5 Reasons why I don’t like psychiatric medications – but I still take them


I am guessing you may have heard the reasons why people don’t like to take medications for psychiatric conditions.  It all sounds so easy, “It’s just like taking a blood pressure pill.”  “It’s no different than taking insulin for diabetes.”  Well, the truth is it is very different and there are several reasons why.  Here is the top 5 on my list.

#1 – They make you gain weight

There are few classes of psychiatric medications that do not cause weight gain.  With the exception of some medications for anxiety, almost all the medications for depression, bipolar and schizophrenia cause weight gain.  I managed to gain a slim 80 pounds!  It seemed like every time I was put on a new medication I gained 20 pounds.  I don’t know anyone who likes to gain weight.  But the reality is medications made me feel better and if I have to work at losing weight that’s just the trade off.  It is a valid concern for those of us with a mental illness.

#2 – Some make you feel like a “zombie” from the Walking Dead

Take a blood pressure pill and you rarely have a side effect.  On the other hand, take some high powered psychotropic drugs and you might feel like a zombie.  Usually this side effect goes away in time, but if it does not I encourage people to talk with their doctor to help adjust the medication or the dosage.  No one wants to feel worse and sometimes that is what happens.  Older medications are notorious for causing lethargy, work with your doctor there are many choices that might not make you feel as bad.  Above anything – don’t stop taking your medication without talking with your doctor first.  There can be some serious effects from stopping abruptly.

#3 – The Stigma of Mental Illness

It is the shame and misunderstanding that comes from stigma.  No one wants to feel as if they are not “sane.”  It is about credibility.  Not being different from other people.  We all want a sense of belonging, but not to a group that is discriminated against.  This no longer effects me much but in the past this really bothered me.

#4 – The medical community does not know the long-term effects

Less funding for research means less understanding for the long-term effects of medications.  Especially for a class of drugs called anti-psychotics.  They are used for many off-label conditions and the long-term effects are truly unknown.  What we do know is that people who have schizophrenia live on average 25 years less than other people.  We don’t know if that is related to medications or a number of other factors.  It’s hard to want to continue taking a medication without knowing what it will do to your body.

#5 – Branded products are expensive

The latest greatest products are extremely expensive.  Some drugs can cost $1600 a month making it impossible for people without great insurance to afford the medications that may have less side effects.  Generic drugs don’t cost much at all and some have been shown to be as effective as the newer products.  If you take 3 or 4 prescriptions a month it gets a little pricey.

So these are my top 5 reasons why I don’t like psychiatric medications.  But here is the disclaimer – I still take them because I know without them I can’t live a good life.  They help my symptoms and make it possible for me to live a “normal” life.  Without the medications I don’t know what would happen to me and I am unwilling to take the risk to find out.  But there are a group of people who don’t believe in them, I am not one of them.  Suffering is not worth going without a medication that is going to make you feel better in the long term.  There are trade offs with everything in life.


13 thoughts on “5 Reasons why I don’t like psychiatric medications – but I still take them

  1. Awesome post!!! I agree it is not the same as taking insulin for example. When I tell a youth who has to take medication, it is often the stigma associated that they need something to alter their mood so I do reference there is no shame in taking medication just as there is no shame in taking insulin. I do tell them to keep talking to their doctor or even pharmacist about the side effects…it is not an easy road especially at the beginning. Thank you for sharing this important information that so many struggle with and may not have the courage to talk about. May I share this on my blog “Stop the Stigma”?

    1. Cheryl..thanks for your comments. Please feel free to share on your blog. I tend to lush the envelope on what I share because I feel it is so important for people to start talking about.

      1. Indeed and in the past 4 years we have more talks in schools and media that encourage more youths to reach out now. It is a slow process but the more we talk about it, it becomes a part of our overall health that we need to be mindful. Thanks again.

  2. Reblogged this on Stop the Stigma and commented:
    There are many reasons one might NOT want to take medication for their mental health condition…here are a few that are explained so well by Amy Gamble at Shedding Light on Mental Illness opening a dialogue to help remove the stigma on mental illness.

    I remember taking blood pressure medication for a few months and feeling like I was walking in sand…so slow until we adjusted the dosage. It as so tempting to stop those first weeks.

    Years ago I worked in home-care and a client with Parkinson would sometimes hallucinate due to the medication she was taking to manage the shaking of her limbs. It was not perfect but it enabled her to have some control of her body.

    After reading this post, have a visit on the various helpful topics Amy shares with her readers.

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