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Work Your Body, Work Your Mind

It took me a long time to admit that I wasn’t successfully coping with my depression and anxiety on my own. It took even longer to come up with a plan to fight back against my own...

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Living with Antidepressants

For many young adults who have suffered from depression from a young age, all they know is life under the influence of antidepressant medication. But what do we know about the effects of using these medications for 15 or more years?
 
Richard A. Friedman, M.D., clinical professor of psychiatry at Weill Cornell Medical College in New York, asks this question in this article in today’s New York Times. Unfortunately, there aren’t enough long-term studies examining the effects of antidepressant use. The Food and Drug Administration usually only tests medications in short spurts of time, and something like 97% of studies done on antidepressants show positive results when using any particular drug.
 
So when Friedman’s patient asks if he or she should go off the medication after five years, he is forced to say that since there is a high risk of suicide for those who don't take their meds, and there is little evidence that long-term antidepressant use is bad—and advises children continue the medication as prescribed.
 
Friedman does note he’s seen patients who have an incomplete sense of identity; after being medicated for so long, they aren't sure who they really are. But if a patient is no longer suffering from depression, is that an acceptable side effect? [The New York Times]  

Posted: 4/15/08