invincible summers

in the middle of winter I at last discovered that there was in me an invincible summer. (albert camus)

7-year-old commits suicide while taking psychiatric meds April 25, 2009

This story at the Miami Herald saddens me. It also infuriates me. When are doctors and the FDA going to wake up? What will it take? How many more lives will be lost before this madness stops?

From the article:

Weeks before his death, Gabriel Myers, the 7-year-old Broward boy who hanged himself in the shower of his foster home, had been prescribed a powerful mind-altering drug linked by federal regulators to an increased risk of suicide in children.

In all, Gabriel had been prescribed four psychiatric drugs, two or three of which he was taking at the time of his death, said Jack Moss, Broward chief of the state Department of Children & Families. Moss said he is not sure which medications the boy was taking because Margate police took the foster home’s medication log as part of an investigation into Gabriel’s death last week.

Three of the psychotropic drugs carry U.S. Food and Drug Administration ”black box” label warnings for children’s safety, the strongest advisory the federal agency issues. Three of the medications are not approved for use with young children, though they are widely prescribed to youngsters ”off label” — meaning doctors can prescribe the drug even if not formally approved for that use.

Gabriel had been prescribed Symbyax, Lexapro, Vyvanase and Zyprexa. Again, three of these meds are not approved by the FDA for use with young children. And of course, prescribing them nonetheless is not uncommon, doctors must be held accountable.

Four feet tall and 67 pounds, with short-cropped brown hair, Gabriel was a bright, charming and often sweet little boy, those who knew him say.

But he already had a sad past hinting at a troubling future. Records obtained by The Miami Herald show Gabriel may have been molested by an older boy while he was living with grandparents in Ohio, while his mother was in jail.

On Thursday, Gabriel locked himself in a bathroom and hanged himself with a detachable shower head after arguing with the 19-year-old son of his foster dad about his lunch, Moss said.

this screams trauma. and yet again, another precious child did not get the help he so desperately needed. Instead he got the “quick fix”-medicate. medicate. medicate. so very tragic.

Myers said the boy’s pediatrician had discontinued all psychotropic drugs while Gabriel lived with him, and the boy did well, earning A’s and B’s at the Hollywood Christian Academy.

”We did not have any issues with him having tantrums,” Myers said. “He would get upset, like little boys do.”

A week or two before Gabriel died, his grandfather in Ohio expressed concerns that the boy sounded overmedicated. ”My father said that the last conversation he had a couple of weeks ago Gabriel sounded like he was too drugged,” Myers said. “He sounded like he was doped up.”

Gabriel’s doctor, Dr. Sohail Punjwani, said he did not recall Gabriel. This statement sums up part of my problem with modern psychiatry today. Dr. Punjwani, since you seem to have forgotten your patient-here is a picture:

573-5241272embeddedprod_affiliate56
What a sweet face. Rest in peace, Gabriel. Let this picture be a reminder to any parents thinking about medicating their children with dangerous meds like Zyprexa. Do the research on these medications before you think about filling that prescription. Unfortunately in today’s modern psychiatric world, your child’s life and well-being is rarely your doctor’s concern.

 

pregnancy and antidepressants

Thanks to Gianna at Beyond Meds for this. And I agree with Gianna, Vogue is definitely a mainstream magazine so maybe a few lives will be saved. That’s all I’ve ever wanted.

Back in 2005 GlaxoSmithKline sent a warning letter to doctors, advising that the antidepressant Paxil may be linked to a slightly higher risk of birth defects in babies exposed to the drug during the first trimester of pregnancy.

From the FDA Public Health Advisory:

* In a study using Swedish national registry data, women who received paroxetine in early pregnancy had an approximately 2-fold increased risk for having an infant with a cardiac defect compared to the entire national registry population (the risk of a cardiac defect was about 2% in paroxetine-exposed infants vs. 1% among all registry infants).
* In a separate study using a United States insurance claims database, infants of women who received paroxetine in the first trimester had a 1.5-fold increased risk for cardiac malformations and a 1.8-fold increased risk for congenital malformations overall compared to infants of women who received other antidepressants in the first trimester. The risk of a cardiac defect was about 1.5% in paroxetine-exposed infants vs. 1% among infants exposed to other antidepressants.
* Most of the cardiac defects observed in these studies were atrial or ventricular septal defects, conditions in which the wall between the right and left sides of the heart is not completely developed. In general, septal defects are one of the most common type of congenital malformations. They range from those that are symptomatic and may require surgery to those that are asymptomatic and may resolve on their own. It is of note that the data in these studies was limited to first trimester exposures only, and there are not currently data to address whether this or any other risk extends to later periods of pregnancy.

The Vogue interview can be viewed here.

 

Harvard medical students rebel April 22, 2009

Filed under: big pharma,corrupt doctors — clementine @ 1:45 pm
Tags: ,

Thanks to a friend for passing this along.

Click here to read the entire article.

Two hundred Harvard Medical School students are confronting the school’s administration, demanding an end to pharmaceutical industry influence in the classroom.

The students worry that pharmaceutical industry scandals in recent years, including criminal convictions, billions of dollars in fines, proof of bias in research and publishing and false marketing claims, have cast a bad light on the medical profession. The students have criticized Harvard as being less vigilant than other leading medical schools in monitoring potential financial conflicts by faculty members.

Harvard received the lowest possible grade, an “F,” from the American Medical Student Association, a national group that rates how well medical schools monitor and control drug industry money.

 

The FDA on drug ads April 20, 2009

Filed under: big pharma,FDA — clementine @ 5:42 pm
Tags: , ,

This story at the NY Times just infuriates me. The FDA should not be warning Big Pharma that their online ads must start including risk information about each drug. This is ridiculous. The solution is much simpler: BAN THE ADS COMPLETELY.

A quick note to the FDA: Wake up! Whose side are you on? The patients or Big Pharma? I think we know the answer.

WHEN the Food and Drug Administration sent letters to 14 major pharmaceutical companies late last month, the warning was strong. The companies’ search advertisements — the short text ads that run beside Google results — had to start including risk information about each drug or else be rewritten or removed.

Just how the companies were supposed to comply was not so clear. In the 95 characters that Google allowed for search ads, there was no way to include all the required information, the companies argued.

Now, as the companies change their search ads to comply with the letters, industry executives say the solution is worse than the problem: their ads are even more confusing and misleading now, they say. And they worry that regulators will enforce standards that were created for magazines and television, rather than making new rules that acknowledge how Internet ads have evolved.

The letters were sent to almost all of the major pharmaceutical companies, including GlaxoSmithKline, Pfizer, Merck and Eli Lilly. The letters said ads for widely prescribed drugs, including Celebrex, Propecia and Yaz, did not include the paragraphs of precautions the agency required.

Though the texts of the ads varied, the agency’s objections to each ad were similar. One such ad was for Merck’s allergy drug Singulair. The ad read, “Allergy Medication Relief of Allergy Symptoms: Learn About a Treatment Option. http://www.SINGULAIR.com.”

The ad omitted “the most serious and frequently occurring risks associated with the drugs promoted in the links above,” the agency wrote in its letter to Merck, and the links “misleadingly suggest” that the drug was “safer than has been demonstrated.”

Until these letters were sent, pharmaceutical and media companies had assumed that there was a one-click rule, said Arnie Friede, counsel at the corporate law firm McDermott, Will & Emery: as long as pharmaceutical companies provided risk information within one click of their search ads — on the page that the ad linked to — they assumed they were in compliance. These letters made clear that was not the case.

click here to continue reading….

 

the road to recovery April 18, 2009

This past week (via email) I was accused of being “ALWAYS UNHAPPY” with my life. Yes, the always unhappy was in caps and it came from a someone that has said things like this before who no longer wants to be mentioned in my blog. She feels I’m living in a “cyber world” and not the “real world”. I beg to differ on all accounts and I told her so. She also seemed to fear for her life by saying, “It’s scary to me, how do you know someone won’t come after us?” I did not respond to that-she said this after reading an article in Readers Digest on Myspace. This is a) not Myspace and b) the people who read my blog are not the types to “go after” this person or anyone for that matter. It’s completely beyond belief and yet I will say she did admit to being “computer illiterate” and so I must believe that she is simply misinformed and that is fine.

The simply truth is, yes, I get the majority of my support from the cyber world. And here’s the simple reason: the real world has failed me for more than twenty years. Psychiatrists, therapists, people who stigmatize, etc. When you spend tens of thousands of dollars on medical bills in the real world-the outcome for me was, well, I am pretty much back to square one except for severe memory loss, other problems from the many medications I have taken over the past 15 plus years and lastly, massive debt thanks to the lack of mental health parity. I’m trying to recall a specific doctor that has really helped me-there have been two or three out of more than thirty. The ones that did help-well, at the time, when I still chose the path of medication (the quick fix), I told them what I wanted to be on. I told them I was there for med management only. I cannot think of one therapist that helped me or gave me tools that actually worked in the real world. Scratch that-I had a sexual abuse therapist many years ago tell me, “my mind may never fully remember my entire rape-my mind will only allow me to remember what it can handle” or something to that effect. And she was right. I do believe that. I have not had one doctor suggest dealing with trauma from my past (my rape, etc) instead they’ve always labeled me, threw pills at me which made me sicker and certainly did not deal with the true issue at hand.

So, a few years ago I started this blog because I was feeling very alone and misunderstood in the “real” world and over the past three years I have met so many wonderful, amazing human beings in the cyber world-you all know who you are. But, hey, lets make you REAL just for fun: Gianna, Stephany,Duane, Van, Ana, Stan, Susan, Alex, Susan, Jon, Denise and so many others. Kidding aside-you are all real. You are all amazing, compassionate, strong and wise people that have helped me along my journey and I will never be able to properly thank you-because there are no words as to how much your support and your personal stories have meant to me. Now that I have opted to travel a different road to recovery, one without meds, I will need support more than ever. There are reasons some of us have at one point traveled the different road: the medication quick fix road. I won’t get into those reasons here because they are varied and some are very sad (ie. forced treatment, forced drugging, etc.) Some of us, well, me…I chose that road simply because it was the ONLY road I knew until I began my venture into the cyber alternative healing world. It reminds me of something recently posted at the great website/resource: Beyond Meds-Alternatives to psychiatry.

“Recovery is a deeply personal, unique process of changing one’s attitude, values, feelings, goals, skills, and/or roles. It is a way of living a satisfying, hopeful and contributing life. Recovery involves the development of new meaning and purpose in one’s life as one grows beyond the catastrophic effects of psychiatric disability.” ~ Dr. William Anthony, Director, Center for Psych Rehab

and:

Dr. Lori Ashcroft suggests that we can experience “moments of recovery” by choosing new ways to respond and breaking old patterns.

– Developing a series of wellness tools
– Recognizing our triggers and learning how to best deal with trauma
– Learning our personal bill of rights
– Setting short and long-term goals and determining actions for change
– Finding our sense of purpose and ridding ourselves of negative self-talk

The above is exactly what I plan to do-it will be part of my new road to recovery. It is part of the reason behind this post. Another being the email I received and I felt I needed to write about it here. And lastly, I just read my sister-in-law’s blog and it reminded me of so many things. She has three children (my nieces) two of whom are in their teens and have cystic fibrosis. It would take forever to properly describe my sister-in-law: strong, loving, intelligent, spiritual, patient and giving. Those are just a few adjectives but there are many more. I will strive to be more like her-I want to attempt yoga, meditation and well, just live in the moment. That is not at all easy for someone like me and I commend those that are able to do so. But anything is possible and I hope to someday live in the moment and find true peace and a calmness in my heart. It will be a long, difficult road as so many of you know-but it will be worth it in the end.

Oh, I just realized the time-I have to end this. I must venture out into the real world, which is not easy for so many of us and only WE seem to know the reasons why, unfortunately due to stigma. I am going to pick up a 40s vintage jacket that a friend of mine altered for me yesterday after trying it on. (It was a twisted scene from Pretty Woman-imagine me trying on numerous outfits-many of which didn’t fit thanks to weight gain from psych meds and I didn’t have the unlimited credit card!) This jacket is part of what I’m wearing to tonight’s screening of a film I worked on and I will be, yes, amongst thousands of people in the real world. Not here on my laptop. I spent 6 weeks in the real world working on this film, giving my all for a story/film that I truly loved. The creative outlet is an important one for me. I personally believe it has saved my life. peace to you all.

 

a doctor voluntarily took an antipsychotic drug April 16, 2009

Filed under: antipsychotics,news — clementine @ 5:29 pm
Tags: , , , , ,

Thanks to Beyond Meds for posting this very interesting story. And I say interesting for a number of reasons. One, whenever a doctor would deny the side effects I was experiencing from Seroquel or Abilify, I wanted to say, “Have you tried it?” Two, after my swain learned of my horrible experiences with Seroquel he took 1/4 of the dose I used to take (100mg) to see what would happen. He took 25 mg one time and was knocked out for nearly 24 hours. After he woke he could barely form a sentence, he was extremely sluggish and it took him a few days for him to recover from that one small dosage. He simply could not imagine what it must have been like for me, taking a stronger dosage for a much longer time. And thirdly, anytime I’ve ever seen a pharma rep selling (marketing, pimping or whatever you choose to call it) these horrific drugs, I have always wanted to ask, “Would you take this? Would you have your child take this?” I did ask a former friend and Wyeth rep the last question and his answer was no. Of course it was. So, here we have the story of a doctor who voluntarily took an antipsychotic drug:

In 1993 Richard Bentall went a bit mad.

He voluntarily took an antipsychotic drug and at first thought he’d get through unscathed.

“For the first hour I didn’t feel too bad. I thought maybe this is okay. I can get away with this. I felt a bit light-headed.”

Then somebody asked him to fill in a form. “I looked at this test and I couldn’t have filled it in to save my life. It would have been easier to climb Mt Everest.”

That was the least of his troubles. Bentall, an expert on psychosis from the University of Bangor in Wales who is in New Zealand under the University of Auckland Hood Fellowship programme, developed akathisia – unpleasant sensations of inner restlessness and an inability to sit still.

“It was accompanied by a feeling that I couldn’t do anything, which is really distressing. I felt profoundly depressed. They tried to persuade me to do these cognitive tests on the computer and I just started crying.”

Bentall had volunteered to be in a study run by Irish psychiatrist Dr David Healy. Volunteers were given either 5mg of the antipsychotic droperidol, 1mg of lorazepam, a type of tranquillizer, or a placebo.

“The experiment completely failed,” says Bentall. “Because first, it’s absolutely mind-bogglingly obvious to anybody after an hour whether or not they are taking an antipsychotic or a placebo – the side effects are so marked. There is no such thing as a placebo antipsychotic in that sense.”

But it was the fact that most of the healthy volunteers who took the antipsychotic became so unwell, let alone do the cognitive tests, that meant the study couldn’t continue. One psychiatrist became suicidal and had to be put under observation.

In his controversial book Let Them Eat Prozac Healy wrote about what the volunteers experienced. “It was not like anything that had happened to them before… Highly personal memories of previous unhappy times – broken relationships or loneliness – seemed to be flooding back. And if they previously held themselves responsible for these unhappy times, they seemed to hold themselves responsible for feeling the way they did now as well.”

The antipsychotic experiment, which gave him a hangover for a week, typifies Bentall’s approach to mental illness – rigorous scientific research coupled with a clinical psychologist’s perspective.

He has a doctorate in experimental psychology. “Most of my arguments are research-based,” says Bentall. “I’m just interested in what the evidence says about the nature of mental illness and how best to treat it. I’m a scientist at heart.”

What worries Bentall is how many mental health services seem to ignore what the research says and when an antipsychotic medicine doesn’t work, simply up the dose.

Once again Bentall refers to the science – that about a third of recipients don’t get any benefit whatsoever from the drugs. And research that shows if patients don’t respond at a relatively low dose, they’re not going to respond to a high dose. And are very likely not going to respond to any other anti-psychotic.

The optimum dose of antipsychotics is about 350mg per day (measured as chlorpromazine equivalents). Yet a recent study in the north of England found the median dose of antipsychotic drugs was about 600mg and about a quarter of those reviewed were on a gram or more a day.

“The average dose was about twice the optimum. How does that happen? It doesn’t make any sense.” Bentall suggests the reason such “unethical doses” occur is because mental health services have come to rely on these drugs as if they are the only treatment available. “When a patient doesn’t respond, they just up the dose in some magical belief that hopefully something will happen.”

But while promoting alternatives like cognitive behavioral therapy – the Government-sanctioned treatment of choice for depression and anxiety disorders in England – Bentall also points to research that shows all psychotherapies work, and that no type is more effective than any other. It’s a finding that surprised many, including Bentall.

Closer analysis highlights a common theme. “The quality of the relationship between therapist and patient explained most of the result.”

It seems blindingly obvious that having a good quality, empathetic therapist is likely to get good results, so why doesn’t it happen? “Establishing good relationships with patients shouldn’t be that difficult, but most psychiatric services seem to find it very difficult indeed,” says Bentall.

He says many services operate from a coercive model: “We know best. We’ve got the treatment. Better take these no matter what the side effects. Do what we say and if you don’t, we’ll put you on a community treatment order and you’ll be legally obliged to do what we say.”

click here for the rest of this incredible story.

 

David Helfgott-a beautiful man

Filed under: ECT,film,hope,inspiration,life,love — clementine @ 2:03 am
Tags:

Years ago I watched the film Shine several times. Tonight my swain and I watched it together and I felt like posting a couple of clips-one of the real David Helfgott and the other is the trailer from 1996.

from wikipedia:

When he was nineteen, he won a scholarship to study at the Royal College of Music in London, England for three years, where he studied under Cyril Smith. During his time in London he began showing more definite manifestations of mental illness. His doctor in Australia, Chris Reynolds, whom he met some twenty years later, said that he suffers from an acute anxiety neurosis. He returned to Perth in 1970, and married his first wife, Clara, in 1971. He also took part in several Australian Broadcasting Corporation concerts. After his marriage broke down he was institutionalised in Graylands, a Perth mental hospital. Over the next ten years, he underwent psychiatric treatment which included psychotropic medication and electroconvulsive therapy.

Today, David Helfgott now lives in “The Promised Land”, a valley near Bellingen in New South Wales with his second wife, Gillian. He continues to perform concerts at his home. His other interests include cats, chess, philosophy, tennis, swimming and keeping fit in general.