Thursday, August 25, 2005

Something I'm Really Happy About (Or Is It Just the Meds?)

Tertia's post about antidepressants really made my day. In part:
One of the best things I ever did was go on AD's. It took about two weeks to kick in, but I felt like the old me. Not spaced out, still saddened by what was happening to me, but that black oily monster? That monster shrunk to the size of my fist.

I have long wished that I could be more open about my own AD use. I've told most of my friends & family, but I almost never tell my colleagues, students, residents, or patients, even while I'm trying to encourage them to try ADs. Partly this is because I'm a little worried I might be a bad advertisement, since I can seem rather serious and antisocial before I get to know someone. Partly it's because I've heard other physicians talking about patients on ADs in a disparaging way (definitely NOT most physicians, but a few). And partly because I don't want to be seen as, I don't know, crazy and weak. But I also think everyone should be more open about it, because otherwise the stigma will never go away.

TrophyHusband takes them too, and he's very open about it. But he's never been depressed, just anxious, which I think is more socially acceptable. He went to a psychologist who deemed him completely free of any DSM-IV diagnosis, but he wanted to try them anyway, and now he says he will never go off. What he says they do for him is to shrink the worrying part of his brain down to a manageable size, so that he can focus on the rest of life. I noticed a difference in him right away. First, he had to learn how to use a nail clipper. True story. He had bitten his nails down to bloody nubs since childhood, and suddenly, without him even being aware of it, the habit vanished. Second, shopping with him became much easier. Soon after he started ADs, we went to pick out new glasses for him. Based on previous experience with this, I blocked off all of a Saturday morning for it and put four hours' worth of quarters in the meter. Then he walked into the (very trendy) eyeglass store and said, "Show me your most interesting pair of glasses." The exquisitely tattooed and pierced clerk slapped a pair on the counter. TrophyHusband eyed them for a moment, and said, "Show me your second most interesting pair of glasses." Tried them on, said, "I'll take them!" and we were out of there in twenty minutes and used the remaining 3 hours 40 minutes on shopping for me.

But it's kind of cute to take meds to cure oneself of nailbiting and shopping indecision. (It also helps men with endurance, which he doesn't mind one bit.) It's less cute to take them to prevent crippling black oily depression. Or maybe I'm being too sensitive, and need to grow some courage.

Is there a pill for that?


B.E.C.K. said...

When I was crying every single day about everything (oh, I had reason to cry, all right, but not about everything), I went to my general physician and asked for antidepressants. My family has a history of depression, so naturally he wasn't surprised. After asking me all the requisite questions and pronouncing me very definitely eligible for antidepressants, he told me he humself has taken them for years. That was the day he officially became my hero. I vote for telling patients about your own experience. When my doctor told me he took ADs, I felt waaaaay less crappy about it.

DoctorMama said...

That's good to know, b.e.c.k. Why do you think it made you feel so much better for him to tell you? Because he seems sane? Because it meant he didn't think you were crazy? Because you felt less alone about it? Or?
And would you feel different about it if it had been a woman physician, do you think?

Kelsey said...

They helped me a ton too to help my PPD. I took Lexapro for a year. Depression is a mean bitch.

Sara said...

I decided to finally go back and read your blog from the beginning. It's actually been great - the holiday emergency room stories and all...though I'm afraid I may never have children now!

But this is another thing I like about you - you're trying to help knock the stigma down a notch. I wish I could be brave enough to admit this too. Thanks.