DRUGS ARE GOOD

As happens frequently with me I draw inspiration for my entries here from an ongoing discussion in another forum. Today, one of the regular posters raised some issues about depression and the effectiveness of anti-depressants in its treatment.

Well “HELLO!!” I am an expert, having tripped my way through a variety of medications since 1984 for my own depression. A previous post listed some of them I have experience with. http://wp.me/pS6ry-4KNow here’s a report that questions whether any of the popular anti-depressants are effective in treatment. http://www.alternet.org/health/149084/
To read that report one might assume we depressed human beings are being treated by charlatans with expensive meds when sugar pill placebos would work as well, plus various forms of therapy such as cognitive behavior also have great limitations.

There are various studies cited in that report, the results of which presumably support the writer’s theory that the meds are essentially useless.

I can speak directly to one study…the STAR D one of which I was a part. As noted participants were begun on a treatment but my recollection is that there was a blind draw to determine which one. In my case I received celexa. After a period, when there was no noticeable change in my condition, I was switched, again in a blind draw, to Wellbutrin this time.

I had previously taken that drug for about fifteen months and, in conjunction with an excellent therapist, my very deep depression stabilized and I was able to function. When I first began that treatment in 1998, I was only several months removed from a near suicide.

I entered the STAR D study in 2002 and continued it into the following year. When I began the second phase with the switch to wellbutrin, I also took part in cognitive behavior therapy. However, this was a finite progarm with only 16 sessions. I don’t believe the report noted this limitation.

Otherwise during STAR D I received no form of therapy. There were periodic scheduled sessions with a psychiatrist simply to assess my present mental condition, and possibly the chance to briefly discuss some pressing questions.

Now this study for me was conducted through Western Psych as part of UPMC. I live in Morgantown, about 75 miles from the office in Bellefield Tower in Oakland where the offices for the study were.

I had to drive through all kinds of weather with a not entirely dependable car. There were some weeks I had to make two trips. A small stipend was involved which barely paid for gas. And I participated in a side survey tracking alcohol use for which I also received a stipend.

And the checks did not always arrive on time.

As I was beginning my second winter of this schedule, in January of 2004, I missed a session due to bad weather nonconducive to driving. When I arrived for my next sceduled session, only then was I told I was being terminated from STAR D for missing the prior date.

The bastards couldn’t even notify me before I made the drive. And this was during a time when I was unable to work, having lost a teaching job the previous August due to absences attributable to my depression.

So I went downhill pretty fast after that.

So I guess you can say that the STAR D program was unsuccessful for me and that earlier attempts at treatment with meds and psychotherapy were also failures.

In the fall of 2004, out of desperation and with no health insurance, I went to Health Right in Morgantown which accepts patients under those conditions.

Having just become homeless and thinking again of suicide as a way out, I did manage to get an intake interview at Health Right for psychological help. Within a few days I saw a therapist for counselling and one of the rotating group of psychiatrists to get a prescription for meds.

Initially I was on celexa again, but was switched to wellbutrin soon after. With regular sessions with my therapist, weekly at first then bi-weekly after stabilization, I managed to cope with my situation.

Eventually once my finances improved and I had insurance I transferred to another therapist in private practice where I remain today, though she is leaving for another treatment setting and I will have to break in a new therapist in her office.

Now I can only speak for myself. But the combination of a drug, wellbutrin, that helps regulate my brain chemicals, with therapy on a regular basis, has enabled me to function fairly well the great majority of the time.

In small spurts I am as capable of high intellect critical thinking as i have ever been. It is difficult to sustain over a long period and I have days where it is all I can do to go through the motions of staying alive.

But among other people, most would not be able to detect the depths of my despair or that I have had those moments at all.

Above all I have no sense of complacency. I have no natural fear and loathing to be overcome. My non-depressed personality is generally “Hail fellow well met”. In public, I tend to treat people with warmth and good humor. No one, unless they have really done something to piss me off, deserves to have my bad days visited upon them.

I can rub people the wrong way for many reasons, but none seem to be connected to my intake of anti-depressants. With a few minor exceptions my fears and anxieties are the same as everyone elses.

Is this true of others on anti-depressants? I can’t present statistics, but the number of people I have learned are on meds amazes me. For the most part I never would have guessed that if they had not told me.

Are there some folks on anti-depressants unnecessarily? I have no doubt there are many. I suppose many of them are looking for a quick fix and find a doctor amenable to providing one. But I believe that happens with many medications for many ailments.

Now a large part of the discussion on depression was sparked by me, providing the text of Hamlet’s soliloquy , ” To be or not to be”

Of course that was Hamlet contemplating his own suicide. Been there…done that. It ain’t fun. It is a choice not to be made lightly.

But while Hamlet speaks of suicide…of his own sweet welcome death in such poetic terms, the real question comes down to this. Are you willing to venture into the great unknown when what is known is a pain far exceeding any one ever feels of a physical nature so to escape it is the only desire? Beyond love and lust and dignity and even the most menial but satisfying pleasure lies peace

I am not ready to answer that question and that is why I take my meds and see my shrink.

Please know that I voice only my own experience. But in that sense I would hazard a guess that there are as many conclusions as there are anti-depressant users.

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      Comments

      • Toadsly  On March 8, 2011 at 10:55 AM

        Wonderful post.

        I’ve been there.

        • umoc193  On March 8, 2011 at 11:48 AM

          I always find it amazing how many people share a similar experience that you would never suspect of doing so, until the topic comes up. Thanks for the compliment.

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