Recent research has revealed that selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) such as Paxil and Prozac are only effective in treating patients with severe depression. These drugs are expensive and frequently prescribed to patients with all levels of depression, many of whom receive their health coverage through Medicaid or Medicare. If the research holds true, and pharmaceutical companies are knowingly marketing essentially ineffective drugs, a False Claims Act could be made in instances when government funds were used to pay for the medication.
A study published in the Journal of American Medical Association found that using antidepressants in patients with mild to moderate depression was essentially no better than using a placebo pill. The research, which examined the results from six antidepressant trials that included mild and moderate cases of depression, revealed that the drugs were only effective in patients with very severe forms of the mental health disorder. Though often excluded from industry-sponsored trials, patients with mild depression are often the ones who seek out professional help, though it is unknown exactly how many patients on antidepressants have less severe forms of the disease. However, one study cited by researchers revealed that approximately 71% of patients looking to treat their depression had a milder form.
I wanted to use the above info to preface my experience with Prozac. While it was a short experience, only lasting about 6 months and was started for a very specific purpose (to secure housing while I was homeless); I understand this will still be seen as the CAUSE of my TI experience by some quarters; while they will conveniently probably discount the long & documented history of the US government engaging in this kind of covert & illegal experimenting on ‘citizens’.
Ok, so the back story: So this was around 2008 and I was homeless in LA, navigating the bureaucratic nightmare that is the homeless ‘hustle’ in LA. Keep in mind, that LA is the U.S.A. ‘Homeless Capitol’, having the largest population in the country, of men, women and children with no permanent, residential address. If as many who journey to the LA area for vacation to Disneyland; took an alternate route to downtown’s infamous ‘Skid Row’; I’m sure most of the images we unthinkingly associate with LA of endless beaches, beautiful people and palm trees would quickly dissipate. Forever. The first time I ventured into this area, driving..I was stricken with grief. Upon seeing whole families living in ‘tent cities’ scattered about the landscape, in a small area of city blocks that is just minutes from the more known & profiled financial, entertainment and garment districts in downtown LA; I literally cried when I first saw this. I could not believe then or now that in LA you have an almost offensive amount of opulence and wealth; yet at the same time,so much poverty and despair. Living side by side. Like alternate universes. And pretty much oblivious to one another. Actually let me take that back; the poor in LA are more than aware of that other more publicized world; but that world for the most part, seems to acts as if, the poor, the black and brown,are simply literal and figurative backdrops. Along with the palm trees.
When one thinks of LA/Hollywood, you may think of many things; but I’m sure the average person has no idea that rampant homelessness is such a ‘normal’ fact of life in LA. I’ve heard and read about many ordinary people and even some celebs who have dealt with what seems to be part of some kind of unspoken, weird rite of passage for so many new to LA–I remember reading comedian Steve Harvey’s account of living in his car for 2 or 3 YEARS when he first came to LA. I guess I should count my blessings then because out of my 2+ year homeless journey, I can honestly say, I only had to resort to sleeping in my car, maybe, 3 or 4 times max. And another odd aspect of this is that a LOT of officially ‘homeless’ people in LA, are employed! I definitely was for most of my homeless journey.
Of course, I certainly had no idea of the above when I first moved to LA in the fall of 2005; and maybe if I had known, I would have been more strategic and methodical in my planned moved. But then again, probably not. I don’t think the possibility of homelessness ever entered my mind. At that time or any. In all honesty, I came to California under the same circumstances. Let me tell you a lil something about me: I can be impetuous and spur of the moment. And for the most part, fearless. Back in February 1996, I had driven alone in my used Ford Tempo, the 2,300+ miles, from Flint, Michigan, to San Diego; all of my worldly possessions (which wasn’t much) stuffed into my back seat and trunk; and braved the 3 days and 2 nights of travel with little more than $800 from a recent tax refund in my pocket.
I didn’t want to waste what little money I had, so I didn’t even bother staying at motels. I would just pull over in some well-lit place in random cities on my way and sleep. Yes, I am that type. And it worked. I never encountered any major problems on my road trip and ended up ‘relatively’ safely in San Diego at the end of February in 1996. I say relatively, because there was one memorable experience that I can only chalk up to some unseen guardian angel or entity watching over me.
I chose a route into San Diego that took me thru the mountains of East county and I just so happen to have chosen San Diego’s rainy ‘winter’ season, if you can call it that. When I finally reached the last leg of my journey into the city, traveling on East County’s Highway 8, it was late night and there was a torrential rain storm. Remember, I did say I was driving an older, used Ford Taurus. So while driving in this rain and trying to navigate the roads thru the mountainous terrain; my windshield wipers broke and I could no longer ‘see’ anything ahead of me. Keep in mind, this is at night and it’s raining cats & dogs–and add to that the horror of realizing that my car starting hydroplaning, meaning my tires were not touching the road. Yes, this really happened and this is why I KNOW I have someone/something watching over me. I felt like my car was being ‘carried’ through that rain storm and though it was still raining and raining hard; I was somehow able to drive through it and make it safely into San Diego. Do not ask me how, but that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.
As I mentioned before, I didn’t know anybody in San Diego and frankly had chosen it because it seemed a world away from the dreary, dull and what I felt was a stifling, existence, I had led in Michigan. And it was warm. All year round. Really wasn’t a hard choice. And in retrospect, while I believe, LA, probably would have been my 1st choice; I probably was a little too intimidated to try it first. So I opted for the relatively ‘safer’, smaller military enclave of San Diego.