It's About Time: L.I. Mom

News Article

IT'S ABOUT TIME: L.I. MOM

New York Post Tue Mar 23, 5:05 AM ET

By DOUGLAS MONTERO

Joanne Schillinger didn't get any warnings about the antidepressant drug prescribed to her then-12-year-old daughter - except that she might gain a few pounds.

It wasn't until her daughter's suicide attempt a year ago that the Long Island mother began blaming the drug Paxil for the girl's violent and irrational behavior.

Yesterday, the 44-year-old mother said the Food and Drug Administration's decision to ask the makers of 10 antidepressants to put a stronger warning about suicide on its labels is a little too late.

"I don't know why it took them so long," Schillinger said.

"If I had known [about the risk], I would've never let my daughter take the drug . . . I didn't have a [medical] degree. I took the word of the doctors because they know better."

Weaned off the drug nearly a year ago, Jaime, now 15, is still suffering from flashbacks.

She does not remember mutilating herself with scissors, knives and paper clips, or the tantrums, or the day she jumped out of her father's moving car.

" 'I can't believe I did that,' " Schillinger recalled her daughter saying as memories begin to enter her life.

"We used to walk around on eggshells because we never knew what was going to trigger her."

Every time Schillinger complained about her daughter's behavior the Paxil dose was increased from 10 milligrams to 20, and eventually to 30.

By March 11, 2003, Schillinger wanted Jaime off Paxil but the doctor persuaded her otherwise - and upped the dosage to 40 milligrams.

Sixteen days later, Jaime used black lipstick to write obscenities all over her bedroom wall, swallowed a fistful of Tylenol and slit her wrist, the mother said.

"I should've followed by motherly instinct and taken her off the drug - that's what makes me so mad," said Schillinger, who learned through the Internet that for years many other families across the nation have complained about possible links between antidepressants and their loved ones' suicides.

"The FDA should've made [its] decision years ago."