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Dancing with Depression
Dancing with Depression

Adrienne Santos-Longhurst is a health and relationships writer with a special interest in depression thanks to her own firsthand experience. She’ll share everything from her difficult diagnosis to how she learned to take the lead and dance with depression for the last 15+ years. Get ready for a wild and equally informative ride!

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Is Efexor Making You A Problem Gambler or Thief?

One woman claimed on ABC that Effexor caused her to gamble and steal. Adrienne isn't buying it.

I read an article in the news about the antidepressant Efexor, and a possible link between the medication and problem gambling. Now, the “link” they are referring to in the article isn’t a scientific one or one with any real substantiated clinical proof, but rather the claims of a woman who was on the medication when she allegedly developed a gambling addiction and is now blaming the medication for their gambling problem. Ahem.

Now, not being a scientist or a doctor I can’t really say whether this is a valid claim or not, but I do have my doubts. I know that no two people were created equally and that our bodies are different as are the way they handle medication. I know that the same antidepressant has caused very mild side effects in some friends and a whole slew of different and more severe ones in others. And, after having had my own battles with antidepressants in the past, I can sympathise with the things that they can do to the way that you feel and even act.

The thing is though; no matter how severe my side effects—even from the prescription that made me feel like I was losing my mind—that little voice inside of me that knows what’s right and wrong was still there, even if not as loud some days. So to blame a medication for causing you to steal $800,000 to feed her poker habit with seems a tad convenient to me, especially given that her stealing happened over the course of a few years.

Said gambler and thief went on to say in an interview with ABC: "I really had an 'I don't care attitude' ... like I knew what I was doing was wrong but I don't care."

Again, I can see how some medications may have this effect to an extent and make one a tad more la-dee-da than usual, but knowing that something is wrong and knowing not to act on it—or in her case knowing it was wrong and doing it anyway—seems to be more of a character flaw than a side effect to a prescription.

I hate to seem so crass here because watching the footage of this woman and mother of a young child in tears as she apologizes for what’s she’s done did bring tears to my eyes. I also know how serious addiction is. What got my panties in a twist was her saying that she is “not making excuses”  and “not  looking for sympathy”, yet she goes on to blame not only the medication but also hotel staff for not having intervened. To an outsider who has dealt with severe depression and serious side effects from antidepressants, this does sound like excuses coming from someone who got burned for their actions.

The article does cite a few others who believe that Efexor was linked to their gambling addictions, but only time and more clinical studies will tell whether or not there is any validity to the claims. In the meantime I can’t help but wonder if the next step will be a class-action lawsuit against the makers of Efexor to try to win back some of that stolen and gambled-away cash.

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About the Author

Depression Blogger

Adrienne is a health and relationships writer with a special interest in depression.