Unseen Passage: Antidepressant

Early in 2003 Tim ‘Woody’ Witezak got some good news: a new job as Vice President of sales with a start up energy-efficient lightning company in Heart Land U.S. City Minneapolis, in Minnesota. But with the position came stress and difficulty in sleeping. Jane Woody, 37 was seen by his family doctor, a general practitioner who gave him samples of Zoloft an anti-depressant that also treated anxiety [The drug’s generic name is Sertra Line HCL, and is sold in India under other brand name like Serta and Sedep]. ‘‘This was the first time he’d ever been to a doctor about an issue like this,’’ says his wife Kim. He was a happy person and had no history of mental illness or depression.

Within a few days, though, Woody experienced several side effects of the drug such as night sweats, diarrhoea, weight loss and trembling hands. His anxiety worsened, he became uncharacteristically irritable and restless. One evening he came home crying after driving around all day when the samples ran out after three weeks, Woody’s doctor doubled his dose to 50 mg and urged him to give the drug time. The instructions from Pfizer Inc., the U.S. Manufacturer of Zoloft, said it could take four to six weeks to be effective. But two weeks later, Kim recalls Woody walked in the back door in his blue business shirt drenched in sweat. He curled into a foetal position on the kitchen floor, his hands pressing around his head like a vice, and begged, ‘‘Help me. I don’t know what’s happening to me. I think I am losing my mind. I feel my head is outside my body looking in.’’

Less than a week later Woody seemed to be springing back. He ran almost 5 kms, bought flight tickets for a bachelor party in Las Vegas and when he spoke on phone one morning to Kim, how can Kim be wife and account executive, he suggested, they should celebrate their tenth Wedding Anniversary in Thailand. That evening, though, things had changed, ‘‘His voice sounded hollow.’’ She remembers I just assumed he was busy and distracted. The last thing he said was, ‘‘I love you Kim.’’ Woody was dead. He had hung himself from the rafters. By cruel coincidence the Minneapolis star Tribuneran had a front page story that day: ‘‘UK Finds Link Between Anti-depressant And Suicide.’’

Q. Answer the following questions by choosing the most appropriate option:

  1. Which one of the following words doesn’t relate to Woody Witezak?
    1. Minneapolis
    2. bronchitis
    3. depression
    4. Zoloft
  2. The Generic name of the medicine prescribed to ‘‘Woody’’ was
    1. Sartreline
    2. Sirtraline
    3. Sertraline
    4. Sretreline
  3. Woody wanted to celebrate his tenth Wedding anniversary in
    1. Singapore
    2. China
    3. Thailand
    4. U.S.A.
  4. Which of the following things Woody didn’t do, after his dose was doubled up?
    1. He curled in foetal position.
    2. He walked in the backyard in his yellow business shirt.
    3. He felt that his head was out of his body looking in.
    4. He presses his hand around his head.
  5. Woody Witezak was a patient of _____________.
    1. energy deficiency
    2. anxiety and depression
    3. anxiety
    4. mental illness
  6. A word that means the same as ‘drenched’ is
    1. soaked
    2. dry
    3. free from moisture
    4. None of these


  1. bronchitis
  2. Sertraline
  3. Thailand
  4. he walked in the backyard in his yellow business shirt
  5. anxiety and depression
  6. soaked

Q. Answer the following questions:

  1. Tim Woody’s cause of stress was his _____________ as Vice-President of sales.
  2. He was a happy person and no _____________ of mental illness or depression.
  3. He became uncharacteristically _____________ and _____________.
  4. He came home _____________ after crying.
  5. Less than a week later Woody seemed to be _____________ back.
  6. He had hung himself from the _____________ .


  1. stress
  2. history
  3. irritable and restless
  4. crying
  5. springing
  6. rafters

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