Thanks for coming back to End the Stigma. Yesterday I wrote a bit of a blunt post about getting diagnosed with the “In” mental illness. Today I’m going to write a bit about medicine for people who have a mental illness. Medicine is something that people tend to have the wrong idea about. As I’ve said before people think you can just get over a mental illness (this is especially the stigma about Major Depression). This is not a true myth about Depression or any mental illness for that matter.
For those of you who have never faced a mental illness before it probably seems really weird to you that we have to take medicine for our mental illness. I know a lot of people will experience some kind of mental illness in their life and when they do I hope that they feel educated enough about it to work through some of the opinions people throw on them.
There are several types of medicine for a mental illness. You have your anti psychotics which work to help the brain not have as much activity. These are the pills that they give to people who have bipolar, anxiety, or any kind of hallucinatory symptoms. What people who have not experienced these symptoms don’t realize is that these are symptoms caused by a chemical in the brain being overproduced. This chemical puts us in a bit of a hyper arousal state which can cause hallucinations, manic symptoms, and high anxiety. The pills help to control the chemical that is being overproduced in the brain so that it can slow things down.
Granted we may still have these hallucinations and everything else at least a month into the medicine before it builds up enough to get to a point where they will not bother us anymore. You need to be patient with us as the medicine starts to suppress this chemical in our brain. It can take anywhere from 1 month to 3 months before the medicine will show any noticeable changes. It is working to control how fast that chemical is being produced in our brain so that when these scary things happen we can start telling they are feelings instead of real things.
Here is a link to an easy to read website that has more info on what antipsychotics are and what they are used for: https://patient.info/health/antipsychotic-medicines
Next up is anti-depressants these are given to people who have Bipolar, depression, and other mental illnesses that cause mood swings. These pills are used to make a chemical in our brain work the way it should. Those with mental illnesses like these do not produce as much of the chemical as what people who have never experienced a mental illness have. Again this is a chemical in our brain, it is not a choice we made, it is not something we focus on purposely. Sometimes the feeling just crops up out of no where and then we have trouble pulling ourselves out of the funk.
These drugs can take anywhere from 2 weeks to 2 months to build up enough to work properly. Please be patient again because there are going to be times that we are going to decide it’s not working fast enough. That is when you need to encourage us to continue to take them so they can build up. No medicines that are used for mental illness are a one and done deal it takes time to build up in the system to where it is producing or suppressing the chemical that we are taking it for.
Here is a good website with a lot of info on what antidepressants are and what they do for those of us who take them: https://www.medicinenet.com/antidepressants/article.htm
Last but not least are the anti anxiety pills these are like the rescue inhaler in the world of anxiety. These pills are taken when you feel an anxiety attack coming on, or after having a really bad anxiety attack. They help you relax within only a few minutes so that you can focus on breathing and calming down. These are controlled substances and unfortunately for some of us with major anxiety disorder not all psychiatrist prescribe these. Anxiety attacks are scary and we do not bring them on ourselves. It is not our thoughts or feelings that cause an anxiety attack. Sometimes things just happen where all the sudden out of the blue you start feeling like you are having a stroke or a heart attack. I’ve had to call an ambulance two times because of a bad anxiety attack before. That is when these medicines come in handy is when you are in the midst of an anxiety attack if you take one it helps slow down the chemicals in your brain that is causing the anxiety. It is a bit like an anti-psychotic only you notice relief immediately when you take it.
Here is a website I found that talks a bit more about what Anti anxiety pills do and other ways to deal with major anxiety attacks when you don’t have the medicine with you: https://www.helpguide.org/articles/anxiety/anxiety-medication.htm
Anyway as I said yesterday I was going to talk a bit about why throwing too many medicines at people at once can cause a lot of trouble.
So you just got diagnosed with a mental illness and the first thing you are told by whoever diagnosed you is that you need to find a therapist and/or a psychiatrist to learn coping skills and be placed on medicine to change the chemicals in your brain. So the first thing you do is get a therapist so that you can talk about the things bugging you and find new ideas on how to deal with them. The second thing you do is get a psychiatrist so that they can put you on the right medicine.
Yes having a mental illness is expensive because a lot of doctors won’t prescribe antidepressants and Psychiatrist can cost anywhere from 200-500 dollars an appointment or more. Therapists can cost anywhere from 50-400 or more an appointment. Luckily with therapists a lot of them provide options for people who do not have insurance where they only make you pay a set fee for appointments, however Psychiatrists don’t do that.
So you are going to a Psychiatrist now, and usually when they are trying to figure out medicine they want you to come in at least once a month sometimes even more to monitor how the medicine is working for you. One of the biggest mistakes psychiatrists make, though, is throwing two or three medicines at you at once for all your issues because they know they are expensive and want to get you on a stable medicine plan so you don’t have to see them as often. When this happens sometimes you’ll have awful side effects, the problem with them doing this is there is no way we can tell what medicine is causing the awful side effects.
So my psychiatrist one time prescribed Zoloft to me and I was also on some medicine due to a spider bite around that same time. They also prescribed risperdal as well. I started breaking out in a horrible rash shortly after taking all three new medicines. I had to take myself off all the medicines before we finally realized it was the Zoloft causing the rash. This is why it is so important to communicate with your psychiatrist, especially if they are deciding to throw 3 or 4 new medicines at you at once. Because if you do not tell them to take it one medicine at a time they won’t. It may cost more money in the long run because you have to go back to start on the next medicine, but you won’t end up wasting so much money on doctor bills because of side effects that you can’t tell where they came from.
Anyway thanks for reading this educational and long post.
We are going to end stigma (one reader at a time).