Life at Up Up and Away Investment Management International: Chapter 36 “A little bit of dabbling with anti-depressants”

Chapter 36

A little bit of dabbling with anti-depressants

It was months after starting to visit my psychiatrist that I was “introduced” to anti-depressants. One was called sertraline and the other mirtazapine. There was no immediate psychological effect while I was on these drugs. However, I could feel the depression start to lift after about a year. Was the improvement a result of the drugs or was it simply a matter of time, lack of stress, psychoanalyst sessions and bright light therapy? Again, I lamented the state that Up Up and Away had sunk me. Imagine me, Tony Hornet taking anti-depressants.

There seems to be a debate about whether anti-depressants work or even if they should be the first line against a fight to conquer depression. Many argue cognitive behavioural therapy, mindfulness based cognitive therapy, bright light therapy or compassion cultivation training are better front-line soldiers against depression.

Bear in mind that the pharmaceutical companies would like nothing more than you taking anti-depressants as they are a huge profit component to the bottom line! I could go into greater details but advise you to read Lawrie Reznek’s “Peddling Mental Disorder” which slams Mega Pharma and puts into doubt the effectiveness of anti-depressants. Mega Pharma is just another largecorp.

Debate the fact that anti-depressants can be effective against depression until you are blue in the face. However less debatable is the fact that they affect the chemical balance in the human brain.

Hopefully you will ask your prescriber of anti-depressants just exactly what cessation effects are. The advice inevitably will be even if a psychiatrist believes you are “cured” to avoid a relapse the anti-depressant should be continued for several months after you are” cured”. Not to discourage you but my Dr. Wong advised me you are never cured but only go into remissions. You best hope is for a long remission!

My formerly depressed friend W felt that anti-depressants made him feel weird and detached in additional to causing vicious gastrointestinal reactions. Against a tapered cessation as suggested by both his psychiatrist and the drug manufacturer he decided to go cold turkey. He described to me his life was sheer hell for weeks after. He felt like screaming and pulling his hair out. Like many who go cold turkey and for even some of those that taper off he experienced the dreaded brain zaps that feel as if electrical shocks were being administered to his brain.

A journalist friend of mine, Kennedy Jones, went through a tapered cessation and described his first couple of weeks as feeling that he was “just not there” and felt very detached. Over the period of a month or so he gradually began feeling more connected with the world about him. After that it was good days and bad days for about three months and then he was “back to normal”.

As Jones stated,” Listen, there are side effects for most drugs and anti-depressants are no exception. Listen to the major complaints in the depression blog sites about how horrific anti-depressant cessation can be and you might be frightened. The theme is if they had known about the cessation effects of anti-depressants they never would have taken them in the first place Also listen to the minority that are thankful for anti-depressants and how in some cases they prevented their suicides. Based on the conservative medical literature and the advice of my psychiatrist I advise your readers to take the tapered approach when anti-depressant cessation is considered.”

There is also consensus that the severity of adverse reaction to anti-depressant cessation depends on the length of time you are on the anti-depressant and the dosage amount

How long it takes the medication to leave your body depends on the drug and the dosage you were on. Then it becomes a bit of a guessing game about how long it takes your brain to adjust from being off the medication. How much to reduce your medication, by how much and for how long is something you will have to work out with your psychiatrist.

As Jones concluded,” I really can’t tell you whether the anti-depressants worked. It might have simply been a matter of rest, time off work and the mindfulness course and the mindfulness follow up sessions I attended. The result is that I no longer feel depressed. The only problem I have is that I have been depressed for so long I really don’t know what normal is. I also believe that mindfulness really helped me fight back depression but in a sense it kind of neutralized me in that the lows in my life don’t drag me down like they used to but the highs are also dulled. You might say I am a man on an even keel and I’ll take that over depression anytime. I kind of lost that Iggy Pop “Zest for Life”.

In terms of anti-depressants my thought and experiences were identical to those of Kennedy Jones.

I found it somewhat amusing that Up Up and Away had me toil in a toxic work environment that was largely responsible for causing my depression yet my medical plan had Up Up and Away paying for the anti-depressants!

Published by Robert K Stephen (CSW)

Robert K Stephen writes about food and drink, travel, and lifestyle issues. He is one of the few non-national writers to be certified as a wine specialist by the Society of Wine Educators, in Washington, DC. Robert was the first associate member of the Wine Writers’ Circle of Canada. He also holds a Mindfulness Certification from the University of Leiden and the University of Toronto. Be it Spanish cured meat, dried fruit, BBQ, or recycled bamboo place mats, Robert endeavours to escape the mundane, which is why he has established this publication. His motto is, "Have Story, Will Write."

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