3 Reasons to Take and Stay On Psychiatric Drugs

by Neseret on November 5, 2013

Psychiatric medications affect the most intimate aspects of mind and consciousness. We have a right to self determination: to define our experiences as we want, seek out practitioners we trust, and discontinue treatments that aren’t working for us. We don’t judge others for taking or not taking psychiatric drugs: we respect individual autonomy. ~ Harm Reduction Guide to Coming Off of Psychiatric Drugs by Will Hall ~

Most people at some point in their lifetime will experience mental illness. During those times of crisis and distress they’ll likely be offered, coerced, and or forced to take psychiatric drugs.

Psychiatric medications can be an effective form of treatment for mental illness. However, they are not the end-all-be-all answer to all of life’s problems they’re made out to be in psychiatry today.

Shot in the Dark…

People experience both positive and negative effects from psychiatric drugs.

Through trial and error people hope to find medications that effectively treat distressing symptoms without causing many unwanted effects

It is one thing to take a drug that treats a distressing symptom but what happens when the same drug creates a negative effect that is more distressing than the illness it was prescribed for?

This is a typical predicament of many people who take psychiatric drugs. They describe feeling like they have to choose between their “sanity” and some “terrible side effect” (ie: weight gain, non-existent libido, emotional numbness or whatever else).

Is it Really Worth it?

Many people wonder if it is worth it to stay on medication. Some decide to get off of medication and continue to struggle with debilitating symptoms. Others will remain on medications that do more damage than good to their health because they may believe they have no other options or else they’re being treated involuntarily.

Psychiatric drugs may or may not be beneficial part of a person’s healing journey. Medication is just one possible route to improved mental health. There are many more equally effective and less evasive paths to mental wellness.

I would encourage you to explore those avenues with an open heart.  I believe it is important to combine conventional medicine with alternative and complementary healing practices.

In the event you are considering taking psychiatric medications, or perhaps medication is already part of your health regimen, below you will find what I believe are the most important reasons to take and stay on psychiatric drugs.

# 1 The Benefits Outweigh the Risks

The decision to take psychiatric drugs should be based on the usefulness of the drug’s effects relative to the risks involved…~ Harm Reduction Guide to Coming Off of Psychiatric Drugs by Will Hall~

There are risks involved in taking any psychiatric medication. There are no conclusive research or studies that show the long term effects of psychiatric medications.

In the past long term use of certain psychiatric medications caused irreversible negative effects such as involuntary body movements.

Newer psychiatric medications are marketed as being “more effective” and having “less serious negative effects”. Nevertheless those “less serious negative effects” cause some people serious decline in their quality of life and overall health.

Everyone is affected by psychiatric medications differently. What works for one person may not work for someone else. If you are currently taking psychiatric medications you can make a quick assessment by asking yourself a few questions.

How is this medication affecting your functioning? How effectively is it helping your distressing symptoms? What unwanted effects is it causing? How distressing are those unwanted effects for you?

Clearly if you feel that the benefits of being on medication outweigh the risks then it maybe appropriate for you to stay on medication.

# 2 You Can’t Function

Anyone who has ever experienced overwhelming depression, debilitating anxiety, highs of mania, or terrifying experience of detaching from reality will tell you that it is incredibly challenging if not nearly impossible to function while experiencing extreme states of consciousness.

Undiagnosed and untreated mental illness can severely and negatively impact many aspects of a person’s life.  Symptoms can be such that you’re not able to function at work, school, and in your relationships.

Some people spiral down very quickly to poverty and homelessness due to mental illness. Others may get in to trouble with law. Still others may turn to substances to help medicate their distressing symptoms.

All of these things tend to make issues worse. Psychiatric medications can treat some of the more distressing symptoms of mental illness so that a person can be in a better frame of mind to learn further coping skills.

# 3 You Feel As Though You Can no Longer Cope

Overwhelming feelings of frustration, hopelessness, and despair may lead some people to consider suicide. Thoughts of suicide may or may not always lead to the decision to actually end life.

Nevertheless, if suicidal feelings persist and you have a plan to end your life, psychiatric medications may potentially play a critical role. At a minimum they will take the edge off and allow you to address the deeper issues underlying your feelings.

When it comes to psychiatric medications many people will forgo and or refuse receiving treatment that could be beneficial and even lifesaving for them. This is due to fear of stigma. Yet there is no shame in taking psychiatric medications.

For many people psychiatric medications can be and are extremely helpful. It maybe the only thing that prevents them from spiraling down to deep despair, helps them get a grip on reality, or saves them from harming themselves, and or going down a very destructive path.

It maybe part of what makes them feel “normal” and “human”.

No one needs to be judged or made to feel less for deciding to take or stay on psychiatric medications. People who take psychiatric drugs deserve the same respect, understanding, and support as anyone else taking other types of medications.

Please share your comments and questions below. Share this article on Twitter, Facebook, and Google+. Thank you.

Peace, Love & Gratitude,

Neseret

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Kevin January 29, 2014 at 5:05 pm

This is a great article. As a mental health nurse, I’m always struggling to motivate people to be consistent with medications.

Although medications is not a cure-all solution, it’s the most valuable tool we have to balance chemicals in the brain that cause mental illness. You’ve touched on a lot of people’s concerns and fears about psych medications. I hope people read this and realize how important it is for their mental well-being.

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Teri May 20, 2014 at 1:16 am

There are trade-offs in either case – whether you are on psych meds or off psych meds. Psych meds can also skew your judgement to the extreme as opposed to what mental illness does to your brain, and it’s really hard to determine whether they can bring you closer to the objective reality, or pre-mental illness reality, if you wish. Some side effects of psych drugs are more difficult to tolerate than the symptoms of an untreated mental illness, although it varies between individuals. If you are more comfortable with paranoia than complete absence of it, then you can stay off psych meds since in both cases you might not reach perfect judgement, which will allow you to adequately assess the situation and make right choices. Mistakes are inevitable in either situtation. Even people without the mental illness can have the same problem in this respect.

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