Friday, July 20, 2007

Feedback from Radio 4 Saturday Live interview

Fi Glover and her team have kindly sent me some of the feedback from the interview which I did with them. I am posting it below as it is fascinating to hear other people's stories......

Dear Fi and team….,
Coming Off Antidepressants
I suffer from clinical depression and was on the infamous Seroxat for some seven years in the 1990s.
Getting on to them was a bit tricky, with giddy fits, dry mouth incidents of ‘electric head’, but this was as nothing to getting off them.

They did work to a certain extent, but they took the highs out of ones mood more than they took the lows, and I came to realise I could only deal with my depression if I could feel the whole range of my moods and not have them clouded by Seroxat.

So I came off them. Didn’t refer to my doctor, I just stopped taking them. A very bad thing to do, I learned later.
Coming off them the room would swim about before me I got periods of giddiness such that I could not get out of a chair. I live alone and I was not working at the time, so I just got on with it. My moods went up and down and my emotions were greatly heightened. I listened to the radio a lot and anything with a bit of pathos had me in tears and I reacted strangely to stuff I heard. Desert Island Discs never failed to make me weep!

The worst thing was the ‘electric head’ thing. I only heard the term afterwards but understood what was meant. ‘Electric Head’ are shocks a bit like having an instant hit of extreme pins and needles deep inside the head, with a sort of electric shock crackle in the ears. Alarming, more than painful, but something otherwise unknown in ‘normal’ life.

The whole coming-off-Seroxat experience lasted, for me, about a week to ten days, then I was through it.
I went to see my doctor. He was ‘alarmed’ at the way I’d taken myself off Seroxat, to say the least, but he accepted that I’d done it and let it go.

The controversy about Seroxat (a la Panorama programmes) is that it promotes suicidal tendencies. I dispute this strongly… I felt suicidal whilst on Seroxat. Now I’m off it, I still feel suicidal at times. I’m depressed for Chris’sakes… It makes you suicidal; ‘tis the nature of the beast!

Thanks for the show – I got a mention last week with my Saturday Live – An Audio Duvet. That one’s a bit weak. I like my Saturday Live – It’s a Morning Glory myself!

I came off anti depresseants (Prossac) two and a half years ago after about five years on them.

I suggested coming off to the GP and he had to reluctantly agreed when he saw my determination. I'd had enough of being made to feel mentaly and physicaly inferior by the side effects. I don't think the drugs did anything to help anyway. If anti depressants work, why is there so much depression around the place? I had to do my own research and told the doctor how to help the process such as, prescribing medication in liquid form to make it easier to cut down dose slowly. Also when it comes to small amounts of medication making use of baby spoons or child despensers.

I have never regreted my decision and I imediatly began feeling better having made the decision. find groups or similar people to talk to and barrack the doctor for alternative therapies with no hidden agenda don't let them automaticaly reach for the drug company manual.


Dear Fi
I can tell you with authority that there are 209 grains in every capsule of Effexor (Venlafxine). I know this because I spent 6 months opening capsules and counting them out so that I could reduce the dose by one or two grains per day, in order to get my husband off the dreadful things.

They seemed to help for about a month and then suddenly it was as if he had broken through the mood-containment they initially provide and suddenly, his mood swings up and down became even more extreme. I got used to receiving phone calls from him asking me to come and rescue him from somewhere as he felt unable to move and was terrified he was going to do something sudden like leap in front of a bus.

Stopping the drugs cold made his mood even more unhinged. He started self-harming, cutting his arms, saying it was only thing he could do that made him feel anything at all. He once played noughts and crosses with himself with a knife on his arm. This formerly gentle man would lash out at me at times, dragging me by my collar, tipping food over my head, and even threatening me with a knife.

Long story short, reducing grain-by-grain took 6 months. Even then, his depression through that time was worse than at any other time in his life.

He' doesn't take antidepressants any longer. He's still depressed but at least it's his depression, and he knows his feelings now are genuinely his own, not drug induced.


I have just heard your interview with the lady who suffered PTSD. There are NICE guidelines which explain that anti-depressants are NOT appropriate treatment for PTSD - a course of expert counselling is appropriate, and the NHS are setting up centres that offer this around the country, although there is great ignorance among many GP's regarding the nature of PTSD and the effectiveness of counselling, and, sadly, we have, through our charity, many cases of victims of fatal and serious road crashes simply being prescribed anti-depressants, which can mask symptoms, not aid recovery, and be very difficult to come off. PLEASE ADVISE YOUR LISTENERS THAT THEY SHOULD READ THE NICE GUIDELINES ON THE NICE WEBSITE RELATING TO PTSD IF THEY THINK THEY ARE SUFFERING FROM THIS DEBILITATING CONDITION.


Shock and trauma needs to be processed through the body not the brain. The anti-depressants suppressed your symptoms until you came off them – the shaking and coldness is the body’s natural response to trauma – it is in fact the shock discharging.


Re treatment of people with PTSD
There is at least one very good non-medical intervention, the Rewind Technique, which can be used by trained therapists. It takes minutes to do and is very successful as it works with the brain's memory-forming mechanisms. Unfortunately it is not widely available, and to have it recommended by N.I.C.E involves extremely expensive clinical testing which, as the technique doesn't involve big drug companies, is too expensive to do.

Poeple should read a book called "Prozac Backlash" if they want to know how drug companies have "lost" damaging info on addiction and serious long-lasting side effects caused by their products. We should always remember that these companies ARE NOT OUR FRIENDS - although very useful!

I have been on 3 seperate kinds of anti depressants - the third time because the waiting list for counselling in the area I lived in at the time (Wirral) was over a year long, and I was in such a state that they were worried for my safety. I actually wanted counselling as it was obvious after 2 bouts that the anti depressants were only masking the problem. I ended up being off work for 6 months, as much because the side effects of the pills were so severe with fatigue and disorientation as the depression itself. Subsequently I was taken off the tablets, and received 6 mths counselling after moving area. I have been anti depressant free for a year and a half now, and they help I received has given me different ways to deal with the symptoms when they arise.


I've just been listening to the story of Kirsty's experiences with PTSD after 7/7. You may like to investigate (and to pass on to Kirsty) a relatively new and effective non-pharmaceutical treatment for PTSD that has been developed by the 'Human Givens' school of therapy. Google 'Human Givens' (or 'Mindfields College') and contact Joe Griffin, Ivan Tyrell or Piers Bishop for further information about the 'rewind' method. At first it sounds like some sort of magical procedure, but there is plenty of evidence that it works!


Listening to the sad story of the bad sad effects of anti-depressants, I wonder if anyone has tried alternative medicines? There are so many available now which do not have bad side effects. I have been using homeopathy for more than 20 years and am just now doing an 8 week evening class, which is of course not comprehensive but there are so many remedies according to the precise personal symptoms that under an experienced homeopathic doctor, I'm sure they could find help. I have also done a short course in Bach Flower remedies and maybe some of these could help with expert guidance. I have not heard any discussions about anybodies use of alternative medicines, perhaps it would be interesting to hear other peoples' experiences.

A completely different successful use of alternative medicine was my finding an Alergy expert who was able to test me and successfully prescribe the right diet and herbal pills which cured a very debilitating and excruciating skin itchy rash which I had had for 20 months. I had seen my doctor several times and seen the chief dermatologist at the Jersey Hospital and all they could prescribe was anti-histamines and steroid creams, which just soothed the symptoms slightly and were not good to take as a long term treatment. The dermatoligist wrote an article in which he said that there was a lot that is not known or understood about 'skin' and it is difficult to treat. So I would say try an alergy test with an expert!

I hope this isnt too long for my first email but I do believe in the efficacy of alternative medicines rather than fill myself up with chemicals that are alien to the body. I hope this may be helpful.


Hello Fi Glover and Saturday live team,
I heard with interest your excellent interview with Kirsty, the woman who suffered post traumatic stress disorder after 7/7, and her experience of withdrawal difficulties from her antidepressant medication. At the risk of blowing my own trumpet, I hope you will take note of my latest book and let Kirsty know of its existence.

Although the book addresses the wider condition of depression rather than being specifically concerned with ptsd, I feel confident that she will find useful information and guidance from this modest but reliable book [see attached press release]. Plus, it has great cartoons!

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