Is there any alternative to medication?

Hello! My name is David and this is my very first blog! Like most of you who use mindblogging I have a long-standing mental health problem and like most of you, I suppose, I just try my best to survive and get the most out of life despite the condition of my health. Occasionally, though, things or issues seem to arise which really bother me. For instance, recently I have been very bothered about the side-effects of my medication. Since I have started taking it I have put on seven stones in weight and have become seriously unfit. As a result my psychiatrist tells me I run the risk of developing diabetes, or worse could develop serious problems with my heart. Indeed she seemed to suggest that more and more people like me are actually dying due to taking anti-psychotic medication, putting on loads of weight, and then keeling over due to heart disease. The only option I seem to have is to just take a different type of medication, but the thing is that the majority of them have the same side-effects. So, while the positive symptoms of my psychosis have been cured, I still get extremely tired, sleeping up to twelve hours a day, and have to possibly just come to terms with the fact that I am overweight and therefore run the risk of serious physical illness. So am I just swapping one set of symptoms for another? And is there any real alternative to this conundrum?
Well, after having done a little bit of research, it seems that modern psychiatry relies heavily on the understanding of illnesses such as mine as bio-chemical conditions. Unfortunately by doing this psychiatrists can and often do relegate psychological or environmental causes for the illness to a socondary position. The result is that doctors just throw pills at patients, when perhaps other methods could be used, such as CBT, to alleviate and control symptoms.
Indeed, it wouldn't be so bad if the use of medication with patients was a resounding success, but it is not. Most of us remain socially isolated, ecenomically non-productive and poor. About ten per cent of us take our own lives and astonishingly people in the developing world have higher chances of recovery than tose who live in the industrialised nations.
Perhaps, then, one would long for the days of the anti-psychiatry movement in the 60's, when people like R.D. Laing and Thomas Szasz even began to question whether psychosis was in fact an illness or just another way of constructing reality. Szasz even thought that such diagnoses were a way of "medicalising" people whom society found difficult or challenging, in short, psychiatry had actually become a means of social control. If only there were people like that around today we might actually begin to get some genuine alternatives to what can be the miserable position of having to take medication for a life-time. Until then, if any of you out there have any magnificent ideas I would be extremely pleased and grateful to know about it. So, that's me for now. Take care and don't believe the hype!


purkul said…
hello david,

1st can i say welcome to the Mind Bloggling Library & 2ndly can i just say wow!

your openness and honesty is admirable!

as for the medication thing, well i'm clueless to be fair, so i can't even suggest anything at all that could remotely help, but i can certainly empathize with your comments about gaining weight.

i often have a fluctuating weight to the higher end of the scale & so i realise how tiering, demoralizing and frustrating it can be & i didn't have the added burden of medication adding to the cycle.

but what i will say is i realised that, you don't suddenly become overweight over night it takes time and in the same way any changes you make to your eating habits or any exercise you do equally take time and dedication before you see any results,

which i know adds to the frustration of it all, because when you do finally muster up the motivation and dander to start to make changes the obstacles seem so frequent and the results seem so tiny.

But havin said that it is completely worth sticking at it, the sense of self control, confidence and energy you get as time goes on is well worth the effort.

i've found that the heavier you are the more results you can get from small changes. initially i just stopped eating after7 at night, then i made sure i ate breakfast etc & you'll be surprised at just how much weight drops off!

I hope this helps David and i'll look forward to reading your next post.

Domenica said…
This comment has been removed by the author.
pebbles-ricicle said…
Hi David

Can i just say i enjoyed reading your 1st blog and look forward to hearing more from you in the future.
I agree with domenica i believe there are alternatives and often it comes down to money or rather a lack of it when providing alternatives to people with mental health issues. Resources are always being cut in the NHS and it is often those with mental illness that suffer and there is a huge reliance on charities to take the burden.
However i also think medication has its place and many people cannot get through life without the help of prescribed drugs. So its not always the answer to disregard the advice of your doctor and stop taking what has been prescribed for you.
Easier said than done but sometimes you just have to decide enough is enough and take control of your life, make small changes such as those suggested by purkul and you often feel better for having that little bit of control however small, it can have such a positive effect not only physically but also mentally.

take care
pebbles-ricicle x
Domenica said…
Hi David,

In answer to your immediate question, "Is there an alternative to medication?" I firmly believe that for some people, with certain mental health problems there is!

On a personal note, I decided 12 years ago that I no longer wished to continue with the constant monthly repeat prescriptions for anti-depressants.(my mental health was not being monitored...I was just being told to take a pill!)

Therefore I decided to take responsibilty for my own mental well-being, and so began to explore all of the many alternatives that I discovered do exist. I then proceeded to use the ones that worked best for me.

The huge bonus was of course that there were no side effects, if one method did not work, I tried another...and another...and another.
I am by no means advocating that everyone else should adopt this approach, it was my personal choice.

I believe medication does have a place, in treating certain mental health conditions, (but it is NOT the complete answer)
I am in favour of the holistic approach which treats both mind and body.
I don't believe it is simply a question of money, more a question of time restraints. Most of the alternatives to medication that I have found to be benificial, do not cost the N.H.S. anything in finincial terms.
In fact I must have saved the N.H.S. a great deal of money, in not needing to take 12 years worth of anti-depressants, (which according to the latest figures have become quite expensive to administer)
In purely financial terms, I do not believe medication to be the most cost effective way of treating depression. (I can only comment on this particular mental health problem, because it is the only one I have experienced)
I hope this helps you David.
Best wishes....D
emma said…
Hi David,

Thanks for writing this post. It's very honest and open and raises issues which I knew very little about.

This seems like a incredibly frustrating situation. There has to be an alternative, surely, or at least some help in resducing the side effects of the medication.

The mind and body are inextricably linked, therefore to dismiss the psychological and environmental effects on our mental and physical well-being doesn't make any sense.

I've heard a little about Laing and find the idea quite interesting.

Thanks again David, I look forward to your next post.
nana said…
Hi Dave,
its nana here, iv read some of your blog, and would like to say welldun on writeing a book and getting the public to buy it.
Iv allso read a bit of your poeatary too.
I would allso like to comment on the quiz that we did together for the talkbank news letter was really good. we should give ourselfs a real good pat on the sholders.Anyway got to go now nana.
shirley said…
Hi David

Shirley here. Great blogs - please carry on the good work. I'm sure you know, but The Sentinel's printed your letter - almost in full! It's a real positive message and I'm looking forward to seeing if we get any responses to it, so keep your eye on the paper too.

Many thanks for your work in getting the message out there, long may it continue. If you (or anyone else) have any other thoughts you want to bring along on how we can keep pushing our message across, please let me know.


dcrelief said…
Your blog touched home with me; I was legally drugged for almost four years before I realized that life was NOT getting better, and the medications helped to permanently disable me, mentally and physically.
[] helped me detox for various drugs I was given. I have a better life today, but will never return to what I had before being medicated.
Best in life to you. dcrelief

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