Loose Screws Mental Health News

Canada.com reports that a Canadian mental health survey found that more than 75 percent of people diagnosed with clinical anxiety or depression experience a severe relapse during the winter months, namely December and January.

“Among the symptoms those people reported, more than half said they experienced ‘feelings of worthlessness,’ ‘inappropriate guilt’ and difficulty thinking or concentrating during the winter holiday season.”

The survey also found that decreased daylight hours and increased debt during the holiday season contribute to stress among those with chronic mental illness. At least the article didn’t say there was a spike in suicides…

Lorraine BraccoLorraine Bracco, known as Dr. Melfi on The Sopranos, has written a book about her struggle with clinical depression. She notes the difference between how she functioned before her depression hit and after. She cites Zoloft as the antidepressant that helped her overcome the hump and a mental realization that she needed to get help. She no longer uses antidepressants but she feels that the antidepressant got her to a place where she could find herself again, “I found my joie de vivre, my spirit, my voice.”

And finally, it’s time to be pissed off at Eli Lilly. Documents obtained by a mental health lawyer, given to The New York Times, show that Lilly execs tried to downplay the risk of obesity and hyperglycemia in Zyprexa. The two side effects can lead to a significantly increased risk for diabetes. Lilly material even included statements to sales reps telling them to downplay those risks when pitching the atypical antipsychotic to doctors. Zyprexa, Lilly’s best-selling drug, has been sold to 2 million people and has raked in $4.2 billion worldwide. The drug is primarily prescribed for schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. Of course, Lilly execs, aware that the side effects would keep patients away from the drug, downplayed the risks and even went so far as to say, “There is no scientific evidence establishing that Zyprexa causes diabetes.”

Lawsuits speaks differently, however. Lilly has agreed to pay $750 million to 8,000 people who claim that Zyprexa has caused them to develop diabetes or other medical problems. According to the Times, “thousands more suits against the company are pending.”

ZyprexaIn a move that REALLY pissed me off, Lilly refused to give psychiatrists guidance on how to help patients who developed diabetes while on the drug, but told sales reps to market it to primary care physicians (PCPs) as a “‘safe, gentle psychotropic’ to people with mild mental illness.” PCPs, of course, know little about antidepressants and much less about antipsychotics and atypicals in general. (More on my opinion of PCPs prescribing psych drugs in a post sometime in the new year.)

Standout information from The Times:

“Lilly has never conducted a clinical trial to determine exactly how much Zyprexa raises patients’ diabetes risks. But scientists say conducting such a study would be exceedingly difficult, because diabetes takes years to develop, and it can be hard to keep mentally ill patients enrolled in a clinical trial.

… reports rolled in to Lilly and drug regulators that the medicine caused massive weight gain in many patients and was associated with diabetes. For example, a California doctor reported that 8 of his 35 patients on Zyprexa had developed high blood sugar, including two who required hospitalization. “

Now if that don’t beat all. Seroquel was prescribed to me but after having taken Atarax, an antihistamine med that leaves you drowsy in the morning, I declined. Seroquel is known for causing weight gain and leaving a drowsy effect after sleeping. I’m on Lamictal and doing quite well, but after reading about Zyprexa, I’ll continue to be wary of atypicals and antipsychotics. Unless I develop schizophrenia (God forbid!) – then it’s mind over matter.

Thanks to The Trouble With Spikol for blogging about this. On a Sunday (!) no less.

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