An Open Letter to Glamour about “The Pill That Made Me Happy, Horny & Skinny.”

Via elephant journal
on Jul 27, 2012
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Photo: iris[ux]

Antidepressants are not glamorous.

Glamour recently published a blog post called “True Health Confession: ‘The Pill That Made Me Happy, Horny and Skinny…,’” detailing one woman’s (non-normative) experience with the antidepressant Wellbutrin.

The article started with making mention of the fact that the makers of Wellbutrin, GlaxoSmithKline, were fined three billion dollars for inaccurate marketing and branding of the drug. Glaxo reps were pushing it as a “happy, horny, skinny” pill, and Dr. Drew Pinsky was paid to promote the drug’s libido-boosting effects to the media.

The article then goes on to quote one woman who had a positive experience with Wellbutrin, noting that Glaxo reps pushed it as a “happy, horny, skinny pill,” and claiming that she had experienced all of these “desirable” side effects. She was prescribed the pill to help her quit smoking.

(Incidentally, Glamour ran an article in the September 2009 issue, where Dr. Michael F. Roizen recommended that readers try Wellbutrin in conjunction with nicotine patches in order to kick their cigarette habit. And yes, this is an FDA approved use of the drug.)

The author of the latest post, Sarah Jio, mentioned that she thought it was a bit much to call the pill a “happy, horny, skinny” pill, and also mentioned that antidepressants often have undesirable side effects. However, she didn’t list any—or how potentially severe they can be.

The main focus of this post is on the positive experience that one woman had, and it makes the pill sound downright glamorous, when in fact, the majority of readers commenting on the post mentioned adverse side effects in their experiences with Wellbutrin and/or other antidepressants.

I applaud Sarah Jio’s intention to start a dialogue on antidepressant use, but the conversation that has been started needs to be changed—antidepressants are not to make you happy, horny, and skinny—ask Glaxo, they just got fined three million dollars because of the inaccuracy and irresponsibility of this marketing tactic.

So why is Glamour picking up where Dr. Drew left off?

The article’s headline and content is just as inaccurate, misleading and irresponsible as Dr. Drew’s paid promotion of the drug as a libido-booster.

“Take Wellbutrin, and you too can be skinny, happy and sexy like the dangerously thin, unrealistic airbrushed models in the pages of our glossy magazine,” it seems to suggest.

There’s nothing glamorous about America’s overreliance on pharmaceutical interventions, nor is there anything glamorous about how the drug companies are making billions keeping the nation on drugs.

That’s what happens when you get on an antidepressant for anxiety or addiction or depression—you’re generally looking at long-term usage. The pills don’t work for everyone, and almost 50 percent of patients require a dose modification or other prescription change before any improvement is seen. Most pills take up to 12 weeks for any therapeutic effects to be felt, and you can generally expect to stay on them for at least six months after you start feeling better. Some people will stay on antidepressants their entire lives.

Without the pills to manage the symptoms, they are apt to return—what do you do then?

Physicians should advise their patients who are struggling with depression, anxiety, and addiction to try alternative treatments before prescribing antidepressants.

Patients should advocate for themselves and ask the doctor for alternative and/or complementary therapies if they are not offered.  If the doctor seems intent on pushing pills, don’t hesitate on getting a second opinion.

Medication should be a last resort and it should ideally be paired with complementary treatment—psychotherapy in addition to practices that are sustainable for the patient, such as dietary changes, a yoga/exercise program, EFT, meditation and other mindfulness practices offer the same benefits—without the risk of dangerous side effects like seizures.

These programs work if you are committed to working them!

But, alas, an astounding number of Americans are on antidepressants.

Women are two and a half times more likely to be taking antidepressants than men. Data suggests that antidepressant use has skyrocketed by 400 percent since the late 1980s. It’s estimated that one out of ten Americans is on antidepressants.

To Sarah Jio and Glamour, once again, I commend you for wanting to start a dialogue about antidepressant use. As the author mentioned in her post, “The more we know and can talk about benefits, side effects, complaints and shared stories, the better off we are, gals.”

Please accept my response as an invitation to help you help your readers have an honest conversation—an honest conversation is going to include the good, the bad and the ugly.

Photo: Latin Temptation

Naturally, women who want to be happier, hornier, and/or skinnier are going to be drawn to Ms. Jio’s blog because of the captivating headline.

Instead of featuring what seems to be largely pro-pill commentary, why not mention that there are other ways to be happier, hornier, and/or skinnier without popping pills—especially since this pill was never intended to be marketed in the manner that Glamour presented it in.

Offer your readers sustainable solutions—it doesn’t take but a moment to include a blurb at the end with a few links letting readers know that there are evidence based alternatives to antidepressants that work, because many people who end up on antidepressants do experience side effects, and very few of them are “desirable,” like the ones mentioned in this article.

Here’s to changing the conversation and empowering women.

Please don’t think you need to be “skinny” or that you need a pill to be happy, horny or healthy. You are enough and beautiful as you are…that’s glamour. If you want to make changes in your life to be happier, hornier and healthier, rely on your beautiful, amazing self—not a pill. 

Note:  If you are suffering from depression, anxiety, addiction, do not hesitate to see your doctor and seek professional assistance. Have no shame in your game, girl. Seeking a professional opinion is relying on your beautiful, amazing self—you are the expert on you, and it’s an act of self-love to take care of yourself. If a doctor recommends antidepressants, so be it—but be open to trying alternative and/or complementary therapies.

Editor: Lynn Hasselberger

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Comments

22 Responses to “An Open Letter to Glamour about “The Pill That Made Me Happy, Horny & Skinny.””

  1. Thanks for writing this, April. My Ob-gyn offered me Wellbutrin after the birth of my daughter. I was feeling exhausted and agitated with constant headaches (turned out to be anemia & migraines). After reading some of the warnings, I decided I didn't want to take it—so glad! We are a very quick fix oriented society when it comes to our health. Scary!

  2. giannakali says:

    Another thing that's omitted in the article is the horribly atrocious time some people have in discontinuing antidepressants…some significant minority (of the multi-millions of people on drugs) can develop disabling withdrawal syndromes upon coming off SSRIs and SNRIs…while Welbutrin isn't known for as severe withdrawal syndromes, it too can cause problems in some when discontinued.

    Thanks for sharing this with people at Elephant…it's not talked about enough. Not that it surprises me at all that such drivel would be in Glamour.

  3. We live in a 'rescue me' culture. Most people would prefer to take a pill than invest in themselves with exercise, meditation and any kind of personal responsibility. As a health and wellness coach I ask people one question, "if you had all the energy and happiness possible what would you be doing? Most people have no idea how to create an intention where they would be involved. Too many are waiting for a pill, doctor or spiritual advisor to make them happy. People only change when they are forced to and some not even then.

  4. Analia says:

    I am a graduate student working on my PhD in pharmacology and neuroscience. I'm leaving this comment because this article is exactly what feeds the uninformed lay person ideas that are ultimately going to cause them harm. Depression is an impairment of neurological function on a molecular level that can be measured and reproduced in laboratory research. A person who is diagnosed as clinically depressed has measurable impairment in the function of neurotransmitters like dopamine, serotonin and norepinephrine.The only way to effectively help this person is to provide them with a medicine that helps to reverse this molecular deficit. The reason it takes weeks to months to take effect is because it takes time for your body to respond to the medicine and through gene transcription, create new receptors and new neurotransmitters.
    A change in diet and increased exercise will obviously benefit anyone, including someone who may be suffering from depression. However, as someone who is involved in drug research, I'll let you in on a little secret. There is no grand scheme by these major pharma companies or the government or anybody to steal your money and stuff you full of drugs. The goal is to help other human beings in the best way possible, which is through evidence-based, peer reviewed clinically researched science.

  5. Sherry says:

    I think this is a good article, but I would also beware of the assumption that antidepressants are per se BAD. They can be – literally – life-saving. Certainly explore alternatives, but when a person is going through a major depression, it doesn’t help be down on his/her self for making the call to try an anti-depressant. Such a person is likely to be too hard on ones-self as it is. Personal experience.

  6. cathy says:

    Thank you author. yes, Grace. To Analia.. while it may nto seem to be a grand scheme to you, it is a pill which hides a problem.. of low feeling, depression, fear.. all of which can be sorted out or dealt with before becoming reliant on pills. It is no secret that big pharma make their money by selling pills. There are pills to counter side effects of the first pill and then those to ease the second one.. once on these pills how does one get off? They only cover situations.. or cause one to be dependent on them.

    Just because you say that the only way to increase serotonin, norepinephrine etc.. is to take pills does not make it true.. it may seem true to you, however. Ther eis a lot of research-based clinically researched positive results for accupuncture, talking modalities, good exercise, changing environment, nutrition, meditation.. many things can make a difference.

  7. Mike Myers says:

    The judgement referenced in the article was for 3 BILLION dollars. The largest judgment in the entire history of medicine. and these clowns missed that point? that tells me they missed the real point here… My ex was on anti depressants.. totally made her a whack job…. very sad…

    Mike Myers

  8. marcy says:

    for many people, anti-depressants are lifesavers and just "talking" the depression away or "exercising" it away or "lifestyling" it away will not be enough. They will help, but it will not be enough. And to lay that guilt trip on someone that is really trying to pull themselves out of the hole is a judgmental and holier than thou attitude.
    I totally get what April was saying in her article … antidepressants are not glamorous, they not happy pills or diet pills,and it was irresponsible of the drug company to market as such, but for some people these drugs are necessary and make life better.

  9. […] HLN journalist and investigative reporter Jane Velez-Mitchell takes a wide-ranging look at how American society fosters addictive behavior. Jane tells us “straight and sober” how our obsession with consumerism and our other myriad […]

  10. herbal incense says:

    The pill works perfectly and the result is happy, horny & skinny!!! As a girl those information are really important to me and I wanna try the pill. I hope it also make me happy, horny & skinny. Thanks!!!!
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  11. Kris Vollmer says:

    Rather entertaining thank you, It looks like your current readers will probably want a lot more well written articles such as this carry on the great content.

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