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Old 12-07-2006, 06:24 AM   #1
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Mother quit antidepressants because she breast-fed son

No mention of cold turkey withdrawal being involved, even though that was the reason for the suicide

Mother quit antidepressants because she breast-fed son
She clutched boy in fatal leap onto 401
HAYLEY MICK AND MARY GAZZE

With a report from Alex Dobrota

TORONTO -- Andrea Johnson had long battled the "monster" of depression, but in the end decided not to take prescribed antidepressants out of fear that her breast milk would harm her 2-year-old son, her family said yesterday.

The sister of the 30-year-old who leaped from a Highway 401 overpass early Sunday evening, ending her son's life and her own, said Ms. Johnson made that fateful decision based on two fears: appearing crazy, and hurting her son, Sulla, who was still being breastfed.

"She thought it would affect her baby," her sister, Charlotte Batticks, 18, said yesterday.

Three days after the deaths that shocked her close-knit family and Torontonians in general, those factors and an eloquent statement penned by her sister have shed some light on how a vivacious woman with such promise -- a university education, supportive family and son she adored -- could have killed her child and herself by leaping into traffic.


"My family and myself have asked, Why?, just the same as all you strangers who are hearing of Andrea's news," said her sister, Tanesha, 21, reading from her written statement (she did not want her last name published).

"All we can say is Andrea could not handle the monster that had long ago killed the sister that I knew."

Growing up in Toronto, depression had not yet touched Ms. Johnson. Pretty and outgoing, she was a cheerleader at Wexford Collegiate Institute, a school for the arts in Scarborough, and studied hard with dreams of becoming a lawyer, said her father, Daniel Johnson.

After graduation, she took those dreams to Michigan, where she briefly attended college before high costs and longing for her family drove her back to Canada.

She earned a bachelor's degree in political science at Carleton University in Ottawa, where a former teacher remembered her as a strong, quiet student who smiled politely in the halls.

"She was very respectful," said Daniel Osabu-kle, who teaches a course on development in Africa. "She was a student whose future should not have ended like this."

One summer, while attending a course at the University of Toronto, Ms. Johnson met another aspiring lawyer named Paul Vincent Genua, Mr. Johnson said. They had planned to marry, but the relationship crumbled.

Mr. Genua, who did not return phone calls yesterday, became a criminal lawyer, working in the downtown Toronto offices of one of the city's most high-profile barristers, Joseph Bloomenfeld.

Ms. Johnson gave birth to their son, Sulla, on May 5, 2004, and poured herself into motherhood.

Sulla was a delight, his aunts say. Under his mother's watch, he learned three languages, his ABCs and his 1-2-3s. By the age of two, he could read and spell his name.

There had been signs of depression, but after Sulla's birth, Ms. Johnson's family watched her illness worsen.

"The family was back and forth on believing that Andrea was suffering, since she raised my nephew so brilliantly," Tanesha said.

Ms. Batticks also said Ms. Johnson was defensive about her illness. "She basically was like, she's not crazy . . . and there's nothing wrong with her. She'd get all mad if we brought those assumptions up."

Mr. Johnson added that his daughter's pride also made it difficult to know the depth of her sadness. "She's so independent. Even if she's not okay, she'd say she's okay," Mr. Johnson said.

Ms. Johnson kept other problems private.

Less then a year ago, she sought refuge at a shelter, which her father did not know about until after she died.

"She wouldn't have talked to me about shelters because she wouldn't have wanted me to know about things like that," her father says.

From the shelter, Ms. Johnson had secured a $700-a-month apartment in Toronto's west end, even though she did not have a job and was not looking for one. She wanted to be free to care for her son full time.

Health-care givers have long fought against the stigmas associated with mental health, warning that it drives sufferers underground and makes it more difficult to seek treatment and support.

"There's the fear of being labelled mentally ill, there's a stigma associated with it," said Cindy-Lee Dennis, an assistant professor of nursing at the University of Toronto who researches postpartum depression.

Depressed women often will not seek help because they don't want to be burdensome or they may think their symptoms are a normal part of motherhood, she says.

But even if they are diagnosed, the majority of mothers who are still breastfeeding do not take the antidepressants they have been prescribed, even though it is an effective treatment, she said.

Ms. Dennis added that "women should know that there are antidepressants that are safe while breastfeeding," explaining that doctors can moderate doses.
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Old 12-07-2006, 06:27 AM   #2
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Re: Mother quit antidepressants because she breast-fed son

Her son was born about a week before Kate. Man, that is sooo sad. I can't even imagine.
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Old 12-07-2006, 06:36 AM   #3
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Re: Mother quit antidepressants because she breast-fed son

Once again, the denial of withdrawal caused this to happen.
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Old 12-07-2006, 10:35 AM   #4
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Re: Mother quit antidepressants because she breast-fed son

this tradegty has gripped Toronto..recently a man threw hmself and his child off of an overpass onto the 401..he died, the child survived and as you can imagine is having an awful time...

This Ms. Dennis from University of Toronto..she is givnig the impression that it is safe for mothers to breast feed while on anti-depressants..doctors can alter dosage etc...me thinks we need to eucate Ms. Dennis...I wonder if Rita has contacts at the U of T...
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Old 12-07-2006, 11:05 AM   #5
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Re: Mother quit antidepressants because she breast-fed son

Quote:
Originally Posted by Homerbcool

This Ms. Dennis from University of Toronto..she is givnig the impression that it is safe for mothers to breast feed while on anti-depressants..doctors can alter dosage etc...me thinks we need to eucate Ms. Dennis...I wonder if Rita has contacts at the U of T...
This so sad, I couldn't believe it when I saw the news. Yes Homer, Ms. Dennis needs to be educated. Where is her authority to speak on anti-depressants?
There is stigma and I have found the medical doctors are worse than anybody in that.
Damn, I wonder if her family knows what anti-depressants cause? Depression and suicide among a million other things. Where is this going to end? How many more people will die from the prescribing of this poison.
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Old 12-14-2006, 04:19 PM   #6
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Re: Mother quit antidepressants because she breast-fed son

Andrea Johnson was my first cousin: her uncle is my father and my mother is her aunt. She was the best cousin that any cousin would be proud to have and has never shown any violence towards anyone in her entire life. Somthing terrible must have happened to my cousin's brain why she ended her life and her son's life in such a violent way. I am wondering if it is the withdrawl from taking Antidepressants that led her to such a tragic end. I feel so sad for my two cousins. We all loved them. - Marva
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Old 12-14-2006, 05:01 PM   #7
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Re: Mother quit antidepressants because she breast-fed son

Dear Marva,
First let me offer you my sincere condolences in the loss of your two cousins. I can't even imagine what her family is going through.
I'm in withdrawal and yes, when I'm at my lowest, there are times I want to end it all. I can talk to my husband and daughter about it. If I can't and my daughter knows I'm low she sends me to Paxil Progress, to talk to group.
It is a possibility that is why she ended her life, withdrawal is horrible and if she did it Cold Turkey, it would be horrific.
I hope I wasn't too blunt, but if she were my family, I would start an investigation into which ADs she was on and when they were last prescribed.
ADs have made me more depressed and as I slowly ween off them, I feel better and better, when I stabilize from the previous cut. They didn't help me, they hurt me. Please take care. You will be hearing from other people. Post in here as often as you like.
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Old 12-14-2006, 05:19 PM   #8
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Re: Mother quit antidepressants because she breast-fed son

Quote:
Originally Posted by Marva
Andrea Johnson was my first cousin: her uncle is my father and my mother is her aunt. She was the best cousin that any cousin would be proud to have and has never shown any violence towards anyone in her entire life. Somthing terrible must have happened to my cousin's brain why she ended her life and her son's life in such a violent way. I am wondering if it is the withdrawl from taking Antidepressants that led her to such a tragic end. I feel so sad for my two cousins. We all loved them. - Marva
Marva, I'm so sorry that this has hit your family. I will tell you that the violent, sudden, and out of character nature of this points to antidepressant withdrawal. If I can help with any resources, don't hesitate to ask.
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Old 12-14-2006, 09:47 PM   #9
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Re: Mother quit antidepressants because she breast-fed son

I'm so sorry, Marva, that this has happened to your family. Please read the 'news/research' forum here. You will likely be shocked by what you find there.
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Old 12-15-2006, 03:51 PM   #10
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Re: Mother quit antidepressants because she breast-fed son

Marva, I am so sorry for your loss.

I tried to cold turkey off of Paxil the first time I tried to quit. I can tell you that within a week I thought I was losing my mind. I truly thought I was going insane and that I'd have to commit myself to mental institution. I had images of killing myself, I had horrible nightmares. It was a terrifying experience. I went back on Paxil to save my sanity, a few years later I slowly weaned off.

Come back here to visit, get support and learn all that you can.
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Old 12-15-2006, 10:07 PM   #11
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Re: Mother quit antidepressants because she breast-fed son

Marva..I am so sorry for the loss, the sufferng your family is going through now..the trying to come togrips with what..how..why...

The answers are not really quite clear but within this site you will see perhaps a glimpse into what might have been going through your cousins mind/life..obviously no one knows the exact hell Andrea was going through..but perhaps a glimpse here or there might give yuo some understanding.

There is little doubt in my opinion that the withdrawal led to this....If there is anything we can offer as our expereinces allow, please do not hestiate to ask..there is a private messanger function, if that helps...
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Old 12-15-2006, 10:14 PM   #12
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Re: Mother quit antidepressants because she breast-fed son

Marva, first of all my condolences to all who loved your cousin Andrea and her baby and don't know what to say about this terrible loss to make you feel any better.

I definitely think that the antidepressant had something to do with it.
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