1 DR. PINE: Okay. I'll go to the next
2 one. The next speaker is Erin Crowley.
3 MS. CROWLEY: I flew here from Chicago
4 with my brother and aunt to share my mother's,
5 Kathleen Crowley's, story.
In late October 2003,
6 my mother was a mentally healthy, vibrant woman.
7 Ten short weeks later, my mother committed suicide.
8 Those 10 weeks tell the story of a woman whose
9 mental and physical health deteriorated at a
10 shocking rate on antidepressants.
11 In late October, my mother approached her
12 general practitioner because she had been
13 experiencing anxiety about selling and moving from
14 her home of 32 years.
15 Her doctor prescribed Lexapro. After
16 four weeks on the medication, my mother
17 discontinued use of her own accord because she was
18 experiencing insomnia; had lost 15 pounds; and, in
19 her own words, preferred anxiety to the agitated
20 mania she experienced on the medication.
21 Over Thanksgiving, just one week after
22 she stopped Lexapro, I noticed she seemed overly
1 anxious and thin, and I suggested she see a
2 psychiatrist.
3 My mother resisted, explaining she felt
4 better before the Lexapro and was concerned a
5 psychiatrist would suggest medication. She feared
6 she could not tolerate the side-effects. On
7 December 10, still struggling with insomnia, she
8 did consult a psychiatrist who prescribed RemeronR,
9 explaining it should help her sleep.
10 The psychiatrist asked her if she was
11 suicidal. Her response was, according to the
12 psychiatrist after her death, "No, it's not in that
13 category."
14 After beginning Remeron, my mother's
15 anxiety worsened drastically. She complained the
16 medication made her feel wired, would go days at a
17 time without any sleep whatsoever, and lost an
18 additional 15 pounds. She diligently stayed on the
19 Remeron, however, because her psychiatrist had
20 assured her that it should kick in, in three
21 weeks.
22 Upon coming home for Christmas, I could
1 not believe the sudden change in my mother. She
2 was no longer just anxious. She had completely
3 transformed into an emaciated woman who paced the
4 floors, picked her skin, barely slept, and
5 struggled to perform the simplest tasks like
6 cooking a meal.
7 The mother I had known for 29 years who
8 went on daily walks, had a full social calendar,
9 and always worked now avoided leaving the house,
10 stopped returning phone calls, and had decided to
11 quit her job because of her extreme agitation. This
12 drastic change literally happened between
13 Thanksgiving and Christmas.
14 On January 2, only her second appointment
15 with the psychiatrist, her psychiatrist instructed
16 my mother to stop taking Remeron immediately and
17 prescribed Effexor. Six days later, she hung
18 herself. She left no note and never expressed any
19 suicidal thoughts to anyone.
20 One week before her death, convinced the
21 medication was causing my mother's extreme
22 agitation, I went online to research Remeron. The
1 only information I found assured me Remeron was
2 safe and would kick in after an adjustment period.
3 If my family had any idea that some
4 patients simply cannot tolerate the side-effects
5 and can become suicidal on antidepressants, we
6 never would have encouraged my mother to stick it
7 out. Suicide was not on her radar screen until
8 medication was introduced to her.
9 (Applause.)
10 DR. PINE: Thank you.