1/8/2013 4:00 PM ET|
Antidepressant side effect: Debt?
Sterling, Va., resident Elisa-Ruth Nelson was on antidepressants for only nine months, and during that time felt compelled to acquire not only things but also credit cards, especially retail accounts. "They were pretty!" says Nelson, "I amassed so many of them. The Limited, Macy's, Bloomingdales . . . I just did what I wanted. I bought St. John suits and Louis Vuitton. Whatever was in the window, I bought it. If the salesgirl said I looked good -- I bought it."
When she went off the medications, says Nelson, "Miraculously, it was over." Debt remained, though, and, like Honeycutt, Nelson is using a credit counseling agency's repayment plan to deal with it.
Stories like Honeycutt's and Nelson's are not uncommon, says Alesandra Rain, a co-founder of Point of Return, a nonprofit that helps people find a natural way to address their psychological needs through education programs and counseling and which also sells related supplements. (Honeycutt is a member of Point of Return's executive team.) In fact, Rain, too, went on bizarre spending sprees when she was on antidepressants.
"I bought an entire wardrobe of sundresses, and I only wear jeans!" says Rain. "I can't wear heels, yet I bought an entire collection of 3-, 4-, 5-inch heels. With SSRIs, there is no turn-off switch. I bought a T-shirt folder -- not one, but three! It was crazy."
Today, Rain and her organization help others identify the side effects associated with antidepressants. "I hear it all the time -- impulsively buying cars, trading stocks, selling in the stock market," says Rain.
Treat the ailment and remain solvent
If you believe a friend or relative has antidepressant-induced hypomania and is spending, charging or gambling detrimentally, don't simply take away the credit cards. "It will escalate the mood, and if they're bipolar, you risk a bad reaction," says Bacchus. "Ask if you can take them to the doctor. Even the emergency room. They are equipped to handle these situations."
Rain suggests sitting down with the person and calmly asking, "Do you know how much you've changed?" Don't place blame on them, she advises. Instead, you might say, "I looked it up, and overspending and gambling are side effects of your medications. It must be so uncomfortable for you."
Offering hard evidence can be beneficial, says Laurie Campbell of Croton, Ohio. Campbell had been prescribed Paxil for irritable bowel syndrome, and she says her spending was so out of control she drained her 401k because of it.
"If someone has a loved one going through this and you know they were prescribed something because they were depressed, print out the information that is out there," she says. "Be firm and say, 'You don't see what is going on with you, but here's what has happened in the last six months before taking this drug.' Do the tough-love thing. It might have helped me," says Campbell.
And if you identify the problem in yourself? Tell your prescribing doctor that your spending habits have changed and ask if it could be medication-related. A change may be in order. You may also be able to control your own financial actions before or during a hypomanic state. For example:
- Tell trusted friends and family members about the problem. Ask them to tell you if you're sounding or acting unusual, and ask if they would be willing to talk to you before you make large purchases.
- Unsubscribe from retailers' email advertisements.
- Avoid places where you tend to overspend. For example, if you're a "shoe person," do not even enter a shoe store.
- Redirect your energy. Write, garden, clean or contact old friends. Use this time in a positive way until the episode has passed.
The bottom line: Any change in antidepressant use has the potential to send some people into a hypomanic episode. It could be starting the medication, changing the dosage, discontinuing it or even adding an extra cup of coffee to the mix. If you fear the medications might be causing you to make foolish or dangerous financial choices, let your doctor and caring family members know.
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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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