Side effects may include: Fever, chills, runny nose, drowsiness, dizziness, upset stomach, dry mouth, fainting, vomiting, hives, increased sweating, unusual swelling, unusual bruising, difficulty breathing, insomnia, impaired coordination, blurred vision, vivid nightmares, blistered and peeling skin, diarrhea, constipation, black or bloody stools, overactive bladder, severe headaches, severe ringing in the ears, severe hair loss, severe weight loss, severe weight gain, loss of sexual desire, loss of sexual ability, irreversible memory loss, hallucinations, panic attacks, hyper-aggressiveness, lung damage, liver damage, permanent brain damage, chest pain, upper-GI bleeding, gynecological bleeding, suicidal thoughts, suicidal attempts, successfully completed suicides, violent outbursts, disfiguring tics, seizures, heart attacks, stroke, and sudden death.
Oh—and sometimes antidepressants can make you more depressed.
But mostly they’re safe.
After all, a doctor prescribes them, right? You can go to a shabby city street corner and buy heroin or crystal meth, or you can go to your family practitioner and get a scrip for OxyContin or Adderall. The latter route is definitely safer, so much that it probably engenders a dangerously false sense of security amid the countless Americans who have no idea what to do with their emotional pain. Even if you get addicted, it’s all perfectly legal and therefore is probably not even a sin.
Ted “Unabomber” Kaczynski wrote of “a society that subjects people to conditions that make them terribly unhappy, then gives them drugs to take away their unhappiness….In effect, antidepressants are a means of modifying an individual’s internal state in such a way as to enable him to tolerate social conditions that he would otherwise find intolerable.”
A Zoloft TV commercial from a few years ago showed a sad-faced little bubble moping along under a dark cloud until it gulps down some Zoloft, the cloud evaporates, and the now-happy bubble bounces along with its cheerfully chirping bluebird friend. There was a soft, lobotomizing totalitarianism to the image that evoked an utterly passive and defeated nation eagerly gobbling what are basically pills to counteract modern reality’s grim, everlasting hangover.
There is no area of medicine less scientific and more abuse-prone than the study and treatment of the human mind. One thinks of Soviet doctors glaring behind face masks and wielding huge dripping syringes to stab people who don’t think correctly. Control over minds is the essence of political power.
Psychiatric medications are like welfare assistance for the mind: They seem to provide short-term benefits but destroy the self and render one placidly dependent upon higher, presumably wiser powers.
But it’s best not to be so paranoid, to just relax and let your meds work like tiny little shiny knives on your brain. If you think anything seems shady about this sudden explosion of pills, well, they’ll soon have a name for that particular mental disorder. They’ll have a pill for it, too.
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