Prozac a fake?

The big news today is about Prozac. The granddaddy of modern anti-depressants, Prozac has been around in some form or another since 1972. But today a study was released claiming that Prozac is no more effective than a placebo.

I’m sure this will provide lots of ammunition for everyone that thinks drugs are basically evil. Personally, I recognize the two edged sword which is drugs. At the same time, though, amongst pastors it is WAY more likely to be under-medicated or not medicated at all than to be overmedicated.

So I don’t find this announcement as good news at all. I think it will contribute to a lot of people not getting the help they need, whether it be medical or alternative.



Dread vs. Guilt

I have posted on the travails of shut-in call a number of times, specifically here, and here. I’m not sure if I’m a bad pastor or what, but I have just never really enjoyed shut-in calls. Really it is more the concept of shut-in calls that bugs me more than the reality of them. I generally like the people whom I visit and commune. I don’t have a problem with them. Really the difficulty lies in the emotional drain which may go along with the visit, as well as the time, etc.

So this morning I was faced with two competing avoidance issues: Continue reading Dread vs. Guilt

Mental Retardation and Mental Illness: Who are we?


Yesterday I went to the local gym/family center type place with my wife and the kids. There isn’t anything really unusual about that, except the fact that I couldn’t have done it a year ago. But what struck me this time was that there was a group of mentally retarded young people (teens and twenties) there at the same time.Like most people, I am basically afraid of the mentally retarded. I see them, and while I may sympathize with them on a theoretical level, the absolute last thing I want is to interact with them. They are loud (or quiet), they say and behave in unpredictable ways (like children), and they look strange (like most of us in one way or another).

What was different this time was that one young man had his fingers stuck in his ears the whole time. he walked around the pool, looking, obviously uncomfortable or even afraid of the noise that went on around him. I am no expert, but I believe that one of the many common traits that often go with various forms of mental retardation is difficulty processing sights and sounds.

But this time I knew how he felt. Continue reading Mental Retardation and Mental Illness: Who are we?

Suicide up among those in midlife

The NY Times just posted an article about the rather dramatic rise in suicide rates among those 45-54 years old.  It went up 20 percent in men and 31 percent in women in that age group.

Suicide is an ongoing problem in our culture.  We live in a world where the expectation of a perfect life is almost assumed.  On top of that, the increase of medications and other factors has made suicide rates almost epidemic in the United States.

How is a Christian to handle this?  Well, for starters, we do understand that suicide is a sin (5th commandment), but it is only a sin.  Jesus died for even that.  The notion of categorically condemning anyone who commits suicide is simple not in keeping with the Gospel.   Obviously some may commit suicide as the end of despair over the faith.  Others may do so because the pain becomes overwhelming.  For many, we never know the reasons for suicide.

I am saddened to hear of this trend, and will have to spend some time thinking about it.  Why the rise in this age group?  What has changed over the last decade in the United States that would warrant such a change?

God be merciful to us, as we remember those who have taken their own lives.  I have considered the same in dark hours of the night.  But God is merciful, and has spared me from that fate.  May it be so for one and all.


One Down, Two to Go, and Panera

I’ve been off clonazepam for a week now, and things seem to be going pretty well. It seemed to help me in the past with stressful situations, excessive noise, and either visual or verbal clutter. After a week, I seem to be able to manage these things fairly well.

One of the signs for me that things were starting to resemble normalcy was Panera. I love Panera. Half of my sermons are written at Panera. But that has not been the case for some time. I just haven’t been able to handle the hustle and bustle one finds there. It’s really kinda driven me crazy.

So Monday I went to Panera, and after being there 45 minutes, I noticed that I wasn’t having the huge desire to run and hide. I know, that sounds a little silly, but it’s true. Sometimes victories may be found in very small things. Being able to drink a cup of coffee in peace, for example.

Hopefully getting of Welbutrin will go s smoothly. But we’ll try one step at a time for now…


The Snow Queen

As I was digging around online today, musing on the level of winter weather we’ve had this year, I ran across an article on Hans Christian Anderson’s classic fairy tale, The Snow Queen.

The author of the article uses the fairy tale of the Snow Queen as a metaphor for depression. I won’t recount the story, but it is a very interesting interpretation.

It’s a great article. I often am intrigued by how regular themes of depression and anxiety appear in literature, even children’s literature.

Can any of the readers here think of any other fairy tales that may apply?


Depression and Grapefruit

Just say no to grapefruit

I remember when I first starting taking anti-depressants and anti-anxiety medication that I was told I couldn’t eat grapefruit anymore. While this didn’t leave me suicidal, it certainly puzzled me then as it does now.

So in the interest of the depressed grapefruit lovers everywhere, here are a few articles that examine the issue:

Grapefruit and Drug Interactions

Grapefruit May Sabotage Meds

Grapefruit Juice and Medications: A Potential for Adverse Events

Basically grapefruit has a bad interaction with a drug metabolizing enzyme called the CYP 3A4 enzyme. It makes it so that effectiveness of certain medications is drastically reduced.

Why grapefruits and not other citrus? I don’t know. But apparently, depression and grapefruit don’t mix.