This an open letter to anyone who is deciding on whether or not they should start taking psychiatric medications.
First, I want to congratulate you on doing research before starting on psychiatric medications. This decision could impact the rest of your life. Your future self thanks you for taking the time to find out more.
If you are already taking medications and wish to taper off them, please visit this page for helpful tips and information.
Let’s get to it:
Here are a few things your doctor may not have mentioned about psychiatric medications:
- Safety: It is well-documented that more than 100,000 people per year die simply by taking their medications as directed by their doctor. In contrast, zero people are killed by taking vitamins. This YouTube video by Dr. Peter Gøtzsche asserts that the number is now 200,000 deaths per year and prescription drugs are now the third leading cause of death, after heart disease and cancer.
- Negative Health Consequences: You may find relief when you first begin taking medications. However, after a while, most people find that the beneficial effects of the medications lessen. The standard procedure is for the doctor to recommend increasing the amount of medication. They may even suggest you start an additional prescription. It is common for this cycle to continue until people are taking 5-10 different medications daily, each one with their own adverse side effects. It gets to be a vicious cycle of prescribing one drug to combat the side effects of the previous drug. This can lead to a condition called Tardive Dyskinesia, described as involuntary repetitive body movements caused by long-term use of psychiatric medications. Symptoms include “stiff, jerky movements of your face and body that you can’t control. You might blink your eyes, stick out your tongue, or wave your arms without meaning to do so.” This condition is often permanent, even after discontinuing medications. You may also be put on a medication that makes your condition worse. There are many documented cases about this on the website SSRI Stories.
- Withdrawal: If, after taking your medications for a while, you decide you no longer want to take them, you may face challenges as you as you taper off the drugs. It has been noted that certain classes of psychiatric medications called benzodiazapenes can become addictive after only a few weeks. This blog post by Martin C. Winer gives a firsthand account of his experience with psychiatric medications. This Huffington Post article describes another person’s experience with the drug Klonopin. There are many Facebook groups where you can read accounts of people who are attempting to withdrawal from medications. You can type in the name of the drug your doctor wants to put you on, and the word withdrawal. For example, search Facebook for ‘Cymbalta Withdrawal’ and request to join the group.
- Conflict of interest: There are several moral and ethical breaches occurring within the medical and pharmaceutical industries that are rarely talked about. This article reports that 65% of doctors are receiving compensation or “kickbacks,” from a drug company. This means that your doctor has a vested financial interest in prescribing you a certain drug, even if you don’t need it. In addition, several mental health advocacy groups (such as NAMI) are funded primarily in large part by the pharmaceutical industry. This is the reason why advocacy groups are reluctant to speak out against the dangers of pharmaceuticals. The FDA, the government group tasked with making sure drugs are safe before being approved, has also been infiltrated by former heads of pharmaceutical companies. There are many other instances of conflicts of interests that are happening, including suppressing information about large court settlements against the pharma industries where people’s lives have been ruined by taking psychiatric medications. The list goes on and on.
Now, with all that being said, if you decide you DON’T want to take pharmaceutical drugs, what CAN you can do to improve your mental health? This site is a great resource for books, websites, and YouTube videos that will help you decide what you can do instead of taking medication. An introductory book I often recommend to people is The Mood Cure by Julia Ross. Another helpful book is The Secrets to Real Mental Health by Linda Van Zandt. You can find more suggestions by visiting the resources page.
My sincere hope is that this article was helpful and provided relevant information to make an informed decision about whether or not to begin taking medication. If you would like to add to the discussion, please leave a comment below.
-Judy Meyer, HHP, NHC
(As a reminder, I am not a medical doctor and therefore I cannot diagnose, cure, treat any disease or illness. I am a holistic health practitioner, and natural health consultant who specializes in holistic mental health.)