Saturday, December 11, 2004

Another patient comments on antidepressants

"I was very interested in your post re the increased use of antidepressants. I was given them by what I consider an overzealous and impatient cardiologist. I was having dizzy spells almost two years ago and have a very low heart rate for someone of my size and build (average resting rate was then about 50 bpm, I'm 5 ft 7 and was at that time about 165 lbs). They ran a number of tests and all turned up negative for cardiac dysfunction. So, in his infinite wisdom, the cardiologist said I was having anxiety attacks (which I still dispute) and put me on Paxil.

"I hated it. I was on it for about 6 weeks, long enough to produce a clinical effect common to most people who are bipolar - I went through the roof. Then I went off it cold turkey on my own because of the side effects of Paxil, and I continued in a manic spiral until about three months later, after a quasi-psychotic episode (quasi, because I had a small dwindling pinpoint of insight that screamed STOP, and psychotic because I had a cold and clinical desire to see how much constant downward pressure it would take from a steak knife to sever my left hand), I ended up in hospital under a 72 hr involuntary commital, and ended up staying a week. I was officially diagnosed bipolar at that point. Prior to this, I was just a morass of confusion and pain, undiagnosed and living in mixed state hell for three months.

"The only benefit the knee jerk response of the introduction of Paxil did for me was that it made clear my illness as bipolar, NOT anxiety attacks or depression. It triggered a very dangerous episode and to this day I think he was wrong in prescribing such medication. I believe that antidepressants should be treated with the same care as antibiotics: our body chemistry changes with their introduction and unless we are confident (both patient and doctor) that any particular course of treatment is indeed suitable and beneficial for both (and not simply getting a patient out of your office and onto the next), then the treatment should be openly and honestly discussed - ramifications, reprecussions, everything. Then, as an informed team, the doctor and patient can decide on a treatment *together*."
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