invincible summers

in the middle of winter I at last discovered that there was in me an invincible summer. (albert camus)

a doctor voluntarily took an antipsychotic drug April 16, 2009

Filed under: antipsychotics,news — clementine @ 5:29 pm
Tags: , , , , ,

Thanks to Beyond Meds for posting this very interesting story. And I say interesting for a number of reasons. One, whenever a doctor would deny the side effects I was experiencing from Seroquel or Abilify, I wanted to say, “Have you tried it?” Two, after my swain learned of my horrible experiences with Seroquel he took 1/4 of the dose I used to take (100mg) to see what would happen. He took 25 mg one time and was knocked out for nearly 24 hours. After he woke he could barely form a sentence, he was extremely sluggish and it took him a few days for him to recover from that one small dosage. He simply could not imagine what it must have been like for me, taking a stronger dosage for a much longer time. And thirdly, anytime I’ve ever seen a pharma rep selling (marketing, pimping or whatever you choose to call it) these horrific drugs, I have always wanted to ask, “Would you take this? Would you have your child take this?” I did ask a former friend and Wyeth rep the last question and his answer was no. Of course it was. So, here we have the story of a doctor who voluntarily took an antipsychotic drug:

In 1993 Richard Bentall went a bit mad.

He voluntarily took an antipsychotic drug and at first thought he’d get through unscathed.

“For the first hour I didn’t feel too bad. I thought maybe this is okay. I can get away with this. I felt a bit light-headed.”

Then somebody asked him to fill in a form. “I looked at this test and I couldn’t have filled it in to save my life. It would have been easier to climb Mt Everest.”

That was the least of his troubles. Bentall, an expert on psychosis from the University of Bangor in Wales who is in New Zealand under the University of Auckland Hood Fellowship programme, developed akathisia – unpleasant sensations of inner restlessness and an inability to sit still.

“It was accompanied by a feeling that I couldn’t do anything, which is really distressing. I felt profoundly depressed. They tried to persuade me to do these cognitive tests on the computer and I just started crying.”

Bentall had volunteered to be in a study run by Irish psychiatrist Dr David Healy. Volunteers were given either 5mg of the antipsychotic droperidol, 1mg of lorazepam, a type of tranquillizer, or a placebo.

“The experiment completely failed,” says Bentall. “Because first, it’s absolutely mind-bogglingly obvious to anybody after an hour whether or not they are taking an antipsychotic or a placebo – the side effects are so marked. There is no such thing as a placebo antipsychotic in that sense.”

But it was the fact that most of the healthy volunteers who took the antipsychotic became so unwell, let alone do the cognitive tests, that meant the study couldn’t continue. One psychiatrist became suicidal and had to be put under observation.

In his controversial book Let Them Eat Prozac Healy wrote about what the volunteers experienced. “It was not like anything that had happened to them before… Highly personal memories of previous unhappy times – broken relationships or loneliness – seemed to be flooding back. And if they previously held themselves responsible for these unhappy times, they seemed to hold themselves responsible for feeling the way they did now as well.”

The antipsychotic experiment, which gave him a hangover for a week, typifies Bentall’s approach to mental illness – rigorous scientific research coupled with a clinical psychologist’s perspective.

He has a doctorate in experimental psychology. “Most of my arguments are research-based,” says Bentall. “I’m just interested in what the evidence says about the nature of mental illness and how best to treat it. I’m a scientist at heart.”

What worries Bentall is how many mental health services seem to ignore what the research says and when an antipsychotic medicine doesn’t work, simply up the dose.

Once again Bentall refers to the science – that about a third of recipients don’t get any benefit whatsoever from the drugs. And research that shows if patients don’t respond at a relatively low dose, they’re not going to respond to a high dose. And are very likely not going to respond to any other anti-psychotic.

The optimum dose of antipsychotics is about 350mg per day (measured as chlorpromazine equivalents). Yet a recent study in the north of England found the median dose of antipsychotic drugs was about 600mg and about a quarter of those reviewed were on a gram or more a day.

“The average dose was about twice the optimum. How does that happen? It doesn’t make any sense.” Bentall suggests the reason such “unethical doses” occur is because mental health services have come to rely on these drugs as if they are the only treatment available. “When a patient doesn’t respond, they just up the dose in some magical belief that hopefully something will happen.”

But while promoting alternatives like cognitive behavioral therapy – the Government-sanctioned treatment of choice for depression and anxiety disorders in England – Bentall also points to research that shows all psychotherapies work, and that no type is more effective than any other. It’s a finding that surprised many, including Bentall.

Closer analysis highlights a common theme. “The quality of the relationship between therapist and patient explained most of the result.”

It seems blindingly obvious that having a good quality, empathetic therapist is likely to get good results, so why doesn’t it happen? “Establishing good relationships with patients shouldn’t be that difficult, but most psychiatric services seem to find it very difficult indeed,” says Bentall.

He says many services operate from a coercive model: “We know best. We’ve got the treatment. Better take these no matter what the side effects. Do what we say and if you don’t, we’ll put you on a community treatment order and you’ll be legally obliged to do what we say.”

click here for the rest of this incredible story.

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11 Responses to “a doctor voluntarily took an antipsychotic drug”

  1. stan Says:

    This sobering in deed; yet it will on deaf ears of Pharma, psychiatry, and the FDA; as almost adverse testimony or data pertaining to their greed mongering gravy train does.

  2. Van Says:

    @Stan – you are right, the gravy train has a lot of momentum but sometime – SOMETHING – is bound to happen to wake people up to the dangers of some commonly prescribed medications.

    @clementine – Really, the information coming out about dangers (and stories people are saying) is sickening. The only way anyone will ever listen is if the story/information is kept alive.

  3. PrincessMoon Says:

    I was on Risperdal, Abilfy and Seroquel when I was a teenager. Risperdal was the worst and had the worst side effects. Abilfiy had a horrible side effect, but it was a short experience. Seroquel wasn’t so bad, but I don’t really remember it since I was on so many meds at the time I hardly felt the Seroquel after awhile. I remember when I was young I remember being yelled “Take your pills” and whenever I would forget to take my Seroquel, I would be yelled at “You forgot your Seroquel! What the hell is wrong with you? You’re going to mess up your whole system!” I would be yelled at to take my Seroquel earlierr than I did because I would like to wait until later because I didn’t like feeling the shitty Seroquel feeling. I would say I wanted to wait before bed because it made me really tired and I didn’t like that. I was told that the reason I was tired was because it was night time, not from the Seroquel. “Seroquel doesn’t make you tired, it’s you.” That was how it was with all the pills unless proven otherwise. I was on Seroquel for two years, Risperdal for eight months and Abilify for about a couple weeks. I remember my family wouldn’t believe me when I complained about the side effects of the pills, they always said it was me and the side effects of the pills were my fault. I was falling asleep during the dya because I went to bed so late, stuff like that. It really upsets me how I would be yelled at if I forgot to take my Seroquel or forgot my pills. However, I am a very emotional person and not even the antipsychotics could kill my emotions. The Seroquel couldn’t get rid of the craziness of the Effexor. The reason they kept raising my Seroquel dose was because after the initial beginning few months, I couldn’t even feel it anymore. The Risperdal, however, my body never got used to and that was bad side effects all the time and it disabled all my other pills from working at the time. Abilify was horrible akathisia, scary stuff.

  4. PrincessMoon Says:

    I am a very emotional person and oddly enough the antipsychotics and antidepressants didn’t change this. I just feel emotions so strongly. When I’m in love, I feel it all day long, every day, I think about how in love I am and that’s all that matters. I’m in love all day no matter what happens, that’s all I think about. When I’m excited about something, I’m excited all day. It happens with every emotion, love, in love, excitement, lust, break ups, depression, anxiety. It was still like that even on antipsychotics and antidepressants. I like being emotional and feeling all my emotions. Although, I think some of the antipsychotics at the beginning made me move on from some break ups faster than I normally would have. I’m an emotional person and I did notice some difference at the start of Seroquel and Risperdal, but I always remember feeling emotions so strongly the entire time on medication. I’m so glad medication couldn’t take that away.

  5. mr. bbc Says:

    I have been on antipsycotics for over a year and a half. My ability to critically think, fill out forms and take tests has been hindered so badly.
    I was at the post office the other day, and tried to use the computer scale stamp printer, and while picking options I couldn’t comprehend what the hell the words meant, they just seemed like a bunch of letters and words with no meaning.
    Constantly zoning out; day dreaming and having flashbacks of life that are 90 percent negative. I feel that this medication has sent me deeper into depression.
    When I think to myself sometimes at night or in the day I can more then not use great vocabulary, formulate good sentences that make sense. but when it comes time to talking and writing down on a piece of paper I forget everything.
    Overall It’s safe to say that if a pharmaceutical company can safely create a medicine with little to no side effects while effectively treating what the patient is suffering from, will likely be the winner and make tons of money. Just like I’ve been told pharmaceutical companies golden ticket is creating a weight loss pill with no side effects and that actually works.

  6. […] a-doctor-voluntarily-took-an-antipsychotic-drug/ Leave a Comment LikeBe the first to like this post.Leave a Comment » […]

  7. brainfed Says:

    I heard they are now using acupuncture with good results for schizophrenia. It sounds like those meds are awful and you must have to be in a lot of pain to be willing to stay on them. Sorry to hear it’s like that.

  8. Fallen Says:

    Hi. When I was twelve, I had an incident happen that was very traumatic for me & I started acting out in the months following. My mom took me to a physician, giving him false information that I was hearing voices, when I actually had no mental illness symptoms or history. Based on my mom’s report, I was given two antipsychotics Haldol and Resperidal, even though I’d showed no implication of these symptoms in my evaluation. Two years later, and many worse drugs later, I began becoming emotionally unstable, out of touch with reality, my personality changed, and I attempted suicide several times. At 25, I started experiencing a slight psychosis, which worsened into Schizophrenia/psychosis. At 26, I moved out without my parent’s consent & self-detoxed off of all psych meds. It’s been about 10 months, yet I still have psychosis and extremely severe Schizophrenia. I have no touch with reality, am basically only about 30% coherent at most, have no organization, attention span, or concentration. The only thing I can do coherently is state facts, work the computer, and write. Hence, what you’re reading. My concern here is that I had a perfectly well and stable mind before I was given antipsychotics, and now my psychiatric state is hideous. What the hell happened?

  9. gthnk Says:

    At one time I was taking risperdone, topomax, seroquel, carbamezipine, paxill and xanax. I got tired of feeling like shit all the time and having to deal with random jerks that would often result in me jerking out of bed in a sudden violent fit.

    My doctor said none of the drugs I was one would cause it, and so on. But anyone can read – right? So I weened myself off the worst of them, namely risperdone (can be used for acute onset and doesn’t require a ‘build up’) and seroquel.

    Now, I have a friend who used to be very big on recreational drug use. Whatever was available he would take. He was a meth addict for a while, and he loved downers and often took large doses of gravol. I offered him my seroquel (25mg tabs) and told him to becareful, they were very strong (yeah I know, bad decision making and so on).

    I saw him a month later and he said he tried seroquel once and never again. It fucked his mind over more than anything he had taken up to that point. He said he slept for 24hrs straight and when he woke up it was like he was in a dream. He was hallucinating, couldn’t form sentences, felt like his mind had locked him in and so on. None of it was pleasent and he’d said he’d rather go back to being used by meth.

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  11. firebird Says:

    i decided to see a therapist a while back to see how they could help me cope with my life at the time. i had some personal tragedies and wanted to ease some of the pressure i was feeling at the time. nothing unusual was going on, but i said i had a little trouble getting to sleep at night.

    it was the summer of ’08; the height of seroquel’s marketing campaign.
    she started me off with 50 mg.

    i’ve never been the same ever since.
    i’ve been hospitalized and have yet to fully recover.

    it’s been four months since i’ve completely tapered off of all medication- after five years of taking seroquel, resperidone, invega, lexapro, oxcarbazepine, klonopin at varying dosages.

    my hope is that very few people can understand what i’m going through right now: the sadness, apprehension and rage i feel, as every day beautifully opens up anew; for each is an awakening of the person i once was.
    life is finally returning to me.

    i’m thankful that not once did i give into the thoughtless impulse to take my life, something that would’ve been so uncharacteristic prior to the medication.

    mostly though, i’m afraid of my experience and it’s vast implications.


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