saw many people die, including the father of her best friend who was decapitated in front of a classroom-full of children by members of one of the death-squads.

    So at any rate, we got her into contact with a psychologist and a psychiatrist immediately. The psychiatrist put her on Paxil, which has had some success in treating Post Traumatic Stress Disorder in addition to depression. The results were dramatic. Within about 5 days the panic attacks and hallucinations stopped, and she gradually (over about a month or so) regained her confidence. After a while she was better than I had ever seen her, and she began to realize that she had really been depressed almost her entire life. She began to enjoy things that had always seemed like a burden before, like eating.

    That isn't to say that there weren't problems. For one thing she didn't really like the idea of being on medication. Also, there were some side effects -- the worst being occasional dizzy spells. Eventually (after 14 months) she went off the medicine because she didn't want to be on it while she got pregnant. She's been off since, and she is still better than she was before (and all the side-effects went away) -- she still likes to eat! At some point she may go back on, but I think that it helped her learn to enjoy things that she simply wasn't able to before.

    -- I am always optimistic, but frankly there is no hope. --Hosni Mubarek
    Grief is not treated with anti-depressants. (5.00 / 1) (#134)
    by gcc on Sat Jul 28, 2001 at 05:52:53 AM EST

    I am studying medicine and, even though I am not yet a professional, I have been taught some things about anti-depressants in my Pharmacology class. The professor had stressed the fact that anti-depressants are not supposed to treat normal feelings of grief such as those caused by death/loss/divorce etc. A human is supposed to be able to feel sad in appropriate circumstances. In your case, a six month grace period (as a rule of thumb) could have been allowed as a normal mourning period. If your nieces could not get on with their lives after that, medication might have been necessary. I am not doubting the validity of the medical advice you were given, I'm just trying to address the common misconception that sadness requires medication.

    best prescription (4.00 / 1) (#137)
    by NoNeckJoe on Sat Jul 28, 2001 at 01:25:50 PM EST

    Most doctors won't tell you this, but my personal opinion is that the best things for depression are:
  • A healthy diet,
  • exercise,
  • contact with friends and family,
  • and regular rest.

    By following those simple prescriptions, I have noticed that I am happier, better adjusted, and less prone to suicidal thoughts. All of them are important. When those fail, or when they are impossible to do for whatever reason, then it might be a good idea to try medication.

  • What a coincidence (none / 0) (#144)
    by Macrobat on Mon Jul 30, 2001 at 11:56:18 AM EST

    That's a funny coincidence. The most common symptoms of depression are:

  • loss of appetite
  • lethargy
  • withdrawal from social contact, and
  • disrupted sleep patterns

    --I'm just wondering if your Rx isn't the tail wagging the dog here?

    If I sound sarcastic it's because I spent six long, lonely and physically painful years trying to do exactly what you said. Nothing worked. But when I went on Wellbutrin, I found I had the energy to work out, food tasted better, I could actually listen to and follow conversations, and I felt rested in the morning.

    My meta-point: not everyone has the same disorder, and what worked for you might not work for other people. We shouldn't be giving medical advice unless we're doctors. And if you, as a patient, feel that your doctor is giving bad advice, seek a second opinion, or a third, but don't just self-diagnose. You aren't qualified.

    "Hardly used" will not fetch a better price for your brain.
    [ Parent ]

  • self diagnosis (none / 0) (#157)
    by NoNeckJoe on Thu Aug 02, 2001 at 05:27:18 PM EST

    The assumption is that doctors can effectively diagnose the problem. My personal experience is that they can't. I suffered for a long time also, and the person who helped me through it wasn't a doctor. A well trained social worker saw me for about a year, and gave me many of the tools I needed to start rebuilding my life.

    A doctors answer for almost everything is "drugs, and lots of them." Sometimes that is the way to go. If you have a painful rash that doesn't go away, then a topical ointment or an oral medication may be the way to handle it. If you have insulin dependent diabetes, you had better make damn sure that you take your insulin.

    Take another personal example, though. I sprained my ankle rock climbing. It hurt lke hell, but I could walk. I treated the immediate symptoms with Ice, Compression, Elevation, and rest. The next day I saw my doctor who took an x-ray, and told me to stay off of it (yup, it's sprained). After four weeks, the swelling hadn't reduced and the doctor had no answers as to the cause, but advised me to take anti-inflamatories and pain killers. I did get a second opinion from an acupuncturist, who discovered a small bone had been disloged. He reset the bone, and within an hour the swelling started to reduce.

    Doctors, the AMA, and the pharmeceutical companies are all in bed with each other (not to say that there is a conspiracy, though). They aren't interested in treating and curing, but they are interested in controlling and locking patients into a cycle of dependency. I look at health care with a very critical eye, and always consider reasonable alternatives if I can. Faced with the choice of exercise and medication to reduce my blood pressure, I'll take exercise. Things like that.

    The simple fact of the matter is that doctors don't know everything, and make lots of mistakes. They usually use methods that treat the symptoms but don't cure the disease. If they cure the disease they lose their client base. Being healthy takes work, and most people prefer to be lazy and have doctors treat their symptoms when their health goes to shit. I don't diagnose, I just take care of myself in the best way I can. And as I mentioned before, if you lose the ability to take care of yourself, then the drugs and doctors may be the way to go.

    [ Parent ]

    Drugs are B.S. (4.00 / 1) (#142)
    by Kasreyn on Mon Jul 30, 2001 at 04:30:06 AM EST

    I speak as one knowing the truth. ADHD and moderate chronic depression are only two of the things I've been diagnosed with. I've been on about every over-prescribed dope the medical profession flings around these days.

    None of them have "worked", or had any real effect I've seen. Life remains a battle between hope and despair. I have a hard time understanding the issue, of course, since I've never been any other way. I can't get into the heads of so-called "normal" people.

    But I CAN say, drugs are no help. They're just a way to escape from the reality of your life, a way to avoid putting out the mental effort to live a good life. I can't help seeing it any other way than as the standard American cop-out: I'ts Not My Fault, so Drug Me Up.

    So forget the prozac, Serzone and Zoloft. A better happiness drug is a family or a (girl|boy)friend / spouse. A better happiness drug is finding some way to enjoy your life and hope for your future, without mental manipulation by drugs. How can you feel like you've earned the happiness in your life? If you never had to work your own way out of your dark valleys, how can you deserve the bright sunshine at the hilltops? I find listening to classical music helps, as much as losing myself in a good book or watching a beautiful sunset. Life itself is a better drug than anything man has made.


    "Extenuating circumstance to be mentioned on Judgement Day:
    We never asked to be born in the first place."

    R.I.P. Kurt. You will be missed.
    Other people are not drugs (5.00 / 1) (#147)
    by afeldspar on Mon Jul 30, 2001 at 02:50:19 PM EST

    But I CAN say, drugs are no help. They're just a way to escape from the reality of your life, a way to avoid putting out the mental effort to live a good life. I can't help seeing it any other way than as the standard American cop-out: I'ts Not My Fault, so Drug Me Up.
    So forget the prozac, Serzone and Zoloft. A better happiness drug is a family or a (girl|boy)friend / spouse.

    I've been used by a woman who felt it was easier to take a lover than to take an anti-depressant. Given that the attempt nearly killed me along with her, I find your recommendation to place another person (someone you supposedly care about) in a position where they're expected to be your "happiness drug" to be chilling and horrible.

    I'm sorry that you've never found an anti-depressant that works for you. I'm even sorrier that you're doing your best to try and stop other people from finding an anti-depressant that works for them. (I've already addressed the myth that anti-depressants take you away from "reality" in my other comments, so I won't repeat them here.)

    But I'm absolutely appalled that you're encouraging depressed people to destroy the relationships they have by handing other people the impossible task of "here, treat me; cure my depression; make me happy when I can't even do it for myself."

    -- For those concerned about the "virality" of the GPL, a suggestion: Write Your Own Damn Code.
    [ Parent ]

    You misunderstand... (none / 0) (#149)
    by Kasreyn on Mon Jul 30, 2001 at 10:03:10 PM EST

    I mean normal, healthy, loving relations with one's family and friends is a better "drug" in the sense of something to make you happy. I certainly was not advocating using others for sex, or emotional manipulation. I meant, that maintaining relations with your loved ones is one of the best ways to fight depression. Trust me, I know this. If not for my loving friends and family, I'd probably be long dead by now. :-)

    And I do not mean for someone to put all the burden of their emotional care at the feet of their friends. That's as silly as... well... as silly as putting all the burden of helping yourself on some medicine that really has nothing to do with the REASONS behind depression, since it only treats the symptoms. A medicine can only help you out of depression once you've started on the road to a cure with your OWN willpower. Until you're ready to go ahead, nothing else can help you, but friends can give you stregth. I meant you need to cultivate loving relations with your friends and family, and together you can find the strength to go on. Two of my best friends are manic-depressive, and my mother has severe chronic depression. We all survive by hanging together.

    I'm sorry to hear of how you were treated, but it really has nothing to do with what I meant.



    "Extenuating circumstance to be mentioned on Judgement Day:
    We never asked to be born in the first place."

    R.I.P. Kurt. You will be missed.
    [ Parent ]
    Antidepressants can vary (4.00 / 1) (#143)
    by Orion Blastar on Mon Jul 30, 2001 at 11:17:31 AM EST

    it depends on the brain chemestry. If the depression was caused by grief and not some biological disorder, they shouldn't be on the antidepressants for very long, just until the grief runs out. If the grief is gone and they are still on the antidepressants then their brain chemstry is all messed up. Smoking dope does not help either. I have been on antidepressants all my life and I have never smoked dope. I have known some that have, and messed up their lives because of it.

    But I am currently having my antidepressants changed because the one that worked gave me great headaches, now the new one makes me very sleepy, drowzy, dizzy, etc. So I may have to change again. My mother never did find the right antidepressants for herself. For my family, depression is a genetic disorder. In other words, it is long-term and clinical.

    Your sisters may have to find an alternative to antidepressants. It may include a change in diet and exercise. Kava and 5HTP can be used instead of antidepressants, but have them talk to a doctor before they switch.
    *** Anonymized by intolerant editors at K5 and also IWETHEY who are biased against the mentally ill ***

    weed vs kava (1.00 / 1) (#153)
    by treat on Tue Jul 31, 2001 at 12:30:53 PM EST

    Smoking dope does not help either. I have been on antidepressants all my life and I have never smoked dope. I have known some that have, and messed up their lives because of it.

    You say here not to take one intoxicating recreational drug that some people have found helps their depression.

    Kava and 5HTP can be used instead of antidepressants, but have them talk to a doctor before they switch.

    But here you recommend kava, another intoxicating recreational drug that some people have found helps their depression. What is the difference?

    [ Parent ]

    The difference is the law (none / 0) (#154)
    by Orion Blastar on Tue Jul 31, 2001 at 05:03:57 PM EST

    Kava is legal the other one is not. Right?
    *** Anonymized by intolerant editors at K5 and also IWETHEY who are biased against the mentally ill ***
    [ Parent ]
    Oh, ok (none / 0) (#156)
    by treat on Thu Aug 02, 2001 at 03:23:48 PM EST

    Kava is legal the other one is not. Right?

    So your only objection to marijuana is the legal risks of posession/use, and you would not recommend that someone use kava in an area where it is illegal? You should have stated so originally.

    [ Parent ]

    Pills. (5.00 / 1) (#148)
    by NovaHeat on Mon Jul 30, 2001 at 07:00:48 PM EST

    I inherited two sets of very conflicting personality traits from my parents: from my mother, a penchant for depression and emotional hypersensitivity, from my father I got a tendency towards isolation, withdrawl, and the inability to express what I'm feeling. Over the years (and some very traumatic events such as having my belly slashed open by glass), stress has built up, and, given my personality, it generally found no release... I buried it inside, where it began to work it's "magic."

    I now often suffer panic attacks, and my stomach, during periods of high stress, becomes so weak that I vomit (several years ago, in high school, I would wake up and vomit bile every morning).

    Eventually, all of this began to worry me, so I went to a doctor to talk about what was happening, and he recommended therapy (which I have not yet gone to) and proscribed Xanax, a fairly powerful anti-anxiety/depression medication. Now, I don't take the stuff every day, not even close. I strive to avoid taking the drug, resorting to it only when I feel like hitting a wall or something... only when I begin to feel consumed by stress, anger, anxiety, etc., and it really does help. It calms me down to the point where I can put aside the "emotions" and look at the actual problem at hand, and actually deal with it, instead of getting overwhelmed.

    Unfortunately, I think, our culture likes to assign big words to small problems, and then proceed to treat them as large problems. If a family member dies, it's perfectly natural to have a period of greiving, perhaps even a very long one. To call this "depression" is, I think, not right. It's like taking anti-biotics when you have a viral infection. Not only is it mainly ineffective (except for the duration of the dose), but it may even be counter-productive, rendering you dependant on the drug to deal with everyday problems...

    So... verdict? I think that anti-axiety/depressants are very helpful, in some situations, and when used in moderation, only in truly extreme cases. I also think that people who take anti-depressants daily, just to "feel happy," to make everyday problems like traffic tickets, a bad day at work, or even the death of a family member seem less painful, are mis-using the medicine.


    Rose clouds of flies.

    How safe are Anti-depressants? Do they work for you? | 158 comments (140 topical, 18 editorial, 0 hidden)
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