Tuesday, November 15, 2011

**Sorry, Cymbalta, You Can't Help

["Let Inga Tell You," La Jolla Light, published Nov. 17, 2011]  © 2011

It has not escaped my attention that all of my favorite TV shows are sponsored by antidepressants.    Except, of course, for the ones advertising clinical trials for antidepressants.  I find this very depressing.

You’ll  recognize the tag line (or then, maybe you won’t) for the most popular ad:  Cymbalta Can Help.  I am not in any way attempting to minimize the seriousness of depression as I come from a long line of OCD packrats and chronic anxious wrecks.  I’ve personally tended to embrace the chronic anxious wreck side of the family (there’s only so much mental illness one person can accommodate at a time) for which it is entirely possible that Cymbalta could help.  But I can never get past that chirpy little aside at the end:  “Liver problems, some fatal, have occurred.”  I just think they say that waaaay too casually.

I’m spent considerable time trying to decide what all this Cymbalta advertising means and am down to three conclusions:

(1) People who watch this show are depressed and need Cymbalta.
(2) People who watch this show should be depressed and start taking Cymbalta.
(3) People who watch this show will become depressed simply from watching it, and should take Cymbalta  before they harm someone.

Seriously, is the mere preference for the shows that I watch diagnostic?  If so, I’m going to be not only depressed but peevish.  

Abilify, another mega-advertiser whose ad I’ve seen more times than I will ever admit, is not even an antidepressant but a booster to your already-not-working antidepressant.  Now is that depressing or what?  But there is one promising part of their ad:  “Elderly dementia patients taking Abilify have an increased risk of death.”  Without sounding like Dr. Kevorkian, my kids know I have a profound fear of ending up a dementia patient.  So maybe I need to add this to my health directive.  Kids:  Stock up on Abilify for off-label use! 

My husband, Olof, likes to give the illusion of interest in my TV-watching habits with the collective query, “So is Desperate Anatomy on tonight?”  Or alternatively, “So what’s Dr. Yummy up to?”

“McDreamy, dear,” I say.  I really don’t think he’s trying to keep up at all.  But he does point out that there are no antidepressant commercials on Junk Yard Wars, Myth Busters, or Monday Night Football. 

It’s only getting worse.  Now the antidepressant ads are interspersed with Lyrica ads for fibromyalgia.  Like I don’t have enough problems with my WE-TV-induced depression?  I also have to confess that the Lyrica ads annoy me to death (a serious side effect), particularly the lead line where the happy Lyrica patient says, “I found out that connected to our muscles are nerves.”  Was the fibromyalgia caused by her lobotomy?

What’s starting to really worry me is that these commercials have now insidiously seeped down from women-oriented cable channels and wantonly infiltrated major networks where one used to be able to watch free of antidepressant assault.  Surely, I think to myself, there must be a less risky cure for TV-induced depression than Cymbalta?  Like watch PBS? 

I won’t say that I wouldn’t like to be less anxious.   (I can assure you my husband wouldn’t mind my being less anxious.)  To worry less, to not always feel that catastrophe is just around the corner.  To be able crank down my over-amped system a new notches.   But then, at this stage of my life, I think it’s so much part of me that it would make me nervous not to be anxious.  Alternatively, I can maybe find out where the Lyrica lady got her lobotomy.

Sorry, Cymbalta.  I don’t think you can help.  So leave me alone already and let me watch my shows in peace. Or else.  Because I’m your demographic and you should know better than to mess with me.


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