Saturday, February 13, 2010

Another scary choice

The other day I wrote about the ridiculous choice associated with hormone replacement therapy - possibly help prevent colon cancer, possibly cause a host of other medical problems at the same time.

Here’s another one that leaves me scratching my head.

Depression is a huge problem in this country [and probably an even bigger problem in a lot of others where it goes largely untreated or undiagnosed]. There are hundreds of drugs available to treat depression. They’re regularly prescribed by doctors and judging by the number of people I know who take some form or another of anti-depressant, they’re not hard to get.

Unfortunately, they all have side effects and it seems a lot of the side effects are extremely serious. This one, called Pristiq, which uses a wind-up doll to illustrate the run-down feeling of being depressed, caught my attention on television the other night. The ad discusses the suffering associated with clinical depression and likewise the side effects, warnings and prohibitions in place with regards to taking any drug from this particular class of medications.

Of note: Antidepressants increased the risk compared to placebo of suicidal thinking and behavior (suicidality) in children, teens, and young adults. Depression and certain other psychiatric disorders are themselves associated with increases in the risk of suicide. Patients of all ages who are started on antidepressant therapy should be monitored appropriately and observed closely for clinical worsening, suicidality, or unusual changes in behavior.

So your antidepressant could make you suicidal. Is that really an acceptable risk? At all?
Again, I have to ask why the medical profession thinks it’s okay to give someone a drug to treat a disorder when that drug could actually make the disorder worse. What are they thinking?

Apparently, they are only thinking…they’re not actually knowing, because something I find even more disturbing than the warnings and side effects associated with this drug is this statement which can be found on a subsequent page of the website:

As an SNRI, PRISTIQ is thought to work by affecting the levels of two neurotransmitters believed to play a key role in depression, serotonin and norepinephrine.

It’s ‘thought’ to work in a certain way. It’s not ‘known’ to work, it’s just ‘thought’ to work.

So not only are we supposed to take a medication that could worsen our condition, the researchers who invented the drug aren’t even sure how it works. They invented it! Shouldn’t they know exactly what it’s doing in the body?

I have no doubt there are patients taking this medication and feeling better because of it, but what about the ones who suffer the side effects? Is it worth it to put so many people at risk? I don’t ‘think’ so.


  1. Of course one could assume that not taking the meds could put one at risk for suicidal thinking too....

  2. That's true. If someone is already suicidal, would a drug that possibly induces suicidal thoughts be the right thing to prescribe on the outside chance it DOESN'T have any adverse effects on them?

  3. Dammit Jen, I'm a writer, not a doctor!!!

    How the hell should I know?