Monday, January 10, 2005

Because Everybody Always Gets Very Passionate About My Depression Posts

When I was in Denver last week (flying out there again tomorrow night), I tore an article out of my complimentary hotel USA Today - you know you're a freakshow blogger when you do something like this.

Apparently:

Lives were threatened and Americans treated like "guinea pigs" because Eli Lilly & Co. officials lied 15 years ago in denying there was any evidence the anti-depressant Prozac could cause suicidal behavior, a Harvard psychiatrist has charged...

Teicher, who considers Prozac valuable, said many of the problems with suicidal behavior were in patients given high doses, and that's how the drug was used for the first few years in the USA. "American people were guinea pigs for a few years. If we had known the truth, we would have used it more wisely from the start," Teicher said.

Isn't that just the shit?

What I worry about with the huge rush for more and better happy drugs is shit like this happening: the same sort of "oops, actually, it's worse for you to be on the drug than off it" thing that happens with a lot of weight loss drugs.

I've got buddies on Zoloft and family members on Prozac, and you know, though I'm all for drugs as a last resort (and for diagnosed conditions, though the "diagnoses" list is starting to look about as long as the "hysterical symptoms" list at the beginning of the last century), I freak at the idea that popping a pill is the first thing we're being taught to reach for. Somebody's getting really fucking rich while we search for "normalcy."

So. Pause a minute and decompress before going for the bottle, OK?

Same goes for pretty much all solutions found in a bottle.

11 comments so far. What are your thoughts?

Anonymous said...

That really scares me. I just started taking Zoloft not very long ago for depression and anxiety. I really never wanted to start them, but I went to counseling, and the counselor actually told me that it was a chemical imbalance, and that counseling would somewhat help, but not as much as an antidepressant would. I do feel better on Zoloft, but how much of my health am I compromising to be on them? Scary. 

Posted by Stacie

Anonymous said...

Yea, my best friend's on Zoloft. I'm not going to hand out counseling advice or anything like that, cause I'm not qualified for it: just keep yourself informed, and ask questions. I think I'd recommend that to anybody about anything.  

Posted by Kameron Hurley

Anonymous said...

While I think it's good to be wary, and 'most people' probably err on the side of pill popping these days, I think it's also good to note that all sorts of pills do alot of good (with little harm)--'reaching for the pill' might be a sign that one isn't trying enough other methods, but it might just be a sign that it's the best solution. For my uncle who has a 'chemical imbalance', the best medicine is moderate exercise and lots of B vitamins. For a friend of mine, Prozac was the first thing that ever helped her... 

Posted by jp

Anonymous said...

jp - yea, I think we're on the same page with this one.  

Posted by Kameron Hurley

Anonymous said...

I participated on a World Science Fiction Convention panel about medicine, and the 'hysterical symptoms' issue came up quite a bit. There are so many commercials (probably paid for by pharmaceutical companies) on TV now that recommend pills for "disorders" that nearly anyone watching the commercial will think they have every one of them. I remember one aimed at overwrought moms carting around babies, jobs, husbands, aging parents, bills, and other stressors that sounded a hell of a lot like it was pushing "Mothers Little Helper" from decades ago. There is a pill for what sounded suspiciously like garden-variety shyness that pathologized it to "social anxiety disorder" - and you need *this* pill to *feel better.*Social Anxiety Disorder may be in the DSM-IV (I'm not certain if it is), but that commercial wasn't aimed at people with any real medical condition.

A trend in the creation of medical "disorders" that makes money for mental health professionals but doesn't involve prescribing pills is taking place in divorce and custody cases. Bogus disorders from "Parental Alienation Syndrome" to "Malicious Mother Syndrome" are popping up in courts, and they rake in money for psychological and custody evaluators who keep these cases churning in courts for years. It isn't just pills that are making money for those people. 

Posted by Trish Wilson

Anonymous said...

Excuse me, but I don't think that you can make blanket statements about pill popping being for silly women who don't have "real" disease. Counselling is fine and necessary for some, nice if you can afford this expensive route, but for others, all the counselling in the world won't fully dispel depression up to and including suicidal ideation and plans in place. If you can find a pill that keeps the knives away, I sure don't think that there should be a stigma against taking it. 

Posted by anonymous, for an obvious reason

Anonymous said...

Many forms of counselling are psychologically damaging (though some are supremely effective) and drugs are often less effective than non-pharmaceutical treatments. As is alluded above, studies have shown that simple exercise is one of the best ways to ease depression, but doctors will hardly ever prescribe exercise, often because they think as an answer it's 'too easy'. 

Posted by Vincent

Anonymous said...

They actually did tell me to exercise...but I already work out about an hour everyday, so...I didn't see how that could help. 

Posted by Stacie

Anonymous said...

anon - I think that's actually what we've all been saying: find out what works for you, but exhaust your other options before grabbing for the pills, cause somebody's making money off it, and it's in their best interests to recommend pills first.

For somebody like Stacie, who seems to have been given some "try this first" advice, Zoloft seems to be what's most effective for her.

To take a drug or not is a very personal decision - I'm just here raising some flags. 

Posted by Kameron Hurley

Anonymous said...

anon--In Kameron's defence (not like she needs defending here), there were no blanket statements made, except for the idea that pills shouldn't be the FIRST thing that people try. And that seems reasonable, and not contrary to your experience, even, as you presented it.

That said, my whole point was to note that there is a lot of ignorance surrounding why people take certain medications, and quite a bit of shame put on those that do--but from Kameron's statements, it doesn't seem like she was tyring to add to that. 

Posted by jp

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