“An article on brain shocks from about.com linked to a statement at socialaudit.org.uk on venlafaxine withdrawal. It seems that when coming off of venlafaxine, it is best to use fluoxetine (Prozac) in conjunction with it. Somehow, Prozac’s effects can minimize or negate the side effects of Effexor allowing for an uneventful withdrawal. I’m seeing my psychiatrist later today and I might bring up the idea with him. He might think one of two things: a) I’m crazy (pun not intended) or b) I don’t know what I’m talking about. My guess is he’ll choose the latter of the two.
Unlike most patients, I know more about meds than ‘the average bear.’”
UPDATE: I asked my doctor about going on fluoxetine to offset the effect of venlafaxine withdrawal. He looked up, somewhat shocked, and said, “Yeah.” So then I pushed and said, “Well, I’d like 10 mg then.” lol. He wrote out a prescription for 10 mg of Prozac in addition to bumping me up from 150 mg to 200 mg of Lamictal. I took the fluoxetine (Prozac is now a generic drug) last night and it has offset the intensity of the brain shocks. I experience them but they are much more mild compared to yesterday when they were moderate to severe. Yesterday, I was barely able to drive; today, I drove nearly an hour to work on a somewhat urban road with good reflexes and almost normal cognitive functioning. I can only hope that the Prozac continues to aid my withdrawal issues. And I was happy to wake up this morning without wondering why I dreamt that I was in a department store with parrots singing Gwen Stefani’s “Wind It Up” and swinging like moneys instead of flying.
You get the idea: Effexor causes some strange dreams.
I’m pleased to find myself becoming an informed patient about my medical treatment. Too many patients assume that their doctor knows best no matter what. This is not the case. I’ve previously said that doctors are fallible human beings; they screw up; they misdiagnose; they don’t provide proper care; they don’t always take the appropriate steps to help a patient; they overlook important symptoms. Doctors may be overall competent, but like normal people in the workforce, they have their off-days too.
On the flip side, there are glib doctors who could care less about a patient’s well-being. They prescribe whatever whenever; see a patient for 5-10 minutes before walking out the door to another patient (time literally is money!); shrug off important symptoms that could lead to a major problem; or are completely incompetent and really shouldn’t be licensed to practice. I hope that this is not the case for even half of all practicing physicians.
Patients, however, walk in blindly with symptoms, expecting their doc to hear and know all:
“Doc, I feel depressed, fatigued, and lack tons of energy.”
“Well, BINGO! Mr. Patient, you’ve got clinical depression!”
This isn’t what a doctor should do and this isn’t what doctors normally do. Doctors ask follow-up questions to rule out other symptoms. A patient’s subjective list of symptoms may not yield an accurate diagnosis. Using the brief example above, a patient may not have clinical depression but could have a physical ailment which induces depression. The depression becomes a secondary diagnosis to the primary diagnosis (the physical ailment).
Even after a diagnosis, most patients walk out of their physicians’ office thinking that they received all their information and facts from their doctors. Anything other than a common cold requires research. (OK, enough research could provide alternative suggestions to treat a common cold other than lots of fluids and rest.)
The point: it is a patient’s responsibility to educate him/herself on a diagnosis he or she receives. No, I didn’t say right; I said responsibility.
I’ve previously blogged about Zyprexa and linked to other blogs that have followed the Zyprexa story more closely (Furious Seasons, anyone?). The likelihood that 75 percent of patients worldwide who take olanzapine do not realize that it is responsible for inducing extreme weight gain, hyperglycemia, and diabetes. Granted, some patients may not have access to the Internet, but almost everyone (yes, homeless people too) have access to a library with up-to-date encyclopedias.
The onus is on patients to properly educate themselves on their diagnosis (or diagnoses) and prescribed treatments so they can take better care of themselves and be aware of unwanted effects from treatment. Patients who have access to research material and do not educate themselves not only do themselves a disservice but also contribute to the possible deterioration of their health.