i know people that take several pills at day. for me, it’s one plus a vitamin and a few omega 3 pills. my prescribed medication is lamictal. 100mg. (my doc recently cut my dosage in half). lamictal was approved to treat epilepsy in 1994. in 2003, it was the first fda-approved medication for the long-term treatment of adults with bipolar I disorder since lithium was approved in 1970. at their website the drugmaker claims, lamictal does not take away the initial feelings of depression or mania you may be experiencing, lamictial helps keep mood episodes from coming back for an extended period of time. and it’s true. at least for me. luckily i didn’t get the “rash”. stevens-johnson syndrome. the rate of serious rash is 0.08% (0.8 per 1,000) in adult patients receiving lamictal as intial monotherapy. before taking any medication for a mental illness i suggest you check out: crazy meds. a website where you will not find “doctors, pharmacists, therapists, lawyers or anyone else with useful credentials.” here you will read information on the meds, information your doctor wouldn’t dare mention or in my experience the last two decades, they sometimes deny these are actually side effects. with lamictal you get: muscle aches, full-body aches, headaches. lots of aches! dry mouth. anxiety or other hypomanic effects. another not-so-common effect is a type of insomnia where you’re tired, but you can’t sleep. if you’re a female, it can also mess with your monthly cycle. this is something i’ve recently noticed, the med doesn’t work up to par the week before and during. how does the med work? according to crazymeds, lamictal (lamotrigine) works on binding to voltage sensitive sodium and maybe calcium channels in the brain. the calcium bit is a matter for debate. it also invokes glutamate which is a major excitatory neurotransmitter in the brain which is responsible for sending messages from neuron to neuron in 85% of the brain. it also lightly brushes the 5-HT3 serotonin receptor and the sigma opioid receptors.
lamictal is probably the last of the anticonvulsants you’ll see approved to treat bipolar, because all the money is in atypical antipsychotics.
antipsychotics. risperdal, zyprexa, abilify, geodon, clozaril and seroquel. of the six i’ve been on one, seroquel. it was a love/hate relationship in the begininng. the anxiety was gone. the depression, gone. but, so was my life. soon, i was a walking zombie. i would take the pill at night and ten minutes later find myself drooling and barely making it to bed, only to crash and crash hard. twelve to fifteen hours later i would wake. only i wasn’t really awake. my eyes were open but my mind was numb. and a few short hours later it would be time to take the pill again. i also gained thirty pounds. the antipsychotics family could be summed up by saying: you’ll gain five pounds just by filling the prescription. you’ll sleep 10-16 hours a day. you won’t care about anything. you might come down with type 2 diabetes.
taking these meds long term is dangerous. we do not know the long-term side effects, and judging from the short-term side effects, i would guess it isn’t pretty.
during a seven year study at vanderbilt hopsital, from 1995-2002, there were 5.7 million office visits by u.s. children during which an antipsychotic was prescribed, and more than half (53 percent) of the prescriptions were given for behavioral indications or affective disorders, conditions for which antipsychotics have not been carefully studied in children. the study also found the overall frequency of antipsychotic prescribing increased fivefold in just six years — from 8.6 out of 1,000 u.s. children in 1995-1996 to 39.4 out of 1,000 u.s. children in 2001-2002. almost one-third of those prescriptions were written by pediatricians or family medicine doctors. in the uk, the annual use of antipsychotic drugs increased by 16% the last decade.
and now there’s this study: widely prescribed anti-psychotic drugs do not help most alzheimer’s patients with delusions and aggression and are not worth the risk of sudden death and other side effects, the first major study on sufferers outside nursing homes concludes. “these medications are not the answer,” said thomas insel, director of the national institute of mental health, which paid for the study. he said better medications are at least several years away. the study tested zyprexa, risperdal and seroquel — newer drugs developed for schizophrenia. doctors are free to prescribe them for any use. however, the drugs carry a strong warning that they increase the risk of death for elderly people with dementia-related psychotic symptoms, mainly because of heart problems and pneumonia, and that they are not approved for such patients. and yet, roughly one-quarter of nursing home patients are on these drugs. the study tested the drugs on 421 patients at 42 medical centers. about four in five patients stopped taking their pills early because the medications were ineffectiven or had side effects that included grogginess, worsening confusion, weight gain, and parkinson’s-like symptoms such as rigidity and trouble walking. five deaths were reported among the patients on the medication. neurologist john morris, director of the alzheimer’s disease research center at washington university in st. louis says, “too often, these antipsychotics get overused or misused. these drugs should be the last line of therapy, and they’re for short-term use.”
a person who is psychotic is out of touch with reality. people with psychosis may hear voices (hallucinations) or have strange and illogical ideas (delusions). they may be unaware that their condition is an illness. schizophrenia is an example of a psychosis. antipsychotic medications assist in a number of ways. they often calm down the hallucinations and delusions, or at least make them more manageable. some antipsychotic medications also help the person interact more normally with others. they may become more social and less isolated, and begin to take an interest in their grooming and appearance.
my swain has questioned several times, why are we treating millions of men, women and children who are not psychotic with antipsychotics??? and it’s a damn good question. something we should all question.
i’m simply a frustrated thirty-something girl tired of the mental illness stigma. tired of the doctors prescribing dangerous medications without blinking. tired of the insurance companies laughing all the way to the bank, covering a physical illness and not a mental illness. and the evil pharmaceutical companies. they send former-cheerleaders out to pimp their nasty drugs. and they all sleep well at night, otherwise, we would see a change. instead, it’s getting worse.
as writer/reporter philip dawdy over at furious seasons points out, “this is an especially crucial time for such a rethink, since the fda is on the verge of approving seroquel for use in bipolar depression, which would allow the company to actively market the drug as a “mood stabilizer” a la lithium. zyprexa is already approved that way—and we know just how much that has helped patients.”
it’s time we, the patients and families, say something. we need a voice and we need several. thousands. millions.
to read more on the alzheimer’s study, click here.