Psychiatric Treatment

Black-and-White empty plastic capsule

Leaving Lamictal and Antidepressants for Now

By phasing out lamotrigine, known more widely by the trade name Lamictal, I have recently ended 18 years of uninterrupted medication use to treat depression. It’s been a rough ride with 20 different psychotropic drugs. I had a few good periods with their help, but for the most part the results have been disappointing. My recovery started after years of taking antidepressants, years during which the condition steadily worsened. My [...] Read the rest»


Antidepressants: My Personal 10-Point Guide

Trying to get a balanced view of antidepressants is becoming harder by the day. Supporters of antidepressant use shoot down the statements of those activists who reject the use of psychiatric medications. Those activists, in turn, debunk the simplistic claims that depression is caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain, describe the drugs as useless or worse and go after the pervasive influence of the pharmaceutical companies. Those who've used medications for years are taking sides as well. If your life has either been saved or shattered by these medications, you'll talk and write passionately about your experience. You want others to get the information that's guided you, but misinformation is everywhere. Read the rest»

Display of Multicolored Capsules

Long-Term Antidepressant Treatment: A Strategy for Recovery or More Depression?

The more I get into the research on antidepressants, the more questions I have. In the last post, I raised issues about the endless search for the right medication; the discouraging record of relapse after becoming symptom-free; and the puzzling primacy of antidepressant treatment for an illness with complex causes that go way beyond biology. Those questions are only the starters. I have even greater concern about long-term antidepressant treatment. Most psychiatrists consider it necessary for severe, recurrent illness, but others - apparently a small minority - are speaking out about adverse effects of using these drugs for prolonged periods. Read the rest»

Multi-Colored Pills and Capsules

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 [...] Read the rest»


Depression Diagnosis – 2: What Does It Mean to You?

Once you have a depression diagnosis, what does it mean to you? I’ve heard a lot of reactions, ranging from a feeling of comfort to dismay to a shrug of the shoulders. A diagnosis is simply a name given to a set of symptoms, but it's usually wrapped inside a number of messages, whether spoken or implied. Your response could depend on a specific message that’s delivered with the diagnosis. Given the authority of psychiatrists and other physicians, it’s easy to confuse the two. Read the rest»

Salvation Woman in Passageway

Depression Diagnosis – 1: The Person or the Disorder?

A depression diagnosis usually marks a turning point in your experience of the illness. Up to that point, you may have downplayed the seriousness of mood problems, or you may have been less aware of feelings and focused instead on pain or insomnia or some other physical symptom. When things get so bad that you can’t lead the life you’re used to, then you know you need help but may still have no idea what the cause is. So you head for the doctor’s office - whether it’s your primary care physician or a psychiatrist - and hope they’ll be able to tell you what’s wrong and do something about it. Read the rest»

Nervous System Diagram

Depression Gets Physical: Pain, Heart, Bone and Beyond

Just as I was thinking I understood the full range of depression’s impact on my life, I started finding out about links between the mood disorder and some nasty physical problems. I mentioned in this post the prevalence of pain among depressed people seeking treatment from their regular doctors. But depression can do a lot more to your body than inflict pain. It has been linked to coronary heart disease, [...] Read the rest»

Doctors Brain Model

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 [...] Read the rest»