Saturday, March 25, 2006

New FDA Warnings and a Testimonial

While I'm finishing up the illustrations for my double sized column for this week I wanted to pass along some warnings from the FDA. If you've followed my blog for a while you know that I stand against medications as a first line of attack for treating neurological problems. I see them as rife with side-effects and a poor substitute for coping strategies. This attitude doesn't make me popular. I'd wager that a more popular pro-meds stance would help me retain higher readership around here. Some could argue that my lack of a medical or psychological degree makes me ill-qualified for passing out advice of any kind concerning meds, and I would agree with them to a certain extent. If you really do read my column you know that I don't carelessly tell people to stop taking their meds. I simply encourage them to be careful.

What I can offer with absolute certainty is my life as a worse case scenario. My experience with meds has always been filled with almost every bizarre side-effect they could fit on the prescription printout. I have permanent neurological damage because I was trying to treat AD/HD and depression with desoxyn and zoloft. I now have Chronic Motor Tic Disorder as a permanent friend and let me tell you something - AD/HD and Depression were easier to handle. Nothing can stop me from flailing about uncontrollably or barking out non-sensical gibberish during dinner except a really long nap and sometimes that doesn't work either since I'm an insomniac. I am officially disabled because of side-effects. Doctors have offered me MORE meds to offset the tics, but they have their own side-effects. No thank you.

I have a great doctor now who helps me choose the safest meds possible when needing prescriptions for illnesses. I only wish the turkeys who were trying to help me 14 years ago had been as conscientious. The whole point of this diatribe is that I want you to understand WHY I am hostile towards meds. I cut a lot of jokes around here, but side-effects are no laughing matter. Besides, meds have their limitations. I saw a slogan on another website that summed my attitude perfectly: Pills Don't Teach Skills

Understanding that I have certain apprehensions about meds, also understand that I know everybody doesn't have issues with side-effects like I do and that some people need these meds to survive. It is not my intention to make you folks feel inferior to me. I don't believe you are ignorant dupes, but I would be doing you a disservice if I never spoke a word of caution. If only I had known how damaging side-effects could be. I took my medications for a few weeks despite what they were doing to me because I trusted my doctors and because the meds regulated all the things they were supposed to regulate. I hadn't had such a productive period in a long time. But it came to an end in a way that will last decades.

So take a gander at these new reports of aggression, hallucinations, and heart risk in children on common meds for treating AD/HD. If psychotropic meds work for you, just promise me that you'll educate yourself about the potential side-effects so you can be on the lookout for them. At first sign discontinue meds immediately and contact your physician or therapist. Why play Russian Roulette with your brain?

New Warnings Urged for ADHD Drugs (WebMD)
Panel Advises Disclosure of Drugs' Psychotic Effects (NY Times)
FDA Calls for Improved Warnings for ADD Drugs (LA Times)