I'm chef Brooke Siem, Food Network "Chopped" Champion and author of the newly published book, MAY CAUSE SIDE EFFECTS.

Though most people know me from Chopped (Season 32, Episode 6), my book is about antidepressant withdrawal, a under-addressed topic that affects roughly half of people who take antidepressants. Source

I'm here to talk about the fun stuff (Chopped! Ted Allen! Losing control of your crabs national television!) and the not so fun stuff (being in antidepressant withdrawal while filming Chopped, how to talk to your doctor about safe deprescribing, questions parents should ask when it comes to medicating their kids.)

Note that I AM NOT A DOCTOR AND DO NOT GIVE MEDICAL ADVICE. What I can do is share what I've learned in order to help people have better conversations with their doctors and for doctors to better understand their patients' experience. And I can give you a kickass chicken thigh recipe in the process, too.

Proof: Here's my proof!

ETA: Going to wind down at 8pm PST but will answer more questions tomorrow. Thanks everyone!

Comments: 127 • Responses: 47  • Date: 

goldenlady___106 karma

It's so awesome that you wrote this book. Withdrawal from psychotropic meds can be so uniquely horrific, and it's important that people get the word out about it so that prescribers can hopefully start educating patients, and being educated themselves, on how to properly taper. Hopefully they will also start letting patients know the risks that certain meds have for terrible withdrawals.

What medication(s) did you have trouble with? What were some of your side effects? Were you able to completely taper off eventually?

eatsnow166 karma

So glad you asked this question! Even though I still cook to make a living, the world of antidepressant withdrawal is where I feel like me life's work lives, so I'm really glad to be here to talk about it.

Effexor XR was the drug that broke me. I was on 37.5mg of the stuff for 15 years. That's the lowest dose, considered a therapeutic dose, and I was pulled off it cold turkey by a psychiatrist who didn't know what she was doing. Her rationale was that because she couldn't prescribe a smaller dose, the only choice was to stop it entirely. Research—and my personal experience—now confirms that that was terrible advice.

My side effects were horrific and long lasting. Every sense intensified, to the point where I couldn't walk outside because the clang and bang of New York City felt like someone was drilling into my sternum. My palate changed. My eye sight got better. I struggled to wear clothes because they hurt my skin.

But it was the psychological side effects that were the hardest to endure. I had violent, intrusive thoughts of hurting myself and others. For a while, I thought I was legitimately crazy, that it was inevitable that I would hurt someone because of how intense the images were in my head. Luckily a psychologist friend convinced me that "crazy people don't know they're crazy," essentially telling me that because I was aware of my thoughts, I wasn't actually going to act on it. But it still scared the living hell out of me.

I also had rage so severe I bent a metal ironing board in half. And I'm 5'3" and weigh 125lbs. That shouldn't have happened.

All of this lasted for about year. I think I only got through it due to unending support from my mother and intense, enduring counseling. Not everyone is as lucky as me.

It's been a little over six years since I last took an antidepressant. Withdrawal was the worst thing that's ever happened to me, but it gave me the greatest gift. I learned deep resilience through that experience, which I think is the foundation for lifelong happiness.

HanShotF1rst22676 karma

The only time I ever called a suicide hotline was when I was withdrawing off lexapro because I didn’t have insurance and couldn’t afford my medication. I’m so sorry for your experience but so glad you’re bringing attention to the issue. It’s so hard to explain what happens to your brain and body during a withdrawal like that

eatsnow53 karma

So sorry to hear that you have personal experience, but SO GLAD YOU'RE STILL HERE! I hear lexapro is a bitch to get off of, right up there with Effexor and Celexa.

And the not being able to afford it is such a key issue. I can't imagine how many people go through this because they miss a dose due to financial issues. It's all just awful and I wish I could fix it on an institutional level.

QuesoDog24 karma

Effexor was awful. I was on it for nearly ten years, and switched over; im amazed its still on the market. Good for you for getting off it!

eatsnow17 karma

So awful. And so many horror stories. Glad you found something that works better for you.

Currdog2 karma

Don’t like seeing celexa listed…. Avoided meds for a long time, but finally needed them. This is what I was worried about though…. what if I want to stop them?

eatsnow5 karma

Google "hyperbolic tapering" and then talk to your doctor about that. It's a dose reduction method of tapering off very slowly to mitigate side effects. Takes a bit of patience and education but it's worth the time if you feel wearing off is right for you.

Look at the research by Robert Whitaker, Mark Horowitz, Anders Sorenson, Adele Framer, Irving Kirsh, Giovanni Fava, and The Inner Compass Initiative. And then make a plan with your doctor. (Inner Compass Initiative has tons of resources to help with that conversation.) I don't say that just to cover my ass. I say that because the two of you working as a team will lead to the best results, and it's possible you will have to bring some of the research to the table.

The key with this subject is to know what can happen in withdrawal (it's not guaranteed, plenty of people get off these drugs with no issues) so you can identify it and avoid misdiagnosis. Knowing the why is as important as the how.

Gazebo_Placebo11 karma

This why Pharmacists exist. No prescriber should be so dumb as to think withdrawal isn’t a major risk of cold turkey stopping a SNRI…

eatsnow46 karma

I really wish that this was correct, but it's just not. I didn't have a dedicated pharmacist. I was in NYC, a different pharmacist refilled my prescription every month. Not a single one ever questioned it and no one called when I didn't pick up my prescription after my psychiatrist told me to stop.

And I don't blame them. They were filling thousands of prescriptions a day.

NonCorporealEntity9 karma

I am just off Zoloft and every one of the things you described was me. I smashed a laptop in a fit of rage one day over something I can't even remember. It almost put me back on meds thinking I still needed them even though rage had never been an issue for me. It's getting better but I still have the intense feelings, thoughts, and for some reason, a new love for all things vinegar based.

eatsnow10 karma

I suddenly loved ginger after hating it for 30 years.

ladykitkatie82 karma

As someone who was heavily medicated as a kid for ADHD and depression, and as someone who obsessively loves Chopped, it’s like this thread was made for me. Congrats on winning your episode!

Did they feed you well on the set of Chopped? There’s a lot of cooks and plenty of kitchen after all!

eatsnow143 karma

Hello! I first read your username as "ladytitkatie" and I was like, good for Katie.

Anyway, the catering is terrible. Like crappy dry turkey sandwiches on white bread and salads made of iceberg lettuce terrible. I feel like someone on Chopped does that for fun, just to piss off all the chefs.

It was doubly irritating knowing that we were in the same building as Chelsea Market which has amazing ingredients and that Guy Fieri was probably on another floor, in the bowels of Food Network kitchens, making donkey sauce and we couldn't get any.

Harmonie43 karma

How was working with Ted? He seems like he could be a ton of fun!

Ooh, also: was your experience on Chopped what you expected? Is there anything you want to share but may not be asked about?

Hope you are well, and thanks for your time!

eatsnow119 karma

Ted Allen is as genuinely nice as you would expect. My biggest regret from that experience is not having the time to invite him to dinner. Not that he would have shown up, but that might have been the highlight of my culinary life.

On the day we were filming, he was having a bit off an off day. Nothing major, just flubbing his lines (especially between the entree and dessert round, when the other chef and I were attempting not to crack up while staring each other down very, very seriously.) All three of us were laughing on Ted's 10th attempt or whatever it was to get out a line he's said thousands of times. Just an endearing guy you want to hang out with.

Fun fact: I was told that because he stands so much, his back gets achy so they cut out a little square on the floor next to the judges' table and replaced it with some sort of softer, more joint friendly flooring.

As far as your second question, the experience was exactly what I expected (frantic, stressful, embarassing) but also more fun than I expected. I would LOVE to do it again, or any reality cooking show competition. Now that I'm older and less concerned about screwing up in public, it's all just silly fun.

olderthanbefore3 karma

Does Ted also get to taste the dishes?

eatsnow3 karma

Not as far as I know. We didn't even get to taste each other's dishes! And I barely got to taste my own. Usually I'd taste the components but there wasn't time to make a 5th plate so you could taste the composed dish.

biggle21335 karma

Do you get any thinking time at all between basket opening and starting to cook? They make it seem like you immediately start cooking. I’m no chef like you but I’d think it would be hard to come up with something in seconds

eatsnow128 karma


There's a few beats of time, but it's not for the chef's benefit. The camera needs to get shots of each chef opening the basket, taking out the ingredients, and then staring at the ingredients. It's literally called "chef's staring at food." In my recollection, one camera guy went from station to station and filmed until a producer yelled, "got it!" and then moved onto the next station.

My sense of time may have been warped, but it felt like this process took 1-2 minutes, which is pure thinking time.

I also realized I could hack this process by taking the ingredients out extrreeeemmmely slow. Like I took something out, examined it, smelled it, opened it. Basically made a meal out of it (har har) before putting it down. This probably bought me thirty seconds. But in that thirty seconds, I was figuring out what I was going to do.

OEMichael4 karma

Your story is (unfortunately) very relatable. Is there an audiobook version in the works?

eatsnow3 karma

Audiobook should be out in a matter of days. The book just came out on Sept 6 and publishers sometimes like to release it a bit later for another marketing push. Everything has been approved so look out for it!

vDubee33 karma

What’s your favorite go-to, comfort meal? Also, how has life changed for you since winning Chopped? (Congratulations:))

eatsnow73 karma

Effexor and Xanax.


Really, it's my mother's lasagna. It's made with our family bolognese that's allegedly been passed down for generations (I'm not sure I believe it because my grandmother was a terrible cook, but sometimes we stick to the story we're told) and three pounds of cheese—jack, mozzarella, and Parm.

I wrote about it for Esquire back when the pandemic started: https://www.esquire.com/food-drink/food/a33246077/home-cooked-recipes/

jdt231328 karma

If you could go on another cooking competition show, which one would you choose?

eatsnow90 karma

Cutthroat kitchen. Just because it's so silly and absurd you couldn't help but have fun.

Guy's Grocery Games seems like a hoot too. I applied for that but was told I couldn't compete because I'd already been on chopped.

I don't think a Top Chef style comp would be nearly as much fun. I guess I'd do it, but it seems like more drama than it's worth because you have to live with your competition.

jdt231348 karma

Cutthroat Kitchen is the best thing that Food Network has done in ages

eatsnow74 karma

Alton Brown is a national treasure.

snowtard7 karma

couldn't compete because I'd already been on chopped

That's interesting you were told that because Alex vs. America has had a few former Chopped champions. I wonder if a certain time frame needs to pass before you can be on a different show.

eatsnow7 karma

No idea. I know people who have been on multiple FN shows, so I'm not sure what the criteria is.

anonymousforever4 karma

What about crime scene kitchen? That was a different take on a cooking show, even though that was baking.

eatsnow4 karma

I've never heard of this one! That's what happens when you don't have cable, I suppose.

gruntothesmitey23 karma

How scripted is the show? Are the judges told what to say?

eatsnow106 karma

I don't think the judges were told what to say in the sense that they didn't seem to have a bug in their ear with someone feeding them lines.

But, it did seem like they needed to hit a high, low, and neutral statement while judging each dish in order to give the editors a variety of ways to edit. For example, in my episode, the judges were extremely complementary of my second dish. I screwed up one component, the potato puree, and that's what made up most of the cut. So it seems like my dish sucked because of the potatoes, when really they were an afterthought comment and I knew I was going to make it through.

I also found them to be inconsistent in their tastes, which I don't know if that was a function of being a human or a tactic encouraged by the producers. For example, someone was praised in the appetizer round about putting a sauce on the side so the judge could add as little or as much as he wanted. But in my dessert, the same judge criticized me for doing a deconstructed dish, saying he didn't like choose-your-own-adventure style food. It was hard to know what was the right move.

gruntothesmitey27 karma

Thanks for the detailed answer!

I always thought the producers/editors were going for a "good cop/bad cop" vibe. That or gently nudging them to pick one winner.

Still, a great show.

eatsnow48 karma

They were all both, at least on my show. Although I will say that Maneet Chauhan did scare the crap out of me.

Full-Light-989723 karma

Hi! I grew up on chopped and have always loved it but have always been so concerned about the timelines. Obviously it takes a while to film a cooking show, so are the dishes cold from all of the filming by the time they get to the judges? Also, how long do the judges take to deliberate? And are all three courses filmed the same day?

eatsnow74 karma

All the dishes are definitely room temperature, and the judges acknowledge that and say it doesn't affect judging. Frozen things can be put in the freezer, but hot things sit out until the judges are ready (roughly an hour.)

The judges take roughly 20-30 minutes to judge each dish, so the first round literally lasted about two hours. There's so much more conversation than you see on TV. It's a shame it gets so heavily edited, because there's actually some real dialogue there.

All three courses are filmed in the same (very long) day. I showed up at 5am and got home around 11pm.

tatertotski19 karma

This is maybe a dumb question but do you guys (the contestants) have to stand there during the whole two hours of judging each dish? Your feet must be aching!

eatsnow17 karma

Yep. You stand there and listen. I think in the first round we got to sit down and get some water for a bit. They put chairs facing away from the judges and we took five. I still don't know why we had to face away.

G082520 karma

I’m on an antidepressant and I’ve never really felt that it was a good fit, but I don’t know how to have that conversation with my family and doctor. My preference is to be off it. What got you to the point where you wanted to stop taking your prescription?

eatsnow51 karma

Thank you for asking this question. I'm sure you're not alone.

For me, I was medicated as a teen, after my father suddenly died. I spent fifteen years on six different drugs, two antidepressants and four drugs to fight the side effects of the two antidepressants. When I turned 30, I realized I was about cross a line where I'd spent more of my life on antidepressants than I'd spent without it. Something about that realization bothered me. I was also still extremely depressed and experiencing suicidal thoughts. One day it dawned on me that I shouldn't be considering suicide if my antidepressants were working, so I saw a psychiatrist with the intention of finding my emotional baseline, and instead I was plunged into withdrawal.

The good news for you, though, is that we have so much more information about this than when I was going through it in 2016. I don't want to scare you by telling you to read my book and share it with your family, but it is an example of 1) what can happen the things go wrong and 2) healing. I truly believe that most people aren't fundamentally broken, and what they need is a different way of addressing their issues.

Talk to your doctor about hyperbolic tapering. It's a slow method of drug reduction shown to mitigate severe side effects. Look at the research by Mark Horowitz, Anders Sorenson, and Michael Hengartner. All of them address this topic in one way or another and can serve as good jumping off points for discussion with family and doctors.

kantb2creative19 karma

What are the steps to trying out and making it onto the show? How did you prepare?

eatsnow60 karma

I met one of the casting directors at a party in NYC, and she encouraged me to apply. So I had a few glasses of wine and applied out of boredom, thinking I'd never get chosen. It was a question and answer style application, and I don't recall the questions that were asked.

From there, I was invited to do an on camera interview, and a few months later, got an email confirming that I was chosen. At no point did anyone ask me to cook which I always thought was odd. I've always thought a slick conman could make his way onto the show without knowing how to boil water.

I prepared by 1) making flashcards like I was in high school and 2) doing chopped run-throughs with my friends. They'd bring 4 random ingredients and I'd set a timer and literally try to create something out of what they made. That's how Oreo Fried Chicken was invented.

thutruthissomewhere7 karma

Oreo fried chicken, you say?? I'm intrigued.

eatsnow6 karma

It wasn't the worst. Not the best, either. I scraped the filling out and used the chocolate wafers as breading.

proper_impropriety15 karma

What is your favorite ingredient to work with?

Also, you seem like a great person and I wish you nothing but the best!

eatsnow43 karma

Favorite fancy ingredient: white miso. Soups, cookies, marinades, brownies, rice—a chunk of this stuff elevates everything.

Favorite cheap-ass ingredient: Caldo De Tomate. Filled with MSG but costs nothing and can save any bland dish.

proper_impropriety11 karma

What is your most used piece of kitchen equipment (besides your knife) and what piece of equipment would you recommend for home cooks?

eatsnow32 karma

Most used piece of equipment: A saucing spoon. Sounds like a silly answer, but I use the thing as a tasting vessel, a spatula, a measuring device. Saucing spoons are bigger than eating spoons but smaller than say, a wooden spoon. It's basically an extension of my hand.

Piece of equipment I'd recommend for home cooks: A gram scale and a rice cooker. For baking, weighing ingredients is always more accurate and cuts down on a lot of the fuckery. The best recipes are written in grams, so you may as well have a $20 scale lying around. It also helps if you're drying to clean up your diet or lose weight. The disappointment of learning what two tablespoons of peanut butter actually looks like is real. And rice cookers because rice can be finicky and who wants to scrape burnt rice off a pan.

wallerc1513 karma


I was wondering, what is your favorite easy to make meal when you are tired and have had a long day?

eatsnow23 karma

Deli ham and a strip of grainy mustard. Seriously.

CaravelClerihew6 karma

Ha, I craved honey-mustard once in college and did just that, with the addition of a squeeze of honey. I only started questioning my life choices after my third slice of ham.

eatsnow8 karma

I start questioning when the pack is gone.

limpdickskit8 karma

Hi! Thanks for doing this!

What are your thoughts on YouTube food channels and do you have any specific ones you recommend or avoid?

eatsnow24 karma


I don't spend much time on YouTube so I can't recommend much. Although Pasta Grannies is always a delight.

As far as IG accounts, which is more where I live on the internet, I like New York Times Cooking, Cooks Illustrated, and America's Test Kitchen. They're all basic, beautiful, extremely well tested, and teach a ton of technique while providing great recipes.

timbeam667 karma

Did you make friendships with your Chopped competitors?

eatsnow5 karma

Light contact thanks to social media, but no one lives in the same place so it naturally falls away.

irocwitmadawg4207 karma

Was Maneet Chauhan as lovely as she seems? I like when shes a judge! Also how much time do you get with the judges during production?

eatsnow7 karma

I'm sure I'd love to get dinner with her but as a judge she was quite the bulldog. Very high standards.

Trill-I-Am6 karma

The. Umber one thing I wonder about the show is how/why the judges comment on things happening in the kitchen that it seems like they can’t see. How close are they? Can they see right into the kitchen?

eatsnow7 karma

I'm assuming they have a producer in their ear who gives them an overview of what's happening on the far end if the kitchen, but for chefs in the stations closest to the judges, they can definitely see what's going on. That goes both ways. The perk of being close to the judges is that you can hear them talk, so if they say a certain ingredient needs a certain preparation, you can hear that an adjust.

The chefs on the far end of the kitchen don't get that perk. But, they're closer to the pantry which saves a ton of time. I think that benefit evens out the advantage.

ArchDucky5 karma

Can you hear the judges while you're cooking?

eatsnow3 karma

Scheduled AMA

Copied from above:

The perk of being close to the judges is that you can hear them talk, so if they say a certain ingredient needs a certain preparation, you can hear that an adjust.
The chefs on the far end of the kitchen don't get that perk. But, they're closer to the pantry which saves a ton of time. I think that benefit evens out the advantage.

raspberries-4 karma

Do you ever use your knives to open containers? Ever chip a blade doing something you know was dumb af?

And just to add, imo, no bangs=way better. Current hair👍

eatsnow3 karma

Ah, bangs. An emotional journey.

Dumbest thing I ever did with a knife was try to open a coconut. Definitely chipped it a bit. But it was a crap knife and I needed the coconut meat so I'd do it again.

mrpetersonjordan4 karma

Omg. I ran across this randomly. I’m an actor in the entertainment industry and I was put on effexor for 2 years for headaches. I came off cold turkey after 2 years and it completely ruined me. I developed a symptom called akathisia, had brain zaps, etc. I’m 3 years removed and much better. I still have lingering symptoms that I’ll probably live with forever. It disrupts your nervous system. How are you doing today?

I also want to thank you for sharing this as I feel it’s extremely important to talk about and it’s not talked about enough.

Have you considered joining a group to promote more awareness(not that you already aren’t). Would I be able to send you a message in regards to that venture?

eatsnow3 karma

Hi! I feel for you so much, especially with the akathisia. I didn't get that, thankfully, but I've worked with people who have it and it is awful. So glad you've mostly recovered. We need more stories of recovery.

Today, I'm doing great. All the physical symptoms are gone and most of the emotional/sensory ones. I'm still hyper sensitive to sound, but it's far better than it used to be and it doesn't cause the emotional dysregulation anymore.

Feel free to PM me about the support group. I'll see what I can do.

vonnegutfan23 karma

Thank you. My sister went thru a rough patch breast cancer, mom died, divorce. She needed antidepressants. It’s been 10 years, I think they are dampening her life.. when Is it right to wean off?

eatsnow6 karma

That's up to the individual. As much as you want something different for her, she has to be the one to make the call.

I will say that the argument that "this isn't a good time because XYZ is happening" never felt right to me, because life is life and there will always be a stress.

Jogun_Studios3 karma

I've always been curious what the process for getting on these shows is like. Do you just fill out an application or do you have to send videos of you cooking/do a pre-screening?

eatsnow2 karma

Just an application followed by an on camera interview. No cooking required (at least for chopped, I know Top Chef is far more involved.)

retrolux3 karma

From your view today, would you say that you "needed" the antidepressants or would it have been better that you avoided them all along? Even when the time was difficult for the loss you suffered when you where young?

Thanks for kindly answering everyone here.

eatsnow7 karma

For me, I don't think I "needed" them. I think my mother was in a vulnerable place. She'd just lost her husband and was grieving herself and I was an only child who was almost too stoic about it all. She listened to the advice of doctors because they were the expert, and I was a kid who wanted to be a good girl and do what she was told. There was no reason for me to question the decision.

In retrospect, I was in shock. What I needed was time to process what had happened to me, and I needed people to stop trying to get me back to "normal" in a world that was not normal. I wasn't the kind of kid who was going to start using drugs and get in with the wrong crowd. But these drugs were just approved for minors and they were being pushed by experts. No one thought it would last for fifteen years.

EggHeadMagic3 karma

What is or was your favorite “over the sink” meal?

eatsnow3 karma

Rotisserie chicken from the grocery store, some pre-cooked veggies from the deli, and a dollop of hummus on top of it all.

whatevenisthis1233 karma

Do you think SSRIs etc still have a place in medicine, and what is that place?

eatsnow2 karma

Tricky question because it depends on the context. In a world where all health professionals are trauma-informed, where people have access to the psycho-emotional care they need, and doctors aren't slaves to insurance billing, then no, I think we could help people without them and have better general outcomes because of it.

But that's not the world we live in. Research shows that antidepressants work better than sugar pills roughly 15% of the time, and seem to have the most impact on the most severe cases of depression. That's not a great outcome for 85% of users, but it is valuable for that 15%. So perhaps it's not about eliminating them entirely, but more about better screening.

Realistically, I think this is going to go down a similar path as benzos and opiates. I'd anticipate a lawsuit in 10-20 years that will change how they are dispensed. They'll still be used in severe cases, but they won't be doled out like candy by GPs like they are now. Hopefully they will require a specialist, consistent monitoring, and primarily be used for short term use.

HuntingIvy4 karma

I think it's important to note that SSRIs aren't only prescribed for depression but also for other mental illnesses like PTSD or OCD where incidence of effectiveness is higher (especially over the long term). Like you said, screening is super important, but not all mental health conditions are equal.

eatsnow2 karma

Very good point about their use and effectiveness.

However, the withdrawal angle is the same across all fronts. Whether you were put on them for headaches, OCD, Chron's, or depression, we still need a ton more education in the medical system when it comes to safe tapering and deprescribing. ]

Vanpotheosis2 karma

Do you find that cooking professionally reduced your enjoyment of the activity?

I love cooking and worked a line on several stations for a while but the job killed my passion. Maybe it was just the wrong restaurant? Line cooks and their commanding officers are grossly underappreciated everywhere. So thanks for that.

eatsnow4 karma

100%. I hated cooking by the time Chopped came around, and it's taken years to find that spark again.

Post Chopped, I left my business and traveled internationally for a year (which was part of the impetus for getting off antidepressants.) I decided to avoid fancy restaurants at all costs because I worked in that world and was done with it. So I sought out grandmothers wherever I went and cooked with them. I wrote about it for EatingWell. Magazine:


Kampizi2 karma

As a foodie to a foodie, what's your favorite meal?

eatsnow2 karma

Hmm. At this point in my life/career it’s all about the company. A bowl of craft Mac and cheese with the right person or people means more to me than some epic meal.

But as far as food experiences that really stick out to me:

-Jerusalem bread dipped in za’atar in Israel. -Ricotta cheese from some farm somewhere in Italy -waygu beef in Japan (sucks everywhere else) -Thai coconuts -Mexico city tacos Al pastor. -rain or shine ice cream in Vancouver Canada -Dough doughnuts in NYC (though I think they’ve declined in quality, sadly) -a sweet pea cake by Blue Hill at Stone Barns. Damn I wish I could find evidence of this. It was a summer 2016 dessert on their tasting menu and it blew my mind.

Best cup of coffee I ever had was in the middle of nowhere, Malaysia. It was a backyard coffee farm, maybe 1 acre, so the beans were roasted that morning in a ~1 gallon hand roaster.

Best drink I’ve ever had was some absurdly priced champagne. The name unfortunately escapes me but it smelled like fresh baked butter shortbread. I’ve been searching for that scent ever since.

montani2 karma

Have you met chopped champion and author Drew Magary?

eatsnow1 karma

Have not.

geekymama2 karma

I can completely understand and agree with the belief that SSRIs are incredibly over prescribed, and also question their usage at all when more and more evidence is coming out that serotonin may not even be the issue for most people.

My experience, for example, is that I first started taking SSRIs in highschool. I would get some relief when first starting one, and again after a dosage increase, but eventually it would stop working so it was onto the next one. The first time I had any significant effects that were long lasting was when I first started Wellbutrin. Realizing that Wellbutrin works on norepinephrine and dopamine, I started down the path of getting evaluated for ADHD. And, sure enough, years (decades) of SSRIs were basically useless because in my case the issue was not low levels of serotonin.

So my question for you is this; based on your post and responses, it seems that almost everyone needing an antidepressant can find other means of working through their issues without the use of medication. Now, don't get me wrong, I'm a huge advocate for therapy alongside medication for the most effects. But in reality, no amount of therapy is going to work as the only course of treatment for someone with bipolar disorder or schizophrenia, or even ADHD. So what do you think about medication being used in those instances?

eatsnow2 karma

I don't have any experience with BPD, schizophrenia, or ADHD so it's not something I can comment on with any personal conviction.

But on a broad level, it's clear to me that what we're doing isn't working, and that the rise in suicides, addiction, and people on disability due to mental health issues over the past 50 years is unlikely to be attributed to a fundamental change in our neurobiology. We just don't evolve that quickly. I think there's more going on, and that the flippant prescriptions of things like anti-psychotics for people who aren't psychotic could be making things worse, because we know they change the brain.

For more on this, check out the work of Robert Whitaker, specifically Anatomy of an Epidemic.

usernamy1 karma

I don’t see this question asked yet, but what does withdrawal feel like? Clicking your links they describe potential side effects as “severe”, but I don’t really know.

Is it a physical reaction? Is it all mental?

eatsnow3 karma

I wrote this for the Washington Post a while ago. Symptoms like this went on for almost a year.

"Within 24 hours of missing my usual dose, flulike symptoms set in and my emotions went into overdrive; so in between the sweats and the shakes, I resisted the urge to saw off my skin with a box cutter just to get away from myself.

After six days without the drug in my system, my mind began to flood with bloody, homicidal visions. I was too scared to tell my psychiatrist what was flashing through my mind because I feared that she would deem me a danger to myself or others and put me on an involuntary, psychiatric hold.

I called an old family friend, a psychologist who lived across the country. She assured me that I wasn’t going to hurt anyone, but I still didn’t trust myself not to snap. So I locked myself in my apartment for a week.

The visions eventually lifted and were replaced by an intolerable sensitivity to light and sound. I tore the clothes off my back when shirts I’d worn for years suddenly became unbearably itchy. Then, I bent a metal ironing board in half out of rage."


coat-tail_rider-5 karma

Hi, your description above states that you're not a doctor and don't give medical advice, but elsewhere you're either being quoted or represented using statements like "Brooke understands first-hand how antidepressants are not the solution to combating depression".

Here in the comments, there are people asking you when their family members should wean off antidepressants, if SSRIs have a place in medicine, and whether doctors who allow withdrawals should be given the death pentalty .

So, my question:

Are you qualified to make such statements or answer such questions?

I'm trying give you an opportunity to disavow the notion of your expertise. Your book and advocacy are based on your personal experience, correct? So, you're not a medical professional in any capacity and all these people should talk to their doctor, right?

Just want to allow you to be extra clear here since your disclaimer didn't do the job.

Edit: added more of the questions from this thread that absolutely should not have been asked of a cooking-show contestant.

eatsnow6 karma

If you can't see the difference between sharing firsthand experiences and resources and giving medical advice, then I don't know what to tell you.

YouAreNotABard549-8 karma

Hi Brooke! Looking forward to checking out your book on audio if you read it yourself. Seems really intriguing. Do you think I’m being too harsh if I think that any medical professional who allows harmful withdrawal from any substance should get the death penalty?

I’m not quite there but I definitely lean heavily in that direction because of what I’ve seen my wife go through (and myself as well). Should they just be imprisoned for life? What’s the best punishment for this crime?

eatsnow2 karma

Audiobook should be out in a matter of days. I didn't read it myself because the book is too complicated. It takes place in half a dozen countries, and the number of accents, etc. that needed to be handled was beyond my expertise. So you'll have to forgive me and listen anyway. :)

As far as punishment...look, there are shitty doctors out there because there are shitty people everywhere. But more often than not, I run into clinicians who feel just as duped and confused as the patient. That's an awful place for everyone to be. The bottom line is doctors need a hell of a lot more education on this topic and we need a ton more research. The gap between practice and research is too big.