Medication – A blessing or a curse?

Well a few months down the line from my recent acute episode, I’m starting to see a light at the end of the tunnel and it’s not an oncoming train. However, back on the road to normality, yesterday brought into question whether I am entitled to more than recovery.

You see, despite generally functioning reasonably well (recent circumstances excluded), I’ve always struggled with a relatively low mood. I just thought that was my lot and that I’d got it as good as I was going to get it. After all, I manage much better than most. However, during my recent episode, as outlined in my earlier posts, my psychiatrist prescribed me an antipsychotic to help me break the cycle of anxiety and hypomania that I found myself in. Yes, it switched off the receptors in my brain that made me feel full, I ate like a horse and gained weight but, I felt great, better than I did pre-episode. In talking to a few people who had been in a similar situation and my GP, I learned that there was another antipsychotic than didn’t have as big an impact on the appetite. So, at my appointment yesterday, I raised the possibility of switching to the alternative as it had clearly improved my baseline mood but, as a diabetic, the weight gain was an issue.

Simple eh? Apparently not. Now I’m feeling ‘better’, my psychiatrist wants to take me off the antipsychotic to see if I still need it. Now it’s important to state that atypical antipsychotics are not just used for psychosis, and that they can also be used for depression. It’s also important to note that polypharmacy (the use of multiple drugs) isn’t usually encouraged but, if a drug elevates my mood to a ‘normal’ level, has minimal side effects and adds just one more tablet to the cocktail I’m already on, shouldn’t I be allowed to take it? Using the usual analogy, would a doctor, on seeing that a diabetics’ blood sugars have normalised, take them off the medication that’s doing the job?

Should I have to return to a life that is less than I know it could be? Can I have more than I had before or should I just accept that at least I have some quality of life? I would welcome your views.


2 responses

  1. I feel so strongly that no one should have to settle for second best, but am learning rapidly that the Mental Health sector appears to rarely follow that belief.
    Can you ask for a second opinion, why shouldn’t “they who should be obeyed” not be challenged?

    Rant over !!!


  2. In my service, which is for personality disorder, our psychiatrist is in favor of taking us off meds for a few reasons. Though helpful for co-morbid symptoms, the NICE guidelines doesn’t generally advise meds for BPD treatment or when someone finally gets to see her they maybe a polypharmacological jumble & she like’s too see where someone is actually at, if the mix (often haphazardly created) is causing more problems than it helps and whether they’re able to offer alternative treatments for problems. One friend she tried without medication and as soon as she saw that that really wouldn’t work, she reinstated them all. I think these are all fair enough reasons for stopping a medication mix. I am cunningly under the care of my GP & so when she posits the ‘when you are well, we’ll take you off medication’ I can tell her to bugger off. My GP is great at mental health, has known me longer and an old fashioned tricyclic that helps me will continue to work and helps with my migraines – getting off and on it though takes months and so I’m deciding that staying on that is wiser.

    Has your psychiatrist told you the reasons for the decision? If it is just for evaluation & you found that you were not OK without it would the psych prescribe it again? Who’s version of feeling OK or not is going to be used here? I don’t think anyone has the right to expect you to take the risk of feeling incredibly distressed again, without giving you an out somehow if that was to happen. Psychosis, and lots of states leading up to it are painful and terrifying. Do you have a good GP who listens to you or do they just follow the psychiatrist when it comes to mental health prescriptions? Do you have an advocacy service that can be on your side in these discussions.

    Unfortunately some practitioners hate when we come in with suggestions, whereas the more open minded will look up the current research and make a decision based on that with a discussion. I think that if any treatments are available to mitigate the suffering of mental distress and they are withheld from patients, an act of great cruelty has been committed and nobody deserves to go through that.

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