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Tuesday, September 14

Depressing Stuff

Lots of stories today about teens, depression, anti-depressants and suicide. My heart goes out to anyone who has had a loved one commit suicide.

I'd like to add a few points to all the stories out there:
  • Most likely one of the reasons you would need anti-depressants is because you were having suicidal thoughts or feelings of hopelessness which could lead to suicide.
  • If you or a loved one seems to be suffering from depression, see a psychiatrist for a complete evaluation. You may only need talk therapy or you may need meds and talk therapy. Just taking meds without therapy is not suggested and will not fix the problem.It's like taking Advil for a brain tumor. Ask your primary care giver for a recommendation to a psychiatrist, but do not take anti-depressant medications as per your regular doctor. Depression therapy requires specialists.
  • You need constant monitoring when you start taking anti-depressants. Your psychiatrist should want to see you weekly for the first few months to be sure that you are handling them well. I believe that the suicide risk is the greatest at the beginning of the medication therapy. So this is important to keep in mind. You should have an emergency phone number to call. Don't use a doctor who isn't willing to keep tabs on you and your medication. Find another one.
  • If you are taking your medications and are feeling worse or no better than when you started, you must tell your doctor. Hope is not lost. Sometimes they add another prescription/pill to your daily intake and it makes all the difference in the world. It's not unusual to be taking 2 or 3 different meds in combination to feel normal again. This is why it's important to see a psychiatrist. Your primary care physician most likely is not up on anti-depression "cocktails". If you have one who is, then great. Just make sure that you have regular visits where the doctor can monitor your progress.
  • If your child is taking anti-depressants, please monitor their behavior. Don't let them sit in their room for hours on end. Pay attention. Make sure that they have a therapist as well as a psychiatrist. They should have an emergency number for their therapist. You should have the number too. Listen to them when they talk.
I can't vouch for all doctors or tell you what the pharmaceutical companies are thinking when they sell drugs. People shouldn't put all their hope and faith in pills anyway. The makers of drugs like Zoloft and Prozak are not out to kill your kids or you. There are always side effects when using medications. Some are fatal unfortunately. Parents need to be aware of these things when their children take any medications including cough medicine.

Most people who commit suicide are NOT taking any medications. Many, many more lives are saved by anti-depressants than lives lost. There were times when certain anti-depressants made me feel worse, but as an adult I knew enough to get on the phone and tell the doctor that I was in trouble. So parents have to really be astute and pro-active in their children's therapy because kids may not say anything when things are getting worse for fear of disappointing mom or dad or for fear of failure.

The above is just my opinion.

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