The Mental Health Solution . com
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Psychotropic Drugs

Psychotropic medication is a critical issue in mental health. I've talked to hundreds of clients who were on psych meds. I'm going to share with you what I have seen.

To be sure, there are some 'success' stories. I'll list a few.

  • One individual had, as his mission in life, to take out the mafia. He made a diligent--though unsuccessful--effort to do just that. He was well-armed: He had a BB gun. His diagnosis: Paranoid Schizophrenia. After he was put on psych meds, he was rational and appeared well-adjusted in every way.
  • Another individual was a retired businessman. He had been successful in his business career. However, he was always angry. He would repeatedly break furniture in his home during episodes of rage. His symptoms improved greatly after being put on Paxil: "I've never done this good before."
  • An 18 year old housewife complained of persistent anxiety. Her doctor gave her 10mg of Prozac which seemed to completely clear up her symptoms. She was a different person, smiling and making jokes. She then celebrated her success by cheating on her husband.
  • A girl of about 11 used to go into uncontrollable rages. And this was a nice girl. Her symptoms showed major improvement after being put on the drug Tofranil. This was a secular client; I couldn't say anything about the Bible.

With stories like these, you might think that I'm an unabashed advocate of psychotropic medication. I'm not. I've seen too many other things. Some examples.

  • One client was a married housewife--about 35 years old. She had been in the military. According to her husband, she was once energetic and very attractive. Then, she had some depression. She was put on anti-depressants. Years later, she became my client. She had gained weight and could do little more that sit around the house and watch TV. And nothing I could do could change anything. Her psychiatrist refused to take her off medication.
  • Another client had issues with depression and anxiety. He was on 5 different psych meds. I couldn't get him to do anything. Not even read his Bible. Like most others, he sleeps a lot.
  • I sent one client to the emergency room who needed to be seen right away. His symptoms were serious and possibly life-threatening. The emergency room doctor told him that his symptoms were caused by his psychiatric medication. He was taking his medication as directed.
  • A high school age boy: He was also on 5 different psychotropic drugs. His case was severe--he had threatened his mother with a knife. Still, keeping him doped up is no answer. It's just a confirmation that secular psychology has no real answers.
  • A then 18-year-old boy. And this is a relative. He used to be highly intelligent, easily able to beat his father in chess. Then, he developed some depression due to to anger issues. His parents took him to reputable doctors, thinking that they were dealing with a medical issue, not a spiritual foothold. He was put on Zyprexa, Seroquel, Wellbutrin, Ativan and just about every psych drug under the sun. The last time I spoke with him, he couldn't even remember a single sentence. He had experienced a severe cognitive decline—along with mania—as a result of the medications his doctors had prescribed. And he was no better off emotionally: "I feel terrified!" "I can't organize my thoughts." "I don't know what to do." This is the worst case I have ever seen. But it points out the possible negative consequences of using psychotropic medications.

Psych drugs always have side effects. They tend to stop working over time. Doses have to be increased. Medications need to be added. Medications need to be changed. It's a never-ending hassle.

For individuals with anxiety and/or depression, medications make it impossible to learn self-control. You instead learn to rely on the medication. Medications can eliminate the consequences of negative thinking and maladaptive behavior. They often reduce mental acuity and produce lethargy—especially with long-term use. So clients usually make no progress whatsoever.

I would like to tell you that your doctor is the best person to evaluate whether or not you should be on psychotropic medications—and which ones. I can't. I think these drugs are over-prescribed. Way over-prescribed.

In fairness to doctors, three facts should be noted: 1) Doctors are aware of the limitations of secular therapy. 2) They generally know little or nothing about the Bible. 3) They know that if they don't prescribe drugs--and something happens--they may be sued. And they will probably have to pay damages.

I'm not saying you shouldn't listen to what your doctor has to say. You should certainly give serious consideration to your doctor's advice. You should also do your own research. And you should also seek counsel from others—especially others who have a reputation for sound judgement.

In regard to doctors, some additional suggestions: 1) Psychiatrists do a better job than non-specialists in picking medications. 2) Getting a second medical opinion is a good idea. But ask plenty of questions! 3) Recognize that no doctor can give you any medical advice without being cognizant of legal liability issues.

When evaluating whether or not you should take psychotropic medication, consider the following:

  • Why is this drug being prescribed?
  • Is the drug really necessary?
  • How long is this drug going to be needed?
  • What are the health consequences of taking this drug over the period of time in which it will be prescribed?
  • What are the side effects (Sleepiness, dizziness, nausea, dry mouth etc.)? Psychotropic medications can also cause serious health problems and additional mental health problems.
  • Is the drug compatible with other medications you are taking?
  • Is the drug compatible with other things you may be using (Illegal drugs, alcohol, herbal preparations, supplements, energy drinks etc.)?
  • Recognize that no drug is without negative health consequences. The question is whether or not the drug's benefits outweigh its risks. Most of the time, for Christians, the risks—and actual negative consequences—far outweigh the benefits.

Pharmacists are a good source of information for all medications as well as drug interactions.

I think parents should be especially cautious in allowing their children to be prescribed psych drugs. These drugs are much more damaging to children and adolescents than they are to adults. Psychiatrist Dr. Thomas Szasz stated: "Giving a child a psychiatric drug is poisoning, not treatment." Home schooling is a much better alternative for serious behavioral disorders. Most of these will go away with time anyway.

If you are currently taking psychotropic medication, do not abruptly discontinue or reduce your medication without first consulting with your doctor. Reductions in the dosage of many medications should only be made slowly. Doing otherwise is dangerous.

Also, if you are making any changes in your medication, you really don't know how you will be affected until after you make the change. It's a good idea to have someone nearby who knows what is going on. This way, that person will be in a position to help, if needed.

Some psychotropic drugs are more difficult to get off of than street drugs. If you attempt to get off these drugs, you can expect your mental health symptoms to get worse before they get better.

Before continuing, I should note that the use of psychotropic drugs should normally be viewed as highly suspect in light of Scripture. That is because the Bible says that "By his divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life (2 Peter 1:3 NLT)."

One thing I've noticed in therapy is that Christians on psych drugs usually don't make much progress.

So, should you use psychotropic drugs? I cannot provide a definite answer—there are too many variables. But I will provide some guidelines.

These guidelines assume that you know and have tried Biblical interventions. And that you recognize that Biblical interventions usually take time to work. Some problems, like anxiety and depression, may require years of effort.

I believe that psychotropic drugs should only be considered under the following circumstances:

  • You need the drugs because you are a danger to yourself without the drugs.
  • You need the drugs because, without the drugs, you are a danger to others.
  • You are near death and still experiencing disturbing mental health symptoms. Under such circumstances, the health consequences of these medications are less problematic.
  • Only as an absolute last resort.
  • Only for as long as necessary.
  • Only after first bringing the issue to God in prayer.
  • Only after wise Christian counsel (More than one person. Emergencies excepted.).
  • Only with a doctor's prescription.

Disclaimer: I am not a doctor. Discuss your individual situation with your physician before making any changes.

 

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