Sunday, January 17, 2016

Fishing for Depression Patients

I knew last summer when I saw the headline that there had to be a new depression medication out. How? The news was "All Americans Should be Screened for Depression."(1) That's a good idea because, as you know, depression is a menace, affecting tens of millions and leaving many of its victims tired, overweight, prone to heart disease, impotent, blind, and--wait, I'm thinking of diabetes. It might make sense to screen everyone for diabetes. No, the reason for screening everyone for depression, I figured, was that there was a new drug someone was looking to peddle. Sure enough, the FDA approved a depression drug a few weeks earlier.(2)

Some doctors are already screening patients--like me--for depression during routine office visits. My invoice for being seen for a puncture wound included "brief behavioral assessment," which I didn't remember getting. When I called the office about it, they said they gave everyone that assessment through a questionnaire. I do remember filling out a large amount of paperwork.

Some depression drugs have been shown to be no more effective than a placebo and can have serious side effects. Further, it's one more thing for doctors and patients--many in an overburdened system--have to do. This particular drug may even kill you--there's a warning about suicidal thoughts and increased risk of death for certain patients, and weight gain and a sense of restlessness common among people in a study who took the drug. And all they got was a lousy reduction of symptoms. (3)

The article about recommending depression screening made no mention of the other trade-offs involved in adding another step to routine patient visits: more time filling out paperwork for patients, more prescriptions that may or may not do any good, and less time and money for everything else that doctors and patients already have on their plates.


  1. "All Americans Should be Screened for Depression, Panel Recommends" by Andrew M. Seaman. Huffington Post, July 8, 2015.
  2. "FDA Approved New Drug, Rexulti, for Depression, Schizophrenia" by Robert Preidt. July 13, 2015.
  3. Ibid.


Val said...

JHC!!! But talk about diving through the looking glass - last Mon I rushed across town "at ramming speed" (love that analogy; care if I borrow it Lori? ;-) to sit across from my son's psychiatric NP (let's call her Nurse Ratched) - trying to wrest a coherent explanation from her as to WHY she wanted to increase his Seroquel even more (I thought he was on 150 mg but he's actually been on 200 mg & she wanted to increase to 300 mg!!??!!)
7 mos ago, Nurse Ratched explained that she was using the Seroquel to "regulate Z's sleep cycles" - then of course the sedative dosages required the synthetic amphetamine Concerta in the AM in order for Z to be able to wake up & function at school...
A complete nightmare, I tell ya - long story short, I think his father wants to keep Z doped up & compliant to avoid as much teenaged angst as possible; I'm gonna have a major "detox & rehab" program of my own to institute this summer when I finally get Z safely HOME...

Lori Miller said...

Sometimes I think I'm lucky I grew up with parents who took a lassaiz-faire approach to parenting. It kept me off psychiatric drugs. I don't know about prescription medications, but my observation has always been that recreational drug users end up mentally stunted at the age they started using them.

Feel free to repeat any others lines from me or Ben Hur.

Val said...

It's absolutely mind-boggling to me (to the point that I've sputtered & stammered angrily instead of making a coherent argument) that this highly-regarded rehab facility's "solution" consisted of transferring teenagers onto legal/"appropriate" Rx drugs...
(not that I believe that my son was "addicted" to anything - yes, he was experimenting, yes, he was indulging in escapist behavior, but considering his father's abusive behavior & Another Epic Legal Battle against me, not unsurprising!)