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Friday, January 20, 2012

Adverse effects of an anti-depressant: A complete 180 degrees

The story of Peter Andrew Sacco, PhD:
I had a client I was seeing a couple of years ago who came to me after seeing a psychiatrist. The individual was diagnosed with obsessive compulsive disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, depression as well as aspects of personality disorders which included borderline personality disorder as well as dependent personality disorder. This client had been referred to me from a colleague/friend knowing I am a cognitive behavioural psychotherapist who also specializes in relationships, addictions, anger management and stress management. By the time I saw this client, they were in a suicidal state.

After doing a case history, I could not believe what I had witnessed. The client who was in their late 30's had no history of chronic or clinical depression and no history of personality disorders. Rating them based on global functioning and changes, I looked to major life events or changes in the last 6-12 months. Lo and behold, they had recently gone through a relationship break-up (not their choice), a recent career change (actually a better one, but one that was extremely stressful and they were learning on the job training) and some other familial upheavals. They never had a history of chronic depression, anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) or violence of any sorts.

When I inquired as to when the depression and suicidal tendencies, as well as intense OCD and anxiety reached their highest levels, the answer was two weeks before coming to see me. They had been to see the psychiatrist who put them on anti-depressants, which they should not have been on for situational depression/grief, and these meds had provoked not only greater episodes of depression, but psychotic thoughts as well. The client (the responsibility falls on them for this aspect) was consuming alcohol while on the wrongfully prescribed meds. Upon getting off the meds, engaging in cognitive behavioural counselling (CBT) and stopping their consumption of alcohol, his mood state did a complete 180 degrees!

Peter Andrew Sacco, Ph.D., is a psychology professor and author of Sweet Acceptance Vs Bitter Resistance. You can email him at psacco1@cogeco.ca.

For professional patient advocacy stories in mental health, see Chapter 6 of Ken Farbstein's book, Getting Your Best Health Care: Real-World Stories for Patient Empowerment. Thanks to Monica Foster and Nicola Williams of Ascot Media Group for setting this up.

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