Drug-induced suicidal ideation

This is a great post from Ana on how she struggled with suicidal thoughts while tapering off of Effexor. She was a lot better about identifying this stuff than I’ve ever been. I’m linking to this because I want people to know that suicidal thoughts CAN be drug-induced. I’m well aware of that now coming off of Lamictal. No problems so far but I have struggled with it in the past when I tried to jump down from 200 mg to 150 mg.

Loose Screws Mental Health News

As reported by The New York Times, people with bipolar disorder have a higher risk of suffering from fatal illness according to a study (that reviewed 17 other studies involving more than 331,000 people) reported in the February issue of Psychiatric Services.

In the larger studies, almost every cause of death was higher among bipolar patients: cardiovascular, respiratory, cerebrovascular (including strokes), and endocrine (like diabetes). In the smaller studies, mortality from cerebrovascular disease was higher among those with bipolar illness, but they showed inconsistent results, probably because they used smaller samples or less representative populations.

Gianna at Beyond Meds provides here take here.


Some crazy nurse in Minnesota convinced a Canadian college student to kill herself and walked her through the process of appropriately hanging herself. Ed Morrissey of Hot Air calls the nurse "the first serial suicide-inciter of the modern age." Couldn't have said it better myself.


Philip Dawdy at Furious Seasons is on a roll, holding AstraZeneca accountable for its actions regarding hidden information about Seroquel and now he hosts the Seroquel documents — alongside Lilly's Zyprexa documents — that indicate buried studies. Dawdy's also running a spring fundraiser and I suggest you get your butt in gear and donate to him if it's important to you that someone holds pharmaceutical companies accountable for their actions. I've already done my part.


Sorry this post isn't filled with my normal snark and cynicism. I'm behind on a lot personally — still trying to get the hang of this self-employment thing — and this is what I can throw out for now.

Blog to check out: Postpartum Dads Project

A blog that I'd recommend, especially for both moms and dads of new children, is Postpartum Dads Project. I think the idea is very cool and long overdue. The goal is to be a resource and place of encouragement and education for fathers who have wives going through postpartum depression or are experiencing depression themselves. As the tagline says, "Because PPD is a WHOLE family thing." Katherine Stone over at Postpartum Progress has a small write-up about it.

depressive introspective

I’m not sure I’ll be posting many newsworthy items as much as I used to. I suppose I’m getting lazy in some respects. Maybe my brain is tired or not fully energized. I’m also going through a period in my life where I’d rather discuss my personal experiences and explore broader issues affecting my mental health (like emotional eating) rather than daily current events.

Grow with me. I may shift back to regular news and celeb updates but I don’t feel obligated to post on them right now. And I don’t feel any pressure to do so. I’m feeling particularly… introspective. 😉

Great blogs that analyze and post on current events can be found below (in no particular order):

The Boxer: Fighting Depression

John over at Storied Mind wrote a post on fighting depression that really hit home. It had a profound thought that I know but often overlook.

Fight it.

If I can step aside for just an instant from the full assault of the symptom, long enough to glance sideways at it, I can spot what’s happening and immediately see myself experiencing that particular bend of mind or feeling. Here it comes, here it is, I’m feeling miserable because I’m depressed. Or I’m tearing myself down with every other thought – I don’t have to do that so you in there, you shut up, I’m not listening anymore – you’re just a disease, and you will not get me to believe what you’re saying. Of I see obsessive thinking taking hold, sizzling my mind and gut with something, invariably, that I did wrong. I see that I’m replaying it over and over, and I have to step back and just say to myself, you’re obsessing, that’s another symptom, so stop!

boxingWhich reminds of a song (“The Boxer”) from one of my favorite Christian artists, Sara Groves:

When you said this was a fight, you weren’t kidding
When you said this was a fight, you weren’t kidding, kidding
Cause my ribs are bruised and it’s just round two

When you said this was a fight, you weren’t kidding
When you said this was a fight, you weren’t kidding
Cause there’s a cut on my eye and it’s just round five

And I used to be quick I used to see it coming
I used to know how to move my feet
Now I can’t duck and I can’t land nothing
And I forgot how to bob and weave
Bob and weave

When you said this was a fight, you weren’t kidding
When you said this was a fight, you weren’t kidding, kidding, kidding
Cause this room’s in a spin and it’s just round ten

If you care at all take that towel from your neck
Cause I’ve reached down deep and there is nothing left
I’ve got nothing
I’ve got nothing
I’ve got nothing

Greater is he who is in me
Greater is he who is in me
Greater, greater
Greater, greater

Okay, okay

Bob and weave
Bob and weave
Bob and weave

And I can’t just know it I’ve got to feel it
And I can’t just feel it, I’ve got to believe it
And I can’t just believe it, I’ve got to live it

I need to put up a fight and I won’t be successful without God’s help. I can’t just *think* I have to fight and leave it as head knowledge, I have to put it into action. I have to — as John put it — “glance sideways at it” and watch those punches, see it coming, then — as Sara put it — “bob and weave” to dodge it before it knocks me down completely.

Chemical imbalances do not exist; dying brain cells do

Researchers have never been fully confident in the chemical imbalance theory, yet the media continue to purport it as fact. Dr. John Grohol over at PsychCentral recently wrote:

We’ve all heard the theory — a chemical imbalance in your brain causes depression.

Although researchers have known for years this not to be the case, some drug companies continue to repeat this simplistic and misleading claim in their marketing and advertising materials. Why the FTC or some other federal agency doesn’t crack down on this intentional misleading information is beyond me. Most researchers now believe depression is not caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain.

How did we come to this conclusion? Through years of additional research. But now some are jumping on the next brain bandwagon of belief — that depression is caused by a problem in the brain neuronal network.

Grohol cites Jonah Lehrer's article in the Boston Globe in which he posits that researchers now think depression comes from "brain cells shrinking and dying." Lehrer writes:

Read the rest of this entry »

R.I.P. Storms of Madness

Stephany at soulful sepulcher stumbled upon Tenuous at Best’s post about how Dobro at Storms of Madness passed away suddenly.

Dobro’s blog was (and has been) an encouragement to me. May she rest in peace. She will be missed not only by family but also by those whose lives she never knew she touched.

Celebrity Sensitivity: 135 Famous Celebrities and Their Mental Health

The Pop-Crunch Show has a list of 135 Famous People Who Struggled with Depression. I sit on the fence and think that it should probably be retitled "135 Famous People Who Struggled with Mental Health Issues."

But then again, we could throw nearly every celebrity in there, huh? I’m bummed that Tom Cruise isn’t on the list.

John Grohol interviews Wyeth's VP of Medical Affairs on Pristiq

Dr. Grohol interviewed Dr. Phil Ninan, Wyeth’s VP of Medical Affairs on Pristiq, its efficacy, and surrounding issues. It was quite an interesting interview (and long) but here are some highlights that I chose to comment on. I’ll be making some comments in between Dr. Ninan’s answers due to the extensive length. Some parts of the answers have been truncated.

Read the rest of this entry »

Insight into the Mind of a Depressed Person

I posted a couple of months ago on The Last Psychiatrist’s post on suicide, which is still being hotly debated, and to be honest, is rather depressing. I gather that the majority of people commenting on the post have a general agreement that life has no purpose and as one commenter said, "just *is*." If there are people who think differently, I wish they’d leave comments. It appears that most people seem to think that life is rather wasteful.

A commenter named Jack posted his controversial thoughts. His entire post echoes what I’ve thought in the past (and currently struggle with) and what I’m sure others who attempted or committed suicide have thought too.

Read the rest of this entry »

Internet trolls and stalkers: a pathetic breed indeed

Gianna at Bipolar Blast is discontinuing her blog because of idiots and trolls who have sent her mean and disturbing comments that have affected her and her mental well-being. This angers and upsets me as it just goes to show that some people have no care for anyone but themselves.

Jane, a commenter at Furious Seasons, wrote:

As I read this piece I couldn’t help but think the drug companies are behind a lot of this.

I can’t help but agree. I can’t help but wonder if Gianna’s blog was so informative and effective that a few people decided attack a successful mental health blogger. She obviously was doing something right if some people felt threatened.

I hope that she will take some time to recover and gather up her strength. She is in my prayers, and for those who pray, please keep her in yours as well.

Furious Seasons's Spring Fundraiser

Since its September 2005 inception, Furious Seasons (www.furiousseasons.com) has been a resource for many people who may struggle with mental illness or know someone who deals with mental illness. Author Philip Dawdy has shed light on the dealings of pharmaceutical companies and provided keen insight on today’s psychiatric practices. His investigative journalism skills have helped educate thousands of people. As a result of his blog, I am aware of the negative effects that antipsychotics – namely Zyprexa and Seroquel — can have on people. Upon learning of his experience of Lamictal withdrawal and from the comments of others, I am much more aware of the potential side effects I may endure should I choose to taper off of the drug.

In keeping with the title of his blog, Dawdy has begun to host seasonal fundraisers to help maintain his site and support the extensive research he performs for the blog. His site is read by thousands on a regular basis and he needs all the support he can to keep his work going and the site functioning.

If you don’t read his site (and you should), please go to his blog (link above) and read some of his posts. After you’re done, I’m pretty sure you’ll realize what an asset he is for the mental health community.

Then, donate. It doesn’t matter how much — $5, $10, $25, $50, $100 — whatever you can give! He’s got a PayPal button on his site (just like I do, ahem) that you can click on to support his work. If you’re not comfortable with putting your credit card info on a Web site, he also accepts checks, money orders… whatever will clear in the bank.

By the way, Dawdy has helped me out in the past (yep, he too clicked on my PayPal button and helped me out when I needed it) and I intend to return the favor. A donation to his site helps this mental health patient — and many others — in return.

Loose Screws Mental Health News

John Grohol at PsychCentral reports that the fate of the mental health parity bill is uncertain as its main champion, Sen. Ted Kennedy, takes a leave of absence to focus on treatment of his brain tumor. I echo John’s thoughts in hoping to see that other senators are willing to carry the torch and pass this important piece of legislation.


I came across a post from Kalea Chapman at pasadena therapist in which she linked to a WSJ article on whether veterans suffering from PTSD should be awarded the Purple Heart.

Supporters of awarding the Purple Heart to veterans with PTSD believe the move would reduce the stigma that surrounds the disorder and spur more soldiers and Marines to seek help without fear of limiting their careers.

Opponents argue that the Purple Heart should be reserved for physical injuries, as has been the case since the medal was reinstituted by Congress in 1932.

I side with the opponents. The Purple Heart should be awarded to be people who have visible evidence of bravery. With the rising number of PTSD prevalence, I’m afraid that the award would be handed out like candy. The rising number of veterans with PTSD on disability has caused enough of an issue that a Texas VA facility wanted mental health officials to stop diagnosing veterans with the condition.


Jordan Burnham, an 18-year-old student who survived a nine-story jump from a building, plans on walking at his graduation with the assistance of two canes. A family who used to attend my church knows this family and put him on my church’s prayer list. It’s a small world, after all.


Finally, it looks like expecting moms should have no fear of causing birth defects in their baby while taking antidepressants, according to a study being published in the British Journal of Psychiatry.

A research team from Montreal University studied more than 2000 pregnant women on antidepressants and discovered the drugs did not present any adverse effects. However, it sounds like they only oversaw the women while they were pregnant in their first trimester. I haven’t seen the actual study but it doesn’t seem to mention whether the women discontinued the antidepressants after the first trimester.

Top 10 Bizarre Mental Disorders

The List Universe has a top 10 Bizarre Mental Disorders list from last year that is particularly intriguing. An additional 10 were added this year. Do you think they'll be included in the DSM-V?

Hat Tip: Dr. X

Emo + Music = Suicide?

Here’s an interesting post from Lightning’s Girl on the matter.

How is this for a startling number when you put in emo + suicide in google?
1 – 10 of about 4,010,000 for emo suicide

UPDATE: The New Zealand Herald has an article about how young emo listeners are fighting back. Apparently, the Daily Mail in England went a tad bit too far and called emo music a "sinister teenage craze that romanticises death." Emo fans in England are planning a peaceful march to protest the Daily Mail’s – in what they call – an unfair characterization.

Check It Out: My Bipolar Mother

If none of you have found it yet, I’d highly recommend checking out the blog, My Bipolar Mother. A man (who wishes to remain anonymous) writes the continuing saga of having a mother who struggles with severe bipolar disorder while trying to maintain a solid relationship with his father. Here’s a truncated excerpt:

Today, I got a call from Dad, reminding me that there was a package that Mom had sent to my Daughter and Son, who had just had a birthday, and would I mind picking it up.  That had also been the subject of a few of Mom’s messages as well.  …

I got quite a few messages from Mom yesterday, starting just after I picked Dad up and we were heading out to pizza.  When I listened to them, it was really funny to hear just how furious Mom was about me having ’stood Dad up’, and how ‘devastated’ he was when he didn’t hear from me.

My Wife picked up the package today, and got an earful from the postmaster.  Apparently Mom has been calling and harassing his employees about the package to the point that none of them will answer the phone when she calls.

My wife also had to go to the mechanic to get the state inspection done, and the owner of the station told her about one of Dad’s neighbors.  The lady had dropped her car off for maintenance, and when the owner drove her home she said that they would have to leave a message because she wasn’t answering the phone any more today.  Mom had already called her four times (10:00 am) and she just couldn’t take it any more.

I got one call from Mom this morning, thanking me (sarcastically of course) for finally getting around to letting the kids see Dad and taking him out to eat.  She just couldn’t understand why I would be so irresponsible as to let Dad sit at home and wait for hours without calling him or anything.   After all of her enraged calls yesterday, her voice was really bad today.

Tardy Bipolar Overdiagnosis Week Post

Ok, so I’m incredibly late on this bipolar overdiagnosis week thing (one week, of course) but a bunch of blogs that I know of have already blogged about it. In fact, there have been so many posts on it that I haven’t been able to read and keep up on them all. All I know is that a recent study came out saying bipolar disorder is overdiagnosed. In the meantime, read blogs that have commentary on the matter (most of the links from Furious Seasons):

Furious Seasons — Study: Bipolar Disorder Overdiagnosed

Furious Seasons — Making Sense of Bipolar Disorder Overdiagnosis

Furious Seasons — Major Researchers Support Bipolar Overdiagnosis Study

Furious Seasons — Mental Health Month Meet Bipolar Overdiagnosis Awareness Week

PsychCentral — Bipolar Disorder Overdiagnosed

Psychiatric Drug Withdrawal and Recovery — Celebrating Bipolar Overawareness Week

Clinical Psychology & Psychiatry: A Closer Look — Bipolar Overawareness Week Starts on Monday

I’ll give many of these posts a read before I say anything about it. But as of right now, I’m sitting here with a contrarian view, believe it or not.

The Great Medication Debate, Part 1

"For everyone to whom much is given, from him much will be required; and to whom much has been committed, of him they will ask the more." — Luke 12:48

Gianna at Psychiatric Drug Withdrawal and Recovery has written a post about reconnecting with her spirituality and working with her doctor on more med tapering. Toward the end, she wrote:

I went for a walk the other day with a woman who could’ve been my client from years ago when I worked with the “severe and persistent mentally ill.” She was so sweet and warm—yet there was a deadness in her that I recognized as familiar from the clients I worked with on heavy neuroleptics. I was so glad to walk with her as an equal and not as a social worker—she is my peer and we talked to each other as such. She is getting tardive dykinesia from her neuroleptic. I asked her how long she’s been on it and it’s been 2 decades. I asked how long she has been stable and she said 12 years. I wanted to scream. This poor woman is half dead inside for no good reason. She is on three medications for bipolar disorder and has had no symptoms in 12 years. I see that as criminal, especially since it’s clear a part of her is dead, just as I’ve been dead for many years but am now coming back to life.

I gently talked to her about talking to her doctor. “If you’ve been symptom free for 12 years maybe you don’t have to be on a toxic drug that is giving you tardive dyskinesia,” I suggested. I didn’t add she struck me as part dead too. I want to help all of us who are being over-medicated and poisoned. How can I do that? This blog is simply not enough.

In response, I wrote this comment on her blog:

Read the rest of this entry »

The Effexor Chronicles: Lucky Her

One woman had a near trouble-free time getting off of Effexor.

I was taking effexor for about 4 months due to having a anxiaty attack one day.

One day I just felt like I was ready to get off of them.

I started by slowly bringing down my dosage. Did that for 2 weeks. The 3rd week I stopped taking them all together.

The worst sympton I felt was the dizzy feeling, I think they call it vertigo. That lasted for up to 2 weeks after stopping the medication.

I am proud to say I am now completly effexer free, with no side affects any longer. It can be done. Just go slow !

Good luck.

Taking on pretentious Christianity: You don't always have to be happy just because you call yourself a Christian

Nancie at More Than Conquerors has a great post up including a devotional that reflects on Jeremiah 17:17: "Do not be a terror to me; You are my hope in the day of doom." It really contradicts the notion that Christians are supposed to be bright, happy, sunshine, and flowers. Christians always seem to act like because they have "joy" in Christ, they are supposed to be happy-go-lucky and everything just works out for them.

How absolutely and utterly wrong.

The path of the Christian is not always bright with sunshine; he has his seasons of darkness and of storm.

Because I’m essentially faceless on this blog, I can be me–like it or not. I’m not your typical born-again Christian. I don’t act pretentious. If crap is going wrong in my life, I say it is and I won’t act like things are butterflies and sunshine. I cuss (sorry to those it offends!) at times when I’m angry or frustrated. This is me; I am a human with faith in Christ.

So I’m out to blast this notion of Christians always have the "joy of the Lord," meaning "I am so happy because Jesus saved me from my sins that I have to go around and smile all day." NO. "Joy of the Lord," I think, means quiet confidence in him. Knowing who he is and what he’s done for you and through all the trials of life, never letting go of that faith because you’re secure in his love for you.

No Christian has enjoyed perpetual prosperity; no believer can always keep his harp from the willows. Perhaps the Lord allotted you at first a smooth and unclouded path, because you were weak and timid. He tempered the wind to the shorn lamb, but now that you are stronger in the spiritual life, you must enter upon the riper and rougher experience of God’s full-grown children.

We need winds and tempests to exercise our faith, to tear off the rotten bough of self-dependence, and to root us more firmly in Christ.

The day of evil reveals to us the value of our glorious hope.

Boy, do I feel like winds and tempests are exercising my faith. And I’m not going to act like they’re not. Jesus showed the weak side of his humanity. I’m not sure why some Christians think they need to be "stronger" than Jesus.

/end ex-fundamentalist rant/

Current Mood Rating: 5.5

Assorted links roundup

Pastor Mike at KUPC Ask the Pastors answered the ever-controversial question about suicide that plagues Christianity: Will a Christian go to hell if he or she commits suicide? Pastor Mike answers that suicide is "forgivable but not permissible."

Spacedit at mydepressionconnection.com says that she has gained victory over depression as a result of evil spirits being cast out of her in the name of Jesus Christ. It’s a subject I’ve grappled with myself, and I’m not sure what to believe. But I won’t be passing judgment on her.

A blogger's perspective on suicide hotline volunteer work

I’m pretty liberal when it comes to suicide humor jokes. (My husband hates it when I tell them though.) I came across this post from a blogger who volunteered at a suicide hotline center. I actually found it offensive.I don’t mind “demotivator” posters—in fact I love them—but I now realize they need to be used in an appropriate context. I would think that someone who worked at a suicide hotline would realize the severity of callers’ situations even if it was tiring work. I guess at some point you gotta laugh, right? Here’s the post:

People have been asking me what I learned from volunteering at a suicide call center.

It gets tiring telling people to “hang in there” and that they have something to live for when you really know they don’t.

Which is why I am writing my new book (see below).

Suicide poster

I’d like to dedicate my book to the New Zealand Chess Team and the Polish Space Exploration Project.

Okay, the NZ Chess Team and Polish SEP thing was funny to me.

What do you think? Am I being oversensitive?

The Last Psychiatrist—and my thoughts—on suicide

"Your life is a publicly traded company.  You may have majority ownership, but you still are subject to a Board and to your shareholders.  If you want to kill yourself, everyone you have touched in any way gets to vote.  Good luck."

I stumbled upon this post from The Last Psychiatrist written about a month ago. Alone basically argues that suicidal people shouldn’t kill themselves because they have a responsibility—a duty—to stay alive for others. The comments mostly lean toward people having the free will to kill themselves should they choose to do so. Here’s an excerpt from one of the comments:

"You have a responsibility to improve the lives of those around you." Excuse me?! When did THAT become part of the constitution? NOBODY has the responsibility or even the capability to improve anyone else’s life! Hell, you’re a Doctor and you don’t take responsibility for improving anyone’s life!

I’ve noticed that suicide is the taboo mental health topic even among the mentally ill. I’m going to go on a brief narcissist trip and mention that I received few comments on my last suicidal post. To be honest, I figured more people would have chided me for my distorted thinking. Makes me wonder to be quite honest. If I decided that I was going to commit suicide (which I’m not right now), would you support my decision or would you make a case for me to stay alive? What would you say?

Can I be even more narcissist and hope that I get at least 5 comments on this post? Thanks in advance.

Current mood rating: 6

Celebrity Sensitivity: Gwyneth Paltrow

Gwyneth PaltrowActress Gwyneth Paltrow has come clean about her bout with postpartum depression after the birth of her son Moses. Speaking to Vogue magazine, Paltrow said:

“I didn’t know I had it until after it was over. I just didn’t know what was wrong with me. I felt really out of my body. I felt really disconnected. I felt really down. I felt pessimistic.”

Katherine Stone gives her perspective on this story at Postpartum Progress.

Vote for Furious Seasons!

I nominated Philip Dawdy’s Furious Seasons site for Best Health Blog and Best Blog of All Time for the 2008 Blogger’s Choice Awards. I know many of you read his site and really appreciate his contribution to writing about mental health issues so please go vote for him! Voting requires registration but it’s entirely worth it.

It’s about time I voted for a candidate I wholeheartedly like.

Blogging bad for mental health?

Two weeks ago, the NYTimes wrote a story about the pressure that blog writers have to keep on blogging. The article points out that three bloggers died (it’s assumed that it’s due in part to the nature of their work?) and that many more suffer from weight problems, sleep disorders, and a whole host of other sicknesses or illnesses because of their addiction to blogging. Many of these bloggers (the article cites the techies) are paid and get little sleep lest they not be the first to post about the latest news.

I don’t have the problem about being first about anything. I never am and don’t expect myself to be. I do know how it feels to place pressure on yourself to keep blogging, blogging, blogging. Especially when you take a look at your stats and see your readership increasing every day.

My readership hits reached a daily high last month with my two posts on the FDA’s investigation on the Singulair-suicide link. That rarely happens. But it gave me the impetus to keep digging for stories that might be of similar significant relevance. (I haven’t found any since so far.)

But it hasn’t kept me tethered to the computer although I can be if I’m in the right mood. I’m pretty slow at typing my posts and can sit here for at least an hour before hitting the publish button.

Blogging has been lucrative for some, but those on the lower rungs of the business can earn as little as $10 a post, and in some cases are paid on a sliding bonus scale that rewards success with a demand for even more work.

I’d like to get paid $10 a post as opposed to getting paid $0. (In fact, I’m paying $12 a month!) Anyone have any ideas to get revenue going on a blog apart from Google Ads?

(Hat tip: Six Until Me)

Another one biting the dust…

Bipolar Wellness Writer has mentioned that she will discontinue writing her blog in a few weeks. (UPDATED—See bottom of this post.) Furious Seasons and Soulful Sepulcher have mentioned various mental health blogs that have authors who either are considering the possibility of discontinuing their blog (The Trouble with Spikol), have gone on hiatus (Psychiatric Drug Withdrawal and Recovery), have discontinued blogging (Been Broken (gone for now)) , or have deleted their blog altogether (Psych Survivor).

I answered Philip Dawdy’s questions about the recent spate of mental health blogs that are ceasing regular updates
. But I’m beginning to form my own questions as well. The common theme that I’ve read among many of these blogs is that the authors feel "held back" or that they need to move on with their lives or pursue other interests. Is writing about mental health issues—not just about personal experiences but in general—a burden that many people feel they no longer enjoy? Sort of like a job in which the work seemed enjoyable at first but has become too much to bear and it’s time to "quit" and move on?

I appreciate all of the bloggers who have contributed to the mental health blogosphere. I guess my main question is why the bloggers of political, technology, and celebrity blogs don’t feel that their blogs are holding them back. Is it perhaps the fact that these sites are more likely to make money? Or maybe Big Pharma owns so much of the corner market on generating ad revenue that mainstream outlets are hesitant to publicize anything that would criticize them. Or maybe mental health blogs are so personal that people feel as though they can’t continue to dwell on the past. I don’t have any answers this time. However, those who search Google for blogs regarding various topics on mental health can find these (unfortunately, they’re not all blogs):

UPDATE: Susan Bernard at Bipolar Wellness Writer responded to my comment on her blog:

Dear Marissa,
All may not be lost. Ever since I’ve written this post, friends have been suggesting ways to continue blogging–but not feel "stuck." So, I may change my mind. I’m noodling a bunch of ideas!

Thanks for your comment! I’ll let you know.

Susan

She’s also made a recent post in which she’s weighing her options and may consider changing her mind. (Thanks to BPD in OKC for tipping me off to this.)

Neurontin 0, Placebo 1. Pfizer loses, Placebo wins.

Stephany at soulful sepulcher has a post up on how Neurontin has not shown itself to be more effective for bipolar disorder than placebo in clinical trials.

It's actually kind of funny that this discovery has been made in April 2008 because I'd reported on this back in January of 2007:

So let's recap: gabapentin is FDA-approved for epilepsy ONLY. But gabapentin has a slew of off-label uses.

Don't know what off-label means? It means "not FDA-approved to be prescribed for this use."

Now that we've got that out of the way, gabapentin is prescribed off-label for migraines, bipolar disorder, social anxiety disorder, OCD, treatment-resistant depression, insomnia, multiple sclerosis, neuropathic pain, and in some instances, post-operative chronic pain.

Where did this off-label usage come from? Basically, one journal article published data on beneficial effects for patients on Neurontin for bipolar disorder and then other articles would cite that article as supporting evidence then more articles cited all the other articles that published the positive efficacy data on the drug, creating what UNC researcher Tim Carey calls the "echo chamber effect."  From Fierce Pharma:

Hearing it over and over, doctors were led to believe that Neurontin worked for bipolar patients, and prescribed it to lots and lots of them.

These articles that touted the benefits of Neurontin were cited 400 times. Carey:

It “becomes a rumor mill in which physicians may be exposed to these types of articles, and citations of articles, which then gives credibility to off-label use.”

The conclusion?

“No scientifically acceptable clinical trial evidence supports use” of the drug in bipolar disorder.

Ouch. Hitting Pfizer where it hurts.

Wyeth reps no like Pristiq

Oof. I'm just starting to read The Carlat Psychiatry Blog and stumbled upon this post about Wyeth drug reps trashing Pristiq. Wow. Carlat pulled an excerpt of a Wyeth rep mocking Pristiq's new marketing slogan: "People, Passion, Performance… Pristiq!"

"PEOPLE – 1/2 of you will be gone in less than 27 days

PASSION – There is no passion now, but for those that remain with Wyeth, we will bribe the passion out of you by taking you to Vegas for 4 days.

PERFORMANCE – You thought it was hard to reach your performance incentive before? Wait until 2nd quarter

PRISTIQ – Good luck selling both Effexor XR and Pristiq at the same time. So Dr., would you like to hear about my antidepressant that has been around for 12 years, with proven efficacy with the ability to titrate the dose as need to better care for each patient's needs that will have generic competition in 4 months, or would you like to hear about my brand new antidepressant with one dose, less indications and less evidence of efficacy? You want me to choose, let me check with my bonus plan to see which one pays more."

Carlat:

If this is the typical attitude within the Pristiq sales force, Wyeth may end up a little shy of the blockbuster they were hoping for!

I couldn't have said it better myself.

Response to "Mental Health Blogs Going Bye-Bye?"

From one of Furious Seasons’s latest posts:

Mental Health Blogs Going Bye-Bye?

As I noted earlier, there’s a spate of mental health blogs that are going on hiatus of some kind. Now, it’s my sad duty to report that Gianna Kali’s Bipolar Blast blog is going on an indefinite hiatus as well. You can read her post "Quitting?" for the details. Bottom line: all those years of very high doses of psych meds seem to have injured her body. I cannot even begin to send her enough good wishes. I cannot even begin to express my disgust with some of the bad doctors she ran into over the years.

Also, the Psych Survivor blog, written by a man I only know as Mark, was taken down a few weeks ago, and from what I gather he is in the hospital with heart problems. His was/is a good and strident voice on these issues we all care about and his work is missed.

All of this kind of makes me feel glum, since the two people above had been at the blogging game for well over a year and I sensed that they’d both be around long-term. These are people I care about and it sucks that they won’t be the presence they once were.

Why is it that mental health blogs are so difficult to do and keep going? Why is it so hard for them to find the substantial audiences they deserve? The Internet is crowded with blogs about politics, technology, gadgets, gossip and parenting and many of these seem to do quite well and have huge audiences and long lives, despite the fact that many of them are merely echoes of one another. Are readers of blogs that simple-minded that all they need is the latest news and opinion on Apple’s or Microsoft’s latest bit of software or Obama’s or Hillary’s latest gaffe?

You’d think in a country where 10 percent of the population is on anti-depressants and another 5 percent to 10 percent is likely on some other psych med that there would be a substantial audience for these issues (regardless of what one makes of the dominant mental health paradigm), especially given how wildly popular neuroscience is on the Net. It makes me wonder if we all–and here I include myself–have done something wrong in how we analyze these issues (are we too contrarian?) or if we all simply haven’t been crowded out of the big search engines (that’s how most people find mental health information online) because the Net is so over-populated with pharma sites and allied pro-pharma health websites. I can certainly say that the mainstream media–which usually loves writing about characters on the Net who push against life’s many intellectual tides–has given very little attention to sites like this one, despite the fact that sites like mine have been a very real service to many in the media.

Or maybe the mainstream approach to mental health care is right and the public is just trying to tell us something.

What do you think?

I’ll tell you what I think.

Read the rest of this entry »

Suicide

My family would have killed me (for lack of a better term) if I had written this.

Generic drugs are not exactly like brand names

Gianna at Bipolar Blast stumbled upon an article at the LA Times that outlines the FDA’s standard for generics:

In almost all cases, the FDA permits a generic drug to release 80% to
125% of an active ingredient into the bloodstream, compared to that
released in a single dose of the original medication.

Gianna makes a good point for tapering down on brand-name meds then switching to generics:

And definately too broad when I’ve been cutting down my only 10% at a
time. If the drug is 80% of what I’m taking that is a 20% cut without
intending a reduction. It of course can work the other way and make
coming off the drug a longer task and more difficult if it’s actually
125% of the brand name.

eek – that’s something to think about.

For the Christians with bipolar disorder

If you haven’t found it already, I’ve stumbled upon My Life with Bipolar Disorder written by Nancie Koo in Singapore. She’s a born again Christian who writes about her struggles but remains steadfast in her faith. I started my blog nearly two years ago in the hopes that I could provide encouragement and information to other Christians suffering from mental illness. It’s good to see that many blogs have come along since then to fill the void.

Mental health treatment for minorities substandard

Speaking of race, I stumbled upon Ephphatha, a blog from an African American woman looking to raise awareness of mental health in the African American community.

She linked to two News & Notes series on npr that focus on the lack of appropriate care to Blacks in the mental health community. This gets me thinking: If Blacks, how much more so other racial/ethnic minorities, e.g. Hispanics, Asians, Native Americans, Indians, etc. Is it really true that Caucasians a.k.a. white Americans receive better mental health treatment than other races and ethnicities?

It appears so
.

Distorted Thinking

A Google Alert for a post from My Journey Through Bipolar came to my inbox. I read it and feel that it expresses many of the thoughts that I’ve had and still have today. Here are the snippets that really spoke to me:

My thinking has been so terribly distorted lately.  I can hear it but
it is like I am watching it on TV and I can’t make the actors say
different lines.  “You just don’t understand me so I am not going to
talk to you anymore.”  “I am worthless and just taking up too much
space.  I would rather die then to put you all through this agony
anymore.”  “I have no friends.  No one loves me.  I am unlovable.  I
hate myself.  I HATE ME!!!”


And it all makes so much sense to me.  I really believe it.  I really
do feel like there is no reason to go on.  That I should just die.
That I am a waste of space.


And like the viewer watching TV I can see how ridiculous this story
is.  Of course she is loved.  Look at the supporting cast.  She doesn’t
actually want to die.  Look at her children worshiping her at her feet,
begging her to come play with them and give them kisses.  Who wouldn’t
want to stick around to foster that?  And a waste of space?  She
created this space.  She cooks and cleans in this space.  She bore her
children in this space.  She makes love to her incredible husband in
this space.  She isn’t a waste of space.  The space would be empty
without her.


And does she really hate herself?  I believe she hates the one that she
thinks she is.  That distorted her.  But if she saw herself as a
separate person she would love her.  She would see that other self and
think, what a great person.  She has it all.  The husband, house, kids,
cats, beauty, security, love all around.  A deep faith, a rich
community, arts and a strong soul of a warrior.  She would want to be
just like that other person.


I want to be just like I am.  I just want to be happy while I am being me.

Read the entire post here.

I hate to brag, but…

I hate to brag, but…

February 28, 2007
Pristiq's FDA Chances: Depression – Yea; Menopause – Nay

It wouldn't surprise me if they said yea to antidepressant use and nay to vasomotor use because of lack of evidence in improved symptoms.

April 19, 2007
Wyeth looking for Pristiq's FDA approval in 2008

I'll follow Pristiq as the information continues to trickle out but don't expect to hear much about it until next year when Wyeth becomes the proud papa of a brand new (and approved) product.

This is one of the few times I can actually say I was right. (Teenage-like "squee!" goes here.)

More recent posts from:

Blogs around the way

I’m catching up on reading my fellow bloggers’ posts (see Blogroll to the right), so if you’re not reading their site already, I’d encourage you to do so. Below  are some posts that caught my attention. Some might be a little dated.

Gianna at Bipolar Blast: Has a video up of Gwen Olsen, an ex-pharma rep who says that pharmaceutical companies aren’t in the  business of curing but in the business of "disease maintenance and symptom management." It’s nothing new but here are two quotes that caught my attention:

"And what I’m saying is provable is that the pharmaceutical industry doesn’t want to cure people. You need to understand specifically when we’re talking about psychiatric drugs in particular that these are drugs that encourage people to remain customers of the pharmaceutical industry. In fact, you will be told if you’re given a drug such as an anxiolytic, or an antidepressant, or an antipsychotic drug, that you may be on the drug for the rest of your life. And very frequently, people find that they are on the drug for a very long period of time, if not permanently, because they’re almost impossible to get off of. Some of them can have very serious withdrawal symptoms – most of them can have extremely serious withdrawal symptoms if they’re stopped cold turkey – but some people experience even withdrawal symptoms when they try to titrate or they try to eliminate the drug little by little, day after day."

"We have got to start making the pharmaceutical industry accountable for their actions and for the defective products they’re putting on the market. It won’t be long before every American is affected by this disaster and we need to be aware of what the differences are between diseases between disorders and between syndromes. Because if it doesn’t have to be scientifically proven, if there are no tests, if there are no blood tests, CAT scans, urine tests, MRIs – if there is nothing to document that you have disease, then you in fact, do not have a disease, you have a disorder and it has been given and has been diagnosed pretentiously and you need to get yourself educated and understand that there are options and those options are much more effective than drugs."

I’ve always wondered why doctors don’t run tests to diagnose any psychiatric disorders. From NIMH:

Research indicates that depressive illnesses are disorders of the brain. Brain-imaging technologies, such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), have shown that the brains of people who have depression look different than those of people without depression. The parts of the brain responsible for regulating mood, thinking, sleep, appetite and behavior appear to function abnormally. In addition, important neurotransmitters–chemicals that brain cells use to communicate–appear to be out of balance. But these images do not reveal why the depression has occurred.

If MRIs have shown that the people with depression have a part of the brain that functions abnormally then why isn’t it standard for all people diagnosed with depression to have an MRI done to confirm this? I have one of two hypotheses:  it’s too expensive to get an MRI done for each person and that insurance won’t pay for it or the abnormal functioning cannot be detected in the brain of every depressed person.  Therefore, is major depressive disorder really a made-up diagnosis?

Read the rest of this entry »

The New Little Button

UPDATE: Please donate to Furious Seasons first. I reread his blog thoroughly today and it really struck me that if he didn’t make enough during his fund-raiser, he was going to scale back writing on the site.  He’s one of the main reasons that this blog continues to go on. He certainly inspires me and I know he’s an inspiration to a lot of bloggers as well. I think his fund-raising season is over but I know he’d still appreciate anything he gets. Heck, I’m going to dig up some pennies myself and throw them his way. But if you have $1 left over, that’ll do just fine.

I’ve joined the likes of Furious Seasons and The Last Psychiatrist and placed a PayPal donate button on my site. I’m currently unemployed and would like to get at least $12 a month to pay for my use of this site. I might mention the little button every now and then but there’s no pressure to donate really. But if you like my blog enough and have a dollar or so that you’d like to spare, please feel free. Google AdSense didn’t work out for me because of "invalid clicks" so I’ll have to look to other forms of ad revenue to keep me going. (Others have had trouble with it too.) I signed up with Typepad’s links a while ago but nothing ever came of that. I’ll try it again and see if I have better luck with it this time around. Otherwise, I hope  $12  per month isn’t too steep of a cost. Thanks in advance for any pennies that are thrown my way.

I'm honored

Out of nowhere, I recently discovered that I’d won a top depression blog award from PsychCentral. This goes to show how delusional I am. I figured that I’d been on a nice blogging streak and now that it kind of died (as work and life picked up), my readership had too. I haven’t checked any of my personal e-mails for the past three or four months now so many of the comments or e-mails I may have received are still unread.

I’ve been very out of touch with the psych industry for the past few months. As many of you know, my place of employment – yes, I am STILL at the same job I’ve been wanting to get out of – has blocked access to blog hosting sites such as blogspot and wordpress. (They are now blocking typepad as well so I can’t even access the front page of my own site.) There are a few sites I can still get to, i.e. furiousseasons.com or trouble.philadelphiaweekly.com, but there are many others which I can’t access and/or comment on.

I hope to continue blogging again. I’ve put a lot of work and research into many of my posts in the past. It got to a point where my brain just fizzed out. I cannot promise frequent updates – daily or weekly – as I have done in the past. (Although if someone paid me to blog…) As of this post, I have not checked my personal e-mail. I will try to do so. Please be patient with me if you’ve e-mailed me several months ago and have not received a reply.
I’ve recently begun lugging my (personal) laptop to work with me, so I hope get up to speed with my blogroll and perhaps any new blogs people may recommend.

Thanks so much for the award. The past few months have been challenging in many ways and I feel fortunate to know that I have been able to touch the lives of the people who read this.

P.S. I’m working on something called NaNoWriMo, National Novel Writing Month, for the month of November. I’m working on reaching a 50,000 word count and so far I’m a little more than halfway there. My time in the month of November will be devoted to completing the novel so I can win another award. (The award of patting myself on the back for a job well done.) I’ll play catch up in December.

Recently viewed sites

I think something went screwy with my company's blog block so I was temporarily able to access two blogspot sites. I enjoyed reading Susan Bernard's piece on Bipolar Etiquette at Bipolar Wellness Writer. A helpful excerpt for me:

In order to maintain these relationships over the years, I always made sure of doing two things. First, when I could feel a depressive episode coming on–and I always had at least three days to try and stave it off–I emailed my friends to let them know that I wasn't feeling well and might not be available for a few months. Usually, I just sent a fairly short note, something like this:

Dear Friends,
I'm feeling a depressive episode on the horizon. Hopefully, it won't be a bad one, but if it is, I want to apologize in advance in case I miss your birthday, anniversary, or other milestones. I'll be thinking of you and I'll let you know when I'm well again.

Love,
Susan
P.S. Although I'm not feeling like talking on the telephone, for the time being I will respond to email–although it might take a few days. If I feel worse and can't answer your emails, I'll try and let you know.


I was also able to briefly access soulful sepulcher's site and read about the latest developments regarding her 19-year-old daughter experiencing a hell – and there's really no other way to describe it – of a time with the mental health system in Seattle. As I read the post, my jaw continued to drop, my eyes widened, and my heart broke so much that I was near tears. I can't imagine that people can be as callous as they are. It makes me realize that I've been very fortunate in my experience with the health system. When a sexual predator entered my room when I was in the hospital, my family and I lobbied for me to leave ASAP; either that day or the next day, I was gone. The only resistance I encountered was with the police when I tried to file a report. It wasn't outright said, but the general feeling was, "Okay, you're in a mental hospital and want to file a report. What's the point?" It was the only time I'd ever personally felt let down by the justice system. I can't imagine the feeling of being let down by a justice system, a mental health system, a health care system… My heart bleeds for Stephany's daughter and the pain they are both experiencing. Go read their story – it's absolutely heart-wrenching.

Government fails yet again

I’m on the verge of turning this into a partially political blog, but I just came across this blog post and had to post it here. Dr. Scott, a pediatric doctor who practiced on the Mississippi Gulf Coast has an honest and heartfelt post about leaving the area post-Katrina due to failed government promises.

Blogs around the way

I’ve had the opportunity to read a few more blogs recently. Here are some highlights:

Stephany at souful sepulcher linked to Dr. John Grohol’s post at Psych Central about the restrictions on patients’ basic rights, i.e. the right to fresh air if you don’t smoke.

Gianna at Bipolar Blast discusses her problems with withdrawal from her psych drugs. She especially seems to be having trouble with Lamictal. I can only hope that once she’s off of the drugs, things will move smoothly and she can regain her life back.

Question Authority with Peter Rost linked to an interesting blog called Drug Rep Toys. Feel free to scrounge around for Rozarem linen spray. Maybe it’ll help you sleep.

PharmaGossip linked to a secret memo written by Barclay Fitzpatrick at Blue Cross, who was sent to watch and review Michael Moore’s latest movie, Sicko. Fitzpatrick essentially launches into damage control mode. Here’s a sampling from michaelmoore.com:

"You would have to be dead to unaffected by Moore’s movie, he is an effective storyteller. In Sicko Moore presents a collage of injustices by selecting stories, no matter how exceptional to the norm, that present the health insurance industry as a set of organizations and people dedicated to denying claims in the name of profit. Denial for treatments that are considered "experimental" is a common story, along with denial for previous conditions, and denial for application errors or omissions. Individual employees from Humana and other insurers are interviewed who claim to have actively pursued claim denial as an insitutionalized goal in the name of profit.

In the second half of the movie, Moore walks us through individual stories of the Canadian, British, French, and Cuban health care systems where everything is free and – he reminds us repeatedly – no one is ever denied service because they can’t pay. In addition to health care, the government provides free day care, college, and someone to do your laundry. Everybody gets along and takes care of each other and life is beautiful because there is universal health care. As a viewer, you are made to feel ashamed to be an American, a capitalist, and part of a ‘me’ society instead of a ‘we’ society – and the lack of universal health care is held up in support of that condemnation."

As a result, I’m intrigued to see Sicko. I’m sure the documentary is incredibly one-sided, but at the same time, I think Fitzpatrick’s memo is partial bull. What are healthcare companies if not to make a profit? I’ve run into numerous issues with them myself – including the notorious "we won’t cover this because it’s a prior condition" – so many of Fitzpatrick’s assertions fall deaf on my ears. I’m currently under Blue Cross insurance and have dealt with them in the past. From my experience, coverage – even within the same healthcare company – differs from state to state. New York’s Blue Cross insurance was the worst insurer that I’d ever dealt with under my mother’s coverage; Cigna in New York (under my father’s coverage) was a godsend, covering many of my constant psych and doctor visits as a teen. I currently am covered by Independence Blue Cross (Ibx) in Philadelphia and it’s the best insurance I have ever had. Because I work in a medical organization, my fees are incredibly cheap and they cover most everything including my maintenance psychiatric visits. Anyone covered under Ibx has generic copays waived for the entire year. I know the worst healthcare insurers are capable of, but I’ve also experienced the best. I could go on, but it’d end up getting political for me so I’ll stop here. (I’m passionate about this topic.)

On the subject of Michael Moore, Kevin, M.D. has a post on Moore’s pissy attitude during an interview on CNN. Kevin quotes:

"Filmmaker Michael Moore went off on CNN anchor Wolf Blitzer during an interview Monday to promote his latest documentary ‘Sicko’. Moore blasted the anchor and the network for not doing enough to stop the Iraq war and for doing a ‘crap’ report on his new film. Moore also mocked the pronunciation of chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta."

Poor Dr. Gupta. Why hate on the man?

In a related matter, Kevin M.D. linked to a blog post by Movin’ Meat, which details the ridiculous $3600 bill a patient, who sustained injuries in a car accident, received. Shadowfax, Movin’ Meat’s blogger, breaks it down quite simply:

So, for the health policy types:
The system is fundamentally and irredeemably broken. Fix it now.

Read a ton more about Michael Moore and health care from Kevin’s blog:
Michael Moore an obstacle to single-payer?
Reasons against universal health care?
Deregulating health insurance
Do Americans go to Canada for health care?

I’ve recently fallen in love with the Bipolar Wellness Writer blog. I enjoy reading her insightful posts on bipolar disorder, depression, and her mother’s struggle with dementia.

On We Worry: A Blog for the Anxious, they link to an article about how depressed people are more intuitive to other people’s feelings than non-depressed people. I can only imagine it’s because depressed people care too much about what other people think even if depressed people think they don’t care what other people think at all. (A paradox, I know.)

Check out many of the other blogs on my Blogroll. I’m sure you’ll find something that you’ll like.

UPDATE: Some of the links aren’t working because a few of the links have spaces. I’ve tried to fix all of them, but if a link doesn’t work, check the URL and remove any "%20" signs that you see in the URL bar. Thanks.

Damaged goods

I came upon the Bipolar Wellness Writer blog (on my Blogroll, actually) and read a quote that really stuck out to me. I often feel this way:

I once wrote an essay called The Throwaway People about me and my mother. I tore it up years ago but my point was that in our society, old people and people who are labeled mentally ill are throwaways. People feel they can dismiss us because we are damaged.

I can’t say much more than that.

Pledge drive for Dawdy

I’m a fan of Philip Dawdy’s blog, Furious Seasons. There I said it. So if you read the site and like what he’s got to say, donate some money to the umemployed feller. I don’t know if he realizes how many people’s lives he’s changed with his blog.

Once payday comes around, I’ll practice what I’ve preached.

TAC: Totally Avoiding Common sense

Philip Dawdy at Furious Seasons has a post on the TAC’s latest annoying post. If it’s annoying, why am I mentioning it? Because I like to bitch and whine, of course.

On the topic of the Cho incident:

The anti-psychiatry crowd tried to use the Virginia Tech case to paint the frightening image that psychiatric medications caused Seung-Hui Cho to go on a murderous rampage. In an unsigned letter, one group issued a demand for the toxicology report under the Virginia Freedom of Information Act, threatening legal action.

Last week, the results of toxicology tests were released. But, the fearmongers won’t be pleased. The state medical examiner’s office found no trace of prescription drugs or toxic substances in Cho’s body.

In this day and age, it is hard to believe that there are still people who deny the existence of severe mental illnesses and point to everything but untreated psychotic symptoms as the cause of harmful behaviors. But, the research shows that schizophrenia and bipolar disorder are diseases of the brain. And as most people suspected, it was Cho’s untreated symptoms that caused so much devastation.

I’m really confused here. The TAC is the group that’s known for advocating family members (or something) gaining complete control over a mentally ill person – giving them the opportunity to have that person committed. From what I understand, it sounds like the TAC wants to do that even if the mentally ill person doesn’t have a psychiatric advance directive.

The TAC seems to mock the fact that the "anti-psychiatry" crowd who said Cho was on some heavy meds when he went on his rampage. TAC’s "nah-nanny-boo-boo" comes at the end when they gloat about how Cho’s rampage was the result of an untreated mental illness.

I was never completely convinced Cho was on meds. Perhaps an antidepressant but I didn’t think antipsychotics or drugs that heavy. (Pass the ‘quell!) Nevertheless, I reject the TAC’s argument that if Cho were on meds, the VTech massacre could have been prevented. See my post from yesterday on Christopher Pittman who killed his grandparents and burned their house down while taking 200 mg (an adult dosage) of Zoloft. It’s completely possible that Cho had a mental illness that went untreated. But I think it’s time that people finally just admit that Cho was responsible for his actions with or without meds. If I go out and shoot a cop, I can appeal that the bipolar disorder made me do it, but regardless, I’m the one who did it. I’m responsible for my actions for shooting a cop, bipolar disorder or not. (Philadelphians: Resist the temptation to insert Mumia Abu-Jamal joke here.)

There are still a lot of fuzzy things surrounding Cho’s mental health and his motivation behind the shootings, but I have a feeling there will be many more questions and very few answers.

Family Abandonment

Daily Wisdom from the TAC

The tragedy is that instead of receiving appropriate treatment from their physicians, they could receive inappropriate treatment at the hands of the criminal justice system; the rough, hopeless treatment of lives lived on the streets; or the finality of treatment at the hands of a mortician. ~ TAC: Dispelling myths

My father, who was severely mentally ill (he makes me look good), completely opposed assisted treatment. Now, I can’t state this as the case for everyone, but from my experience, people who get to the point of severity are likely to think that nothing’s wrong with them – mainly because illusions become reality for them.

Attribution: Furious Seasons

P.S. I love how Dawdy refers to them as "good friends."

UPDATE: The link’s been fixed.

YouTube vs. Big Pharma: Round 1

We seem to have a lot of contenders today. Kevin M.D. has a post (linking to PharmaGossip which links to Advertising Age) about the video "exposés" on pharmaceutical companies that have been popping up.

GlaxoSmithKline now has its own one minute, 43-second video on YouTube for Restless Legs Syndrome. Ms. Wetzel said she believes more drug companies and ad agencies will adopt such an approach. "The conversation about health care goes on," she said, "and we're going to have to deal with it."

My job blocks YouTube so I can't see the video, let alone link to the one I'd like to reference, but the other day, I saw (at least) a minute-long TV ad for Celebrex, but oh man, was it awful. See the craptasticness of it at celebrex.com. While I'm all for pharmaceutical companies being upfront and honest about their products, from a marketing standpoint, this commercial is an unbelievable disappointment. (Who agreed to this?) It's one of the most boring commercials I've ever seen and goes on and on for – oh say, a minute – about all the side effects of Celebrex before getting to the positive aspects about the drug. Has the FDA changed the rules on advertising NSAIDS that I'm not aware of? Here's your sampling:

"Lately, there has been some confusion about arthritis pain treatments. It is important to know that there are risks with all pain medicines, including the 3 most common NSAIDs: CELEBREX, naproxen, and ibuprofen. In fact,the FDA requires all these NSAID pain relievers, including CELEBREX, to have the same cardiovascular warning. Understanding the risks and benefits of different NSAIDs is important. All NSAIDs, including CELEBREX, help relieve arthritis pain, but only you and your doctor can decide which one is right for you. An NSAID like CELEBREX might be an option."

* I just timed it: It was 2½ minutes long.

One of the saddest mental illness stories I've ever read

Jan B., a mother of six children, has one autistic son and another severely schizophrenic son.

This post is about her schizophrenic son. The post was prompted by the VTech shooting and the number of murders committed by men. Not to belittle her experience here, but this is an real example of what the TAC would point to. I feel bad for Jan becayse she’s deathly afraid of her son, who has attempted suicide several times and threatened to kill family members at various points (hallucinations). He didn’t get better until he was placed in a state mental hospital and put on Haldol. The story is a very good example of a mental health (and insurance) system gone awry. It’s a long post, but such a heart-wrenching read that it almost makes you feel lucky to deal with your daily challenges.

A statistic that jumped out at me:

"45% of people with schizophrenia refuse treatment or quit taking medicines"

My father was a classic case of this. (He did both.) To allude to my last post, he died of heart disease.

Dr. Dinosaur Analysis: How Doctors Think

Dr. Dinosaur’s post showed up in my Google alerts and it turns out that he evaluates Jerome Gloopman’s book, How Doctors Think. Dr. Dinosaur’s expectations for the book are met with disappointment:

"As I read through the book, though, I realized that the omission of psychiatry and the discussion of the proper role of psychiatric diagnosis in medicine (as opposed to the misdiagnosis with which he opens the book) renders many of his comments irrelevant to the day-to-day practice of medicine in the community. By "community" I specifically refer to the non-Harvard, non-Massachusetts General, non-assorted-other-institutional-names dropped in the name of prestige. Out here in the real world, psychiatrists think just like the rest of us. They care for diseases that are primarily mental in origin. These diseases have criteria for diagnosis, treatment protocols, risk factors and prognoses. Making these diagnoses is often straightforward — and sometimes less so. Treatment succeeds or fails, or stops working, at which point it often helps to change the treatment or re-visit the diagnosis. Sounds a lot like medicine, because it IS medicine."

My favorite anecdote from Dinosaur’s post:

"I have experienced this phenomenon. A patient of mine almost from the day I hung out my shingle kept having great difficulty with depressive symptoms and anger issues. Antidepressants didn’t really help, nor did counseling. About two years ago I attended a seminar on Bipolar Disorder, including the fact that it’s far more prevalent than previously recognized, and that it’s much more than just classic manic-depressive symptoms. One of the talking points was that on average, patients waited seventeen years before being correctly diagnosed. After that, I brought tools from the seminar into my practice. I didn’t go around diagnosing everyone with bipolar, but I did begin recognizing it more than I had. The first time after the seminar I saw the lady I mentioned, I listened to her telling me once more about her symptoms; her anger, her explosiveness. Whoa, I thought. I whipped out the Mood Disorders Questionnaire from the seminar to confirm my impression. Sure enough, now that I had become familiar with a diagnosis with criteria different from what I had learned, I was able to see her in a new light. I treated her with mood stabilizers, and she responded beautifully; very grateful that "something finally worked!" I looked back over her chart. Ironically, it had taken seventeen years to make the diagnosis."

Perhaps the rising percentage of people suffering from bipolar disorder can be attributed to misdiagnoses as opposed to bipolar being the "hip and trendy" mental illness to have. (Although, the latter is true among teenagers.)

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