Category Archives: Antidepressants

weary, that’s one way to describe it

gotta’ find the positive. i now get 2 or sometimes 2.5 days of productive time from each crashed, totally-fuckin’-wiped-out day. not too long ago it was on a one-one ratio. tough to get things done.

i’ve been looking at various approaches to de-slumping with nutritional supplements since discovering that the amino acid, Tryptophan, is a pre-cursor to serotonin and the function of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors such as Prozac and Cymbalta is to increase the amount of serotonin available for the brain, so that we’ll feel better. or will feel less like shit. etc. and i thought, wow, maybe it’d be better to simply provide my body with the ingredients it needs rather than screwing with the natural flow of neurotransmitters with chemicals like cymbalta from companies such as eli lilly who know next to nothing about what this shit does or how it does it and less about what else happens downstream and pretty much nothing about what happens over time when the body / brain adapt and adjust according to tricky little bits of some very bright scientist’s chemistry experiment.

i now picture the majority of medical doctors, who typically, since before leaving pre-med school, have been dined and wined by the pharmaceutical corporations, as little, tie and red-vest-wearing rhesus monkeys cranking out a tune on a tinny little organ while being tightly leashed by their owner, Mr. PharmaCorp.

it is shocking that MDs receive such a relatively minuscule amount of nutritional training. the situation is that a lot of university funding comes in the way of research grants, building funds and donations from corporations who benefit when doctors prescribe medication. the medically-trained folks who end up working for the Federal Drug Administration or Health Canada have grown accustomed to having big pharma pick up the tab for lunch, and for that ever-so-important-and-why-not-bring-the-wife conference in Tahiti.

a guy on an FDA pharmacological committee responsible for advising on the approval of Prozac, David Dunner, ended up receiving 1.4 million US dollars from eli lilly for research and seminars. prior to its approval, he’d already delivered five seminars regarding “depressive disorder” for lilly and, had conducted a 100-person, prozac clinical trial, also for lilly.

when asked about a potential conflict of interest he declined to mention these activities. when asked about future involvement with lilly, he also failed to mention the engagements lilly had already booked him for, to be delivered following its approval. well, the very day following prozac’s approval, dunner delivered a seminar in Pittsburgh. five days following prozac’s FDA approval, Dunner began an lilly-commissioned study about prozac and sleep patterns. yes, sleazy stuff.

it’s the way the pharmaceutical horror-show works and why we can end up with drugs that induce suicide and withdrawal behavior that decimates otherwise loving relationships while the gatekeepers are catching rays with the mistress.

i was especially intrigued when i learned that tryptophan was banned from sale in the US by the FDA just a few days prior to Newsweek’s feature story on Prozac. yes, and the bad press about turkey dinners causing people to fall asleep because of that nasty tryptophan again just begged for notice. how much accumulative impact can an effective, well-funded PR department have? truth is, there’s less tryptophan in turkey than in chicken, in fact, there’s less than in goose, duck and quail on a weight-comparative basis.

tryptophan is an essential amino acid that’s needed by the body but can’t be produced by it. proteins are made up of amino acids. somehow, the availability of a naturally-occurring, ingredient that is critical to good health, has been prohibited. mmm, opportunity, motive and means. what? a fine upstanding, organization like eli lilly, one with such pronounced corporate ethics. huh? you mean they can’t get insurance coverage any more because of all of the payouts they’ve had to make and because insurance companies believe that they’re too flakey? oh, wait, you mean there’s more? holy crap, like a chronic drunk driver having to attend those meetings, eli lilly has been ordered to enter into a five year Corporate Integrity Agreement with the Office of Inspector General of the Department of Human Services for a case prosecuted by Pennsylvania.

this is part and parcel of lilly’s plea agreement to charges of selling another one of their potions for unapproved purposes. for getting caught, they were fined $1.4 billion dollars, including a $515 million criminal fine. trust me, i’m a pharmaceutical corporation.

so, not being particularity inclined toward swallowing a pill pushed by that kind of dealer again, i’ve been scouring reference material in an effort to escape from this very dark, heavy curtain. there’s been a few positive signs, though it’ll take a while before i can offer anything specific that might be of value. in addition to the internet, i’ve added the following books to my library:

while several of these promote the respective author’s particular recovery programs, they all contain insight and qualified knowledge about the effects of nutrition on the way we feel. one can only imagine how much progress could be made if pimp-corps like lilly turned their focus to generating money by making the world a healthier place. yes, victims of world hunger, starving children and war-mongers everywhere could be enabled to see a different world. or see the same world, differently.

so, with the cymbalta-withdrawal tinnitus blaring still, i’m attempting to build an airplane at the same time i’m trying to fly it, out of here.

glh


dankly dumbed

it’s been four months since i last took a cymbalta and, a lifetime or several since the horrific trudge and crawl that has been cymbalta withdrawal.

tinnitus remains and i occasionally get a visit of bowling ball head but the most detrimental dropping of the experience is a depression…devastatingly deep and dark.

i wonder, when i can muster the initiative for such an ambitious endeavor, about the potential of permanent alteration to my body’s ability to produce and use serotonin and norepinephrine. these chemicals affect mood. cymbalta inhibits the re-uptake of these two brain messengers thereby causing an accumulation and increasing the amount present in the brain. cocaine works this way by inhibiting the re-uptake of dopamine.

neither cymbalta nor cocaine create additional neurotransmitters but rather inhibit what’s there from being taken away, as it would in the natural process. over time the body will decrease the amount it produces if there is enough present; its process is likely to atrophy if it determines a decreasing lack of demand to create more. in time cocaine users need more cocaine because the brain reduces the amount of dopamine it produces and the way to get more is to further reduce the re-uptake to maintain the feeling that dopamine induces.

thing is, the body can be helped to increase the amount of neurotransmitters it makes by simply providing the materials – nutrients! directly and indirectly, the body converts the essential amino acid tryptophan and non-essential tyrosine into serotonin and norepinephrine respectively. both aminos are part of the proteins of fish, eggs and meat. tryptophan is also found in chocolate, spirulina and sesame seeds. passionfruit and papaya can increase tyrosine production.

so, why in the hell would a dr. prescribe a two-hundred-dollar-a-month drug to trick the brain into hanging on to used neurotransmitters?

greed and horseshit. for example:

tryptophan was available as a supplement until it was banned by the FDA on March 22, 1990. the process to produce it, by a particular supplier, was contaminated and consequently twenty-seven Americans who ingested it died and fifteen hundred others were disabled. the process, not the nutrient, was the cause.

on March 26, 1990, four days after the tryptophan ban by the FDA, Newsweek’s feature article was about eli lilly’s serotonin re-uptake inhibitor, Prozac (“Prozac: A Breakthrough Drug for Depression”).

glh


Suicide; it’s ok until someone loses a life

A common experience of people attempting to quit Cymbalta, and for many people who are taking it, is suicidal ideation. This varies in degree from a fleeting thought to detailed planning that would include the method, location and timing. I worked as a crisis volunteer for several years and spoke with many people who’d called the center because of concerns about suicidal thoughts. People on a subway platform, with a loaded gun and some with “just” the dark thoughts.

The problem with suicide as an option to stop the pain is inherent in the permanence of the act; once the option has been elected, there aren’t going to be any more options. Of course it is one that we can keep as a plan “D” or “E” while we continue to work with other approaches.

Amongst other indications, Cymbalta is prescribed to treat depression. Lilly were denied approval by the FDA to sell Cymbalta for treatment of stress incontinence because of “liver toxicity” and a record of “suicide events”.  There is a documented case that I’m aware of where one respected, middle-aged gentleman committed suicide two weeks after beginning a Cymbalta prescription. Statistically, younger people are more at risk of suicide while taking Cymbalta.

So, Cymbalta is too dangerous for people who wet themselves under stress because it poisons their liver and leads to suicidal ideation and suicide, but it’s okay to give it to people who are clinically depressed. Huh? Is it that people who are depressed, have back pain, or, as in my case ADHD, have less societal value and can serve as fodder for Lilly’s shareholders. Did I mention that Eli Lilly have earned $10 Billion (USD) with Cymbalta since obtaining FDA approval in 2004? Health Canada approved it in 2008; why did it take the Canucks so long, eh?

Another common withdrawal symptom is insomnia and I’ve experienced it pretty much since I stopped taking the stuff. During an out-of-province visit with family during Thanksgiving I found myself at 04hrs00, learning to play Wii Tennis; no, really, just myself since everyone else had gone to bed at a reasonable hour. I’d also been writing poetry on my iPhone and the combination of the awkwardness of the typing interface and my Cymbalta-withdrawal-lack of patience resulted in several iPhone launches during the writing.

This was about to be the fourth consecutive night without the benefit of a meaningful collection of sleep-hours. At home, I’d found that a spirited top-down drive often helped as a relaxant and, since none of the solutions I’d tried thus far seemed to work, I decided to go for a drive.

In the absence of a particular destination, I took my overnight bag in case I got close to home. Home is nearly four hours away from the family Thanksgiving location and if I got there, I might not want to return. I did leave a gold family ring on the night table.

The next conscious recollection of the drive was the rear-view mirror image of flashing lights attached to a vehicle driven by an Ontario Provincial Police officer. In retrospect, I believe that he’d pulled in behind me and didn’t actually pull me over. I’d pulled over to work my iPhone-based GPS.

Says I was doing 151 KMH, or 50 KM over the limit. Says I was on the 401. I think he’s made a mistake. No, maybe it was me.


not out of the ffog

not yet

one step forward, followed by a visit to the crater

bowling-ball head, occasional flashes of rage

denseness of thought and deed

debilitating depressive episodes

shit


will we ever be there yet?

bitterness awaits in strained abeyance. the consequences of the cymbalta story continue, life moves forward. periods of time have passed during which i’ve not been aware of an intrusion of symptoms.

when a stumble occurs, whether at a physical, psyche and / or emotional level, i’m reminded. it is more than bothersome. jagged-edged concerns about how much i’ve lost and how long it will remain that way.

the end might be in sight. it’s not fair. it’s not right either.

glh


another way?

it isn’t that i want to sleep as much as i don’t want to be awake.

another day starts with a backward step.


so, it goes, and goes and goes…

it’s been nearly 70 days since i finished the prescription. by all accounts the medication ought to have cleared my system two months ago and, while the frequency symptoms reach forceful levels has diminished, i’m still in throws of the Cymbalta don’t-you-dare-leave jive.

there seems to be a one to one ratio for clearer periods to foggier ones. i managed to string a couple of productive, feeling pretty good days together last week, only to be followed by an unusually heavy weekend – two good days followed by two lousy ones.

the dominate, remaining symptoms include: bowling ball head, inexplicable rage, depression, aches and pains and a general clumsiness.

the clumsiness has an effect on fine motor skills and creates off-balance conditions where it seems signals to the left and right sides are out of synch; turning a corner when walking, for example, can create stupid, wall-bouncing things to happen.

i’ve lost count of the number of times keys have been dropped unto the floor, and my keyboarding skills have regressed to beyond being thick and slow to where i aspire to the level of a discarded rutabaga.

when depressive symptoms weigh in they do so heavily and on those mornings the simple act of getting out of bed requires more effort than i can muster, will and/or beg for. i also develop craving for simple carbohydrate based food and have consumed entire containers of ice cream with a whole apple pie in two sittings. probably could have done it in one if i had a large enough bowl. thing is, i rarely eat this kind of stuff.

on a positive note, it seems the debilitating heartburn, developed during the last six months i was taking the Cymbalta, has ceased.

i occasionally wonder if i’ll recognize real life if i see it again.

glh


another daze

my prescribed supply of Cymbalta ran out at the end of September 2010 – the pharmacy then provided me with three capsules while we awaited a response from the prescribing physician, an ADHD specialist, to whom I’d indicated my plans to stop taking the Cymbalta. in a misguided effort to wean off the Cymbalta while waiting for direction from the doctor, i took the three capsules over the following week. each time Cymbalta is depleted from the system a new round of withdrawal begins. its half-life is reported at twelve to seventeen hours so just missing a day causes bells to sound.

it’s been two months less the start-stop week since I’ve taken Cymbalta. the withdrawal symptoms, or in the terms Lilly use to describe the visit to this oozing, black mire, discontinuation syndrome, continue. lately there have been periods lasting several days where symptoms have remained diminished and the chance that their effects are near depletion raises its hopeful little head. then, just like the fairground game where the idea is to mallet a groundhog that is audacious enough to stick its head out of one the available holes, bam, i get slammed.

besides the bowling-ball head, headaches, inexplicable flashes of rage and depressive bouts i’ve noticed a certain clumsiness; it’s similar but different from the balance / vertigo problem that seems is common among us discontinuation violators; it seems that neural connections to my hands and fingers has been re-routed. the dropping of keys illustrates this well and yesterday i counted no less than five key drops. glad i’m not handling crystal.

there are people on forums who wonder whether some of these symptoms are to remain permanently. two months feel like permanent already and there’s a real issue with becoming too accustomed to these experiences; if Cymbalta has left permanent marks on our central nervous system, it will have an impact on everything we do but, we won’t be able to discern to what degree. what’s normal? has the veterinarian who is about to operate on your dog been taking Cymbalta?

Lilly have generated nearly $10B US since 2004 with Cymbalta, a drug they don’t understand yet work to broaden its usage and distribution. If Lilly’s share price were to drop, on a bad-news sell-off for instance, to $25 from its current $33.9, the value of the company (capitalization) would fall by $10.3B or approximately one-quarter of the company’s value. For those of us living through the results of their greed i.e. selling drugs that do what this stuff does, it would still be grossly unfair.


occasionally hopeful

don’t know how the date became 22/11. last time i noticed, it was around the 15th and i saw 18/11 once. a lot of time in bed, mostly sleeping. i’ve clawed back some of the sleep deprivation of the past 8 weeks but became concerned that i’d slipped into a dark and foggy funk. today, i couldn’t get back to sleep after 03:30 so I read until 04:30 and then got up. it felt like an event to rejoice.

meditated and managed a work-out. i don’t remember when the last one was. doesn’t matter. hoping that the pain amplification doesn’t kick in tonight…will take an Advil and a hot jacuzzi to help ward it off.

bowling-ball head persists as does the limited supply of tolerance. being able to put a foot in front of the other is…a step in the right direction. a bad pun is a good sign.

would embrace an opportunity to partake in a well-publicized class action against lilly. they’ve been unable to find an insurance company that will provide coverage so they’ve become self-insured. any settlement money would come directly from their bottom line. if it were significant enough, share-holders would bail like rats on a sinking ship, which in turn would reduce the company’s value for the remaining shareholders and for those otherwise vested in the stock’s performance.


out of time

this experience has used up so much, too much, time. too much life has been pissed away on Cymbalta’s discontinuation syndrome. there’s stuff i ought to be doing. i paid a huge cost to come here to write a book and feel as though i’ve betrayed the effort and intent.

i started taking Cymbalta under the direction and care of an ADHD specialist and the intent was to enable me to keep a directed focus on the task at hand. we’d tried different combinations of medications to balance neurotransmitters so that it would happen. tried Lilly’s Strattera (Atomoextine), an ADHD-specific, non-stimulant med that was originally intended as an anti-depressant but didn’t pass clinical trials as such.

i was so enthused about the possibility of being able to experience life without the ADHD symptoms that i chose to follow dr’s suggestions down the yellow brick road. my partner at the time repeatedly advised me that the meds were having detectable negative effects. i knew, but rationalized the possible trade-off.  i developed horrendous prostatitis while taking the Strattera. couldn’t eat for two weeks and became quite weakened. it wasn’t a documented side-effect though prostatitis was reported by Strattera patients who posted on forums. always discussed side effects with the doc, he didn’t say, didn’t know about this one.

instead, i ended up with Lilly’s Cymbalta (Duloxetine), a med that did pass trials as an anti-depressant. it didn’t pass trials as a treatment for stress incontinence, because of “concerns over suicide events and liver toxicity”. Jesus, they don’t have a clue about how any of this stuff works or what all it does and they’ve already sold ten-billion dollars worth of Cymbalta. doc didn’t tell me that i’d feel this way if i stopped taking the Cymbalta.

people are committing suicide, loving, lifetime relationships are being annihilated because of these drugs. it may not be just Eli Lilly who operates this way but it is Lilly’s products that i have exposure to.

Lilly, the governing licensing agencies and the prescribing physicians together don’t know what happens when hopeful, trusting patients take the drugs they’re being sold and people are suffering and dying as a result. dying. this is wrong and i’m tired, really tired of feeling this way.