Let Inga Tell You: Sorry, Cymbalta, you can’t help

Concept of antidepressants
Inga wonders why the TV shows she watches are sponsored by makers of antidepressants.

It has not escaped my attention that all of my favorite TV shows are sponsored by antidepressants. Except, of course, for the ones advertising clinical trials for antidepressants. Or boosters for antidepressants. I find this very depressing.

You’ll recognize the tagline (or maybe you won’t) for a longtime popular ad: “Cymbalta can help.” I am not in any way attempting to minimize the seriousness of depression, as I come from a long line of OCD pack rats and chronic anxious wrecks. I’ve personally tended to embrace the chronic anxious wreck side of the family (there’s only so much mental illness one person can accommodate at a time) for which it is entirely possible that Cymbalta could help. But I can never get past that chirpy little aside at the end: “Liver problems, some fatal, have occurred.” I just think they say that waaaay too casually.

I’ve spent considerable time trying to decide what all this Cymbalta advertising means and am down to three conclusions:

1) People who watch this show are depressed and need Cymbalta.

2) People who watch this show should be depressed and start taking Cymbalta.

3) People who watch this show will become depressed simply from watching it and should take Cymbalta before they harm someone.

Seriously, is the mere preference for the shows that I watch diagnostic? If so, I’m going to be not only depressed but peevish.

Rexulti, another mega-advertiser whose ad I’ve seen more times than I will ever admit, is not even an antidepressant but a booster to your already-not-working antidepressant. Now is that depressing or what? But there is one part of the ad that is promising to me: “Elderly dementia patients taking Rexulti have an increased risk of death.” Without sounding like Dr. Kevorkian, my kids know I have a profound fear of ending up a dementia patient. So maybe I need to add this to my health directive. Kids: Stock up on Rexulti for off-label use!

My husband, Olof, likes to give the illusion of interest in my TV-watching habits with the query, “So is ’90 Day Dancing with the Stars’ on?” I confess that my interest in “Dancing with the Stars” has been waning in recent years when I haven’t heard of a single one of the stars, but “90 Day Fiancé” has truly become my ultimate guilty pleasure. Olof does wish I would stop yelling at the TV, “No, don’t do it! He only wants the green card!” It worries him when I talk to the TV. He starts wondering if maybe I do need Cymbalta.

But he does point out that there are no antidepressant commercials on Monday Night Football.

It’s only getting worse. Now the antidepressant ads are interspersed with Lyrica ads for fibromyalgia. Like I don’t have enough problems with my TLC-TV-induced depression?

I also have to confess that the Lyrica ads annoy me to death (a serious side effect), particularly the lead line where the happy Lyrica patient says, “I found out that connected to our muscles are nerves.” Was the fibromyalgia caused by her lobotomy?

What’s starting to really worry me is that these commercials have insidiously seeped down from women-oriented cable channels and wantonly infiltrated major networks that one used to be able to watch free of antidepressant assault. Surely, I think to myself, there must be a less risky cure for TV-induced depression than Cymbalta. Like watch PBS?

I won’t say that I wouldn’t like to be less anxious. (I can assure you my husband wouldn’t mind my being less anxious.) To worry less, to not always feel that catastrophe is just around the corner. To be able crank down my overamped system a few notches. But then, at this stage of my life, I think it’s so much part of me that it would make me nervous not to be anxious. Alternatively, I can maybe find out where the Lyrica lady got her lobotomy.

Sorry, Cymbalta. I don’t think you can help. So leave me alone already and let me watch my shows in peace. Or else. Because I’m your demographic and you should know better than to mess with me.

Inga’s lighthearted looks at life appear regularly in the La Jolla Light. Reach her at ◆