Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Ambien: the Latest Designer Drug

I was just reading a copy of the latest Newsweek magazine. Within the first 30 pages were ads for the drugs: Lipitor, Lyrica, and Ambien. The ads were double sided as the front pages were beautiful and catchy while the back pages were in black and white and explained contradindications, precautions, adverse reactions, drug abuse and dependence, and overdosage. I see patients on these medications and wonder what it is that we are trying to fix. Looking at Ambien's (a drug used to treat insomnia) side effect profile is simply amazing. It is actually broken down into three different categories: frequent, infrequent and rare. To name the frequent symptoms: abdominal pain, abnormal dreams, allergy, amnesia, anorexia, anxiety, arthralgia, asthenia, ataxia, back pain, chest pain, confusion, constipation, depression, diarrhea, diplopia, dizziness, drowsiness, drugged feeling, dry mouth, dyspepsia, euphoria, fatigue, headache, hiccup, infection, influenza-like symptoms, INSOMNIA, lethargy, lightheadedness, myalgia, nausea, nervousness, palpitation, sleep disorder, vertigo, abnormal vision, and vomiting. Are you kidding me??? These are just the frequently occuring symptoms!! All of this to simply be able to go to sleep. What is wrong with this picture?? Obviously, we all know the importance of getting a good night's sleep but come on. We live in such a fast paced society that we fail to realize why it is that we have trouble falling asleep at night. These individual's circadian rhythm is all out of sync. A normal circadian rhythm allows us to feel energetic in the morning and tired at night. Today's fast paced world has caused a shift in this circadian rhythm in these individuals creating a scenario where they feel tired or unrefreshed in the morning and wide awake at night. There are many therapies available to alter this abnormal circadian rhythm pattern without having to use medications with such drastic side effects. Dietary modification,exercise, yoga, meditation, supplements like melatonin (which happens to be a potent antioxidant), and phosphatidylserine to name a few can be a great place to start. Start looking at these therapies prior to jumping to the latest designer drug of the day.

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