Psychiatric Medical Treatment

Taking Emsam: A Different Kind of Antidepressant

Since I’ve written several posts on my growing worries about antidepressants, I thought I’d tell you about the one I’m taking now. Emsam has worked for me longer than any other, and the dietary restrictions it requires have been a small price to pay. Among antidepressants, the MAOI class has been relegated to 3rd or 4th tier treatment after other medications have failed. That’s how I started taking Emsam. After [...]

3 Questions about Antidepressants

If you’re depressed, you will get a prescription for an antidepressant, sooner or later. In fact, medication is likely to be the first treatment you receive, perhaps the only one. Most people are fine with that. They want to feel better fast, and medication seems like the best route. Primary care physicians and psychiatrists prescribe them as a matter of course. Websites for the Mayo Clinic, Stanford, the National Institute [...]

What Doctors Do When Depression is a Pain

I’ve had my share of problems with pain as well as with depression, but it never occurred to me to link the two until recently. Apparently, that’s true for most people with major depression, especially if physical pain is the first sign of the illness. They know they’re in pain, and depression is the last thing on their minds. A lot of primary care physicians also miss that link, and [...]

Sherwin Nuland: From Electroshock to Recovery

Sherwin Nuland is the best-selling author of How We Die: Reflections on Life’s Final Chapter and many other books. As he says in this video, he had never before disclosed the experience behind the spiritual dimensions of his writing until presenting this talk at the TED Conference in 2001. Everyone’s reaction will differ, of course, but for me this is one of the most moving stories of recovery I’ve ever [...]

The Draft Revisions for DSM-5: Dimensional Assessment

Like many, I’ve been worried that the revision of Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, the source for all our diagnoses, could lead to what’s been called the medicalization of normality. But there are even more fundamental problems inherent in the classification system itself. It slots you into a fixed category based on a checklist that ignores many symptoms, and the categories lack any means for measuring the progress [...]

What’s in a (DSM Diagnostic) Name?

When I started getting a diagnosis of “depression” years ago, I found myself assuming that this was the name for a permanent condition rather than one dimension in the changing nature of an unfolding life. Later, the term became more formalized as “major depressive disorder recurrent non-psychotic” under the DSM-IV classification system. In a way, it was a relief to know that what I was going through had a name [...]