1/8/2013 4:00 PM ET|
Antidepressant side effect: Debt?
Medication intended to combat negative feelings can also sometimes contribute to compulsive and reckless money decisions.
Can antidepressant use spur financial flights of fancy?
Millions who suffer from severe depression, anxiety or bipolar disorder find relief with antidepressants. Yet while these medications can dramatically improve the way patients feel and function, they may also cause an unexpected and financially devastating reaction: irrational shopping sprees, atypical gambling jaunts and reckless investment decisions.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that about 11% of people in the U.S. age 12 or older are currently prescribed antidepressants. If you or a loved one is among them, be alert to unusually compulsive or risky financial behavior -- and know what preventive steps to take if the urge is coming on.
Meds affect financial choices
The number of antidepressants on the market today is vast, from selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) with such trade names as Lexapro, Prozac, Paxil and Zoloft, to serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs) including Effexor and Cymbalta.
According to San Diego psychiatrist David Reiss, any antidepressant and stimulant can trigger hypomania, a psychological state of euphoria. And while a patient may experience positive effects such as being confident, creative and outgoing, antidepressants can also contribute to extremely poor financial judgment. Reiss sees many patients through the California Workers Compensation system who have experienced depression due to their injuries and are treated with antidepressants. Among this group, he has noticed a spike in gambling.
"I am now much more aware to listen for and more closely ask how they are spending their time," says Reiss. "Perhaps 20% of the time, people who are limited in their activity by physical impairment and finances will tell me that they go once a week or once a month to local casinos," he says. As a result, they can't meet their expenses and assume losses that their disability income cannot support.
Many are surprised by what they've done after the euphoria passes -- and are shocked and dismayed when they see their credit card bills. "This often triggers guilt and depression," says Reiss.
Grandiose self-perception is also a feature of hypomania, and it, too, can lead to daredevil actions. "They think they can walk into a casino and win a million dollars," says Soroya Bacchus, a Los Angeles psychiatrist. "When you're hypomanic, you can do a lot of things mere mortals can't. Or you think you can, anyway."
Shopping till they drop
In addition to prompting unrealistic and obsessive betting, hypomania also may result in "unrestrained buying sprees" and "foolish business investments," according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.
That was true for Wendy Honeycutt of Bellevue, Texas. She had been prescribed antidepressants after a series of tragic events, including the death of her young son. While medicated, she began to spend and charge recklessly.
"My needs were being met by grabbing a credit card," says Honeycutt. "I ended up with closets full of crap. When you're on those drugs, you don't care. They cause you to be selfish. It doesn't allow you to see yourself though a proper perspective. . . . I would order stuff on eBay and Amazon, and days later it came in the mail, and I didn't remember buying it. By the time it came I didn't want it anymore."
When Honeycutt stopped taking her medication, she was nearly $25,000 in debt.
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This is a poorly written and highly misleading artcle. Your sources of information seem to be just two random physicians, and the anecdotes of a few people (one of which seems to be on the board of a group advocating against the "evils" of psychiatric medications). Sure, antidepressants can lead to hypomania, but this is generally rare with the class of SSRIs. Also, the descriptions of hypomania in your article are more akin to episodes of mania, where grandiostity, poor judgement, and increased energy can lead to over-spending. SSRIs and other antidepressants are generally not used to treat people with Bipolar disorders, epecially type I.
My feeling though, is no matter how much I try to explain and discuss the rationale behind the diagnosis and treatment of mental illness, it will fall on deaf ears. This article, in the guise of a public service, is just fodder for the Mental Illness Deniers and Scientologist alike. It takes the experience of a few people and scares others from seeking the help that they need. Instead of writing an article about the potential (read rare) costs of treating depression, how about addressing the real cost and loss of productivity of an illness that affects some 350 million people world wide.
God's green herb will not cause suicidal thoughts or actions, as do the medications approved of by the FDA.
I don't know if it's the author of this piece or a totally irrational study but, the depression is at the root of the unchecked spending, not the anti-depressants. As quoted in the article, "My needs were being met by grabbing a credit card."
People who suffer depression often have other disorders to cope with as well. Often it is those underlying conditions that cause the depression. A person with ADHD goes through a school system that labels him/her as "retarded", "slow", "difficult". As a result, teachers tend to be dismissive of such students and those students begin to believe the labels put on them. Their grades suffer, in part, because the school system has already written them off. They grow up depressed without even realizing it. This depression, combined with their ADHD, leads them to spend impulsively or gamble impulsively or do a lot of things impulsively in order to cope with the low self-esteem heaped on them by a system that failed them.
A person in a difficult relationship ends up getting divorced. Without realizing it, women begin to by clothes, etc., men begin to drink more, both begin to gamble more than before. Pretty soon, they are putting out far more money than they have. This leads to more depression which, in turn, leads to seeking ways to assuage that depression, hence more spending.
Lose your job? At first you rationalize that you deserve to go out and buy new clothes and a nice dinner out just for putting up with that blankety-blank place for so long. Then, when the unemployment checks come in and you still can't find a job and you start getting more and more "glum", you find new rationales for a splurge here and there until that glumness keeps you reaching for one more 'feel good' moment.
These are just a few examples of the triggers of this kind of problem. The point is, the cause-and-effect rationale in this article is flawed. The spending comes before the anti-depressants not the other way around.
The, "When you're on those drugs, you don't care. They cause you to be selfish," argument is also flawed and is nothing more than another rationalization for uncontrolled behavior. Which, in itself, is yet another side effect of depression.
In truth, however, once you start taking the anti-depressants, it tends to mask the feelings that lead to the behaviors and, therefore, accelerate the behavior. This, in turn, helps to create the upside-down impression of the cause and effect. But the bottom line is, it is the underlying depression, not the drugs, that causes the undesirable behavior. the drugs just don't help the situation as much as the medical world would like to have us believe.
I have been on antidepressants since I was 19, so 8 years and I save up a lot of money. More than anyone in my family who DOES have impulsive spending habits who aren't on drugs -_- Maybe it's because people are stupid? Stop blaming something for your idiocy!
I know several people who suffer from depression & anxiety but due to lack of insurance take no medication what so ever. They also suffer from irrational shopping sprees & poor financial decisions. Usually the spending is a temporary high when feeling exceptionally down at that point in time. Maybe the people who conducted this survey should have thought about the fact that these people may have had these problems due to their depression & anxiety not due to the medications used to treat it. Not a very scientific finding as far as I can tell, but who am I to say. Just a thought.
This article leaves a lot to be desired. Not every depressive should be on anti-depressants. Doctors must work to find the right treatment for each patient. I learned the hard way that psychiatrists play the odds and don't ask key questions to determine what type of depression the patient suffers. About two and a half percent of depressives are bipolar. If a patient suffers mania of any kind, the doctor had better dig deeper. Some bipolars have low highs (hypomania). It's what threw me off since I only knew bipolars had extreme lows (which I had) and green cheese eating highs (which I didn't have). I had hypomanic highs and they were hard to get. In a high, I functioned at what I thought was a normal level. I got things done managed money better. I was put on anti-depressants. I mood was better so I didn't realize I was on the wrong medicine. It didn't stop the crashing, the occasional having two moods at the same time, made me angrier and put me on a roller coaster of fast changing moods called rapid cycling.
Years later I discovered an article on the Internet that said I didn't have to have extreme highs to be bipolar. I read the book "Why am I Still Depressed" by Dr. James Phelps. I wrote down everything I could think of that was linked to my depression. She confirmed what I had learned and put me on a mood stabilizer. It doesn't bring me out of the depression completely but it leveled things off. It stopped the crashing, made me more positive, silenced the angry volcano in my head, and enabled me to get things off my chest.
Is anyone from MSN listening? Be more selective in your sources. Or is it anything that gets people to respond is fair game?
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