Sunday, October 31, 2010

Catch up blog ... October, basically.

First off, I’m sorry it’s been a while.  I’ve been traveling to this conference in DC for business, then for pure pleasure in NY, and ohmigod the Giants (S.F. Giants!).  But wow, it’s all happened.  This blog is clairvoyant.
What do I mean?
-       “What do Andres Torres and Ian Kinsler have in common?”  Not only are they both medically exempt users of ADHD medications, but they’re both now in the World Series.  As far as this blog is concerned, it might as well be the Ritalin-bowl.  (Called it!).  Also, I heard the announcers again discuss Torres’ baseball success attribution to meds (this time on TBS during the Atlanta series).

-       Also, um … Mad Men!  No, Betty Draper did not develop an addiction to laced household products (abundantly available in the 60’s) but Don did run into Midge, his bohemian artist dalliance from the first season (first episode—Don Draper’s very first affair!), and she developed a heroin habit.  (Called it!)  Kudos to Mad Men for getting a little dark.  Funny how it took 50 years of chiseling away at censors for us to make a critically acclaimed show like this about the 60’s that everybody who seems to remember that time hails as “accurate.”
The DC conference was really cool.  New York was a lot of fun.  So much so that I got a cold (Lohanesque party-induced "exaustion" no doubt).  Now I’m back teaching high school this week and our freshman English reading book is "Catcher in the Rye" pretty much the most badass book I could possibly hope to teach 9th graders.
Oh yeah, and my dissertation?  Travel and poster preparation took me a little bit off schedule, but now I actually sat down with my advisor and made a schedule, so that's a plus.  I had to do a little data analysis for my poster.  This was the first time I've really seen my data since interviewing the subjects themselves, and I must say, I've got some pretty good, pretty juicy stuff.  More to come.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

The depressing side of anti-depressants

It's been a while.  I've been in LA and have a fantastic catch-up blog I'm waiting to post.  In the meantime, I want to share an e-mail I got from a student who, sadly, I'm unable to enroll in my study.  See, I've got all the participants I'll need, so I'm no longer recruiting, but over the past several years, I've peppered campus with my research flyers:

They're quality flyers, and I designed them myself with cues from Wes Anderson movie credits and whatever other random flyers I saw around campus.  They've been successful.  So much so, that I'm still getting calls and e-mails.  Unfortunately I can't take any more people (please don't call or e-mail!), but for those who do, I politely tell them what's up, why I can't enroll anybody else, and surprisingly, this often leads to a conversation:

"Well, can you tell me what you found then?"

"Do you think I should keep taking Concerta?"

"Can you call me if you decide to start recruiting again?"

Since I'm not enrolling anybody, I usually e-mail these students my manuscript (in press) with the first 12 students to enroll.  Usually all I get is a thanks, with little fanfare.  But then I got this.  [I can only show this on my blog because this person is NOT enrolled].

From: XX
Re: Info
Date: Oct, 4, 2010 7:29:31 PM PDT

Thank you for the manuscript!! I am very interested on that topic because I have ADHD, it runs in my family, but my mom taught my siblings and I how to cope with it without medicating ourselves.
Another topic that i was interested on was the effects of depression medications such as Prozac and Zoloft and how easy it is to acquire those types of prescriptions. Last summer my family doctor prescribed me those medications because he taught my migraines was caused by pre menstrual depression because i only get migraines with my period and the side effects of those medications on my body were awful!! Since I dont have depression, I almost killed myself while on those medications because they made me feel like I had symptoms of depression and also made me suffer of panic attacks and anxiety. I was so upset at my doctor for prescribing those medications to me. It was the worst experience I ever had. I just can not believe how a doctor can prescribe those things so easily. Those medications are very dangerous and should not be prescribed just like that. I never suffered from depression so experiencing the feelings that those medications caused me, it made me have a lot compassion for those people who suffer from depression. I also have a lot girlfriends who have prescriptions for Prozac and Zoloft and I really dont think they have depression. They look great! I dont understand how people acquire those prescriptions so easy and why they want those medications?? Well... keep in touch. I will finish reading your manuscript!
Thank you,

It may be tough to conclude anything from this, but here's what I see:

1.  It's a topic that's on a lot of people's minds.
2.  Look how open this young woman is about her experience!  At the onset, people told me to expect to find lots of problems getting students to talk on record.  Not the case.  People want to talk about this and make sense of their experiences with drugs.  This research is a lot easier to do than a lot of people realize.  Students these days are surprisingly candid.  (Especially for $20).
3.  There's something more specific going on here.  Anybody notice how she doubts her friends' depression and use of anti-depressants because "they look great"?  This is either a body-issue-thing or an interesting commentary.  How does one "look" depressed or not-depressed?

There's a lot of research coming out about anti-depressants and how they may be worse for treating depression than placebo.  I'll reference the Newsweek cover feature a few months back on this.  Two out of 53 students in my study used anti-depressants, so while it's not my focus, it's relevant.  Keep posted, and be vary wary of anti-depressants.