The introduction of Thorazine, an antipsychotic medication, in the mid 1950s led to multiple changes in mental health including positive (increased levels of independence, reduced psychiatric stay, and control of symptoms) and negative (terrible side effects, over-medicating, prescription drug abuse, and de-institutionalization) outcomes. Leeriness of psychotropic drugs has continued into 2013 and many supporters of medication usage are being met with resistance.
With the possibility of tardive dyskinesia (a disorder characterized by involuntary movements throughout the body) and problematic side effects (nausea, weight gain, blurred vision, and muscle spams or tremor), it’s no wonder so many people would fight tooth and nail to avoid consumption of these medications. Haldol, an antipsychotic drug often prescribed for Schizophrenia, has side effects as bothersome as:
As a therapist having worked with patients taking antipsychotic meds, I understand the fear, resistance, and concern involved in accepting a prescription. On the other hand, meds are essential in most cases to balance uncontrollable symptoms, relieve problems associated with one’s illness such as hallucinations or inability to sleep, and provide a stable foundation for recovery or moderation of symptoms. Poor adherence or strict resistance to medications has resulted in suicide, victimization, incarceration, and homicide in many cases.
Psychiatric medication continues to be a controversial topic, especially for holistic doctors and therapists. As a supporter of holistic approaches to care, I also understand the desire to be “holistic.” But we must also be realistic. When the negatives of the illness outweigh the negatives of taking the medication, it is important to do what is best.
Another issue is that families and caregivers are often intimidated by healthcare professionals and often feel no need to ask questions, have meds adjusted, or completely changed. This can become increasingly more difficult if your loved one has a poor relationship with a healthcare professional. It’s important to build a good relationship (or find another doctor) and ask questions.
There are 5 important questions that families and caregivers should ask a healthcare provider about medication:
Final tips for Families, Caregivers, & Friends
It can be very difficult for families and caregivers to encourage a loved one to take medication. It’s even more devastating when you witness the severity of the illness without meds. The best weapon is knowledge.
Feel free to share your story, I’d like to hear it.
All the best
Medline Plus. (2013). Tardive Dyskinesia. Retrieved March 13, 2013, from http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/000685.htm.
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Last reviewed: 16 Mar 2013