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Support with prescribed psychiatric drugs

Whilst I can't give you medical advice I can help you source information and support you if you:


  • Are thinking about taking psychiatric drugs

  • Are already taking psychiatric drugs but want to consider your options

  • Have decided you want to stop taking them

  • Are in the process of tapering already 


Commonly prescribed psychiatric drugs include: Citalopram, Sertraline, Fluoxetine [prozac], Mirtazapine, Duloxetine, Escitalopram, Diazepam [Valium].


NB Never just stop taking psychiatric drugs - it is possible to stop taking them but it needs to be done in a certain way ie via careful tapering, and it may take a [very] long time.  


The Trauma Informed vs the Biomedical Approach to mental distress:


Mental wellbeing is strongly influenced by social, economic, environmental, and societal factors - factors that psychiatric drug prescribers with a biomedical approach largely ignore due to consultation time limits, lack of prescriber training, and the influence of the pharmaceutical industry.


The Myth of ‘chemical imbalance’:


Many people who feel anxious or depressed are told by their prescriber that they have a ‘chemical imbalance’ which the prescribed psychiatric drug will ‘fix’, but there is actually no evidence that any psychiatric drug works by targeting an underlying biological mechanism of a ‘symptom’.  


The psychoactive nature of psychiatric drugs:


Psychiatric drugs actually create an abnormal, altered brain state and any useful effect is the consequence of this drug-induced change to normal brain functioning.  


The main effect of most psychiatric drugs is sedation, this can initially ‘help’ but it’s important to consider the adverse effects they can also produce, the risks of taking them long term, and potential withdrawal effects. 


A significant number of people taking psychiatric drugs experience adverse effects including: emotional blunting, feeling detached, sexual difficulties [which can persist on stopping taking the drugs], drowsiness, weight gain, reduced positive feelings, suicidality.


Likewise a significant number of people experience adverse effects when withdrawing from psychiatric drugs including: flu like symptoms, dizziness, sweating, intense fear, overwhelming anxiety, emotional blunting, digestive issues, pain, insomnia, poor memory, nightmares, restlessness, nausea, electric shock sensations.  NB There are over 70 potential withdrawal effects.


People taking Benzodiazepines, eg Diazepam [Valium], can experience withdrawal effects after taking them for just a few days. 


What is withdrawal?:


When someone starts taking a drug their body adjusts to the presence of that drug.  When that drug is stopped the adaptation is no longer opposed by the presence of the drug and this can cause unpleasant reactions known as withdrawal.


Withdrawal effects can happen when a person:


  • Is trying to reduce the amount of the drug they take

  • Stops the drug altogether [definitely not recommended]

  • Misses a dose

  • Changes drug or brand 

  • Or between doses [this is due to tolerance - needing a higher dose of the drug to achieve the same effect]


NB In any of the above circumstances it should be assumed that any reactions you are experiencing are due to the removal of the drug - it is NOT a sign of the return of the original problem [or a new problem] - it is withdrawal.


You might find it helpful to find a different prescriber if your current prescriber:


  • Doesn’t believe that withdrawal happens with psychiatric drugs

  • Doesn’t appear to know much about the process of tapering

  • Doesn’t take your experience of withdrawal effects seriously and says they will just go away after a couple or weeks

  • Interpretes withdrawal as the original ‘problem’, eg 'depression', 'anxiety', returning; or says it is the sign of a new ‘problem’

  • Thinks you are ‘ill’ / have a ‘chemical imbalance’ so you need to stay on the drugs for life.

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