My sad, stupid Emsam story

I'll start my little story by prefacing that this is MY individual experience with Emsam which will not necessarily be anyone else's experience. Everyone's body reacts to drugs in different ways. This is my experience and its aftermath.

What is Emsam? An antidepressant medication delivered via skin patch. The acronym Emsam is derived from the names Emily and Samuel. They are the children of Mel Sharoky, M.D., CEO of Emsam's manufacturer, Somerset Pharmaceuticals, Inc.

Cute huh?

It's a newer product on the market and at this point I'm willing to try most anything.

Over the years I've sought a wide variety of sources of treatment ranging from counseling to medications to "alternatives." I've been on the antidepressant roller coaster for decades. Each prescription only resulted in side effects and then withdrawal symptoms when switching to yet another med. Combinations and add-ons were tried as well but no benefit. Most of these antidepressants were of the SSRI family. My newest doctor decided to try the Emsam patch because I had never tried an MAOI inhibitor before. I was placed on the lowest dosage patch first (6mg). After about 8 weeks there was absolutely no effect, side or otherwise. The doctor and I mutually agreed to have me try the 12mg patch—the maximum dosage. There are dietary restrictions on this dosage but I was willing to work around them and it turned out not to be much of an issue. Unfortunately the problems began about 4 days into the higher dosage.

As a veteran of taking antidepressants, I am well familiar with coping with side effects and letting them run their course. I had no reason to feel Emsam's side effects should be treated any differently so I chose to ride them out just like all the previous meds. These side effects included slight dizziness, dull headaches, dry mouth and the main character of the story—head rushes.

On December 18, just days before Christmas, I stopped at a gas station on my way to work. I was leaning back against my SUV while waiting for the gas pump to finish. At that moment an intense head rush came over me. I could see white splotches of light, felt dizziness, etc. I instinctively put my head back and closed my eyes to ride it out.


I blacked out, rolled to my left and plunged off the end of the vehicle like a rag doll to the greasy concrete below—chin first. The impact immediately awoke me. As odd as it sounds I had a full awareness of what had just happened and knew just what to do. I got up quickly while spitting out pieces of broken teeth into my hand. There was nobody around so nobody came to my aid which was fine by me. I quickly replaced the gas nozzle and jumped in the vehicle. I reached for the pile of napkins I keep in my glove box and covered my mouth trying to minimize the bloody mess.

Dazed, shaken, yet surreally lucid at the same time, I managed to get myself to a nearby emergency room. I approached the lady behind the window with a wad of bloody napkins and gauze. I then uttered the following brilliant words— "I fell." Startled, she handed me paperwork to sign and I was quickly whisked off to an exam room. My blood pressure was taken and showed a perfectly normal reading. An x-ray revealed a fractured right jaw bone. I took three stitches to the chin. My front lower teeth were extremely loose and two top teeth were broken.

The cause of the head rush and subsequent blackout was due to an apparent sudden blood pressure PLUNGE that made me lose consciousness. Ironically the dietary restrictions of this drug are meant to prevent sudden blood pressure SPIKES caused by certain foods. Ironically I found myself on a different diet of soft foods for 4 to 6 weeks since I could not bite or chew. An oral surgeon had to grind the tops of the bottom teeth down so they wouldn't hit the top teeth when I closed my mouth and also bonded a wire to them to keep them stable. Further x-rays revealed another fracture in the lower jaw beneath those bottom teeth. Fortunately he felt my jaw would heal on its own without wiring me shut provided I don't bite or chew. If the jaw didn't heal properly it would have to be rebroken and consequently wired shut for an additional 6 weeks or even more. On top of everything else, ten days after the accident I began experiencing dizziness and vertigo. Yet another doctor said it may be an inner ear disturbance caused by the head injury.

This was all due to a side effect of the drug known as Emsam. An ANTI depressant. An expensive medication that's supposed to help one feel better.

Along with my struggle with depression and anxiety, I found myself facing a long haul of doctor, dental and oral surgeon appointments. The vertigo seems to be gone now but it may resurface in the future. My jaw and teeth, though healed, have not been the same since. My bite is misaligned and the only thing that can correct it is a minimum 18 months of wearing braces. This is not a financially feasible at this I wait. The load has now become that much more burdensome.

Somehow I managed to get through the holidays with a broken jaw and a limited menu of soft and liquid foods. As I look back on my long experience with antidepressants I have come to realize that they have never ever helped me out of this darkness. Ever. As a matter of fact, with their accompanying side effects, withdrawal symptoms, cost, dashed hopes, and this unfortunate Emsam induced accident, they have pushed me further into despair. A literal kick in the teeth.


  1. I've just started reading and I suspect this question is going to haunt me as I continue to read ... what keeps you going? I don't ask that lightly. I've always been curious what keeps some people going where others just don't have the strength. Just reading this account has brought tears to my eyes.

  2. Rob,
    Good to hear from you. I suspect I keep going for the sake of my wife and kids. If not for them I would probably have been institutionalized or dead by now. It's hard to say. I'm admittedly perplexed at how long I've lasted and wonder if it's actually a good thing or more of a curse.