Summary:

Paragraphs 1 through 3 read:  "Q: Our house burned down in December 1995.
When my husband went for a blood pressure refill in April 1996, the doc asked how he was doing. "A little depressed," Robert said, and he was put on Prozac."

"Soon I started seeing personality changes, and by fall he was suicidal, having nightmares about death, tremors and feelings like electric shocks. The doctor just kept adding more and more drugs. I read that Prozac could cause the symptoms Robert was experiencing, but when I brought this research to his doctor, he basically said 'nonsense.'"

"The next year my husband attempted suicide six times and was hospitalized in the psych ward three times."

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Watch for side effects from antidepressants
Houston Chronicle
September 28, 2000
Author: JOE GRAEDON, TERESA GRAEDON; King Features Syndicate

Joe Graedon is a pharmacologist. Teresa

Graedon holds a doctorate in medical anthropology and is a

nutrition expert. The People's Pharmacy with Joe and Teresa

Graedon is a call-in show syndicated to many public-radio

stations.
Estimated printed pages: 3
[]

Q: Our house burned down in December 1995.
When my husband went for a blood pressure refill in April 1996, the doc asked how he was doing. "A little depressed," Robert said, and he was put on Prozac.

Soon I started seeing personality changes, and by fall he was suicidal, having nightmares about death, tremors and feelings like electric shocks. The doctor just kept adding more and more drugs. I read that Prozac could cause the symptoms Robert was experiencing, but when I brought this research to his doctor, he basically said "nonsense."

The next year my husband attempted suicide six times and was hospitalized in the psych ward three times. They tried more medications than I can list, but he was depressed and suicidal throughout. When the psychiatrist recommended electric shock treatment, my husband and I realized we had to get him off all the meds or he was going to die, from the drugs or by his own hand.

He went off cold turkey in October of '97. This caused severe side effects, but in about four weeks the worst passed. It took him eight months to get back to the way he was before taking Prozac - never had suicidal thoughts, worked every day and loved his job.

A: Many people find that antidepressants such as Paxil,

Prozac, Zoloft, Celexa and Effexor are lifesavers, lifting them out of a pit of depression. Others report severe side effects.

Nausea, dizziness, anxiety, sexual difficulties and insomnia are not uncommon. Occasionally such medications cause

unbearable restlessness. Some manufacturers maintain that suicidal thoughts are no more likely among patients being treated with such drugs than among untreated depressed people. We have heard many stories like yours, however, especially regarding the difficulty of discontinuing such drugs

suddenly.

Q: I read with great interest a comment on salsa

improving psoriasis. My husband has suffered from this skin condition for 19 years and has tried dozens of prescription creams for it.

The person who wrote you was eating salsa every day. Was it on food or by itself? Any information will be appreciated.

A: The person who first wrote to us about this remedy was not thinking about psoriasis when he first started indulging in salsa on his food. As he graduated from mild to very spicy, he noticed that the cream he used for his skin lesions,

Ultravate, worked much better than usual, and some spots

cleared up without treatment.

Chili peppers contain capsaicin, and capsaicin creams are sometimes helpful for psoriasis. We theorized that this is why the salsa worked. After reading this story, another reader tried this approach:

"For more than 30 years I have been plagued with psoriasis. Then I added salsa, Cajun-style foods and cayenne pepper

capsules to my diet. This appears to have wiped out my skin disease within a few weeks. My legs, arms, body and face have been smooth and clear for six months now. The only remnants are red knuckles and elbows. I hope you will tell other

psoriasis sufferers."

Q: After using Preparation H for several days, my

blood pressure went to 206 over 98, and I ended up in the emergency department.

Later, I read in your column that someone else had experienced the same problem. My doctor was skeptical, to say the least, so I lent him the clipping. Now he can't find it to return it.

Would you write about this again? I never had high blood

pressure before in my life. It is always around 130 over 65. A: Preparation H was reformulated several years ago, and

now contains phenylephrine. This compound constricts blood vessels, which can cause an elevation in blood pressure.

There is a warning on the label: "Do not use this product if you have heart disease, high blood pressure, thyroid disease, diabetes, or difficulty in urination due to enlargement of the prostate gland unless directed by a doctor." Your experience suggests some healthy people also should be wary.

Q: Months ago, there was a letter about Cetaphil

working for jock itch. Thank you! I am a young woman, and that advice helped me greatly. For minor external itch, apparently female as well as male, it works wonders.

A: Propylene glycol, one of the ingredients in Cetaphil,

has antifungal properties. Perhaps that is why it worked.
Edition:  2 STAR
Section:  HOUSTON
Page:  3
Column:  FOCUS: PEOPLE'S PHARMACY
Record Number:  3245440

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Watch for side effects from antidepressants