Antidepressants Getty Images News/Joe Raedle
By Nancy Mendelson

These days, antidepressants seem to be more hazardous to one’s health than depression itself. Black-box warnings of suicidal thoughts and other hideous side effects make me wonder if taking this stuff is worth the risk to oneself…and to others.

There’s no way of ever knowing what goes on in a person’s mind in that split second when they decide to crash a plane into the side of a mountain, killing themselves and 150 innocent people, or overdosing on sleeping pills, like my mother did, leaving family and friends riddled with guilt, and a 10-year-old child wondering what she did wrong to make “mommy” go away.

Coincidently, Andreas Lubitz and my mother were each 27 years old when they took their own lives. Both were troubled souls. Both took antidepressants to ease the pain. Both caused immeasurable pain by their actions.

Even though I was a kid and didn’t have the language to articulate what I was feeling, I could sense my mother was disturbed; one minute she’d be hugging me, the next, hitting me. Her behavior was completely erratic, and confused me no end. I remember overhearing conversations about psychiatrists and pills, and that after she’d take one, all the light would go out of her eyes, and she’d sleep a lot. I preferred her mood swings…at least I knew she was alive.

For years after her death, I was told that she never really meant to kill herself, but I guess we’ll never know…although, she did write a suicide note leaving her collection of Frank Sinatra records to her best friend, and me to her older brother (my parents divorced when I was 3) — which I believe shows some intent. In retrospect I think their denial was part of my family’s misguided effort to keep me from offing myself; like mother, like daughter.

I’ll admit to taking diet pills, dropping acid, smoking pot and hash, taking mescaline — all in the name of experimentation and recreation — but I have never taken an antidepressant, no matter how depressed or in despair I have ever felt. Something about them frightens me — perhaps it was the memory of the deadness in my mother’s eyes.

It just seems to me that if we know these insidious medications can lead to thoughts of suicide, why are they still being prescribed?

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