I got divorced 9 years ago, and felt devastated. In fact, I was suicidal. So my friends and family encouraged me to go see a doctor and take antidepressants. I did – and that turned into a very long nightmare. I've written about the details elsewhere, but the bottom line is that my doctors persuaded me to stay drugged for 8 years. And then I spent another year tapering off, living through withdrawal symptoms that were much worse than divorce recovery.
This experience gave me time to research antidepressants on the web, in the public library, and in the medical journals of The University of Texas Library. The first thing I think everyone should know is that these drugs cause chemical dependency. A list of common withdrawal symptoms is provided by the manufacturers of Paxil, Zoloft, Celexa, Lexapro, Effexor, Pristiq, and Prozac, and available on the Internet. The web sites are paxil.com, zoloft.com, etc. Click on “Prescribing Information” to see the complete warnings. Each of these includes the standard list of symptoms when the dosage is reduced: “dysphoric mood, irritability, agitation, dizziness, sensory disturbances (e.g., paresthesias such as electric shock sensations), anxiety, confusion, headache, lethargy, emotional lability, insomnia, and hypomania.”
The second thing I would like everyone to know is that antidepressants are not significantly more effective than placebos. The Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, October 2008, reports that the pharmaceutical industry is looking for proof-of-concept studies to use in developing new antidepressants, because current antidepressants “produce symptomatic remission in only one-third of depressed patients with their first course of medication.” The poor performance of antidepressants has been chronicled in a number of books. Check out authors Peter Breggin, David Healy, Joseph Glenmullen, and Ray Moynihan.
Also I encourage everyone to Google “withdrawal hell” plus the name of the drug before you start taking any psychiatric drug. Informed consent includes knowing what will happen if you stay on the drug for a few years and then try to get off.
Medication is not the only treatment for depression. I am very happy with psychotherapy. It may seem expensive in the short term, but compared with drugs for life, a few months or even a few years of therapy is an excellent deal.
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