Monitor those on antidepressants

People's Pharmacy

August 14, 2005|By Joe Graedon and Teresa Graedon | Joe Graedon and Teresa Graedon,King Features Syndicate

My adult son was prescribed Paxil for depression. Around day 13 he slipped into a mood that I had never seen before. He never came out of it. Four days later, he shot himself in the temple with a .22 rifle. He had taken Paxil for 17 days. I hold the Food and Drug Administration and the maker of Paxil responsible for my son's suicide. No one should ever have to look at a son's or daughter's tombstone!

Your story is heartbreaking. On July 1, 2005, the FDA issued the following Public Health Advisory:

Adults being treated with antidepressant medicines, particularly those being treated for depression, should be watched closely for worsening of depression and for increased suicidal thinking or behavior.

Close observation of adults may be especially important when antidepressant medications are started for the first time or when doses for the specific drugs prescribed have been changed.

Adults whose symptoms worsen while being treated with antidepressants, including an increase in suicidal thinking or behavior, should be evaluated by their health care professional.

We can't say whether such warnings would have prevented the tragedy that befell your family. But we hope they will help others avoid such anguish.

I've been suffering with leg cramps for the past few months. They are so painful that they awaken me at about 5 a.m. each day. It's as though the tendons tighten up, starting in the mid-thigh and running down my leg, over the arch of my foot. Anything you can suggest would be greatly appreciated.

Millions suffer from nighttime leg cramps, which can make it hard to get a decent night's sleep. We have collected dozens of remedies over the years, but it is impossible to predict which might help any given person.

Some tell us that calf-stretching exercises before bed are helpful. Others have had success with nutritional supplements like vitamin-B complex or minerals such as calcium or magnesium. Low-sodium V-8 juice is a way to safely boost potassium levels, which may also help.

One remedy some people swear by is to pinch the upper lip between thumb and forefinger for several seconds until the cramp stops.

You have written about pharmacists who refuse to fill birth-control pills for moral reasons. I find this outrageous because many women are prescribed birth-control pills for reasons that have nothing to do with actual birth control. Such hormones are often prescribed for painful menstrual cramps and ovarian cysts, among other problems. For pharmacists to refuse to dispense birth-control pills to women is intrusive and unethical.

This is a fascinating dilemma. Pharmacists who object to dispensing oral contraceptives on religious grounds might find it awkward to quiz a woman about the reason for the prescription. As you point out, there are many uses for birth-control pills that are unrelated to contraception.

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