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Desyrel (Trazodone)

A father who first denied the truth, then dealt with it, tells of his experience to help other parents who might be baffled as to what to do to help their own depressed teenagers.
“At first, you tell yourself, ‘He’s a teenager and is just going through a phase.’ So you reassure yourself: ‘This will pass.’ But, little by little, the behavior becomes more aberrant. Initially, your child does attention-getting things that are out of line but fall just short of crossing that socially acceptable line – they are not quite ‘abnormal.’
“Then the phone calls start coming from his friends, from their parents, from his teachers, his coach, his principal, from neighbors, from the preacher. They tell you they’ve seen him do reckless things – diving from a cliff into lakes he has never swum before, taking ski jumps when he’s never been trained to do them. I got to hoping he might break a leg and be hospitalized for 6 weeks or so. It would keep him from killing himself and give us all a rest.
“Next came the flamboyant dressing – necklaces, eyeliner, punk clothing. He’s determined to shock.
“He objects strenuously even to the mildest household rules – a 10 P.M. curfew on school nights, for example. He begins to make sexually suggestive comments about girls. And he starts dating a string of girls from school – six or seven – regularly. All of this is uncharacteristic. We had a stranger in our house who looked like our son but acted like no one we knew.
“Anger or scolding produced violent reactions in him. We found a psychiatrist who was helpful, but still we weren’t fully satisfied.
“Then our son changed again. He started to make frequent references to deep unhappiness. He couldn’t concentrate on his studies. Passively suicidal feelings began to emerge. He’d say things like, ‘I wish I were dead.’
“That, we came to learn, was the downside of his illness – the depressed phase of manic depression. In the up side – the manic phase – you don’t feel effective as a parent, and you aren’t, but you sometimes do have some impact on him. In the depressed phase, you can’t get through at all. For instance, he’d play basketball and blame himself mercilessly for imagined blunders. He confided how he’d be in the middle of a game and find himself observing his actions as though he’d stepped out of his body. In a very real sense, he was disconnected from himself, from others, from life.
“We could see he was on the borderline of crossing from normal to something terrible. We found another psychiatrist. We had him institutionalized for about 6 weeks. Probably he’ll never forgive me for this. But it did help.
“The doctors finally diagnosed him: manic-depressive. Now, at least, what was wrong with him had a name – and a course of treatment.
“Once word got around about his illness, confidences came pouring in. People who never would have told you such things before came out with confessions and reassurances. They were manic-depressive. Or their son or husband or sister was, and lithium helped them.
“Knowing what I know now, having learned the hard way, I can see that this illness, manic depression, was as readily observable as mumps.
“He has made great progress, thanks to lithium treatments the doctor prescribes. But it’s a rough go, and the parents and the siblings of manic-depressives need help to cope. If there were a group of people who have lived through similar experiences or who are living through them now, I’d certainly welcome the chance to join them.”

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