Why "71º & Sunny?"

I consider 71º to be the perfect temperature. Not too cold and not too hot. I also love perfect sunny days. The vast majority of days are not 71º & Sunny and yet, all days were created by God's hand and they are still gifts, even if they don't fit my ridiculous definition of perfection. My struggle with OCD has at times imprisoned me in an impossible attempt to achieve perfection. I'm now learning to love all kinds of days that don't even come close to 71º & Sunny.

Please leave me a comment below. I really want to know what you are thinking!

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Good Medications, Questionable Usage???


My blogging friend, Deanna, brought my attention to a really great article that was published just a few days ago in the New York Times online edition. Published on September 24, 2012, the article, "A Call For Caution On Antipsychotic Drugs," is written by Richard A. Friedman, M.D., Professor of Psychiatry at Weill Cornell Medical College in Manhattan.

Some may read the article's title, and think, "Well, I don't struggle with psychosis, so this article doesn't apply to me." However, even though the newer antipsychotic drugs (commonly referred to as "atypical antipsychotic" medications) are generally used for schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and severe depression, they are today, in increasing fashion, being prescribed for many different types of mental illness. According to Dr. Friedman, in some cases this may be appropriate, but in others it is not. In addition, though these drugs can be very helpful for many people, they still carry the risk of significant side effects, and patients should be aware of them. Unfortunately, they often are not.

In particular, there were two things that Dr. Friedman mentioned that really struck me. First, he referred to some recent scientific studies that debunked the previously assumed theory that the newer "atypical antipsychotics" were better and had less side effects than the older traditional antipsychotics. This was news to me, as I have always heard that these atypical antipsychotics were great improvements over the older drugs. I wonder if many doctors are still working under the assumption that these newer antipsychotics are safer and more effective, and perhaps that is why they are prescribing them more liberally?

The second surprise of the article was Dr. Friedman's reference to the fact that apparently, many doctors are using antipsychotics to treat anxiety disorders. The doctor is concerned about this because he states that ". . . the data for the safety and efficacy of antipsychotic drugs in treating anxiety disorders is weak . . ." (para 15).

This article contained a lot of new information for me on these medications, and I thought it was worthwhile to pass this on. This does confirm for me that as a patient, it is always important to do my research (through reputable sources) on any treatment I receive. Some patients may choose to follow through on a treatment plan that includes some risk. That is their decision and should be respected. However, I think it's critical that the patient is at least properly informed of all of the risks, so that he or she can make the best choice possible.

Just a reminder: I am not a doctor/psychologist/psychiatrist, nor am I trained in any way. I do want to state however, that if you read this article and you are concerned about any medications you are currently taking, I think it would be wise to talk to your doctor first before making any changes involving your medications. These drugs are powerful, and should always be used, started, or stopped under the guidance of a properly trained psychiatrist.

22 comments:

  1. I don't plan on ever taking this class of meds again. I tried two of them and had horrible reactions and a horrible time coming off them. The ones I tried were Seroquel and Geodon.

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    1. I remember when you were weaning off of the Geodon, Elizabeth. I know you struggled quite a bit with that. I wonder if everyone has a hard time weaning off, or if it is just some people?

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    2. Thanks for sharing this info. I clicked reply instead of creating a new comment thread because I also had issues with Geodon. I was allergic to it, but they didn't believe me until a nurse advocated for me. I didn't get to wean off it, but had to quit it cold turkey. It was a horrible experience! They gave me something else (don't remember now) to counter act some of the effects of being off it, it was still terrible.

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    3. Oh, Yaya, how terrible!! I can't even imagine how rough coming off of the medication right away like that was. Thankfully that nurse was compassionate and believed you!

      I also developed an allergy to medication. In my case, it was Prozac. I got all these weird red bumps on my legs and they told me that was an allergic reaction so I had to get off it. At least in my case, they believed me right away! Well, I guess it was probably because I had some physical evidence to prove it. That's the hard part I think, if you can't show them anything, but you deep down you KNOW something is not right. Ugh. I'm sorry you had to go through that.

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  2. Even though I do not take meds, I appreciate you sharing this information. Hugs my dear.

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  3. Isn't it something that one can take the same med and the other take the same med -but, both of them respond differently to the same med? That's something else that I wonder about concerning psychiatric meds. But, I have learned not to wonder too much because it makes me have anxiety when I do!! I have to just be thankful that my doctor has been patient and very smart with the medicines that he's perscribed to me, and they're helping.
    Your insight to this article was interesting, thanks for sharing. It was sort of fun to 'discuss' it:)

    Blessings to you Sunny!!!

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    1. It is really weird, Deanna, how everyone seems to respond quite differently to all the psychiatric meds. My first couple of experiences with meds were not good. Thankfully, I am quite satisfied with the results this time, although some of the side effects are bothersome. But, at this point, I've decided to live with them. Blessings to you as well! : )

      (I love "discussing" these things too!)

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  4. I think the take-away message here is to talk with your doctor about any concerns you have and about any research that you do on your own. If the doctor won't discuss things or address your concerns, then maybe it's time to look for another doctor.

    I also think that a psychiatrist, especially one with experience treating the disorder(s) you have is the best bet for a prescribing physician.

    I always ask my doctor "why are you prescribing this?" and "what is the medication supposed to be doing?" among other questions. He is great at answering my questions, explaining himself, and responding to research that I've done.

    Thanks for the information, Sunny. It's such an important topic, and I know it will do people good to be reminded of these things!

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    1. Tina, I totally agree with you about the take-away. One thing I really like about my current psychiatrist, is that I feel like I am working as a team with him. Of course, he is the expert, but my concerns and suggestions have always been taken seriously by him and I don't feel as if I'm "just a stupid little patient who knows nothing." I've had that feeling before with other docs (for other things besides my OCD) and it is NOT a good feeling.

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  5. I think this article is important because many people (like me once) blindly trust their physician to prescribe a medication and don't ask questions or do any research and we have to learn to advocate for ourselves. Once when we moved I asked my family doctor to prescribe my Luvox and she agreed because she knew I would be finding a new psychiatrist once settled in, but she told me that she was not as familiar with psychiatric drugs as a psychiatrist would be and I really appreciated that she acknowledged that and respected her for it.

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    1. Krystal Lynn, I already like your family doctor! I love that she understood that psychiatric medicines were not her speciality and that she readily admitted it to you. I also appreciate that she didn't just cut you off cold-turkey and she helped you through for a short time period.

      I too, used to be one of those people who just blindly trusted my psychiatrist and therapist. In my defense, however, I will say that this was before the internet age. Research was much harder to do in those days. We are very lucky now that we can do so much research from home. Of course, it's important to go to reputable sources.

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  6. That was an interesting article, and it didn't even trigger my OCD! Thanks for sharing it. I take Seroquel, obviously at a different dosage than if I had schizophrenia. I think I was put on it maybe five months after I started taking antidepressants. But when it was added, I was dealing with severe depression along with anxiety and sleep issues. Looking back, perhaps that Dr. should have tried something else first, but I was feeling pretty desperate then. And I did read the paperwork that came with it, so I was aware of some of the risks involved. And at this point, I plan to keep using it for a while, because it has seemed to be helpful for me. So at this point, I'm glad that that psychiatrist prescribed it for me. But I was dealing with more than a slight case of anxiety or the blues. :)

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    1. Hi Abigail! I'm so glad the article did not trigger you! I would have felt very bad if it had! : )

      I think the important thing is that you are informed, so that you can make the best choice for yourself. I am glad to hear that your meds work well for you. I am on an SSRI and it works quite well for me. We all have such different body chemistry, and what works for one may do nothing for another. The key is finding what works for each individual.

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  7. Great article, Sunny. As you might know by now, these atypical antipsychotics are somewhat of a "pet peeve" of mine,and in fact I blogged about them last week. I wasn't familiar with this NYT article, though, so I appreciate your passing this info along, and reminding everyone about the need to advocate for ourselves and our loved ones.

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    1. Thanks, Janet. I thought it was really good too. It is incredibly important to advocate for ourselves or our loved ones. I just really feel for those people who are too ill to fight for themselves and yet maybe they don't have anyone to fight for them. Dan was really lucky to have you in his corner.

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  8. It's amazing to see how glamorous tv ads and doctors make medication for an disorder and yet it runs so many risks, especially when its not used for it's intended purpose. I was prescribed an anti-seizure medication once for persistent migraines. I always read the FYI sheets that the pharmacy prints with your script. It said that anyone ran the risk of having seizures if you ever stopped the medication, even if you never had a seizure before taking the medication. I was a little concerned that my doctor had prescribed me that. Between doctors, pharmacist, and drug companies its alarming the things they find as acceptable treatment even after studies have concluded different. Too bad for so many patients because in today's world it's all about the money.

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    1. Hey Cara! How funny, we are online at exactly the same time!

      Yes, you are right - the ads do make everything look glamorous - and EASY. Oh, just take this, you'll be fine. My husband is on some very "scary" medication for his IBD - meaning it has the potential for life threatening side effects. However, we knew that going in and we both felt it was the right choice in this case. BUT, at least we understood the risks from the beginning.

      Wow - I would have been concerned about the anti-seizure medication too. I'm actually glad you mentioned this. I've been struggling (most of my life - but it's getting worse) with really bad headaches, and I'm to the point I'm going to talk to my doc about it. However, I will definitely be on the lookout for that type of medication now.

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  9. So important to be aware of what side effects any medicine you take has and even more so with these types of meds. I think it is also important to be well advised about any treatment you under take and it is your right to be advised, informed and to not be afraid to ask questions. After all it is your body, your life and if you can have a choice you should have. Thank you this is a very enlightening post on a very important topic.

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    1. You are very welcome!

      You are so right - we should not be afraid to ask questions, but honestly, sometimes I am. I suspect others struggle with this too. I have found that some docs are not very receptive to questions, as it's almost as if they think you are questioning their judgment. Which, in a way, I guess we are, but it is our right to. As you say, it is our body.

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  10. A psychiatrist I went to once (you know, the one I wrote about on my blog - http://perfectlyimperfectme-hilda.blogspot.com/2014/01/goodbye-paxil-hello-zoloft.html) prescribed me Abilify 5mg/day, Seroquel 50mg/day and Cipralex 10mg/day. I was terribly scared of taking them, and I never started. So glad I never started taking them! I hope I never have to take them, as I'm afraid of serious side effect that might be permanent.

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  11. Oh me too! For some reason I'm totally freaked out about tardive dyskinesia. That is a possible side effect of antipsychotics. As I said in the comment on your blog, if I had psychosis, well then of course I'd probably take antipsychotics. But I don't, and this is just me personally, I wouldn't want to risk the side effects for the purpose of treating my anxiety.

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