Are Psych Drugs Worth It?

I have seen a handful of posts recently on Mad in America and a few other Facebook pages I follow about the struggles of being on psych drugs and the sometimes dangerous side effects of being on them. I had a brief conversation with a Facebook friend about the costs and benefits of being on these drugs, especially the role of doctors in telling patients the best and the worst about these drugs so an informed decision can be made. If you have been following my blog then you may know that I do not like psych drugs. I know that these drugs have no role in my life and I doubt the role they play in general in mental health care to the extent that they are. None of this changes that I have family and friends who living the lives they want to lead because they are on psych drugs and I am supportive of them. It is your choice and no one should make you feel bad about what you chose to do.

Image result for cost benefit analysis

image: Two signs with arrows pointing opposite directions. The top sign says cost and the bottom sign says benefits.

This conversation with a Facebook friend in combination with “discussions” I have had with my current psychiatrist about psych drugs postpartum I started thinking about how we decide if psych drugs are worth it. How do we decide if the benefits outweigh the costs? What are the benefits that keep us on these drugs and what are the costs that take us off of them?

Despite what some of the general public believes, my decision to stop using psych drugs had nothing to do with “not feeling like myself” or  simply being willful. There were serious things happening to me and to ignore them could have been a disaster. Using my most recent 6 month experience with Effexor back in 2013/2014 I would like to share with you how I decided I needed to stop taking Effexor.

Trigger warning: brief mentions of suicide.

Benefits to being on Effexor (at 37.5mg)

  • I was less reactive to stressors.
  • I felt like I could engage with others better when in stressful situations.
  • I could utilize coping skills more effectively because I was less reactive.

Costs to being on Effexor (at 37.5 mg and 75mg)

  • 37.5mg, I spent the first 5 days on Effexor extremely high (physically similar to an MDMA/ecstasy high). This resulted in a lack of appetite, sleep and sore muscles. While this went away, my current psychiatrist showed great concern over this symptom as it is evidence of drug completely unleashing all of my serotonin during that time which can be extremely dangerous.
  • 37.5mg, I found myself locked in a bathroom debating on whether or not to end my life.
  • 75 mg, I began alternating between feeling a lot and crying to feeling nothing.
  • 75 mg, the times of crying were deep depressions.
  • 75 mg, the times of numbness where when I would start fantasizing about killing myself.
  • 75 mg, I told my partner that I probably wouldn’t live much longer and would have this conversation like it was nothing.

When I look at my list, given that I had strong suicidal thoughts and was starting act seriously on them I knew the best choice for me was to stop taking Effexor.

I would love to hear from all of you! How have you made the decision to stay on psych drugs or come off them?

Image result for cost benefit analysis

Image: a 3 panel comic with two characters. First character says, “You should do a cost-benefit analysis.” Second character says, “The cost of doing a cost-benefit analysis…exceeds the benefit.”

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11 thoughts on “Are Psych Drugs Worth It?

  1. I have made the decision to stay on my meds because I know how much more worse my symptoms are with out them especially when my symptoms are already flaring up. I am finally in a place I want to be in. I am now working as a peer specialist at local mental health agency. For me and my mental health recovery meds are apart of my recovery. I also realize that everyone’s recovery looks differently for each individual. If not taking meds is what the individual thinks is best for their recovery then who am I to say its wrong. I just advise people to consult with their treatment provider first. Everyone has a right to do what is best for them.

    • Wow! A peer specialist! That sounds like a great job!

      I’m glad to hear you are where you want to be in your recovery and it sounds like you are a good support to others when it comes to their medication decisions!

      Thanks for sharing!

      • Thanks!! Being a peer specialist is a great job!! Actually, most of the people who have prescribed me meds always informed that they were thinking in regards to meds and gave me literature on meds and gave me options. I think most prescribers of psych meds don’t give their patients or clients options or choices in the meds they get. I am lucky that I’ve had such prescribers.

      • Yes! Choices in medication! Because of how I react to psych drugs my doctor always had 2 or 3 options for me and I was the one to decide since I’m taking them lol While a lot of these drugs can be similar to each other, sometimes it’s just that one little difference that can help or hinder us.

  2. My biggest problem with psych meds has been the rather common one of weight gain. It’s affecting my health badly. Trying to get off them, even one at a time, with the help of an understanding pdoc, has been a disaster. To say I’m upset is an understatement. I do feel that, other than the weight gain, they have benefitted me.

    • Weight gain is tough. Is it a lot of weight gain? I have heard some people gain a lot. Coming off of these drugs is something else we all have to consider. It can be a lengthy and side effect filled process. I am glad to hear that other than the weight you have been helped. Does that make you feel a bit better about it all? Thanks for sharing!

      • 110 lb. From 220 (about 20 more than I like) to 330 at my peak. I’d managed to get down to 270 with a struggle, but then a med change shot me back up to 295 and another back to 330, where I’m at again now. Last August, 1 year ago, with the cooperation of my pdoc, we tried to get me off the atypical, horrible withdrawals, worse than getting off Xanax a few years ago. Instability followed, and a year later I’m back on an atypical, at my max weight, and haven’t really regained the stability I had for years before the med change last year. To say I’m disenheartened and mad at the pharmaceutical industry would be an understatement.

      • That is quite the weight gain! The atypical drugs seem to have that all in common and it’s…I don’t even have words…as you know weight gain can come with consequences. Do you know if the drug companies are trying to create an atypical that won’t cause such dramatic weight gain?

  3. Pingback: Are Psych Drugs Worth It? — Pride in Madness | hopelesslynogood

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