Psychiatric medication is a topic that invokes mixed feelings in a lot of people. The mere mention of it will cause others to go out of their way to warn you of the dangers of it. In my experience, these well meaning people do not know what they are talking about. Their advice is damaging and can prevent others from finding wellness by filling their minds with unnecessary fear.
The single most common sentiment I hear from people is “I know someone who was on XYZ and they killed themselves! You don’t want to take that!” I hear it so often that I would venture to guess that most of you who have discussed psych medication with another uninformed party have probably heard it too. My mind is immediately filled with questions when I hear it. “Was the person taking it as scheduled? Were they communicating with their doctor when their symptoms got worse? Were they paying attention to their mentality as they changed dosages?”
The original statement doesn’t actually say anything worthwhile. It’s a statement of misunderstanding and fear. Don’t get me wrong; I don’t blame the person who is saying it. I know that they think they are doing the right thing because of the pain they have etched on their soul from the loss of someone they cared about. That doesn’t change the fact that the “advice” and fear they dole out is damaging and potentially hazardous to someone considering psych meds.
Why is it so harmful? Incorrect medication does not just send you from zero to insanity in the span of an hour or two. It’s going to take at least a couple days to even remotely approach it. A person who is taking a new medication should be very aware of what it could potentially do so they do not wake up one day and find themselves in that position. As symptoms get worse, they should be on the phone with their doctor telling them the meds are making them worse. This is even easier if there is a loved one who understands what’s going on that can pay closer attention to their behavior.
Now how many people actually do that? It’s a simple line of thinking and action that can derail serious complications with psych meds.
The only time I feel a person should not try psych meds to get Bipolar Disorder or Depression under control is if they are not ready to follow through on it. I’ve met far too many people that treat their psych meds like aspirin. “Oh, I just take it when I’m feeling off.” “I’ve missed three doses in the past week.” They don’t treat their psych meds with the respect it deserves. It is my opinion that those people should not be taking it until they are ready to commit to taking it as directed. There’s the potential for them to do far more damage to themselves than they realize.
Psych meds are a tool to help a person get well. Like any tool, it must be used safely and responsibly to prevent any unnecessary injuries. Be aware of the potential hazards of the med itself and always be on the look out for signs that it is making things worse. If it is- call your doctor and let them know. Keep pressing at it until you are able to talk to the person and get their guidance on what you should do immediately. It really is that simple. If you know you’re going to be changing meds or dosages then it should come as no surprise that there is a potential for it to go awry.
Don’t base your decision to take or not take psych medication on fear. Always examine and re-examine how your mentality is on a particular medication.
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