My Old-School Meds Helped A Star’s Treatment-Resistant Depression!

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It’s another rainy Thursday, but I’m in a better state of mind. The past week I haven’t thought much about being rejected by Team Voldemort.

As Kermit and Fozzie sing, it’s time to be:

Movin’ Right Along!

 

Over the past few nights, I read country music superstar Naomi Judd’s new memoir River of Time: My Descent into Depression and How I Emerged with Hope. The instant bestseller was co-written by Marcia Wilkie. Although I’m not a country music fan, I wanted to read about Judd’s experience with severe mental illness. 

I found the book absorbing and well-written. Like many gifted musicians, Judd had a very tough childhood. She was traumatized by sexual abuse, a profound lack of parental love, and much more. She became the young, single mom of Wynonna and Ashley, and put herself through nursing school. She endured more physical and emotional abuse. Her story is a remarkable one.

However, Naomi Judd differs from many of us in that she had the finances to spare almost no expense in her quest to get well. She attended rehabilitation centers such as Promises Malibu, which costs $75,000-$90,000 a month for a single room with a shared bathroom or private suite!

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She was treated by an acclaimed psychiatrist who made an exception to meet with her due to her fame. However, I brushed these inequities aside. I wanted to discover how, exactly, she got better from severe, treatment-depression.

Little did I know I’d be surprised in Chapter 17. At that point, Judd had taken all kinds of meds for her anxiety and depression. She had electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) which, as some of you know, saved my life. ECT helped her somewhat, but just like with my case, ECT didn’t eradicate her unremitting, soul-sucking depression.

Her psychiatrist Dr. Jerrold Rosenbaum, head of the Department of Psychiatry at Massachusetts General Hospital, suggested she try the medication combination I’ve taken since 2013: lithium and the MAOI (monoamine oxidase inhibitor) Parnate. Parnate’s generic name is tranylcypromine.

She wrote, “He explained (Parnate) is an old-school second-line treatment that works best for people with major depressive disorders combined with extreme anxiety.”

I do wish the authors included how Parnate can also help treatment-resistant bipolar depression. I’m sure many of Judd’s readers have bipolar or know someone who does. 

I have mixed feelings about the book. I was thrilled that the doctor suggested Parnate and lithium   — they are the only meds out of 30+ I tried that lifted my treatment-resistant bipolar depression. But I was disappointed about some misinformation. Judd wrote, “I was given an entire list of foods that the drug could react with and possibly kill me. This includes chocolate.”

That is utter hogwash. You CAN eat chocolate while taking a MAOI, as long as you don’t gobble gallons of it! While researching my book, I discovered that some people who suffer from terrible depression won’t take a MAOI if it means giving up chocolate. This, my friends, is a case of serious WTF-itis! I’m one of the biggest chocolate lovers you’ll ever meet, but I’d give up ANY food to feel better. Even (Jean Lee, you won’t believe this), gasp, coffee!!! 

Judd wrote about how much she loved to research the heck out of any medical topic. Apparently, she didn’t research two small, old, but profoundly convincing studies. These studies indicated that lithium and Parnate worked powerfully together to alleviate treatment-resistant bipolar depression. Although the subjects had bipolar depression, it would’ve been useful to cite that study or more recent Parnate/lithium studies in her book.

Most importantly, Judd downplayed how much lithium and Parnate helped her. She wrote,

“About seven days after beginning both prescriptions, I could feel a slight change, a peek at a new dawn on the horizon. It was more like a spark of stability that was within my sight. For the first time in two and a half years, I could sense the possibility of ascending from, instead of descending deeper into, a dark and lifeless hole.”

 “Though Parnate was the the first medication that proved to have an effect on my depression, it was not without a price,”

referring to hair loss she had, although it was possible it could’ve been a side effect from lithium.

During the previous two and a half years she was incredibly depressed and suicidal. This medication cocktail was the true turning point.

Then, she added, “I was also prescribed many other medications.” 

??????????

I was flabbergasted that she didn’t name what those other meds were, or if they even had anything to do with depression. I hope she’s asked about these meds at her book talk Q&A session. 

Despite my misgivings, I’m glad I read the book, literary warts and all. If you want to read more about my take on MAOI’s and lithium, please see the following two posts: Now and Then: Thank You MAOI’S and Lithium and Misinforming the Public About MAOI’s Isn’t Cool.

Meanwhile, back at the (Judd) Ranch…

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Naomi’s Ranch

It just so happens that Naomi Judd lives in the small town where my publisher’s main office is located: Franklin, near Nashville. Dangnabbit, it’s a small world!

 

I hope you have a good Friday, and I’ll see you next week!

Love,

Dyane

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Dyane’s memoir Birth of a New Brain – Healing from Postpartum Bipolar Disorder with a foreword by Dr. Carol Henshaw (co-author of The Modern Management of Perinatal Psychiatry) will be published by Post Hill Press in October 2017.

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22 thoughts on “My Old-School Meds Helped A Star’s Treatment-Resistant Depression!

  1. Another fine share, my dear. 🙂

    I’ll have to go back through your older posts, though.

    I’m still going to have to figure out how to work through it.

    See…(sigh) yesterday I just found out my cousin took his own life. I’m still trying to process. I need to reread when Ulla left.

    So I’ll share a hug and a tear with you, if you don’t mind. (HUGS)

    1. HONEY. I JUST READ THIS COMMENT.
      Otherwise, I would’ve replied right away. Forgive me.
      Oh my G-d. I am SO SO sorry about your cousin.

      Many hugs are coming your way right now, and tears as well.
      Words can’t convey how my heart goes out to you and your family.
      I’m here if you need to talk. I’ll DM you my # on Twitter, my friend.

      Much love,
      Dyane

      1. Thanks. I saw the twitter message; I’m sort of…not dealing with words yet, because I’m driving north today for the visitation. But thanks, I knew that of these kindred spirits, you’d understand this pain. I’ll be sure to send you a message tonight on Twitter when I get home. xxxx

  2. Interesting, I didn’t know about that particular combination. Something for me to share with my wife.

    As far as the book “missing” things, it is ONLY just a memoir and not a medical journal. I’d say give Namoi a break?! 😉

    1. I wish I knew about that combination in, oh, 2007. But there are many naysayers in the med. field since they are old-school drugs, and psychiatrists are presssured to push the new (and more $$$$) meds. ANYWAY, you’re right, I should give Naomi a break, and again, I’m STOKED she brought up the meds that made my life 100% better. No doubt! 😜 I’d love to meet her and thank her for that, and of course ask what mystery meds she’s taking, LOL! I’m sure her bouncer would gently shove me aside.

      p.s. remember….dessert photos are next…..yummmmmmmmmmmm!

      1. You know when I read your comment I was about ready to eat a Nestle Drumstick and I thought about just taking a picture of that, lol.

  3. My dear Dyane, I have a question for you about Parnate. Can it push you into a manic or mixed phase? As you know i have been suffering horrible amounts of anxiety, and the thing about Parnate being good for anxiety caught my eyes. However, if it pushes me into mania or a mixed phase, that would not be good. I know SSRI’s are totally contraindicated for bipolar. Just wondering, I’d really like to know your opinion.
    Lovely post again, love and hugs.

    1. Hi sweetie! That is an EXCELLENT question!!!!!!
      I am so glad you asked it!

      I don’t know if the med itself can push one into hypomania or mania. Keep in mind I always took the Parnate (30 mg/day) with 900 mg/day of lithium & never became manic or hypomanic with one
      HUUUUUUUUGE exception. I lost an entire night’s sleep, which has always triggered hypomania in me.

      I became hypomanic at a 3-day-long overnight conference.I didn’t sleep at all the first night and I was so dumb, I didn’t immediately take my emergency Serouqel I had brought with me

      I was so freaked out and excited to be there and those mental states triggered the lack of sleep, but my emergency 25mg Seroquel helped me stay hypomana instead of going into full-blown, thank God, and as soon as I slept, the hypomania went away.I was lucky…it could have been a nightmare if I didn’t have Seroquel with me, which I carrry with me 24/7.

      ANYWAY, you’re an amazing researcher, so I’d look online & more importantly, I’d ask your pdoc . Let me know what you think/find out!

      XOXOXOOXOXOXO
      Dy

      1. p.s. I did a simple Google search using the term “Can Parnate make you manic” and the first site to pop up was Anti-depressants.com. It says, “Manic episodes: Tranylcypromine CAN (my caps) trigger severe mania and rapid cycling in people with bipolar disorder. Extreme anxiety, restlessness, aggression, altered thinking and psychosis can result. Violent behavior can occur. People should be screened for bipolar disorder before beginning tranylcypromine.” but this does not apply to everyone.

        My psychiatrist is outstanding and he obviously didn’t believe this when he prescribed it to me, nor did he give me such sober warnings. I don’t know if this site is reputable, so please don’t let scary sites or anecdotes freak you out.I’ll look for more reputable sites, i.e. like Mayo Clinic, etc.

    1. Any good psychiatrist would know what’s truly ok to eat/drink. The list of restricted, low-tyramine foods has been steadily changing, so the chocolate “no-no” makes me question her doctor’s skill. He might have a fancy title, but that doesn’t alway mean everything, does it? 😃

      Thanks so much for stopping by, Carol, and commenting. It’s looking so beautiful outside! And you’re beautiful too, which makes me think of this awesome song:

    1. Me too, Kitt! I hope she lets the cat (cats?) out of the bag regarding the mysterious “many other medications” she was prescribed!

      Sending you big hugs & I hope you have a good day!
      XoXo
      Dy
      p.s. There were no dreams about your bakery/tattoo parlour last night! 😌

  4. Captain, an objective and dare I candidly say generous post. I wouldn’t have been able to write that way had I read the memoir. I may be biased, but I strongly feel that if she weren’t such a ‘star’, she wouldn’t have got star treatment nor written and received a ‘star’ acclaim of her memoir which from your review has some loopholes in terms of info or misinfo…
    Have a nice weekend

    1. I didn’t spend much time writing this post, as you can see, LOL. Yes, it needs editing. Yes, it needs to take a more comprehensive look at the book – it wasn’t a good review, per se. But I was mainly caught up with the the fact she was prescribed the same LIFESAVING, LIFECHANGING meds I take by one of the country’s top psychiatrists – it was soooooooooo validating for me to read that.

      She did go through other horrific things I didn’t touch upon, especially with her mother, which I left out.

      I agree with you that her star status made all the difference in her getting good care. It’s not fair – never has been, never will be, but if someone who doesn’t have her $$$$ yet is severely depressed & reads her book and learns that she took those meds lithium & Parnate, tries them and is helped by them, that would be so awesome.

      Anyway, my friend, please have a good weekend too, – and give my love to that lovely feline MISS ELLA! 😻

      1. Captain, I have had a hectic weekend and still going. Hope my comment was in no way ‘invalidating’ of the main point you were making which I got and agreed with into to. Similar treatment protocols with a star should elevate you to a mini stardom I dare joke… Hope u read my weekend post if only to see what that miss Ella is now up to. I can’t seem to keep up with her 🙂

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