Q. My son Mike was prescribed Paxil for depression while he was a graduate teaching assistant at New Mexico State University. Around Day 13 he slipped into a mood that I had never seen before. He never came out of it. Four days later he shot himself in the temple with a .22 rifle. He had taken Paxil for 17 days.I hold the Food and Drug Administration and GlaxoSmithKline (maker of Paxil) responsible for my son's suicide. No one should ever have to look at a son's or daughter's tombstone!
A. Your story is heartbreaking. On July 1, 2005, the FDA issued the following Public Health Advisory:
* Adults being treated with anti-depressant medicines, particularly those being treated for depression, should be watched closely for worsening of depression and for increased suicidal thinking or behavior.
* Close observation of adults may be especially important when antidepressant medications are started for the first time or when doses for the specific drugs prescribed have been changed.
* Adults whose symptoms worsen while being treated with antidepressants, including an increase in suicidal thinking or behavior, should be evaluated by their health care professional.
We can't say whether such warnings would have prevented the tragedy that befell your family. However, we hope they will help others avoid such anguish.
Q. I've been suffering with leg cramps for the past few months. They are so painful that they wake me from sleep at about 5 a.m. each morning. It's as though the tendons tighten up, starting in the midthigh and running down my leg, over the arch of my foot. Anything you can suggest would be greatly appreciated.
A. Millions suffer from nighttime leg cramps, which can make it hard to get a decent night's sleep. We have collected dozens of remedies over the years, but it is impossible to predict which might help any given person. Some tell us that calf-stretching exercises before bed are helpful. Others have had success with nutritional supplements like vitamin-B complex or minerals such as calcium or magnesium. Low-sodium V-8 juice is a way to safely boost potassium levels, which may also help. We are sending you our Guide to Leg Pain, with specific stretching exercises and many other remedies for cramps. Anyone who would like a copy, please send $2 in check or money order with a long (No. 10), stamped (60 cents), self-addressed envelope to: Graedons' People's Pharmacy, No. RLS-5, P.O. Box 52027, Durham, N.C. 27717-2027. One remedy some people swear by is to pinch the upper lip between thumb and forefinger for several seconds until the cramp stops.
XIn their column, Joe and Teresa Graedon answer letters from readers. Write to them in care of King Features Syndicate, 888 Seventh Ave., New York, N.Y. 10019, or e-mail them at firstname.lastname@example.org or via their Web site: www.peoplespharmacy.org.
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