Tag Archives: prozac

J.J.’s story

4 years is nothing. 4 years is a black spot on a clean canvas that you can only really see if you step over those red rope barriers in museums that stop you from getting too close. But 4 years of depression and anxiety left my life paralyzed from the early teens onwards. It came in waves, waves of not being able to leave my bed, wishing I was dead, crying until my eyes were burning and my brain felt like it was under a hydraulic press.

Being 15 – noting that I’m 16 now – my mother was desperate. She was frustrated, blaming herself, my father, mostly just me, though. I couldn’t face going to school, so I missed most of the high school experience, I couldn’t even leave my room most days.

We tried aromatherapy. I had candles and drank herbal mixtures and dropped two drops of flower water onto my tongue a day. I had mouth sprays and scent sticks and special herbal chewing gum. That didn’t work so well.

We tried tapping, sort of like massage therapy. I’d tap areas of my body and tell it I will go to school tomorrow. I didn’t.

We tried therapy. My mother took me to a counsellor named Mindy who made me cinnamon tea. Later, I saw an Anne who let me play with the fidget toys she had in a box in the corner. Then I got to the top of the CAMHS waiting list and I saw a Sandra who brought in aromatic play-dough to make me feel more relaxed. Then I got to an Adrienne, who had a fun accent. After her came Linda, who said ‘breasts’ too much.

Then I got Dr Tom.
I’d done CBT – it hadn’t helped. I was missing my GCSEs due to anxiety – I was thrown deeper into depression. My relationship with my mother was angry yells and her being disappointed in me every time she saw me (or, that’s what it felt like to a 15-year-old).

I couldn’t live like this anymore.
Dr Tom explained, in much detail, that medication – Fluoxetine, 20mg – was a last-ditch effort to try to keep my 4 years of misery from becoming 5.

I’d had friends who’d benefitted from taking medication, so when I wasn’t opposed to the idea, my mother agreed. Desperate times and all that.

Dr Tom had explained the side effects to me, and how if they surpassed the two-week mark, I was to call his office immediately. Dizziness, nausea, suicidal thoughts. I was willing.

The first few days, I was dizzy. My head felt heavy and I felt like I was floating. No nausea, no suicidal thoughts.

A week later, I did get a dark cloud over my head. It didn’t last long, but it was there.

A week later, I’d tidied my room. The first time in months.

A month later, I looked up courses in local colleges. I didn’t cry about missing my GCSEs.

6 months later, I set up a board of aspirations and was slowly ticking them off.

A year later, I bought a pet budgie, whom I look after. That’s a lot of responsibility for someone who couldn’t look after themselves last year.

When the time came to come off of my meds, I had no side effects. I was living. I was alive. I had plans, I didn’t look around and hate where I was in life. I was something. Not nothing. 4 years of dark at the end of the tunnel, and suddenly there was light. And it wasn’t a train coming right at me this time, I’d actually found the end of the tunnel!
I’ve been off Prozac for a few months by now. I dyed my hair the other day and laughed when it didn’t come out the way I wanted it to.

When I was 13, if my hair wasn’t right, my anxiety would have me missing days of school to cry on my bedroom floor. My bird, Archie, is my best bud, and likes to sit on my shoulder. I volunteer at an animal rescue and walk the dogs. I used to cross the street when one was coming towards me. I want to learn sign language. I’m going to a concert next year. I go to a drama club. I take the train. I read books. I spend time with my friends. I smile at strangers. I’m not angry anymore.

Prescription drugs can be awful. It can turn something bad into something worse and make someone scared into someone scary.
But I’d been scared for so long.
And I’m not anymore. I’m unsure that I ever will be again.
Whatever prescription drugs are to you, I wish you luck, and remind you there is hope.
cool. peace.

BBC File on Four program on Antidepressants in Children

A recent BBC File on Four program on Antidepressants in Children, presented by Paul Connolly, has drawn disparaging comments on posts here. Here is some background detail. I was interviewed for the program. My messages were as follows:

  1. That the trials of Prozac in children were identical to the trials of other SSRIs and other antidepressant drugs in this age group – negative. There are more negative Prozac trials for depression in this age group than for any other antidepressant.
  2. Part of our problem s that MHRA and NICE don’t want to be seen to go back on judgements they made 14 years ago when they licensed Prozac. Better children die than regulators lose face.
  3. That all of the literature in this area is ghost or company written.
  4. That there is no access to data from clinical trials – MHRA don’t have access, NICE don’t have access – no-one does.

It was clear to me that Paul Connolly, although expressing shock just like Chris van Tulleken some months before at what I laid out, was not going to include this material. Chris was somewhat the braver of the two. He rather subtly skewered NICE – but probably too subtle for most people. A week before the programme ran, there was an email from File on Four saying that owing to space constraints I was one of several people being omitted.

What File on Four ended up was a combination of the irritatingly anodyne and bizarre. What is the definitive answer about whether antidepressants work, Paul Connolly asked – no one knows he said. There are definitive answers the public deserve to be told about but FoF bottled it. Doctors are all at the mercy of clinical trials, he said, before turning to Ian Goodyer, someone who has pushed antidepressants for children for years who said on the basis of the biggest trials with 475 children he could tell us that fluoxetine (Prozac) worked in 67% of cases rising to 80+ %. I’d fail a medical student who offered me this answer if presented with the results of the TADS trial – the one Goodyer was talking about. There is no good evidence fluoxetine worked in this trial. Goodyer omitted to tell us that there were 34 suicidal events on fluoxetine compared to 3 on placebo. Goodyer made something of the fact this was the biggest trial of Prozac which sounds good but isn’t the biggest – not by a longshot. Even if it were the biggest, Goodyer fails to appreciate that the bigger the trial the greater the chance you can show snake oil works. If drugs are worth it, small trials are all that is needed. Prozac, fluoxetine, is in fact the drug with more negative trials than any other. These points are irritating. The bizarre one was that FoF made Andrea Cipriani out to be the radical outlying voice. AC’s work is totally controlled by industry – he knows he has no access to the data and his work is based on ghostwritten or company written reports . He’s a very nice man but the idea that he is a voice for caution as regards the use of antidepressants is bizarre.

Read the full article

Starlings on Prozac? Fish on contraceptives!

As drugs – both legal and illegal – pass through us, they enter the UK’s waterways. But can this really lead to a change in the feeding habits, and even the sex, of wildlife?

Most people go to a music festival for the music, the mud and the social scene. But at this year’s Latitude festival Dr John Ramsey and Dr Bram Mizeres have come for the urine.

Bottling up the goods from festival urinals might not sound like cutting edge science, but it can provide a glimpse into our pharmaceutical lives.

The drugs that end up in our urine also make their way out into our waterways, with some startling effects.

Last year over a billion prescriptions were dispensed in the UK, along with a huge number of over-the-counter remedies. More medication is being taken than ever before and with an ageing population this trend is not likely to slow down any time soon.

But what is the fate of these drugs as they travel beyond our toilets?

Intersex fish

At Brunel University, Prof Sumpter has been studying the effects of pharmaceuticals in our waterways ever since intersex fish – male fish exhibiting female traits such as egg production – were first spotted in UK rivers in the 1990s.

He and his colleagues wondered what was in the water that could be causing such radical change.

“At a biochemical, molecular level, a fish is extraordinarily similar to you and I,” he explains.

“So almost every drug target in a human – receptors, enzymes, ion channels – is present in fish. And they do the same thing.”

As drugs – both legal and illegal – pass through us, they enter the UK’s waterways. But can this really lead to a change in the feeding habits, and even the sex, of wildlife?

Most people go to a music festival for the music, the mud and the social scene. But at this year’s Latitude festival Dr John Ramsey and Dr Bram Mizeres have come for the urine.

Bottling up the goods from festival urinals might not sound like cutting edge science, but it can provide a glimpse into our pharmaceutical lives.

The drugs that end up in our urine also make their way out into our waterways, with some startling effects.

Last year over a billion prescriptions were dispensed in the UK, along with a huge number of over-the-counter remedies. More medication is being taken than ever before and with an ageing population this trend is not likely to slow down any time soon.

But what is the fate of these drugs as they travel beyond our toilets?

Intersex fish

At Brunel University, Prof Sumpter has been studying the effects of pharmaceuticals in our waterways ever since intersex fish – male fish exhibiting female traits such as egg production – were first spotted in UK rivers in the 1990s.

He and his colleagues wondered what was in the water that could be causing such radical change.

“At a biochemical, molecular level, a fish is extraordinarily similar to you and I,” he explains.

“So almost every drug target in a human – receptors, enzymes, ion channels – is present in fish. And they do the same thing.”

As studies into intersex fish developed, researchers soon amassed evidence that hormones from the contraceptive pill in the effluent from sewage treatment works were responsible.

Two decades on, our wastewater treatment has improved and most scientists suggest the majority of intersex fish can still breed without difficulty. But the contraceptive pill is not the only pharmaceutical making its way to our waterways.

Starlings on Prozac

Prof Sumpter now focuses on the effects of anti-depressants on fish.

Like synthetic sex hormones, anti-depressants dissolve in fat rather than water. As a result, they enter the bloodstream of organisms exposed to contaminated water.

This can affect other wildlife too, including birds. Dr Kathryn Arnold from the University of York has been studying the effect of Prozac on starlings, a number of which feed on the worms, maggots and flies found at sewage treatment works.

These creepy crawlies, living happily on the abundance of food found at the treatment works, contain high levels of pharmaceuticals, especially Prozac.

To study the effects this might be having on starlings, Dr Arnold and her team confined wild birds to aviaries and fed them on Prozac-laced worms, with the research to be published in October. They found that these birds ate less overall, snacking throughout the day instead of having full meals.

“And it’s all these small, very subtle effects that build up and potentially compromise an animal in the wild,” Dr Arnold says.

As yet, the science is at an early stage. Although the evidence seems to be mounting that laboratory-controlled, environmentally-relevant levels of micro-pollutants can have behavioural effects on fish and birds, only a small number of studies have tried to look at these changes in animals in the wild.

Dr Arnold and her team intend to start measuring the levels of Prozac in wild starlings’ blood this winter.

“So we’ve done what many researchers in this area have done, we’ve kind of tried to do things in a controlled environment, in the lab,” Dr Arnold explains.

“I guess the question that a lot of us are asking is, well, what does it mean for a normal healthy bird or fish in the wild to be consuming anti-depressants, or anti-psychotic drugs?”

Monitoring disease outbreaks

Such emerging evidence makes it all the more important that we know what is actually in the water.

Dr Barbara Kasprzyk-Hordern, an analytical chemist at the University of Bath, uses urine samples to provide near real-time data into levels of drug use.

“In the case of MDMA,” explains Dr Kasprzyk-Hordern “there will be spikes during the weekend because it is a club drug. While, when we look at heroin, its use will be stable throughout the week because it’s a very addictive drug.”

Dr Kasprzyk-Hordern thinks this technique will also be able to monitor populations for outbreaks of disease.

“Usually when we test for certain diseases we use urine,” she explains. “Why do we have to collect urine from every individual, why not look at wastewater?”

Just as an individual’s urine can help assess their risk of developing certain forms of cancer, Dr Kasprzyk-Hordern hopes that by analysing a wastewater treatment plant it may be possible to identify areas with a greater incidence of cancer and target them with increased patient screening.

Full article

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-29108330

further reading

https://www.health.harvard.edu/newsletter_article/drugs-in-the-water

The Dangers of Abruptly Stopping Antidepressants

Are you feeling better and think you’re ready to stop taking your antidepressant? It may seem like you no longer need the medication, but in most cases, it’s contributing to your improved feelings. That’s why it’s important you stick with the treatment prescribed by your doctor. If you think you’re ready to stop taking an antidepressant, ask your doctor to create a plan of action that will help your body slowly adjust to being without the medicine.

Antidepressants help balance brain chemicals called neurotransmitters. These brain chemicals affect your mood and emotions. An imbalance can cause major depression or anxiety disorders. Antidepressants correct this imfbalance, but it can take four weeks or more to get the maximum effect.

you feel like stopping your medicine because of bothersome side effects, remember that finding the right treatment may take trial and error and some tweaking. Don’t stop taking the medicine until you have spoken with your doctor. It might seem like you don’t need the medication anymore, but if you stop taking it, the medicine will leave your body and your symptoms might return. Quitting without consulting your doctor can be life-threatening. Suicide is a serious concern. It can also trigger withdrawal symptoms and relapse of your depression. If you relapse and start taking an antidepressant again, it can take weeks for the drug to rebalance your mood.

Side effects of quitting medication

Quitting “cold turkey” may cause withdrawal symptoms. Suddenly stopping your medicine may also worsen your depression. Here are some of the possible effects of quitting too quickly:

You get sick. Antidepressant discontinuation syndrome, also called antidepressant withdrawal, occurs when a person abruptly stops taking antidepressant medication. Many people who experience antidepressant withdrawal feel like they have the flu or a stomach bug. They may also experience disturbing thoughts or images.

You set back your treatment. Stopping medication can set back your treatment plan. It can increase the time it takes to feel better or it can actually cause your symptoms to worsen.

You contemplate suicide. Not being properly treated may increase your risk of suicidal thoughts. It also increases the risk that you’ll act on those thoughts. The most common health problem linked to suicide is ddepression……

full article