Thursday, September 17, 2015

A warning on antidepressants

Fox News carried two very interesting, and sobering, articles on psychotropic drugs today.  Now not being a psychiatrist by trade, I can't totally speak to the reality, but if the sources here are indicative, we ought to be sobered.  This is especially the case when one realizes that fully 10% of the U.S. adult population is taking antidepressants, and the overall "dosage" in our country is far higher.

First, Dr. Manny Alvarez (an obstetrician by training) notes that there is a very real danger of side effects when one takes antidepressants hastily.  Not being a psychiatrist, he is admirably trained to realize something very important; that he's not trained to recognize the signs of counter-indicators like bipolar disorder, a mistake that can lead to any number of consequences, including suicide.  Would that more general practice and family practice doctors had this humility.

(keep in mind, by the way, that obstetricians DO come in contact consistently with depression, specifically post partum depression....this is not just an academic issue for Dr. Alvarez)

Fox also presented what may be an infamous example of the side effects of hasty depression diagnoses; Suzy Favor Hamilton's double life as a Las Vegas prostitute.  Now of course we don't have her full medical record before us, and I wouldn't be able to make sense of it if we did, but her testimony is sobering; a misdiagnosis of depression (vs. bipolar disorder or "manic depression") led to the wrong prescription and a result of hypersexuality. 

Now if you're on SSRIs or other drugs, don't drop them, because they DO affect your mind and behavior.  But you might do well to consult a psychiatrist to make sure that you're getting the right mix of counsel and the right set of prescriptions.

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