Sunday, July 17, 2011

Sunday Funnies

Because everyone should have a good laugh on a Sunday.

A Petition to NYT requesting an opportunity for Robert Whitaker to respond to Dr. Peter Kramer

This is so unlike me. Last week, the New York Times published a piece by Dr. Peter Kramer, on antidepressants.  Dr. Kramer is famous for writing two best sellers, "Listening to Prozac" and "On Depression", two books which I must say are in my own personal library.

Today, the Old Gray Lady published a piece with people agreeing or disagreeing with the post by Dr. Kramer here.  One of the people they published, was Marcia Angell, a lecturer at Harvard Medical School and former editor in chief of The New England Journal of Medicine. She has also written a book "The Truth About Drug Companies" which I have in print and in audio, and very highly recommend.  The Times also published reviews from Warren Procci, the current President of the American Psychanalytic Association and a professor at the the David Geffen School of Medicine. But where was a comment from Robert Whitaker, author of "Anatomy of an Epidemic", and the "Mad In America", column in Psychology Today? 

If you don't see my quandry, my friend Susan Kingsley-Smith, a talented blogger and radio personality, did, and started a petition for Mr. Whitaker to air his two cents in the Times. 

Her petition goes like this....
Dear Editors of the New York Times:
We are writing to request that the New York Times provide an opportunity for a public response to Dr. Peter Kramer's opinion piece, "In Defense of Antidepressants," published on July 9, 2011. Dr. Kramer's opinion appeared on the front page of the Sunday Review, and has been widely circulated since. It was the New York Times' most emailed article of that day.
Dr. Kramer's article was a response to Marcia Angell's review of three books that have called into question the efficacy of psychiatric drugs, one of which was Robert Whitaker's book Anatomy of an Epidemic, which won the 2010 Investigative Reporters and Editors Association Award for Best Investigative Journalism. Another was The Emperor's New Drugs, by Irving Kirsch. The substance of Angell's reviews was exposing the distortion of facts by academic psychiatrists and pharmaceutical companies who have portrayed antidepressants and other psychiatric drugs as effective and safe, when much countervailing evidence exists to show that they are in fact, over the long term, ineffective and harmful.
We believe Dr. Kramer's article is another such distortion. He misinterpreted well-conceived and executed studies authored by Irving Kirsch and Robert DeRubeis, asserting that these supported the effectiveness of antidepressants, and that these drugs have earned a deserved, evidence-based place in the treatment of mental illness. Yet the very studies he referenced, when carefully parsed, do not in fact support those assertions at all, and he neglected to reference numerous other studies that would refute his assertions.
In the interest of balanced journalism, we respectfully request that the New York Times provide the opportunity for a rebuttal from one or more of the authors criticized or misinterpreted by Dr. Kramer. Whitaker has written a measured rebuttal of Dr. Kramer's piece, currently available at this link onPsychology Today. Kirsch and DeRubeis should also be allowed to voice their own interpretations of their studies. We believe it is important that the New York Times give adequate space for its readers to consider alternative and evidence-based viewpoints on antidepressants, as this is such an important, pervasive, and at times confusing issue. We must at a minimum hold up a standard of accurate representation of the facts so that consumers can make choices based on correct information.
Dr. Mark Foster, DO, ClearMinds, Inc
Susan Kingsley-Smith
Amy Smith
I am passing on her petition. If anyone reading this is would like Mr. Whitaker to put his response in the the New York Times, please sign. If not, it's ok. We are trying to get 1,000 signatures. My opinion is in the fairness of journalism let Robert Whitaker speak.  
Instructions on the petition are below, and a  very short video of Robert Whitaker.
Thank you. 

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

On Depression-it's not sloth

Every morning I make a cup of coffee and look at the window, and see neighbors walking to the bus stop to commute into the city, or getting into their cars to drive to work. I miss work. I miss feeling productive. I miss feeling like a real person. I miss interacting with people, and being able to have a wardrobe to wear to work, and an excuse to put on makeup every morning. Not working has made me live in a wardrobe of jeans and t-shirts, I have stopped wearing makeup, and it's been years since I have had a professional manicure. 

It may be laziness, I live admist several retired women, most widows. They manage every day to wear nice clothes, have their hair done, even if they are going to the supermarket or the local McDonald's. Maybe it's from another generation, when women in the 50s wore dresses to do house keeping. My mother is the same way, will not leave her house without lipstick. She is aghast that I can do that, leave my apartment to do errands without lipgloss and blush. Leave in a faux turtle neck because I don't want anyone to see the stitches in my neck from the dialysis. 

Years ago, when I first started working in an office environment, a fellow co-worker told me, "Always get extra dressed up when you feel depressed". I tried that,wearing a nicer blouse and skirt, maybe some jewelry that day,  and it did work.  And by looking nice, I felt nice, and the depression eased. 

Maybe it's the same thing. Wear nicer clothes, make up to the supermarket, and you will feel better. But why? It's not like I am going to see anyone. The only men I see in the supermarket are in their sixties, or the teens that work as cashiers, and baggers. Then the depression starts talking "It's too much effort. Why bother?"

It's this kind of thinking that makes one go three weeks between washing hair. Sylvia Plath once got called out on this, and she replied brilliantly, "why? It will just get dirty again".

I tried. I went out yesterday to the Apple store to collect my computer, just back from California and fitted with a few new parts. I put on a clean white shirt with embroidery I found at the bottom of a drawer that I didn't know I had. I had on black pants, and flip flops with beadwork. And I put on some blush, eye shadow and lip gloss. 

The store was packed, and I had to ask a sales guy for a stool to sit while I waited for my computer. By the time I got it, checked it to make sure it was OK and paid for it, I was mentally exhausted. Walking the entire mall to get back to my car left me physically tired. I got home and crashed. Slept for about 20 hours, which was strange. Woke up disoriented, not sure what day it was, and just felt sick- sick in my stomach, sick in my heart.

Opening a can of Fancy Feast for the cat, I thought about my life, as I dumped the food into a clean bowl, washed out the tin and put it with the recycling pile. My life isn't working the way I thought it would be. But who's life works out the way we imagine it at sixteen?

I would have never imagined I would be crippled by ill health. And depression. And to top it all off, agoraphobia. It's not what I want.

I want my health back. I'm eating healthy and exercising in the apartment but I need to go to the gym every day. Doing exercises at home is not the same. I want to be around people-but I'm afraid. They scare me. I prefer dogs and cats. I have to get over this.

Today I received a phone call from a State agency- they want to hook me up with a social worker. I panicked and said, rather diplomatically, they should be helping someone who really needs it, especially now with all the budget cuts.

"But you need it", said the woman on the phone.

She's right I need it. I need something. I'm afraid to ask for help. I have to get over this.

I live across the street from an awesome Chinese restaurant. It's all take out, you can't eat in. They make the most wonderful Won-Ton soup, and I've always treated myself to a quart of it a week. At 2.45 it's a bargain. The owners know me and like me, they always through in a fortune cookie or two on the house.

On my way home from the Apple store, I stopped there and bought a quart, which was to be dinner that night. I put it in the fridge when I got home, but had to have the cookie immediately.

The fortune went like this:"Those who help, help".

I put it on the keyboard, and shut the laptop, forgetting all about it, until this morning. There it was in on the computer keyboard, lying where I had put it. "Those who help, help".
I had just gotten off the phone with the woman from the State who wants to arrange help for me getting mobile. Help me I'm not use to getting help. I've always been independent, or tried to be.

"Those who help, help". 

Help. I need help. Asking for help can't be too bad, after all "help" is a title of a great song by the Beatles.

Eureka. She is going to help me. By doing so I will help her!

"Those who help, help".

I'm going to ask for help for the first time in a very long time. I think I can do it now.

Friday, July 1, 2011

New Antidepressant Induced Chronic Depression Has a Name: Tardive Dysphoria

I love Gianna Kali. She really nailed it in today's post about now antidepressant-induced chronic depression has a name:Tardive Dysphoria. If you don't read Gianna, she is one of my favorite bloggers and one of the first five people that helped and influenced me when I was the new blogger on the block. I highly recommend her, she should be in everyone's RSS feeds.

From Gianna's post.

Robert Whitaker continues to be on the ball. His latest article on psychology today is about the phenomena of chronic depression being caused by anti-depressant use. This is good documented evidence for those who still want to believe drugs are always the answer. Most of us were not ever told about these sorts of risks.
Three recently published papers, along with a report by a Minnesota group on health outcomes in that state, provide new reason to mull over this question: Do antidepressants worsen the long-term course of depression? As I wrote in Anatomy of an Epidemic, I believe there is convincing evidence that the drugs do just that. These latest papers add to that evidence base. (the whole article)
Whitaker’s been saying this for a while and collected such information in the past.
This post from a year ago also speaks to this issue: Before excessive drug treatments NIMH declared depression “on the whole” a diagnosis with best prognosis for recovery: not so anymore.
Whitaker’s two seminal works on psychiatry:
And lots more of Whitaker’s work on this blog here.

Thanks Gianna. I personally met Robert Whitaker two weeks ago at Psych Out, and all I can say this man is kind, as well as erudite and a very good public speaker. His books, "Anatomy of an Epidemic" and "Mad in America" should be on everyone's book shelf and read in the schools just like other non fiction books that changed the way America thinks like "The Jungle" and "And the Band Played on". "Anatomy" will be released in paperback on August 2 and is available for pre order on Amazon.
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