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Pills side effects
Pills side effects
A witty NY times essay on the half life of infatuation on the latest pill that is supposed to save us. I say forget the pills and use orgasms to rid one of anxiety. Alcohol also works well to reduce tension and decrease the risk of heart attacks and stroke.
Jagged Little Pills
By LAUREN SLATER
OUR poor pills. I am not sure whether they betray us or we betray them. When it comes to psychotropics, we are all men easily swept off our feet, composing bad love poems, willing to wine and dine at sky-high prices, only to break off our engagement with a stamp and a pout once we see our bride-to-be without her makeup.
The new Ambien uproar – our supposedly safe sleeping pills have been reported to cause amnesia and sleep-disordered states – is just one more example of a pattern so pervasive in the brief and labile history of psychiatric medication that I'm surprised we haven't yet created chemical cures for those mourning their chemical cures.
Our psychotropics seem to go through fairly predictable 20-year cycles, so eerily consistent that at this point we should be able to pinpoint in precisely what year our newest superstar will fumble. What's odd is that we don't. Rather, each time the negative side effects come into view, we act slapped, surprised, as though this were the strangest thing in the world.
One needn't look far to see the footprints. In 1951 the first psychiatric medication was accidentally discovered, concocted from an antihistamine intended to clear clogged nasal passages, and shortly thereafter observed to have a sweetly sedating effect on the tumultuous minds of the insane. Chlorpromazine was its name, and it seemed to be a sort of psychotropic Drano, clearing up the stuffed psyches of schizophrenics. Promoted with great fanfare, it was not until later that its ominous underbelly began to manifest in a series of movement disorders called tardive dyskinesia.
Soon after that, the first antidepressant was produced. Before it killed a few famous folks, iproniazid was heralded by the Manhattan masses as a miracle drug and a "psychic energizer." Of course it didn't take long for it to fall flat on its brand-new face, spiking the blood pressure of its imbibers, some of whom died miserable deaths. Iproniazid was promptly sent to the corner with a dunce hat, and it sat there for the next 50 years or so.
Psychotropics rise to prominence in ways that are distressingly familiar, with pixie dust and promise, making their way into the news media and onto the covers of national magazines. In the 1950's, for instance, Miltown was a superstar, until it was discovered to make mad hatters out of people trying to withdraw. And then, of course, there was Prozac. In 1990, it floated serene and bulbous on the cover of Newsweek, in a sky of Crayola blue. Today that same friendly pill is branded with a black box stating that Prozac can cause suicidal ideation.
Why the 20-year cycle? Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that a new drug has patent protection for about that length of time, after which it loses much of its profit power. Maybe drug companies are highly motivated to quash consumer complaints only until their patents expire. Or perhaps, more simply, 20 years is about how long it takes for nasty side effects to manifest. I like the idea that human hope has a half-life of about 10 years and is fully excreted in two decades, just as the chemical substrates of passion seem to last about four years, which is the point at which anthropologists have observed divorces begin to occur.
While it's fun to speculate on what the 20-year time frame means, it's not fun to find that your best friend, your chemical crutch, has suddenly turned toxic. Given the grave disappointment that often accompanies this turn of events, it behooves us to find a way to discuss our drugs in a language marinated in neither mania nor despair. As long as we approach our chemical cures with this all-or-nothing view, we will be vulnerable to excess and our pills trapped in a plot where there are only heroes and villains.
Medicines are a product of fallible human science and have no place as fashion or fad. They demand a nuanced conversation and continuous caution. If we are smart, we will see that disappointment is built into each drug's birth and is inevitable in its lifetime.
One might be tempted to blame the pharmaceutical companies for our breathless approach to new drugs. Advertising sleep medications with butterflies alighting on upturned palms certainly gives the impression of safety, and more. But for how long can we rail against the predictable profit motive of advertisers?
It is time to say, buyer beware. Every questing singleton on a dating web site understands that profiles are gussied up in the hope of sales. The nature of the game is such that no one writes "loveable, calm swm with occasional halitosis and some anger management issues." And when these traits inevitably emerge, we don't blame the web site.
It is up to us, the consumers, to disregard the hype that too often infuses pharmacological findings – to know that the pill we cradle in our palm may ease our pain, but will just as surely take its toll.