I suppose all medications have side effects, but my experiences with psych meds have been very frustrating. Zyprexa made me gain 45 pounds. I spent hours at the gym and counted calories and still gained. Everyone assumes you have no discipline when you’re fat. I was miserable so what was the point of taking it? With Seroquel I couldn’t swallow and had my period for half the month. To this day I’m afraid of choking on my food even though I haven’t taken Seroquel for years. Invega raised my prolactin levels and depleted my sex drive. Depakote raised my liver enzymes. . Lithium made me throw up. Cogentin, a drug used to reduce the side effects of antipsychotics, caused urinary retention. That was scary. Imagine not being able to pee even though you have to go.
And then there’s the matter of being misdiagnosed and given drugs that are contraindicated for the condition you really have. I once went to a county mental health provider for an outpatient evaluation. I saw a therapist who talked to a nurse, who talked to a doctor. I never got to see the doctor. The therapist told me that I had Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder and the nurse gave me a prescription for Ritalin, which is a stimulant. After I took it, I became enraged over the slightest transgressions. I couldn’t sleep. So I went back to the county mental health provider and told them what I had experienced. The nurse prescribed an antidepressant and told me to take it with the Ritalin. I left and never went back. I didn’t want to take any of it. My current diagnosis is Bipolar Disorder and uppers like Ritalin cause manic episodes.
It’s also frustrating to try so many different meds until I can find something tolerable and then those meds stop working. So then the whole crap-shoot of finding something that works happens again. It’s a pain in the ass.
I can understand how the antipsychiatry folks feel, but I’ve tried repeatedly to discontinue taking medication and it hasn’t worked. So I take them and the current cocktail I’m on (no one with a psychiatric condition takes only one drug anymore) seems to be working well. I lost the weight that I had gained. I suppose I should be grateful. But it’s not easy.
I don’t like the idea of outpatient commitment – being forced to take medication on an outpatient basis – because of the horrific side effects of some of the psych meds. I see lots of frustrated relatives of mentally ill people embrace the idea of outpatient commitment. They don’t take psych meds so they have no clue about what it’s like to experience these side effects. I have news for them; they’re not magic pills. The medication I’m on helps, but I still have some symptoms. There are a lot of things I still can’t do. A few pills won’t make me whole.