Friday, March 5, 2010

ANTIDEPRESSANTS

There's a lot of talk right now about antidepressants not working, and the fact that there's no solid, reliable, statistical proof that taking one of the popular, well-advertised antidepressants, actually helps.

They're saying that, PAXIL. ZOLOFF, EFFEXOR may be no more than "tic-tacs."

Many people I know have tried them, are on them, have been upgraded from one of them to the another.

(Oops, almost forgot CELEXA, that an Aunt's taking -- yes, I know the names, can rattle them off and spell them correctly without researching my research.)

I have an ear for the subject. At different times of my life, I've consulted doctors about not sleeping well, about depression -- career anxieties I had -- trying to become a published writer, when I was actively a dancer/choreographer.

The Journal of the American Medical Association, JAMA, has been questioning various studies made (many back in 1998), by drug companies, who were proving that their drugs helped/cured/depression.

It's a big business. The number of Americans on antidepressants doubled from 13.3 million in 1996 to 27 million in 2005.

Rumors that antidepressants didn't work started in 2007. And now, more and more scientists who study depression and the drugs that treat it, are saying that antidepressants are basically expensive sugar pills. (some cost between $3 and $4 per pill).

At the moment, general practitioners, internists, as well as psychoanalysts, psychiatrists, psychologists, are out on a limb. Antidepressants are currently in an "If-Maybe Land," where further studies of the studies are needed.

So, if you're on Prozac, do you stop taking it?

Well ... no ... not necessarily. Antidepressants definitely help some patients -- Doctors are telling other Doctors, it sort of, more or less, depends on the diagnosis.

"Diagnoses?" My word alarm is GOING OFF!

"The Diagnostic and Statistic Manual of Mental Disorders," published by The American Psychiatric Association, has not been revised since 1994, but it's the bible of modern psychiatry. Right now, they're considering revisions that will include the definition and causes of eating disorders and autism. They're saying it will make diagnoses more accurate, but it will require sorting through many more possible related issues.

(Oh dear -- in any discussion with a psychoanalytically-oriented person, a patient can end up over his head in a sea of vaguely interrelated psychological causalities.)

("Interrelated?" "Causalities?" If I cut the big words in the above paragraph, it means diagnoses are going to be very confusing.)

Well, based on my "pill" experiences with poor sleep, depression, career worries -- some over the counter medicines and herbs -- the ones that boost serotonin or epinephrine, can change things.

Sometimes, changing your mood is all you need, in order to get yourself out of a phase where you don't know who you are, or where you're heading -- i.e. depression.

I occasionally use "Elavil" (the inexpensive generic " Amitriptyline") that boosts serotonin. I use it occasionally, if a bad mood is brewing; use it occasionally if I can't get to sleep. (I take a low-dose pill or two, based on how I feel. It's like adding salt to boring food, or shaking grated cheese on your spaghetti -- just sort of "seasoning," changing the flavor of things, a little).

It works!

You may not need a name drug, or one that gets JAMA approval, and diagnosis from that bible manual.

Just take (make) your own placebo. Just thinking "it will make me feel better," you'll probably feel better.

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