Monday, March 23, 2009

Book 27 of 52: Comfortably Numb

I've taken an antidepressant exactly once. I damaged the nerves in my shoulder, and my doctor prescribed something to literally calm my nerves. While the medication was for the nerves in my shoulder, he told me that the drug was also given as an antidepressant and I might feel different the next day -- either hung over or a little bit fuzzy.

The next morning, I woke up and indeed felt fuzzy. I walked to my car to see that someone was literally parked on my bumper. My reaction? A shrug.

Now, I'm not as temperamentally anymore as I was as a teenager, but someone parking ON MY BUMPER? That'd be sure to get my back up, but in the fuzzy state, I just didn't care. It bothered me the entire day, and I never took the medicine again.

Comfortably Numb: How Psychiatry Is Medicating a Nationby Charles Barber is about the place selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (i.e. Prozac, Paxil) has taken in American society -- to the point that 230 million antidepressant prescriptions are written every year.

The best word to describe this book is angry. Barber is angry at Big Pharma, angry at doctors who will write a script as a knee jerk reaction to someone saying he or she is depressed, doctors who take Big Pharma money and gifts and promotions. But while angry, it's still interesting and informative, whether you agree with Barber or not, though I imagine if you don't agree -- and fiercely don't agree -- reading the book will be a different experience than it was for someone like me, who didn't really have an opinion going into things.

I like books that take one topic and open it up and make it accessible to non-specialists. Barber does that here though with a heavy does of editorializing that might turn people off. Still, if you've wanted to know more about the antidepressant industry, give it a read.

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