Why Won’t You Take Your Medication?

“Why won’t you just take your medication? I take pills for my cholesterol every night and its no big deal?”

“Every psychiatrist we’ve seen has said you have a mental illness. Why won’t you accept it? Why would the doctors tell you that you’re sick, if it weren’t true?”

“Let’s look at when you were doing well and when you got into trouble. What was the difference? Medication. It was the difference. When you were on your meds, you were fine. And when you weren’t, you got into trouble. Can’t you see that?”

These quotes may sound familiar to you if you are a parent and have a a son or daughter with a severe mental illness. I’ve said everyone of them to my son, Mike.

It often is frustrating for us – parents — to understand why our children will not take anti-psychotic  medication or take it only until they get better and then stop. The remedy seems so clear-cut to us, so simple - and watching them experience the mania, depression, and delusions that happen when they become psychotic is heartbreaking and horrific.

Early on, I tried every trick out there to get Mike to take his pills. Those of you who have read my book know that during one of his first breakdowns, I crushed his pills and mixed them into his breakfast cereal only to be caught by him. I snuck into his room and counted his pills too one day and when I discovered that he had stopped taking them, I followed the advice of a therapist who had told me that I needed to practice “tough love.” I told Mike that if he didn’t take his medication, he had to move out of my house. He did – that very same day.

Another time, I offered to pay him to take his medication — a $1 per pill.

Xavier Amador

It was my friend, Xavier Amador, author of the book, “I’m Not Sick, I Don’t Need Help” who finally convinced me to back off. “I can promise you, Pete,” he said, “your son knows exactly how you feel about medication. You don’t need to ever mention it to him again.”

And since that day, I haven’t. Not a word.

So why do persons with mental illnesses refuse to take their medication or stop taking them as soon as they become stable?

I am asked that question more than any other after I give a speech.

Let’s skip the obvious reasons –that some anti-psychotic medications can dull a person, make them feel physically lousy, kill their sex drive, cause them to gain weight or send them to bed exhausted even though they are already sleeping for 16 hours a day. Let’s ignore the fact that no one really knows the long term health impact that medication can cause on a person’s body.

Instead, let’s dig deeper.

One day, I asked Mike to explain to me in writing why he had struggled so much when it came to taking his medication.

Denial was a strong factor in my understanding and even when evidence of my own madness would be presented, my mind would find a way to weave out of the circumstance and an obtuse reasoning would somehow form that would keep my own pride intact. Always two steps ahead of the truth, my brain would tapdance its way into a room where I was not at fault, where it was everybody else versus me, where I was some sort of prophet or special medium who was undergoing visions, not hallucinations, and I was important, not a victim.

It is very hard to understand that one’s own credibility is broken. There is a lot of personal shame one undergoes when they realize that they are no longer in line with society’s understanding of sane. It makes one doubt one’s own instincts and second guess the movements and decisions that one makes. Suddenly, the veil of confidence and ability has been lifted and one is a wreck, struggling to piece together the remnants of what are left of one’s self image.

I learn a lot from my son. One lesson he has taught me is that taking anti-psychotic medication is much more complicated than being told by your doctor that you have high cholesterol.

About the author:

Pete Earley is the bestselling author of such books as The Hot House and Crazy. When he is not spending time with his family, he tours the globe advocating for mental health reform.

Learn more about Pete.

  • Peggy M.

    Pete–It sounds to me like you are recommending those with severe mental illness “not” take their medications. I am for one “shocked” to hear this type of talk from you. Yes my son's medications and the negative effects of his illness have taken away the son I used to know, someone so outgoing and fun to be around. BUT as much as I miss that person (which is tremendously) I have to weigh it out with the person he becomes if he does NOT take his meds. He is even more unrecognizable–he takes on so many different personalities and his delusions become torturous. He feels things happening to him that aren't, he believes things (bad things) about people that are not so, he hears voices telling him awful things, etc. SO, yes I understand why people taking these medications do not particularly like the way they make them feel BUT I have grown to accept that MY SON, when you weigh the pros and cons of taking or not taking his meds, is MUCH better off taking the meds. They keep him SAFE!!!

    • Deborahcarolbreitbach

      To me it feels that the request to hear from the son about why he does not feel moved to take his medication is more about understanding the perspective behind not taking the medication than an anti-medication endorsement. It also invites partnership and helps to build trust when someone is able to fully express their reasons / feelings / thoughts and this partnership and trust is critical, is it not?

  • PeteEarley

    Hi Peggy,
    This is Pete. I am sorry if I gave you the wrong impression. I am certainly not suggesting that anyone stop taking their medication. Like you, my son’s life depends on it. Each time that he has gone off of his medication, there have been tragic consequences — including him being arrested and shot with a Taser by police.
    Medication is essential to his well being.
    What I am saying is that for a person with mental illness, there are deeper reasons for resisting medication than what we usually think of — weight gain, etc. One of those reasons as explained by Mike is the realization that your own brain often is betraying you — that you can’t trust your own mind.
    Can you imagine how frightening that is?
    This is why Mike has learned “red flags” signals that he uses to judge when he might be slipping. I just hope they work. (see earlier blog comments about lack of insight.)
    So rest assured, Peggy. I have not changed my minds about medication. According to the National Insitutes of Mental Health, medications can help up to 70 percent of persons control the symptoms of their disorders. That is a great rate and I am grateful that Mike falls into that group.
    Thanks for reading my blog.
    Pete

  • Pete Earley

    Hi Peggy,
    This is Pete. I am sorry if I gave you the wrong impression. I am certainly not suggesting that anyone stop taking their medication. Like you, my son's life depends on them. Each time that he has gone off of his medication, there have been horrific consequences — including him being arrested and shot with a Taser by police.
    Medication is essential to his well being.
    What I am saying is that for a person with mental illness, there are deeper reasons for resisting medication than what we usually think of — weight gain, etc. One of those reasons as explained by Mike is the realization that your own brain is capable of betraying you — that you can't trust your own mind.
    Can you imagine how frightening that is?
    This is why Mike has learned “red flags” signals that he uses to judge when he might be slipping. I just hope they work. (See earlier blog comments about Anosognosia.)
    So rest assured, Peggy. I have not changed my opinion about the importance of medication. According to the National Insitutes of Mental Health, medications can help up to 70 percent of persons control the symptoms of their disorders. That is a great rate and I am grateful that Mike falls into that group.
    The point of my blog is that if we as parents want our children to take medication, we must understand why they often resist and in Mike's case, part of that was accepting the grim reality that he could not always trust his own mind. That was a big step and something that I had not realized.
    Thanks for reading my blog.
    Pete

    • KH

      In response to:
      According to the National Institutes of Mental Health, medications can help up to 70 percent of persons control the symptoms of their disorders. That is a great rate and I am grateful that Mike falls into that group.
      Can you be sure that this so called institute is being objective and not just the long arm of the pharmaceuticals. Really if so how, is it because we have to trust them, what exactly have they done to earn our trust. And how do we prove they are not in bed with big brother.

      Thank you
      I remain eternally depressed, because their toxic junk did nothing but sedate me, beyond functioning levels for over 15 years now.

  • http://www.facebook.com/moira.wait Moira Wait

    Peggy M. shares her poignant truth:

    “Yes my son's medications and the negative effects of his illness have taken away the son I used to know, someone so outgoing and fun to be around. BUT as much as I miss that person (which is tremendously) I have to weigh it out with the person he becomes if he does NOT take his meds.”

    When discussions focus exclusively on medication compliance, patients such as myself lose heart.

    Why won't you take your meds?

    1. Give us a cocktail worth taking!

    2. Let us see the best doctors. The world's leading experts on mental health are only a few clicks away on the Internet.

    3. Be mindful medicating the brain. Remembering, thinking, and feeling are qualities worth preserving in a human being!

  • jmc15

    I agree with Peggy M. as to why medications are so important and especially when they are required in order to have a decent quality of life, non-compliance is a terrible choice for the individual as well as the family and friends who love them.

    Many medications for serious diseases or illnesses have bad side effects. My daughter has MS (Multiple Sclerosis) and a medication that she needs to take gives her terrible flu-like symptoms. Instead of discontinuing the medication which could have serious long term results, she is working with her doctor to find another one that might not have such difficult side effects.

    You listed some of the side effects of the medications for diseases such as schizophrenia and bipolar. I think it would have been more balanced if you had also listed the results of untreated mental illness, which can include: loss of employment, crisis situations that lead to hospitalization or incarceration, homelessness, and victimization.

    Since you also mentioned Dr. Xavier Amador who told you not to remind your son about taking medications anymore, Dr. Amador also believes in court-ordered assisted outpatient treatment (AOT) in the community when it would be beneficial to the individual. He has given me permission to use his quote, “AOT is a vital tool that we need to help people who have anosognosia, or lack of insight, for mental illness.”

    I understand that the sides effects of medications might be very unpleasant and encourage everyone to work with their doctors to find appropriate ones that might have the least number of side effects as possible. But weighing the consequences of untreated mental illness with the side effects of medications points to the value of consistently taking the medications that will enable you to live a life that doesn’t include all of the results I listed for untreated mental illness.

  • http://www.facebook.com/moira.wait Moira Wait

    I agree with jmc15:

    “I understand that the sides effects of medications might be very unpleasant and encourage everyone to work with their doctors to find appropriate ones that might have the least number of side effects as possible.”

    Side effects drive non-compliance. Anosognosia happens. Mourning for the lost self, the formerly well self, factors in there somewhere, too.

    By the way, if forced treatment is always THE first answer, what was the question again?!! When I enter into a dialog on mental health matters, my first words better not be “medication compliance” and “forced commitment”. If that's my opening gambit, I run the risk of alienating my fellow consumers not to mention psychiatric survivors.

    We know mental health in America is much more complicated than all that.

  • Jedi

    For an even more balanced perspective, these things listed as side effects of not taking one meds, “loss of employment, crisis situations that lead to hospitalization or incarceration, homelessness, and victimization' can and do happen to people without “mental illnesses” all the the time, it's called “life”.
    Forcing “help” onto another person takes away their rights and responsibility to chose how to live their own life, even if you don't life the choises they make. And “anosognosia, or lack of insight, for mental illness” could and can easily be seen as a “convenient” head game from people more powerful than someone labeled mentally ill, because they are not “complying with the wishes of the power structure that demands that they “must” behave in certain ways or suffer the consequencs. I wonder if anyone who sits on the “safe” side of that thin line, can ever imagine being subjected to someones else's will to the degree that we force these people to submit to.

    • Freeby248

      You are absolutely right on.

    • Cass_i2002

      Jedi. Are you then suggesting when some one is delusional they are in control?

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  • Nancy Rubenstein

    Someday…and I hope soon, the individuals you are drugging and brainwashing, and torturing, will use their tenth grade science skills(which
    is all one needs)to actually read the basic research. Doing so, they will discover what I did. That these dangerous drugs you push on them have no
    long term studies, that the 6-8 week “clinical trials', which is all they have,
    have been “doctored” by marketing(70 billion a year…..but it's going up).
    When your children discover that you never did read the basic research,
    they will appropriately blame you. Clean brain studies don't even exist.
    Sincerely, Nancy Rubenstein

  • http://mkybshytky.blogspot.com/ Mickbic

    The psychopharmalogical complex reminds me a little of the tragedy that was Sigfried and Roy's(?) white tiger. Sure the mind of the 900 lb. white beast could be trained to perform circus acts in Vegas, but a sudden short circuit in the brain created an act of violence. I committed an act of violence in January 2007. It was not extreme violence, but enough to earn me a return trip to the mental hospital. I do not know if my behavior was due to the fact that I had tapered off of my medication or if the violent act was a result of the medication. There definitely is a trade-off and I do not like the side effects of the medication I am now taking. I feel more studies need to be done about psychosocial responses to mental illness. A mental health consumer often cannot tell if a drug benefits him/her if her/she is distracted by side effects.

    If you are well adjusted in a sick society are you mentally health. Maybe anomie is good for both the sane and the insane

  • Nancy Rubenstein

    My suggestion, if I may; take each medication online; get the list of
    “serious side-effects”. The drug companies have ample proof of those
    in the animal research. If any of those apply to you, and they certainly did
    apply to me, check the “symptoms” of your “diagnosis”, for which there
    is no biological proof(plenty of solid research disproving the 30 yr plus
    HYPOTHESIS of “organic mental illness”). You will notice that the drug side-effects are the SAME as the symptoms of THAT which you were told was your “disease”. That, dear person, is where we are today. Your
    prescriber will become noticeably agitated, as in Mania&other”illnesses”, and blame it on your “argumentativeness”, but hang in….the truth is out.
    My best, Nancy Rubenstein

  • Howell

    Peggy maybe you should weigh in some other variables in the non-empirical diagnosis of your son's behavior before you feed him toxic medication where the side effects are more prominent than the effect that you seek to promote.
    Similar to many parents, it is much easier to feed your kid mind-numbing narcotics in the morning than it is to cook up a healthy breakfast for them full of healthy proteins, fats, and a few carbohydrates. It's much easier to feed your kid narcotics than it is to send them to a food allergy specialist, or to put them on a consistent exercise plan. Feeding your son drugs that could inhibit his growth is much easier than eliminating other possible variables that could've led to him hearing voices or becoming delusional. The real delusion is thinking that the anti-psychotic medications are safe, when you don't have a shred of empirical research that's not funded by drug companies to support their efficacy and safety.

    I should know, I was drugged by a parent like you; and no the drugs did not keep me safe or help me at the time.

    Pete I think you should reconsider slipping drugs into your son's cereal in the morning. Slipping anybody drugs without them knowing is unethical. Stop doing that. In fact, I think you should stop feeding Mike cereal and instead feed him more eggs cooked in olive oil or simply poached.

    Pete I believe that similar to Peggy, the consequences of your son's behavior has blinded you with the irrational notion that the only way to suppress his troublesome actions is through medications. Please reconsider.

    Just because a doctor recommends medications for your kid does not mean that there is any scientific basis for the drug's efficacy. Drug-company sponsored research does not count, especially if it's ghost written by the drug company itself. You've got to be more objective about the research that you buy into. It's no coincidence that drug companies don't want to conduct long-term studies into the effects of their drugs.

    And NAMI, similar to CHADD, is supported and biased by drug company money from Eli Lilly, the maker of Prozac. No conflict of interest there, right! This was documented in Peter Breggin’s Toxic Psychiatry.

    When NAMI says that medications help people control the SYMPTOMS of their disorders, that's the problem with these medications. They don't treat the CAUSES of the SYMPTOMS. But they do create a lot of adverse symptoms as well, which include loss of appetite, insomnia, and the list goes on and on.
    Also check out Peter Breggin’s, Talking Back to Ritalin: What doctor’s aren’t telling your about stimulants and ADHD. Plus, here’s a link to another good article based on something more than just pharmaceutical-company-sponsored research. http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/nation/kid

    Kids on ADHD drugs `poor at school’

    Stephen Lunn, Social affairs writer
    From: The Australian
    February 17, 2010 12:00AM

    CHILDREN with ADHD who use prescription drugs to manage their condition are 10 times more likely to perform poorly at school than ADHD kids who avoid medication, a new report reveals.
    The report also finds stimulant drugs such as Ritalin and dexamphetamine make no significant difference to the level of depression, self-perception and social functioning of a 14-year-old with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

  • Paris Williams

    While it's true that the research on long-term use of antipsychotics is very limited, the relevant research that is out there (including controlled studies comparing groups taking antipsychotics versus those using alternative means of treatment, and including a 25-year, 13 country study, 1000 participant study by the World Health Organization on the recovery of Schizophrenia) is extremely eye-opening and tells a very different story than the propoganda from the psychiatric-pharmaceutical industrial complex. An excellent summary by Robert Whitaker follows:

    http://psychrights.org/Litigation/WhitakerAffid

    This link takes you to a brief article (actually an affidavit that was used successfully in court) that has “clickable” links to every research article within it, most of which are found in prestigious peer-reviewed medical and psychiatric journals. I hope everyone in this debate takes the time to read this. For anyone who has never gone directly to the peer-reviewed research on antipsychotics and recovery, this will certainly change your paradigm.

  • Howell

    jmc15, in your push for the treatment of mental illness using only medications, I'm concerned with this generalized approach and its overarching implications for society.

    In recent history, the psychopharmaceutcial complex has influenced people such as yourself to think that if someone has a mental illness, the only way they can be treated is through the use of drugs. I would counter that with, yes, mental illnesses among people in our society is inevitable, but traditional methods and traditional models of treatments utilizing only pharmaceutical drugs isn't.

    And I'm thinking along the lines that the way we've addressed mental illness in recent history is to prescribe medications, and when that one doesn't work, to try another one. And when there's too many side effects, to prescribe more medications to treat those side effects. And when those medications for the side effects produce their own side effects, to prescribe medications to treat those symptomatic side effects.

    I have to say that there are other ways to treat mental illnesses. We have alternative nutritional practices that consider the importance of proteins, healthy fats, and specific kinds of low-glycemic carbohydrates. We have an array of different supplements to use, including the important vitamin B complex. We have the natural emotion and brain-chemical stabilizer known as exercise. After that, the list of alternative therapies and treatments goes on and on.

    When are we going to start looking outside of this traditional paradigm, and start looking at other priorities, at other forms of psychiatric treatment?

    • Freeby248

      They use that regimen because of big bucks and the power to do what they see fit, to whoever whenever.

  • http://www.evanluzi.com/ Evan

    I am curious to know where you truly come down on medications. It seems as if you are entirely against them, but the problems with a non-pharmaceutical approach would raise the same issues. Mainly, how do you know when something is effective? If, for instance, someone tries exercise to treat themselves, but it proves ineffective, they must move on to another attempt at a non-pharmaceutical approach. As you mentioned the same happens with drugs, when one doesn't work you go to the next one and sometimes there is an endless line with no light at the end of the tunnel. Much like you suggest that medication may be an empty well with no substance, could that not too happen with non-pharmaceutical treatment? Couldn't one spend years dipping into the well of a different paradigm of treatment only to come up empty handed with an approach that demands medication?

    I ask not because I wish to defend either side of the argument, but it seems that neither drugs nor a drug-free program could provide an absolute solution. Both have their pros, cons, risks and involve a certain amount of time to determine their usefulness.

    • Freeby248

      Yes you would have to try different non drug fixes, and it could take a long time but remember no one can prove to you or anyone that drugs actually work to fix the problem check the real stats, not the pharmaceutical paid for or issued ones, unless maybe you consider a vegetative state a fix to the issues each person has.

  • Nancy Rubenstein

    Hi Evan, as a psychiatric survivor, who put a man through medical school,
    while in graduate school for a psychology degree at Tufts, allow me to point out that the “what works” discussion can only take place when drug companies stop being the educators of our doctors. Let's talk about
    what works when the research is no longer funded by the drug companies,
    who have no ethical problems with killing people for profit. There are
    NO Longterm studies on any of these drugs. Yet my doctors told me
    these drugs were “safe and effective”. Yes, they are all very effective at
    killing lab animals, that we know for sure. Try looking for research that proves Bi-polar disorder can be proven to exist.The trouble is, all the research is done with people who have been taking “medication” for years. There is not ONE clean brain study. Do not expect doctors to bite the hand that feeds them. Thing is, with the Age of the Internet, you can read,
    listen, and watch what is going on in other countries. You are going to be very surprised, Evan, if you do your own research. And when you
    look at research studies….look at methadology. e.g.;” bipolar patients
    recruited from hospital records” means that they have been taking psychoactive drugs. Best Wishes, Nancy

    • Guest

      Wow someone who sees the big picture, how refreshing.

      Thank you

  • http://www.evanluzi.com/ Evan

    Hi Nancy,

    I was wondering if you read my entire post in it's entirety or merely browsed through it and stopped when you got the impression I was defending medication? For the record, I was not. I was simply pointing out that alternative solutions have their own issues just as drugs do.

    And in responding to my comment, you failed to address any of the issues I raised myself. In fact, I was far from advocating drug use than I was asking why non-pharma solutions are better? All you have done is tout that drugs don't work, but you didn't mention anything about alternative solutions that were successful. And at that, universally successful as Howell seems to hope for.

    In any case, I feel compelled to respond to you because I find some of your claims interesting. I am confused by your claim that there have been no longterm studies, yet “all the research is done with people who have been taking medication for years.” Wouldn't that imply that those who are researched for these medications have been taking them longterm? It doesn't matter that their brain was clean to start at the research as the result would be the same. Someone signing up for research with a “clean” brain who then takes the drug for 3 years would have the same effect as someone who took the drug for 3 years and then participated in a study of how it affects them. I don't see the difference.

    In any case, I would say that it would be nearly impossible to conduct a clean brain study. Drugs are a natural inhabitant of every person's life without realizing it. While many of us avoid the serious and more powerful prescription drugs, we are constantly bombarded with caffeine, advil, tylenol, flouride, etc. By the time someone is of adult age, having not taken any drug at all would be quite a feat if they lived in modern society.

    And you bring up corporate funding, no longterm studies, but those are both factors that don't contribute to the effectiveness of the drug. They cloud the results and make it harder to determine, but who's to say the IF a clean brain study was done, that the drug wouldn't prove to be just as effective?

    Part of the reason I asked Howell those questions is because I haven't done my own research and I was interested in his alternative paradigm that he puts forth. I do not claim to be an expert, nor do I claim that one solution is better than the other. I am just merely skeptical and ALWAYS skeptical of anything that claims to universally solve a complex issue with one large brushstroke. I do not intend to put medications on a pedestal and pronounce them the ultimate solution, but I don't understand why some of have claimed they definitely should not be part of any solution. That is where I wish to be informed.

    • Nancy RubensteinLadyheartwork

      Hey! Yes I’m often guilty of missing pieces of people’s blog’s. I’m the ONLY one saying this in Asheville, NC, I am being MEDICALLY BOYCOTTED, had to go off 12 yrs of psychmeds cold turkey. And I have
      not only survived, I’m getting married, contesting my mother’s will, and rescuing the legacy of my famous civil rights family….from the folks who……it gets very grim. A point or two for this moment. I’ve read everything. EVERYTHING. I read METHADOLOGY first. I have found NO BIPOLAR RESEARCH ON PEOPLE WHO DON”T ALREADY HAVE DRUG DAMAGE. Do show me I’m wrong. Also, there’s NO PLACEBO RESEARCH on WITHDRAWAL…..and if you follow the money on THAT,
      you see how much money vitamin supplements are making, as well as
      how people are conforming to the threats written on the drug “confessions” and DYING…of Diabetes, Cardio Infarction, Stroke…the
      life expectancy of the people who have supposed to have been “helped” is 25 YEARS less than the average, and yet there is NO SCIENTIFIC EVIDENCE THAT SHOWS THESE DRUGS WORK. It is a hoax.
      My documentation is available to anyone.
      Bless you for your concern. I know that deep inside we all just want
      Peace in our world. Thank you for responding.

      • Karl

        Where might I get that documentation I have long believed that there never was any conclusive proof that the drugs that I have been on for 15 years ever helped anyone.
        May the world open its eyes one day and see the truth.

        Thank you

    • Guest

      The claim would seem to be that its because the drugs have not been proven to be of any benefit at all unless vegetative state is considered a cure, and there are varying levels to that, maybe to line the pockets of the pharmaceuticals? And what ever perks might be in it for the Doctors, not that they would ever take any thing for making drugs their weapon of choice.

  • Howell

    Evan, where I stand on medication is that they shouldn't be considered the universal solution to society's psychiatric needs.

    Yes, alternative treatments may not always work, and drugs may help relieve symptoms of mental illness in the meantime. But the current paradigm of mainstream psychiatric treatment does not support the use of alternative natural treatments to any extent. I know this because I am a survivor of this narrow-minded psychopharmaceutical establishment. I know what they advocate and I've studied their shenanigans for years.

    So I'm not completely against the use of treating all symptoms of mental illness with drugs, but to call that form of treatment “safe” is diabolical.

    What I think Nancy was getting at about the brain scan studies, is that certain scans were done of brains to show how a disordered brain looks different from a normal person's brain whose wasn't associated with mental illness. The scans were supposed to suggest that these disorders could be scientifically proven through a brain scan. They weren't meant to study the long-term effects of any drug on the brain. But the scans were supposed to substantiate that the disorder could be empirically proven. The problem was that the study was biased because it could not and did not seek to prove that the different looking brain was that way because of a disorder/illness, or because it had recently been drugged with amphetamines, or whatever psychoactive substance had previously been pumped through it. By not isolating crucial variables such as this one, their study was biased and proved nothing. To the researchers, though it was hardened evidence, even though they admitted that some of their subjects had previously taken psychoactive pharmaceuticals. So it wasn't a long-term study of the effects of psychotropic drugs on brain scans, but that kind of research would be beneficial if the drug itself could be isolated as a variable.

    As for the corporate funding of medical research, I'd say it does contribute to the effectiveness of the drug. Mainly because corporations can write up their own research with any conclusion they want and then pay a prominent scholar to author the study in a peer-reviewed journal. It's called ghostwriting, and it does happen in this world. That's why the so-called effectiveness of many drugs is downright fraudulent.

  • Nancy Rubenstein

    Evan, your personal criticisms of my entry are mostly spot on. Unfortunately, I am an expert. The most important thing I think I can say,
    is that in this new age of information there are no secrets anymore. You
    expressed an attitude of skepticism that would make Emerson proud.
    I will suggest that you read,”medication madness” by Peter Breggin,M.D.
    to round out your picture of what's happening. Recently he advised
    Congress about the drugs being given soldiers…..he has many books.
    More to the point, the future of wellbeing is about healthy community.
    You know the drill; reconnecting with ourselves and the earth. Meditation/prayer, Movement, Human Touch, Music/Art, local organic farming. I teach the NIA technique. I'm a White Belt. Nancy Rubenstein

  • E.Nichols

    Your facebook account and this blog list several points of view criticizing the use of anti-psychotic medications. One of your facebook contributors writes enthusiastically about The International Center for the Study of Psychiatry and Pschology and teachings of Peter Breggin. I would urge your readers to visit a webpage called QUACKWATCH at http://www.quackwatch.org/11Ind/breggin.html. That website calls his teachings “junk science.”
    I also would caution your readers. Oftentime members of the Church of Scientology post anti-psychiatry articles on blogs, often claiming to be psychiatric survivors. Their messages are driven by religious reasons not science.

  • J. Kindlestein

    You know the author of that quackwatch article is not actually an M.D., as is stated in his byline. He's not a Medical Board Certified psychiatrist, because he failed the exam. Where's your science based reasoning anyways? http://www.canlyme.com/quackwatch.html

  • Nancy Rubenstein

    I did a search on Quackwatch as well. He recently conceded in court that he has ties to the FDA……right now, I don't want to have ties to the FDA.
    They're a shill for Big Pharm and it's vested interest psychiatric drug
    “research”.

    Nancy R.

  • Kate

    My beautiful, amazing, brilliant, loving friend committed suicide recently because he stopped taking his medication and his delusions returned. Sometimes – no matter the debate about side effects, unknown effects of the meds in the future – taking meds is a matter of life and death. This was the first time he went off the meds – because he was feeling better. He was so full of life and loved life and when he took his life it was impulsive. I have a feeling if he could come back and have a “do over” he'd be taking his meds. I have a feeeling so many of those arguing against psychiatric medication HAVEN'T LOST A LOVED ONE to mental illness!!!

  • http://www.evanluzi.com/ Evan

    Hi Howell,

    I really appreciate the thought out and considerate response. It's not often that you find online someone willing to articulate and postulate their views so well.

    Thank you for clarifying to me certain points that go against the grain of a medication treatment. Overall, I think this discussion benefits everybody as I am naturally curious and ask questions that I think most would be intrigued by.

    Once again, thank you for being polite, courteous and understanding that this forum isn't a place to attack or preach but to discuss and interpret complex issues that confront us everyday.

    Evan

  • http://www.evanluzi.com/ Evan

    Nancy,

    I replied to Howell below but I wish to thank you in the same vein for being respecful and understanding in your retorts. It's often that I find online that people use anonymity as a will to hide their nastiness. While I cannot corroborate any of your facts about graduate school etc., I think overall the discussion that we put forth can only benefit those who share the same questions and might have the same answers. In the long run, it has never hurt anything to discuss it further unless one side was wrong.

    Thank you for putting forth the effort, consideration and attention this issue deserves.

    -Evan

    • Nancy Rubenstein

      Thanks, Evan; my education facts are;
      High School; 11/2 years, Stonewall Jackson High, Charleston, W.Va.
      Professional ballet/jazz dancer
      Georgetown U; i yr, Chinese Language
      W.Va. State; 1 yr Music History
      Syracuse U; bachelors in Psychology/Political Science
      Tufts University; 1 yr+internship in Counseling Psychology
      ( 1979, Jean and John Anderson PhDs)
      My father was Daniel I. Rubenstein, PhD….civil rights hero….
      (Syracuse U’s Daniel and Mary Louise Rubenstein Peace and Social Justice Award)

      It’s lovely chatting with you.

  • Nancy Rubenstein

    Dear Kate, your friend's impulsive suicide is a horror. My 3 impulsive
    suicides devastated everyone in my life. It traumatized my three living
    children beyond your imagining. If I had died (and a huge part of me did)
    my family would have said exactly what you said about your friend.
    I can only tell my own story, which involves….figuring out what really
    happened to me through basic science research. What I uncovered was
    lies, negligence and real malevolence regarding “definitions” of
    “illness” with no actual biological markers, and designer drugs that
    maim and kill, and will no doubt cause birth defects…..and then sure enough, the whistleblowers emerged. This is the tragedy; beautiful,
    creative people whose lives are valued at nothing by “psychiatry”,
    which dangles the carrot of relief at ANY risk. Any shrink will prescribe
    Seroquel, for example. Not a single one in N.C. will help a patient withdraw safely. And withdrawal can be deadly, invoking the very symptoms blamed on the “illness”…depression, agitation, psychosis,
    and suicide. I encourage you to take this opportunity to educate yourself, in honor of the torture your friend suffered, so that you can be a proactive force for positive change. Your friend deserved a full
    life.
    Evan, thank you for you kindness and sensitivity. It is people like you
    who make these forums work, and I am grateful for the opportunity to
    speak. If you google me, my latest music video is “make Me An Instrument”. The song about my child's death is on myspace.
    Nancy Rubenstein

  • Howell

    Hey Evan,

    I know what you're saying about the nature of short-winded, sound-bite driven blog posts that we often encounter on the Internet. Especially if you look at the comments on YouTube. Talk about uncivilized discussion.

    Thank you for keeping a skeptical attitude towards universal end-all solutions. I'm sure your schooling contributes to that, as I saw on your webpage. I also have a history in video production, but mostly a background in print journalism. I'll have to check out some of those films you helped out with, if I can find them on Netflix or locally.

    Also, Evan, I want to reiterate that I'm not against the use of drugs to treat illnesses or even for recreational use, I'm just a skeptic of the psychopharmaceutical complex, and will always be.

    Good luck in school.
    Best,
    Howell

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1438220970 John Kelleher

    I too have had to come to terms with the fact I am crazy. I am diagnosed with schizoid personality disorder. I suffer mainly from the negative effects of schizophrenia, permanent paranoia and disorganization with brief violent psychotic breaks when stressed. I am medication intolerant, this means I know the deadly side effects of anti-psychotics first hand. I've had both serotonin poisoning and neuroleptic malignant syndrome. I've had my pancreas swell to the point of cutting of bile from my gallbladder and then suffered hallucinations probably from hypoglycemia. I know how hard it can be just trying to walk on some of these powerful anti-psychotics like Saphris and Haldol– let alone think clearly. Not once has a doctor intervened concerned about these side effects, I've had to bring these up to them. I don't know if this is because I'm uninsured and on government medical assistance or show very little distress or if this is just a systematic problem with prescribing anti-psychotics. I can tell you my psychiatrist has not once ordered a blood test– is my paranoia justified? I don't know, judging from his other patients I'd say my psychiatrist is a good doctor and has to deal with a lot of ass holes while trying to help those truly in need of help.

    Do anti-psychotics help? Yes, Invega helped both my negative and positive symptoms for a short time before it effected my pancreas and started causing hallucinations. I would never tell anyone to stop their medication however I can certainly understand why they would.

    For those in the schizophrenic spectrum there's a group on Facebook where you will be welcome and supported: http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=17300812732

    You “normal” people can come by too … though I'm not really fond of most of you. :-]

  • spiritual_emergency

    @Pete: I learn a lot from my son. One lesson he has taught me is that taking anti-psychotic medication is much more complicated than being told by your doctor that you have high cholesterol.

    Precisely. One of the difficulties I often see is that parents and caregivers frequently fail to recognize how they are contributing to the struggle with their expectation that “taking medications is so easy”. Because they have that expectation, they can quickly move to disappointment, anger, resentment, etc. when their loved one does not comply with this “easy task”. Unfortunately, this can contribute to a climate of mistrust and deception in a relationship that is often very essential to the individual's overall recovery. Most people are highly dependant upon their families during a period of crisis and recovery and most parents deeply love their children. Unfortunately, differing approaches and expectations regarding appropriate treatment can take a toll on this very critical relationship.

    We also need to bear in mind that when we're talking about anti-psychotic medications, we're talking about some very powerful drugs with side-effects that range from the mildly annoying to increasingly disturbing side-effects that end in death. There may well be valid reasons why an individual rejects a medication that have nothing to do with their “lack of insight”. We also need to know that medications do not help everyone and many people recover without medications.

    @Peggy: Pete–It sounds to me like you are recommending those with severe mental illness “not” take their medications. I am for one “shocked” to hear this type of talk from you.

    That wasn't my impression nonetheless, it's an interesting comment. I spend a great deal of time engaging with individuals who carry a diagnosis of severe mental illness and one of the things that surprises me is, in spite of all the known risks and side-effects, I encounter a number of people who absolutely will NOT stop taking meds. The critical difference is they identify them as helpful to them and they're immensely grateful for that.

    The truth seems to be that people will usually (although not always) make use of treatments they identify as helpful. If they do not identify the treatment as helpful, they will become resistant to using it and ultimately, abandon it.

    Meantime, there are two clinicians whose names I like to share widely. I consider both of them to have been exceptionally skilled. Jaakko Seikulla is a clinical psychologist in Finland. In the late 90's he developed a program known as Open Dialogue Treatment. One of the beautiful aspects of that approach is that when an individual was in crisis a team would come out to their home and meet with the entire family: “The approach de-emphasizes the use of drugs and focuses instead on developing a social network of family and helpers and involving the patient in all treatment decisions… Among those who went through the OPT program, incidence of schizophrenia declined substantially, with 85% of the patients returning to active employment and 80% without any psychotic symptoms after five years. All this took place in a research project wherein only about one third of clients received neuroleptic medication.”

    Source: http://spiritualrecoveries.blogspot.com/2006/05

    My other favorite clinician is John Weir Perry. He was a Jungian trained psychiatrist who worked with schizophrenics for over 40 years: “…85% of our clients (all diagnosed as severely schizophrenic) at the Diabasis center not only improved, with no medications, but most went on growing after leaving us.”

    Source: http://spiritualrecoveries.blogspot.com/2006/05

    For what it's worth, I am an individual who has undergone an experience that would be recognized as psychosis in this culture. I have never been medicated, hospitalized or received any degree of formal treatment. I also have a birth father who was in and out of psychiatric hospitals for reasons unknown and I have two children who have experienced psychosis; one of them was recently diagnosed as bipolar/schizoaffective and I do understand that fear that can clutch at a parent's heart. That child does make use of medications as part of their treatment program but this has little to do with me. They made that decision for themselves because they self-identify the medications as helpful to them. They also know that if they identify the medications as not helpful, I'll understand.

  • spiritual_emergency

    My condolences on the loss of your friend Kate. I really don't know if him being on medication might have made a difference or not. I do agree that suicide is often driven by impulse.

    @kate: I have a feeeling so many of those arguing against psychiatric medication HAVEN'T LOST A LOVED ONE to mental illness!!!

    Something that sometimes doesn't get talked about as much as it should is that some of these medications can kill people. Years ago, when I was struggling to understand my own experience I met a mother whose son had died as a result of neuroleptic malignant syndrome. His name was Benjamin and he was someone who was beautiful too.

    Years later, when my own child was hospitalized against their will and treated with anti-psychotic medication, I was grateful to have met that woman for my child was experiencing symptoms consistent with neuroleptic malignant syndrome and when they protested taking the drugs, the staff dismissed their concerns as “lack of insight” and continued to give them the treatment. Their condition deteriorated so rapidly, we thought we were seeing someone who had been serverely brain-damaged. Even worse, we were told that we could not remove them from that situation — that we would be arrested if we tried. It was like watching our child being tortured to death before our eyes.

    Where do we draw the line on pain: You lost your friend, that woman lost her son, I feared that I would lose my own child.

    These are beautiful people who are loved, these are challenging circumstances we are dealing with and these are powerful medications we are talking about. They do have the ability to help but they also have the ability to harm. Whether or not they should be used, whether or not they should ever be forced upon someone else… there are no easy answers for these questions.

    ===================================================

    Most Frequent Suspect Drugs in Deaths 1998 – 2005 [FDA Report]

    Oxycondone (Opiate): 5,548
    Fentanyl (Opiate): 3,545
    Clozapine (Anti-psychotic): 3,277
    Morphine (Opiate): 1,616
    Acetaminophen (Analgesiac): 1,393
    Methadone (Opiate): 1,258
    Infliximab (Anti-rheumatism): 1,228
    Interferon beta (Immunomederator): 1,178
    Risperidone (Anti-psychotic): 1,093
    Etanercept (Anti-rheumatism): 1,034
    Paclitaxel (Atineoplastic): 1,033
    Olanzapine (Anti-psychotic): 1,005
    Rofecoxib (Anti-inflammatory): 932
    Paroxetine (Anti-depressant): 850

    Source: Adverse Events [PDF File]: http://www.furiousseasons.com/documents/adverse

  • http://www.equines4us.com Horses For Sale

    Great. Its very important for to take the medication. Personally i like it because people can learn from it.

  • http://twitter.com/yonderways Donna Lyerly

    Thank you Pete for your post. I've just finished reading both of Dr. Armador's books and the LEAP technique is proving invaluable in mending the relationship between my son and me. My 22yo son was diagnosed with bipolar schizoaffective disorder almost two years ago and to this day he refuses medications (and he also suffered brutal treatment (tazored 4x) by law enforcement in Asheville, NC – yes, another reader from WNC).

    But unlike some caregivers, my immediate agenda isn’t to force medications even though my son suffers delusional thinking, is jobless, and lives in my basement. My son will use medication as a last resort or a first choice, depending how he comes to view it; his choice in good time. In the meantime, this ‘Dr-Phil-style-in-your-face’ mom is learning to fear less and trust more and I’m keeping an open mind while seeking professionals who can genuinely help us to a more balanced life. BTW there’s a bunch of licensed who-doos practicing in our part of the woods.

    We’re only two years in, well, one year really since the first year we lived in full-blown denial. But with 3 manic crises under our belt, 2 involuntary psych committals, arrests, and countless other incidents we’re well aware of the damage the disease can cause when left untreated. It’s the treating of the symptoms and not the root cause that have me so confounded and the truth is, every manic crisis was a direct result of wrongly prescribed medications (from Dr. Who-doos).

    All this to say, medications may end up being the only thing to help our son control his disease – but I’m willing to fight the good fight (maybe armed with nothing but naivety) to find a more appropriate alternative to optimum health. All this to say, Dr. Armador’s words have given me hope, and the strength through perspective and knowledge. I appreciate the perspective you now have of the simplistic analogies we often assign incredibly complicated diseases; you are very right, anti-psychotics are hardly cholesterol pills. It is quite evident you love and honor your son – the blog entry is a beautiful piece.

  • http://twitter.com/yonderways Donna Lyerly

    Thank you Pete for your post. I've just finished reading both of Dr. Armador's books and the LEAP technique is proving invaluable in mending the relationship between my son and me. My 22yo son was diagnosed with bipolar schizoaffective disorder almost two years ago and to this day he refuses medications (and he also suffered brutal treatment (tazored 4x) by law enforcement in Asheville, NC – yes, another reader from WNC).

    But unlike some caregivers, my immediate agenda isn’t to force medications even though my son suffers delusional thinking, is jobless, and lives in my basement. My son will use medication as a last resort or a first choice, depending how he comes to view it; his choice in good time. In the meantime, this ‘Dr-Phil-style-in-your-face’ mom is learning to fear less and trust more and I’m keeping an open mind while seeking professionals who can genuinely help us to a more balanced life. BTW there’s a bunch of licensed who-doos practicing in our part of the woods.

    We’re only two years in, well, one year really since the first year we lived in full-blown denial. But with 3 manic crises under our belt, 2 involuntary psych committals, arrests, and countless other incidents we’re well aware of the damage the disease can cause when left untreated. It’s the treating of the symptoms and not the root cause that have me so confounded and the truth is, every manic crisis was a direct result of wrongly prescribed medications (from Dr. Who-doos).

    All this to say, medications may end up being the only thing to help our son control his disease – but I’m willing to fight the good fight (maybe armed with nothing but naivety) to find a more appropriate alternative to optimum health. Dr. Armador’s words have given me hope, and the strength through perspective and knowledge. I appreciate the perspective you now have of the simplistic analogies we often assign incredibly complicated diseases; you are very right, anti-psychotics are hardly cholesterol pills. It is quite evident you love and honor your son – the blog entry is a beautiful piece.

  • Robbie

    I don’t know how old this article is but I felt a need to reply.
    I have struggled since I was seventeen to stay on my antidepressants. I am consistently asked why this is. Most people wrongly (although understandably) believe I like feeling this way. That is NOT the case. I suffer from hallucinations, paranoia, sever social anxiety, depression and self-mutilation. I can assure this is not something anyone would choose to feel. I
    don’t have answers, but I can tell you how I feel. I feel ashamed to have to take a pill to feel “normal.” I feel embarrassed about having to take pills. I am embarrassed because I don’t know if I can trust myself. I was extremely religious for a long period of time. Only to find that my religious ideas were delusions caused by mental illness. Do you have any idea how crippling it is to not be able to trust yourself? I could take a pill to feel better only to find most of what i feel,think or believe is a lie. That’s very difficult to deal with. I know this isn’t an answer, but I feel like the author’s son’s explanation was exactly how I feel. Thank you very much for this article. It helped to see the way I feel in words. It helps to know I am not the only one.

  • http://www.mynaturalhealthycures.com Natural cure without drugs

    Home remedies are also preferred by many because of a belief that the pharmaceutical companies are not interested in your health. While there are many examples of big drug companies greed and avarice, their products are very widely used and are considered both safe and effective. Make no mistake, this does not mean that they can be used without risk or should be used by just anyone.

  • Anonymous

    If you are suffering from mental illness than you must take your medicines. But it is not your fault. I think you need one responsible person who are staying with you and take care of you.   

  • Sarah

    Your son said it beautifully – denial is the key factor. It is much different than taking a pill for a “normal” medical condition. Even though taking the medication is the best thing for us, accepting the insane label is not easy. It takes time and dealing with the perceived judgment of others isn’t easy either. Being forced to do something when you are an adult is something that the ego has to deal with, and not easily I might add; whether it’s taking anti-psychotic medication or being committed against one’s will. Hopefully with time and maturity the patient can see that it’s necessary and not that different than taking medication for another type of disease; one that doesn’t hold such a stigma.

  • bb

    i was afraid to take antipsychotics because they can cause tardive dyskinesia.  for 10 years i was delusional and became psychotic several times.  i now take my meds and stay on them.  i feel i have no choice but i am happier on them than off.

  • L1lyan

    Jafar, you felt and were a lot better taking the medication. I am reminding you. Night and day, in fact. 

    You were going to write yourself a note to remind yourself of this, in case you went off them again. The note was going to hopefully be a communication from your well self to your declining self, to motivate yourself to go back on your medication.  The idea being that motivating yourself would be a lot more effective than parents nagging you which makes you not want to do things.  

    This was back when we were living in Berkeley.  I distinctly remember this conversation with you on the phone because I was walking down University Avenue on my way to an Indian store. I hope you remember it or even better that you can find the note you wrote yourself. 

    You were doing really well at that point, able to read, write papers, relate to people and like them, and not asking me strange things like whether I had a dick, or making vague ominous threats.  You were enjoying your life and looking forward to your future which at that point was going to be studying for and taking the LSAT and trying to get into the best law school possible. 

     I don’t know what happened to the note you wrote yourself.  I am reminding you of it.  Maybe reading this will jog your memory.  Right now, your mind is not functioning as it demonstrably could if you would make the choice to go to a psychiatrist and resume medication.  There are glimpses of insight and flashes of genius and humor but they are buried under mountains of confusion, fear and delusion that make you think people who love you are really against you, and that won’t let you complete tasks necessary for living.  Although there are side effects, they pale in comparison to the alternative of living this way. If you mention the side effects as they come up to the doctor (or to me if he doesn’t listen), there are things that can be done, or the medication can be changed depending on what they are.

    You are my favorite person. You are one of the very few who see the big picture, and I got to see you seeing it from the beginning. Don’t forget how much I love you, and that “a mind is a terrible thing to waste”.

    love, Mom

  • Tylerr

    can you get arrested for not taking any kind of medication

    • L1lyan

      No way.

      But you need someone to help and support (and not threaten) you.
      I hope you have someone like that to call.  Like a teacher, or therapist or social worker.  Or maybe a friend’s parent.

      Good luck Tylerr

  • Tylerr

    Because I have recently moved out of my parents house and I told them that I wasnt going to take any meds to avoid the costs, I am 17 and I live in Missouri. I moved out just a few hours ago and they threatend to call the poilice becouse i did not take my meds with me i took trazadone,abilfy, zoloft and a few other meds.

  • MissyB

    I’m just so happy you are TALKING about mental illness! Thank you, thank you.

  • Maryb Gentner1

    Hi Everyone!
    I confess, I have not read all the comments thouroughly, yet, and apologize. By the way, Pete – I love your website – so approachable and respectfully informal.
    On medication – at the very least it can be an excellent stopgap. Meaning that, to medicate, by coercion or self-administration,can thwart a catastrophe. By this I mean, a person who is in the advanced stages of carrying out a suicidal threat, can be ‘saved’ in that instance with an anti’anxiety or tranquilizing med. And for
    the upset individual manicking out by redecorating his bedroom w/ furniture pieces, again a tranq or sedative can help. These are plausible examples of
    ‘first-responder’ actions, which would be followed up with 911 calls for immediate
    psychiatric treatment. Both attempted suicide and obvious manic driven destruction are criteria for some length of commitment. If in doubt, forget total honesty, and make sure authorities know that ‘flying objects’ were hurled your way in ‘attempts to murder’. I would suggest, for all incidences w/ your mentally ill loved one, where it appears right to you that they be hospitalized, that you learn to ‘fudge’, and embellish as much as possible, to get that inpatient status. You are not lying, and guilt should not prevent you. You are putting forth the worst case scenario according to your fears and what you don’t want to happen with your loved one. Consider the doctors and the system as ‘law-crazed and anal, and do and say what you have to do. Your mentally ill loved one, will eventually understand that your white lies were protective measures. Later, he or she may come to have empathy for your emotional upheaval and your no holds barred acts of love to preserve his/her life. And so, a little medication, overstating, and frankly, anything that works, in my opinion is worth it to get your loved one help and out of immediate danger.
    For the mentally unbalanced that are obviously ill, but don’t fit the neat little package for involuntary care and refuse medication,much more skill and patience is needed. Anyone who says the words to effect – I will kill or harm myself, has an instant ticket to forced 3 day evaluation. Law enforcement is bound to arrest and immediately hospitalize any who are reported to have verbalized this. ( New York State) It is not a bad idea to follow or keep tabs on your loved one if they move out in a deranged state of mind. You can alert others and set up a communication network. It can be very effective for someone you trust, unrecognizable to your loved one, to befriend, even fake ‘craziness’, to gain trust  and maybe convince to get treatment.
    A sad reality is that the first time mentally ill have no idea what is happening to them, and they are extremely vulnerable to all dangers.Until our laws mandate
    automatic protection for these victims of spontaneous illness, I would advocate
    ‘hollering from the rooftops’ so to speak, to neighbors and friends to please be aware that so and so is sick and elicit their help. Stigma be damned. when our beloved is suffering from an illness, there is no shame. 
    Everything that Pete’s son indicated about medication use is true. It is not as simple and easy as ‘wow, a pill for my headache – thats great!’. I know of no words – but it is a huge shock to have your foundation shook. Who you are, who you thought you were, your very self is now dependant on a drug to be sane , stable and capable. There is no explaining what that does to the human soul,
    when it comes to owning one’s self – to pride, self esteem.
    Families need to be gentle and sensitive to this monumental shift that a person with mental illness goes through. Reckoning and living successfully with mental illness for the rest of one’s life is a unique experience that has little in common with any other recovery process or health diagnosis. People whose minds have broken into smithereens, and have mustered the courage and strength to be well again, deserve the highest respect and sensitivity from others, Enough can’t be said for the lifetime of hard work and discipline it takes to retain sanity while living with a mental illness. Medication helps many but beyond that , as many who live successfully with it will tell you, full recovery only begins with a pill.
        For the young man self-medicating with alcohol, many bar owners will not serve a person if they are known to have a mental illness. I would encourage communicating with others who are in his company. If possible, do all you can to keep tabs on him, and show that you are a person who cares for him. This can help him from becoming a victim of others, as people who are both mentally ill and prone to drinking, are extremely vulnerable.Stay with support groups that feel right to you – follow your intuition.   
         
    .
         

  • Marabe

    I see that this discussion on medication has digressed to a socio-political and civil rights issue, and so am jumping in. Starting with schizophrenia, a very real disease of the brain – if untreated, this disease will cause brain damage to the brain. Period. A fact. To stop or slow down its progression is a godsend, a miracle
    for those who have it. The drugs developed in the last 25 years, tho not perfect, allow many to live quite normally. Study human physiology, neuroscience, and get to know people with schizophrenia who are between 50 and 70, with damaged brains and compare with young people today being treated w/ meds from day one. The next biggie in mental illness – bipolar disorder. It is the very very rare individual who can self-treat w/ out drugs to become well. As yet, no one who has accomplished this has become widely public. It takes extreme self-discipline, with attention to all systems of the human organism, ( endocrine, neural, cardio, etc) plus a total understanding of the emotional, spiritual, intellectual, mental, and physical self. All this in relation to the environment including an understanding of
    magnetic, electrical, energies. All of this, of course, by way of interacting, causes
    bipolar in the first place, along w/ gene predisposition. One can spend time tweaking these components themselves, until a balance is reached. OR, one can take meds that work to do enough tweaking for them.
    Please wake up.! Mental imbalances are real – we call them illnesses. Some can
    live safely w/ out meds. Society doesn’t much care if a person chooses to accept the quirks and ‘uncommon behaviors’  from unmedicated mental illness or lesser
    mood disorder, as long as that person isn’t posing a threat.
    THE KEY WORD IN NOT MEDICATION, IT IS RESPONSIBILITY.
    With a serious mental illness, a person MUST show responsibility to become well.
    If not, sorry to the civil libs, meds must be forced. Would you rather have shackles? Or chains and lobotomies?  Once a person accepts responsibility to become well, there are choices, from meds, to T.M., to dietary supplements,
    and other whole health treatments, depending on where one is on the economic ladder,
    Lets not damn and slam medications that have and do save the lives of many.
    Instead, lets make sure that excellent psychotherapy is available, along with holistic treatments and the most essential – support from the family and community, and an aura of hopefulness and love surrounding the mentally ill, providing encouragement to become well – through whatever means that works.

  • ktl

    my sister doesnt believe shes sick at all. My sister is so spacey to even get he to awser your question you have to say it several times and usually end up yelling it at her. She believes in the spiritual world and she thinks that spirits are constantly touching her. My moms tried several times to get her to take her medication and even threaten to kick her out it never works. she never knows whats going on in the world around her and shes so withdrawn. My sister used to be so outgoing and happy and know shes crying and laughing constantly for no reason. Shes had this illness for only a year and she uses the drugs side effects as a excuse not to take them. Is there anyway to help her realize shes sick and needs help

  • TwilightAngel1985

    Have you actually read up on this so-called ‘help’?
    1. These medications, when taken steadily, have been proven to deteorate your brain’s grey matter just as rapidly as Schizophrenia.
    2. Several studies have shown that long-term use actually increases the patient’s symptoms significantly & permanently, due to the previously mentioned grey-matter deteoration.
    3. It also destroys numerous other parts of your brain, such as nervous system, central muscular reflex, melatonin balance, your necessary receptors & brain signals, etc.
    4. Mental illness has been discovered to be a molecular imbalance, & these drugs only effect your chemical construction– thus, they aren’t even treating the necessary part of the brain to correct the mental illness.
    5. Medical research states that the body’s first reaction to an antipsychotic is identical to the symptoms to heroin or arsenic poisoning. The patient’s body is literally being deteorated, poisoned, & they’re slowly being murdered.
    6. Brain & body chemistry support and balance eachother. If your physical state is in chaos, you will never have a healthy emotional or mental state.
    7. And lastly, alternative treatments such as the holistic therapy, or psychotherapy, have been stated as equally effective & will help you way more in the long run, because they actually teach you how to deal with your symptoms instead of covering them up.

    • KristenKringle

      Hi Twilight,

      I have discussed the concerns about brain volume loss with my psychiatrist (i.e. studies by Andreasen and Ho). We are not all uninformed of the risks.  In fact some patients are actually pretty well read.

      Low dose antipsychotics have been helpful to me. Will I take them long term? I don’t know, but they are helpful for now.  If the side effects start to be more of a problem than the benefits, then I will re-evaluate.

      I find that I can actually think more clearly now than prior to taking the low dose antipsychotics. 

    • placitas

      Your comments are factually erroneous. #1 alone is egregiously wrong and demonstrates your ignorance of schizophrenia, the disease process and why medication intervention in acute psychosis is so important.

      How about linking your ridiculous comments to some solid effective outcome based studies for us to scrutinize.

      Oh, and, psychotherapy with a grossly psychotic or delusional client is totally inappropriate.

  • http://www.facebook.com/jtokc Jane Thompson

    My sister  is an undiagnosed bipolar. It isn’t just anti-psychotic medications. She stopped taking her BP medication because “it was too expensive.” Nothing I could say to her would change her mind. A week later, she had a stroke. She never made the connection between stopping her medication and having the stroke. Just something about  having to take medicastion.

  • Jtokc

    After I put in the comment about my sister’s behavior about medications, I started reading the other comments and was shocked. I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder 30 years ago and have been taking medication since then.

    The first medictions did not work, so I continued to try for 5 years. At last I found one that worked and I have been stable for 25 years. I would not stop taking meds for any reason. It would be choosing to be sick.

  • speck

    I am going thru this with my 21 year old daughter. She will not stay on her medicine and now she has become impossible to be around and has very bizarre behavior,like taking toilet paper from the convenient store, setting her things on fire, paranoid that everyone is against her and a number of other things. She has almost been arrested and taised more than once, Somehow so far she was only taken to a psychiatric hospitals for evaluations She is usually released after about four days, but I know her behavior is going to end up getting her onto serious trouble or hurt. I am very worried for her, but don’t know what to do. I have tried to help in every way I know how.

  • speck

    can someone please respond? She knows she is sick but refuses help

  • speck

    I know my comments are a few years behind but I just found this site. Maybe Mr. Earley, ,,you will be able to help with just a few comments. I will take any helpful information at this time.

  • Lynne Warberg

    Obviously this is a dilemma…My son was diagnosed with Juvenile Onset Bipolar Disorder at age 11, but was put on adult psychiatric meds as young as 7 that are not tested on children. He was taking a combo of antipsychotic and mood stabilizer during his teen years when his brain was growing and vulnerable.
    In hindsight I question if this was a life giving choice for him? The medication’s side effects always kept him out of school. Would he be further along in life now if he had not taken medication and had been offered an environment he could feel secure in at school? In second grade he was reading at a sixth grade level and working advanced math problems. But everyone pushed for medication because he did not “behave”.

    Now that he is not a minor he has chosen not to take medication. And we have gone through all the difficulties from this choice…

  • Vicci Nolan

    Six days after my first panic attack, caused by tolerance to Valium, I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Over the last 14 years, due to the massive doses of psychiatric meds, I have surely displayed all the s/s of bipolar disorder. Until I finally STOPPED the meds. Seven months off them and NO MOOD SWINGS, no daily suicidal ideations, no crying, no raging… Now suffering from Benzodiazepine Withdrawal Syndrome, unable to work, barely able to leave the house. I am an RN, and have been for 30 years, and I missed it. I want to shout to the rooftops, beware of psychiatry and psychiatric drugs! Currently seeking a journalist to help me tell my story…

  • jane smith

    A few years ago I read your book Crazy and I will forever thank you for helping me deal with the horrors that live in the mental health system. In respect to my son, I will not discuss his diagnosis except to say he has been hospitalized over 50 times and jailed more than 10. Finally, a few years ago he began receiving the Prolexin injection every 2 weeks…he could never stay compliant on oral meds. He really got so much better. Then last month, he went into the VA and without warning or counseling they told him there was a shortage of the prolexin liquid and he would no longer be getting his shots! So he came home with a prescription for oral meds. We both agreed this could get really scary. Does anyone there have any suggestions as to why this is happening?