4/26/2001 – Part 2 – Luvox study on anxiety

http://www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/wp-dyn/A2512-2001Apr25?language=printer

Drug Found to Curb Kids’ Debilitating Social Anxiety

By Shankar Vedantam
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, April 26, 2001; Page A01

Children who are so shy or so attached to their parents that they are afraid
to go to school or sleep alone do much better when given a psychiatric drug,
according to a major study with profound — and controversial —
ramifications for millions of children.

The study of 128 children ages 6 to 17 found that the drug Luvox, widely
prescribed for adults with depression, alleviated the debilitating symptoms
of social phobia, separation anxiety and generalized anxiety — psychiatric
illnesses that afflict as many as 1 in 10 U.S. children.

The effects of the medicine were dramatic, but experts were divided about its
appropriateness: The medicine can help children with severe emotional
problems, but it might also be abused as a chemical quick fix for normal
anxiousness, with lasting effects on growing brains.

“Although the results seem impressive, they nevertheless raise some very
important questions about the use of psychotropic medications in children,”
said Joseph Coyle, chairman of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, in an
article accompanying the findings in today’s New England Journal of Medicine.

“Any drug that is effective is not going to be innocuous,” he said in an
interview. Children and adolescents diagnosed with these disorders should
first try a form of therapy known as cognitive behavioral therapy, and turn
to medication only if that fails, he said.

An estimated 575,000 children nationwide were diagnosed with anxiety
disorders in the 12 months ending in March, including 136,000 under age 10.
Doctors recommended 390,000 children be put on medicines such as Zoloft,
Paxil and Prozac. Of these, 89,000 were under age 10, according to IMS
Health, a private company that tracks the pharmaceutical industry.

Such vast numbers leave critics aghast. Too many children are being put on
powerful brain-altering drugs for behaviors that may be merely troublesome,
critics say. But other experts point out that many children suffer from
distress that, left untreated, can cause impairment well into adulthood.

“Researchers found that anxiety was among the most common problems that kids
have,” said Daniel Pine of the National Institute of Mental Health. He led
the study. “When researchers follow children with anxiety over time,
sometimes anxiety developed into more chronic problems. It could be the
harbinger of problems with depression, panic attacks and all different kinds
of problems.”

The study, the first large, well-designed survey to examine the effectiveness
of a psychiatric drug for a wide range of anxiety disorders in children, was
partly funded by the National Institute of Mental Health and by Solvay
Pharmaceuticals, which sells Luvox. The drug, which like Prozac increases
levels of the brain chemical serotonin, has been approved for the treatment
of obsessive compulsive disorder in children. Luvox sales were more than $2
billion in the United States last year, according to IMS Health.

Scientists at Johns Hopkins University, Columbia University, New York
University, Duke University and the University of California at Los Angeles
studied the drug over eight weeks in children with anxiety disorders.

An example of a child with severe social phobia would be one who refused to
go to school for two weeks, said Mark Riddle of the Johns Hopkins University
School of Medicine, one of the study’s authors. A milder example, he said,
would be a child who went to school and participated in clubs and group
events, but with intense discomfort.

Extreme separation anxiety disorder, he said, would be displayed in a child
who avoided birthday parties and sleepovers. A medium-grade example would be
children who refused to sleep in their own rooms and wanted to get into bed
with their parents.

Generalized anxiety disorder, Riddle said, were “the worrywarts.”

“A lot of it would be about performance — getting very preoccupied with a
test at school, a lot of fussing about day-to-day things,” he said.

“We don’t want a Prozac nation,” he said about the medication of children.
“We want to make sure we are not doing anything to harm youngsters. On the
other hand, it can be a huge disservice to children to minimize the true
significance of psychiatric impairments that do require treatments. It’s the
latter that can get lost in the very easy and popular position to take, which
is ‘Don’t drug our kids.’ ”

Richard Harding, president-elect of the American Psychiatric Association,
said clinicians should carefully evaluate anxious children to find out
whether their fears are caused by an underlying personality problem — which
would merit psychotherapy or medication — or by a social problem, such as a
bully in school or child abuse at home, in which case medication would be
inappropriate.

“A good clinician will not commit a child to a life sentence on medicine,”
said Riddle. “A good clinician will look to stop medication after the
youngster has had a chance to regroup. You want to work with a clinician who
says we are going to get John off this medication.”

It is unclear what impact this study will have in clinical practice, where
doctors are prescribing children such medicines “off-label” — meaning they
have not been approved for such uses by the Food and Drug Administration.

“Given our current medical-economic system in practice, I suspect both
doctors and parents will be strongly attracted to the quick-fix nature of
this intervention,” said Lawrence Diller, a behavioral pediatrician in Walnut
Creek, Calif., and the author of “Running on Ritalin.”

“We have highly effective psychosocial interventions for these problems,” he
said. But “they are more expensive and take longer.”

He said that helping families come up with parenting strategies could ease
children’s anxieties. “Children are highly responsive to their environments,
and the home is the practice arena to deal with life,” he said. “This is not
parent-blaming — children are difficult to raise. But when the parent makes
changes, you see very rapid changes in the child.”

“It doesn’t negate the value of the medications,” he added. But “with
uncertainty on both sides, effective psychosocial treatments — first do no
harm — take preference.”

More extreme critics, such as Bethesda psychiatrist Peter Breggin, said the
study was produced by scientists who are part of an “old boys’ network of
drug pushers.” He said the psychiatric drugs cause harm — some data have
shown that the drugs cause lasting alterations in the brains of young animals.

Researchers involved in the new study said the drug was well tolerated and
safe.

© 2001 The Washington Post Company

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Kerri’s Story – My Dark Place on Psychotropic Drugs and ECT

“I had the “electric jitz which feels literally like hot coals inside your back.”

 

An Introduction by Ann Blake-Tracy

I am so concerned at how many I continue to see go through ECT because of reactions they are having to the SSRIs that doctors refuse to see! There is absolutely no need for someone to go through the additional trauma and damage caused by forced seizure activity from an electrical current when what is needed is withdrawal from the offending medication. And why do these doctors remain ignorant of the fact that ECT contraindicated while on SSRI medication due to the risk of the life threatening reaction of “Serotonin Syndrome”? We continue to suffer from an abundance of ignorance about these meds.
———-
I wanted to share my story as a psychiatric drug survivor. I am a college student, I was a senior earlier but this year I had withdraw because of the above problem (i.e. psychiatric drugs) so next year I am to have my senior year.
In August I went to the doctor to refill my anxiety med, Xanax, and because I was concerned with my increasing number of panic attacks. The nurse practitioner refused to give me klonopin (my friend is on that for her anxiety) and instead thrust Paxil at me.

She told me I would “feel crummy for a week” but that after 6-8 weeks it would help my anxiety attacks and it would feel like I wasn’t on anything at all. Stupidly and to my detriment I believed her. I was put on 10 mg. I only lasted 6 days on the stuff! I lost 10 pounds in that period, was dry-heaving and horribly nauseated, I had the “electric jitz” which feels literally like hot coals inside your back (I swear that to God!), palpitations, WORSE anxiety that could not be diminished, I became detached, was unable to concentrate, was crying uncontrollably, had awful stomach gas so tight I couldn’t breathe, had breathing problems, my period lasted 11 days and was heavier than I could ever remember it being, I was constipated, then I had constant diarrhea. Then my thoughts started to race. I went back to the doctor and he just looked at me and asked me why didn’t I just take my Xanax for the anxiety! They told me I was fine, and that it was panic and that I’d be fine. But oh no, fine was the last thing I was. I tried to keep working at my job and had to quit, went back to school and they found me a psychiatrist, who told me that I’d get better and that there were lots of things out there to help me. So he tried me on Celexa.

I was now TERRIFIED of the SSRIs so I didn’t want to, but I tried it for 2 days and stopped it because it made my jitteriness much worse again. So then Dr. H gave me Desipramine. I tried to go to classes, but finally had to withdraw because the meds were making me sicker and sicker and more depressed. I was now down to 84 pounds. This was in early October. My parents took me home to GA, where we found a meds doctor, Dr. W. I slipped farther and farther into the abyss, and then suddenly the Desipramine lifted my mood. It worked like that for ten days, but all the while the racing thoughts were prominent, and my hands kept shaking, and I was well, “high.” Then it kicked out.

So Dr. W upped my dosage (I was at 150 mg) too 200mg, and overdosed me, so I wound up in the hospital because apparently I was threatening to throw myself over the railing of our house or something. (NOTE: not once during the whole ordeal did I ever attempt anything, I merely thought about it).

I saw a Dr. K, there, and he started me on Effexor. This med didn’t work, and it never did anything too bad to my body or mind. Finally, since that wasn’t working, Dr. K put me on this stuff called Risperdal and Depakote. He overdosed me again!! My parents tell me (I have no recollection of this and am thankful to God that I don’t) that I was literally running up and down the stairs because my body couldn’t keep still, the tremors were so bad.

Dr. K wound up going on vacation, and this great doctor, Dr. A. filled in for him. I knew one thing. Dr. A. did ECT. Dr. A. suggested I try Prozac (I was even more terrified after both Paxil, Celexa, and the other meds) but apparently I asked him if I could get ECT done since I knew it was the very last resort and I didn’t really think I’d like to stay like that for the rest of my life. So I got the ECT and within 3 treatments, I was COMPLETELY BACK TO NORMAL. I had all my feelings back, I was ME, I was peppy like usual, I felt terrific! I wish I could remember how it was to wake up that way. My mother told me that I went to sleep and woke up at 4 one afternoon, completely myself again. It was a true miracle. Apparently this is very unusual with ECT because it’s supposed to take many more treatments before you are anywhere near well. After I was done with he ECT the doctors still had me on Prozac.

While I will ill, all I ever said were 3 things: 1) “I’m never going to get better” 2) It’s permanent brain damage” and 3) I want to die. So the idiot doctors diagnosed me as OCD. So I’m fine by February, but all of a sudden my body starts rejecting the Prozac. My vision started blurring out (this was also because of the ECT medication), my anxiety level was rising (I was popping an anxiety pill every 2 days at this point), my limbs were twitching and jumping, I was getting more of that awful stomach gas, and I was starting to get scared. So I made my doctor get me off it and he let me stop it abruptly (since doing that with the other SSRIs is hazardous to your health!!!) and now I am only on 7 mg of Remeron which I am getting off of late this month.

I wanted to sue because of all the losses I suffered this year including: my mental and physical health; my dumping my boyfriend while I was stoned on tranquilizers, the loss of my senior year of college with friends that I have been with for the last 4 years, all the trouble getting reinstated at my college, the nightmares, my fear of even taking ibuprofen for a headache, or even a vitamin, my hatred of psychiatric medicines, therapists, and the drug companies, my fear of going back to that dark place, all that lost time!!!! But I can’t sue because I’m not in the mood to wait a few years for any decision.

So I am just going to file with the FDA. Thank you for reading this, if I sent this wrong, please post it up on this site for me.

God bless you for your intelligence on these matters.

Kerri

 

Years 2000 and Prior

This is Survivor Story number 50.
Total number of stories in current database is 96

 

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7/22/1999 – A Hotline Volunteer’s Perspective – Report

This appeared in today’s Dallas Morning News Letters to the Editor.
Interesting comment from the perspective of someone who volunteers for
an emergency hotline. Thanks to Rosie Meysenburg for passing this
along to us. Mark
——————————————————————
http://www.dallasnews.com/editorial/letters/0722edlett1.htm

Psychiatric drugs

There has been much talk about what is causing the rash of shootings by
children. No one explanation has nailed the source of the problem. One
explanation often heard is untreated mental problems.

In truth, three of the recent shooters had been treated and given
psychiatric drugs – Springfield’s Kip Kinkel (Springfield, Ore.) with
Prozac, Eric Harris (Littleton, Colo.) with Luvox and Thomas Solomon
(Conyers, Ga.) with Ritalin.

I was a volunteer for a hot line and received many complaints from
people
whose behavior became irrational after taking mood-altering drugs like
Prozac. The wife of comedian Phil Hartman, who killed her husband and
herself, was on the psychiatric drug Zoloft.

Why has there been no mention of the risks of taking these drugs? I
think
we have put too much trust in the psychiatric community in allowing
them to
put so many of our children on drugs. The pharmaceutical industry which
is
making big money on the proliferation of legal drug use and the rising
costs of drugs is not going to complain. We must complain.

PAT SPRUILL, Plano

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