The Hidden Harm of Antidepressants is an article in Scientific American in Feb 2016 that interests me due to my own reaction to antidepressants. 

Last September a study published in the Journal of Clinical Epidemiology revealed that a third of meta-analyses of antidepressant studies were written by pharma employees and that these were 22 times less likely than other meta-studies to include negative statements about the drug.

they uncovered suicide attempts that were passed off as “emotional liability” or “worsening depression” in the report itself. This information, however, was only available for 32 out of the 70 trials. “We found that a lot of the appendices were often only available upon request to the authorities, and the authorities had never requested them,” says Tarang Sharma, a PhD student at Cochrane and lead author of the study. “I’m actually kind of scared about how bad the actual situation would be if we had the complete data.”

“[This study] confirms that the full degree of harm of antidepressants is not reported,” says Joanna Moncrieff, a psychiatrist and researcher at University College London who was not involved in the study. “They are not reported in the published literature, we know that—and it appears that they are not properly reported in clinical study reports that go to the regulators and form the basis of decisions about licensing.”

The article also mentions the side effect of hostility and aggression seen in teens.  It doesn’t get into the rising concerns over withdrawal symptoms of many of these medications… which is a serious factor. Cymbalta being on that is often mention for its horrific and disturbing withdrawal symptoms immediately after going of it and then reoccurring months later. It is so alarming in fact doctors are carefully considering putting patients on the medications in the first place.

My concern, however, is suicidal ideation and it is with Cymbalta as well. I have always had an issue with antidepressants and their rather depressant effect on mood. I have mentioned it to doctors numerous times how they mess with my moods. But they are off-label for many, many things. Migraines. Fibromyalgia. So I have been put on them for quite some time, regardless of what I say. 

Cymbalta however, was horrific. I had been having a hard time with chronic pain as it was and therefore with depression. My doctor thought Cymbalta would help with FM, migraines, and mood. All in one deal. Instead, the suicidal ideation increased massively in intensity. Like a broken record in my brain. On repeat. Daily. They say suicidal ideation is common in people with chronic pain but Intent isn’t as common, well, above average but not that common. But I had intent. I was planning and thinking and fantasizing. Actively thinking about it regularly. Until my actual attempt. 

I was taken off the medication after my attempt and I didn’t suffer the withdrawal symptoms many people suffer through… perhaps because I was so relieved at the not adamant about my own demise aspect. It was a seriously messed up medication.

Not the first time I have had an adverse reaction to antidepressants on the mood front, but the most severe. When I talked to the pain clinics psychiatrist about my medications he basically said due to my reactions I could not be on antidepressants at all. For any reason. He put me on Abilify instead, which dramatically helps my depression related to pain. Rather astonishing the difference between taking that which improves my mood and antidepressants which just twist it up and make it significantly worse. 

What is dangerous about it is that I wasn’t really aware it was the medication. I was tangled up in all the suicidal thoughts and depression of it. And convinced myself it was all ‘normal’ because of all the pain I was in. Not to mention I was hiding the depression because I didn’t like the weakness of it all. You don’t tie it into the fact everything got significantly worse with the medication. You don’t think all that mental stuff is due to a medication and not the depression, the migraines and the pain. The suicidal thoughts were very consuming after all. It literally was inevitable I was going to have a suicide attempt on that medication. It was a given. With my pain and depression, I may have gone down that road anyway eventually. It occurred to me many a time. Sort of hopeful thoughts of dying by stroke or heart attack, where it would not be my fault but I wouldn’t have to suffer anymore. Death fantasies I call them. And definitely more serious suicidal ideation but no serious intent in there. On Cymbalta, I even dreamed about killing myself. I also often thought about driving home from work on lunch and killing myself just so I would have to work the rest of the day in pain. Just constant thoughts of death. And how. And when. And visualizing it. It is like the medication plants thoughts into your mind that you must think about. Plants seeds that bloom into vines that twist into your brain. 

The worst thing about it all. Is I tried to kill myself. And even if the medication was a factor I had to live with that act. The effects. The trauma of it. Not only that but the stats for someone who tries to kill themselves trying again are fairly high…. and I was in that category because I had a second attempt not too long ago. A really spontaneous one that didn’t have much thought at all on a high pain night. Apparently a typical thing for a second attempt. It is easy to cross that line when you already have… between thought and action. The medication may have shoved me over it the first time but who knows about the future. The psychiatrist I saw blames a medication for the second attempt as well. He says I am very sensitive to medications with a side effect of suicide and depression. This was a quit smoking medication. I have no way of knowing if this is true since it wasn’t like Cymbalta as far as I can tell. I believe it was simply the pain and not wanting to exist with it. Pain brings on bouts of deep depression and suicidal ideation. And I spontaneously decided enough of this living business. Thus why I was put on the Abilify. Now when in high pain my mood drops, as it would in anyone, but doesn’t plummet.

So I believe antidepressants are dangerous. Especially if they are not giving accurate accounts of suicides and worsening depression and suicidal ideation. I have heard horror stories about Cymbalta. It is often used for chronic pain, in people who have never been depressed, and they kill themselves or have an attempt. It is sudden, spontaneous leaving family shocked. I always thought from the accounts I had heard it seemed rather a problem. The numbers seemed rather high. Then we have the withdrawal factor causes a great deal of suffering in people when they try to get off the medication. 

Nevertheless, they can be very beneficial as well. And I am not going to med-shame people. We do need effective depression medication in some cases. In my case, I do, which is why I am on the Abilify. But we have to be aware of the side-effects. But they are used so much for off-label. And at such young ages. Maybe they should review those recommendations. Carefully consider which medications would be beneficial to their patients. Definitely, consider their mental health as is. How they have responded to that class in the past. Warn them, and their families, to be on the lookout for depression or aggression. Because the fact is, I assumed it was my existing depression, not the med. Just assumed it got way worse all of a sudden. We have to be conscious of the potential side effects. We have to be warned by doctors of the potential withdrawal effects. Things need to be weighed carefully, like with all medications. 


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