Anti-Depressant Drugs Can Cause Suicidal Thoughts


Last week I went to a psychiatrist for help with a high level of anxiety . He prescribed  a low dose Lexapro, an antidepressant and anti-anxiety drug.  My appointment ran for 1 1/2 hours and covered my background.  He diagnosed me with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) caused by the suicide of my husband a year and a half ago and by childhood physical abuse and neglect. 

I believe this is the correct diagnosis.  However the drug is the wrong drug.  I started having suicidal thoughts within 5 days.  I read the literature that says the drug can cause suicidal thoughts in people less than 24 years old.  The pharmacist I spoke with said that while it is rare the drug can trigger suicidal thoughts in older people as well. I sent an email to the psychiatrist who responded  with questions about what I had done to develop new interests.  I reminded him that I have plenty of interests and am well-disciplined in keeping up a daily regimen of activities.  I questioned whether he knew which patient he was emailing. He sent me another email which did not address the possibility that the drug was causing the problem.  Yesterday I cancelled my next appointment and went off the drug.  This morning I am already having fewer suicidal thoughts.  I believe that this is an example of a serious problem within the mental health profession. 

I went to this psychiatrist because he recommended by a psychiatric case worker who was sympathetic to my having been forcibly sent to the hospital by a doctor when I asked for an antidepressant drug a few weeks ago and although I admitted to suicidal thoughts I stated I had no intention of following through with the act.  The case worker told me that competent psychiatrists no longer take insurance and I would have to self pay.   Obviously this is not true of all psychiatrists who take insurance but the ones that I have had under medicare were clearly burned out and not interested.  They were unreachable in a crisis.  So I thought I would spend a precious $250 to see a private one.  I would have to say he was just as burned out as the medicare psychiatrists.

Perhaps the problem is that the profession is trying to treat a medley of problems with drugs.  I think that the primary cause of mental problems is probably spiritual.  Drugs may offer a bridge of support to the patient while therapy and spiritual guidance  have a chance to work.  However, in the last 20 years insurance companies have decided to reimburse psychiatrists for drug treatment only.  Any therapy is left to social workers who are much less trained.  These workers are perhaps competent to moderate in couples therapy and problems that are amenable to practical solutions.  This leaves people with serious disorders with no real alternative for help with resolving deep issues.

Since I am a Christian I have support unavailable to many patients.  Prayer definitely helps me through crises.  I just wish that I could find help in the mental health community that wasn’t outright hostile or simply concerned about avoiding law suits. This is realistic fear for mental health professionals since patients are often eager to sue and lawyers are certainly eager to oblige them. I think only a complete overhaul of the system can remedy the situation.

Detroit 7 Year Old Commits Suicide


A reader sent me the following a news release about this story :

May 24, 2012 at 7:47 pm

Detroit boy, 7, who died was depressed, mom says

  • By Oralandar Brand-Williams, George Hunter and Christine Ferretti
  • The Detroit News

Detroit— The mother of a 7-year-old boy found hanging in his bedroom Wednesday told police her son had been depressed over the separation from his dad and bullying by schoolmates.

The boy was discovered by his 14-year-old sister hanging from a bunk bed by a fabric belt at the family’s home in the 700 block of Pingree near New Center.

The sister, looking through a keyhole of the boy’s bedroom, saw the child hanging. She summoned her mother, who quickly grabbed him and held his body upwards “to relieve the stress of his body weight” as a neighbor removed the belt from around his neck, according to police.

The mother told police the boy was bullied at school because he was being raised in a mostly female household. Neighbors said he was the only boy among his mom’s four daughters.

Detroit Police Chief Ralph Godbee said authorities are continuing their investigation, although they suspect suicide.

“The report from my officers indicates bullying may have been the genesis of this, or had a connection,” Godbee said Thursday. “To a person, it’s difficult to comprehend a 7-year-old planning a suicide like that, so we’re keeping all possibilities open. We haven’t come to a final conclusion on anything, and are waiting until we do, but preliminarily, that’s what we’re going on. I spoke to homicide, and they won’t leave any stone unturned. We’re going to investigate this fully.”

While results are pending from the autopsy completed Thursday, a neighbor whose child played with the boy said there was no sense anything was wrong with the youngster.

Tina Garrett, a neighbor across the street, said the little boy played with her daughter, 8, as recently as Wednesday.

“He was a bubbly little boy. He went back in the house. He seemed to be OK,” Garrett said Thursday.

The child attended University Preparatory Academy in Detroit. “We’re diligently looking into everything,” Sgt. Eren Stephens, spokeswoman for the Detroit Police Department said Thursday. “On the surface, it appears to be a suicide.”

Schools officials refused comment on the incident, as did family members. Garrett said the little boy often played with her daughter, riding up and down the street on his bike.

Garrett said she had to explain to her daughter what happened to her friend.

“She cried so bad last night; she didn’t want to go to sleep,” she said. “I told her, ‘If someone bullies you, don’t get depressed. Come talk to me so we can solve it.'”   

Kevin Epling, who advocated for the passage of the state’s first anti-bullying statute, said it’s a growing problem that students are being confronted with daily.  “A lot of adults think it’s not that big of an issue or no worse than it was when they were in school,” said Epling, who lost his 14-year-old son, Matt, to a bullying-related suicide in 2002. “It’s a totally different environment today in schools. There are a lot more pressures at younger ages on students. We as adults need to understand that it’s a different world.”

Epling said Thursday he’s “very saddened” by the boy’s death, but said it’s too early to make assumptions.

“We need to step back and wait for the information to come in,” said Epling, who is also co-director of Bully Police USA, a grass-roots anti-bullying nonprofit. “Right now the family needs the community’s support, especially the boy’s friends need support and guidance on how to deal with a loss and how the school needs to deal with the loss.”

Epling added he’s not heard of any suicides in children this young in the area.

“This is really the low-end of the scale that we’ve lost someone this young,” he said. “We have to really figure out what was going on in this young man’s life and draw the best conclusions we can without jumping ahead of the game.”

Detroit City Council member Saunteel Jenkins, who has introduced an anti-bullying ordinance for the city of Detroit said, “For any child who thinks their only option is death, it’s heartbreaking (and) devastating.”

Jenkins added: “It just bring tears to my eyes to think about what that family is going through and what that baby was going through. Bullying, in general, is a difficult issue that can be dealt with. It takes everybody being on board and putting forth the effort to stop bullying. Fortunately for this chief, it is a priority.”

News staff writers Darren Nichols and Josh Katzenstein contributed.

Why Children Commit Suicide


Children aren’t yet capable of long-term thought.  Immediacy is the entire world of the child.  The leading causes of suicide in children are child abuse by parents and bullying by schoolmates and others.  The lack of acceptance of a child is devastating to their developing a sense of who they are.   Often a child feels the only way out is through killing themselves.  Often the parents are surprised and shocked at the childs death saying they had no idea that the child was unhappy or not accepted at school.  Of course if the parent is the abuser of the dead child often they feel the child is to blame because they weren’t able to take a kidding or they were bad kids who just couldn’t take the discipline the child had coming.

I first tried suicide when I was 12.  In the early 1950’s child suicide was unheard of.  Somehow I found some pills and took them.  No one put it together that I had taken pills and they thought my unconsciousness was caused by some physical problem.  I was unconscious over a week and when I awoke I was startled to find I was alive.  I told the nurse what I had done not realizing that no one knew I had tried to kill myself.   My parents sent me to a  psychiatrist who thought I was a juvenile delinquent ( the term of that time).  He hospitalized me and gave me over twenty shock treatments.  He never spoke to me.  The nurse took me into the treatment room and would strap me down and the doctor would come in and turn on the shock machine.  All that happened was that I became more alienated from the world.  No one knew that my father beat me several times a month with his fists or that my mother ridiculed me at every turn.  I was the outcast of the family.  The sad thing was that no one ever asked if I was abused.

I speak of this not to deride my parents but so that children and hopefully their parents can understand that the child is not the problem.  Rather the problem existed within the parents before the children were born.  Being the target of abuse makes the child feel worthless.  Children assume that if the parent abuses them it is because they deserve it.  One response to the parents abuse is suicide.  It is an attempt to please the parents by getting rid of their problem, the child herself.  Children need someone to tell them that they are not the problem.  The parents or the children bullying them at school are the problem. 

 One good thing came of the my suicidal episode, my father rarely beat me after that.  My mother’s and sister’s disdain escalated and I was humiliated daily.  I didn’t attempt suicide again until I was 16.  Another failure followed by several other attempts.  Finally at age 20 several years after leaving home I decided this was going nowhere and that I would never attempt suicide again.  I started college and didn’t look back.  I put myself through college and graduated with a degree and a career in math.  I invited my parents to my graduation and they came.  I have spent the last 40 years forgiving them which is a testament to my weakness not their wickedness.  They were just doing to me what had been done to them.  My father was from a brutal home and my mother was unhappy being my mother.  They were atheists and their view of the world was survival of the fittest. 

My mother startled me one of the last times I saw her.  She had a letter from Billy Graham.  When I looked at her she just said I didn’t know anything about her.  Indeed.  I do hope she is in heaven.  That while she would never reconcile with me she reconciled with God.  Nothing would make me happier than to greet her in heaven knowing that God had redeemed  our whole relationship.

Mental Illness Is Real And Can Be Treated


Mental Illness Can Be Treated

Several of the comments I have received indicate the writers do not believe that bi-polar illness a real illness. Some have written that they were diagnosed with bi-polar illness and that the prescribed medicine made them suicidal and when they got off the meds the suicidal ideation went away. I am sure if there is a misdiagnosis this can happen. These are powerful medications and if a person is misdiagnosed these medications can certainly bring on a variety of symptoms.
In the only case I have extensive experience with that of my husband there is little doubt that he had a very severe mental illness. His father also had this terrible illness. Rich’s father killed himself in 1969 before any of the medications for bi-polar illness had been invented. Lithium was being used in Europe but was banned in the US at the time of Rich’s father’s death.
Rich had a deep desire to not take the medication. Several times he tried to get off them with disastrous effects. Each time he had to be hospitalized and it took months to get the meds back into balance. My husband was always good about taking his meds and I guess I can thank his obsessive compulsive disorder for that. Many people with this illness refuse to take the medications when they are in the manic stage ending in hospitalization or suicide attempts or worse.
On the other side of this issue The American Psychiatric Association is currently considering classifying grief as a mental illness. This is medical malpractice. Grief is a normal condition of people who suffer great loss. However depression is a serious condition and though grief may resemble depression there is a world of difference. Depression changes the brain’s chemistry and recovery without some kind of intervention is rare. With grief however there is a natural healing of the pain as time passes and the person comes to terms with their loss resulting in a return to their normal personality. This can be a matter of months or even years.
In my own case I think the prolonged grief I have gone through was caused in part by the length of time I cared for my sick husband. Over 17 years of debilitating mental instability took its toll on me as the caregiver.
I think the suicidal thoughts and depression were something that could have been helped by a good therapist which I didn’t have available at the time they began. When in the course of blogging I talked about issues that turned out to be causing the depression and suicidal thoughts I was released from those thoughts by the very act of bringing them out in the open. Had I gotten a prescription for anti-depressants then I think the symptoms would have been masked by the medication and the problems would still be unresolved.
Prayer helps with this process but does not replace good medicine. If you are dealing with someone who has bi-polar disorder or severe depression or schizophrenia don’t hesitate to get them the medical help they need. You may save their lives or extend them by years. God expects us to use ordinary means to help those we love who are sick. If it were a heart attack or a broken leg you would surely get them medical help. So too with severe mental illness, don’t wait get the help now.

Our Lives Depend on the Kind of Thoughts We Nurture


Elder Thadeus

Last week, while hiking in the Sandia Mountains, my blood sugar fell to really low levels. I would guess it was under 50. I became really shaky and weak and while walking a trail that was full of small rocks, called scree, I fell several times. My feet would shoot out from under me and I fell on my tailbone and lower back. The low blood sugar was caused by eating insufficient carbohydrates before and during the hike. Normally I carry a candy bar with me and some nuts but this day I brought only the nuts.
I was so weak I didn’t know if I could walk out. I had several miles of treacherous switchbacks to go. Making it worse was that I had my dogs with me and I knew that if called for help the ambulance wouldn’t allow me to bring the dogs with me. The dogs would probably end up in the pound. I was unwilling to put them through that experience.
I started to panic as I considered all these dire outcomes. Then I thought of what Elder Thadeus said, “Our life depends on the kind of thoughts we nurture.” My mind instantly cleared as I thought of all God’s promises in his Word. I rememered that he is always with me and the panic left. I was able to continue walking out. Although what should have been an hour and a half walk turned into a very painful 4 hours walk. I kept my head. I told myself that while it was extremely unpleasant to be so weak and fall so often, I could survive it. And I did. I offered my sufferings to Christ and thought about his thirst on the cross. Certainly my ordeal was nothing in comparison.
This experience made me think about having worked with a cognitive therapist in the past. The main idea of cognitive therapy seems intuitive: Thoughts precede emotions. So to heal the emotions change the thoughts. I never understood why this process didn’t seem particularly effective for me. Over time my thoughts got no less negative.
So why was I able to change my thoughts this time where I was unable to in the past using the tools of cognitive therapy? The key seems to be that without God, fear of the world and future events is pretty realistic. Only if there is a God who is intimately involved in my life can I trust that no matter what happens God is with me. Without the knowledge of God’s love and good will toward me changing my thinking is just a form of positive thinking with no basis in reality.
I know that God works all things for the good of those who love him. It isn’t that bad things don’t happen to those who love God but knowing that no matter what happens God will use if for both my good and the good of others is what enables me to push on through. My experience in the woods was different because I knew God was with me.
Where cognitive therapy didn’t help, now I am able to turn my thoughts to the things of God. I turn to his word and to his promises and these change the negative emotions because they are founded in what God has said and promised. I believe it because whenever I trust his word and promises he comes through for me in a way I could never have foreseen. So it is reasonable to trust him because it is not presumption it is relying on his Word.
God has been teaching me that as I think so I will be. If I allow myself to feel defeated or fear the future my life becomes a boiling pot of confusion and I cannot focus my mind. If at the first moments of fear I turn my mind to the things of God then my mind calms down and lets me pray I am able to take a reasonable course of action that God gives to me.

“Our Life Depends on The Kind of Thoughts We Nurture”


Elder Thadeus

Last week, while hiking in the Sandia Mountains, my blood sugar fell to really low levels. I would guess it was under 50. I became really shaky and weak and while walking a trail that was full of small rocks, called scree, I fell several times. My feet would shoot out from under me and I fell on my tailbone and lower back. The low blood sugar was caused by eating insufficient carbohydrates before and during the hike. Normally I carry a candy bar with me and some nuts but this day I brought only the nuts.
I was so weak I didn’t know if I could walk out. I had several miles of treacherous switchbacks to go. Making it worse was that I had my dogs with me and I knew that if called for help the ambulance wouldn’t allow me to bring the dogs with me. The dogs would probably end up in the pound. I was unwilling to put them through that experience.
I started to panic as I considered all these dire outcomes. Then I thought of what Elder Thadeus said, “Our life depends on the kind of thoughts we nurture.” My mind instantly cleared as I thought of all God’s promises in his Word. I rememered that he is always with me and the panic left. I was able to continue walking out. Although what should have been an hour and a half walk turned into a very painful 4 hours walk. I kept my head. I told myself that while it was extremely unpleasant to be so weak and fall so often, I could survive it. And I did. I offered my sufferings to Christ and thought about his thirst on the cross. Certainly my ordeal was nothing in comparison.
This experience made me think about having worked with a cognitive therapist in the past. The main idea of cognitive therapy seems intuitive: Thoughts precede emotions. So to heal the emotions change the thoughts. I never understood why this process didn’t seem particularly effective for me. Over time my thoughts got no less negative.
So why was I able to change my thoughts this time where I was unable to in the past using the tools of cognitive therapy? The key seems to be that without God, fear of the world and future events is pretty realistic. Only if there is a God who is intimately involved in my life can I trust that no matter what happens God is with me. Without the knowledge of God’s love and good will toward me changing my thinking is just a form of positive thinking with no basis in reality.
I know that God works all things for the good of those who love him. It isn’t that bad things don’t happen to those who love God but knowing that no matter what happens God will use if for both my good and the good of others is what enables me to push on through. My experience in the woods was different because I knew God was with me.
Where cognitive therapy didn’t help, now I am able to turn my thoughts to the things of God. I turn to his word and to his promises and these change the negative emotions because they are founded in what God has said and promised. I believe it because whenever I trust his word and promises he comes through for me in a way I could never have foreseen. So it is reasonable to trust him because it is not presumption it is relying on his Word.
God has been teaching me that as I think so I will be. If I allow myself to feel defeated or fear the future my life becomes a boiling pot of confusion and I cannot focus my mind. If at the first moments of fear I turn my mind to the things of God then my mind calms down and lets me pray I am able to take a reasonable course of action that God gives to me.

Hiking in New Mexico – Correct Blog Address


Boo Is The Better Hiker

Sorry about the confusion. The addressof my new blog is http://www.newmexicohiking.wordpress.com
I created three blogs before I got this one set up properly. Used the address of one that didn’t work in my posting about the new blog.