I have since been put in touch with the well-researched writings of Robert Whitaker which give so much solid and clear support for what I intuited from day one of my time as a support worker. There have been other well-researched books published recently making a similarly strong case for the need of a complete overhaul to the manner of prescribing psychiatric drugs in western countries: “ Pharmageddon” by David Healy; “The Myth of the Chemical Cure” by Joanna Moncrieff, “Healing Schizophrenia: Using
Medication Wisely” by John Watkins.
For more detailed info and research evidence:
1. Robert Whitaker
2. David Healy
3. Soteria Houses (Lauren Mosher)
4. John Watkins
5. A paper on psychiatric Medication and their effects on Children
6. World Health Organisation report on Schizophrenia
7. Coming off Psychiatric drugs safely guide by the Freedom Center and the Icarus Project- This is a particularly clear, balanced and easy to read summary of the complex issues and dilemmas involved in the field of mental health treatment-highly recommended reading
8. Orthomolecular medicine
9. Acupuncture for Schizophrenia
10. International Hearing Voices Support organization
11. Hearing Voices Network Aotearoa NZ
12. Information about the Finnish approach called Open Dialogue
13. Psychiatric screening for Preschoolers in NZ.
14. Scientific review showing ECT to be ineffective
THE MEDICAL MODEL
COMPULSORY TREATMENT ORDERS: Most people with more severe forms of mental illness are offered no choice in their treatment and are placed under compulsory treatment orders that consist mainly of high doses of medications.
DEPENDENCE AND DESPAIR: The medical model of mental illness “You are a person with a brain disease and we have the drugs to fix it”, engenders a great sense of dependency and/or despair and resentment, and usually a life-long pattern of disempowerment, distrust and feigned compliance to authority. It doesn’t in any way encourage a person to come into a “healing relationship” with their experiences. It also means that people are often very resistant to getting help when they need it, because of a reluctance to turn themselves over to a process that feels so inherently disrespectful. (Even if dressed in modern PC language).
SIDE EFFECTS: Not only do their powerful sedating effects impact severely on a person’s quality of life on all parameters, but many medications at high dosages have a host of life-threatening side-effects i.e. lowered cognitive abilities, compacted bowel, reduced white blood cells, obesity, diabetes, heart disease, nil sex drive, tardive dyskinesia, neuroleptic malignant syndrome, and in many cases include a reduced life span. Some act by disrupting normal brain chemistry, so that higher brain functions are damaged.Surely, in the case of drugs which have such severe side-effects it would be wiser to be much more cautious about the prescribing of them in the first place.
WITHDRAWAL SYMPTOMS: Another aspect of this disruption to the brain chemistry is the tendency for a severe relapse in symptoms when people discontinue the drugs, especially when stopped abruptly. The severity of the withdrawal (often portrayed as a return of the ‘disease’) is used as a reason to keep people on them, on ever-increasing doses, often for life. I would never recommend that anyone taking psychiatric drugs withdraws from them abruptly. And that even reducing dosages gradually be done with the sort of careful consideration, support, and suggestions provided on the Freedom center site (link above).
LIMITED EFFECTIVENESS: Evidence also suggests that medication (in voice hearers for example) is only effective in 33% of those taking it. Many people are forced to continue taking medication and contend with the side effects, despite there being little positive results. If they were a cure, surely we should be seeing increased recovery rates from medication. Where in fact a recent World health organization study, showed higher recovery rates for schizophrenia in 3rd world countries where medications were unaffordable. And as Robert Whitaker points out, the rates of Mental Disability in the United States have increased exponentially since the advent of “anti-psychotic” drugs. I also acknowledge that some people do find psychiatric medications helpful, and this is obviously their right if freely chosen, but given the extremely serious side-effects, they should never be the first-line or only form of treatment offered and should always have the risks clearly explained at an early stage of treatment.
INCREASED PRESCRIPTIONS OF DRUGS FOR CHILDREN: There is now increasing pressure to prescribe these medications to children, without knowing the effects of such medications on a growing brain and emotional faculties, and despite there being no research evidence that they are effective for children.
ELECTRO- CONVULSIVE THERAPY: Did you know that this type of treatment is still taking place, and is not always voluntary? If you are a psychiatric patient, you could be forced by a compulsory treatment order to undergo this therapy.