The Psychiatric Drugs
Desiring optimal health, people frequently turn to drugs to alter their physical and mental health. Surveys show that many Americans regularly use some type of psychiatric medication such tranquilizers, sleeping pills, antipsychotic drugs and antidepressants. Easily obtained in today’s market, these drugs are used to treat a wide variety of symptoms from anxiety and difficulty sleeping to decreased energy levels, disorientation and depression.
Although these are serious health issues, the treatment of these disorders is often misunderstood and abused. Not without consequence, the use of any mind-altering substance must be prepared by thorough research and careful evaluation.
Tranquilizers and Sleeping Pills
Today’s hectic schedules and external pressures put great strain on the human body, often resulting in stress and agitation. Surveys show that 15.6% of people use tranquilizers to relieve anxiety. Of this percent, 39% use them daily, and 78% admitted to taking tranquilizers for more than a year. Most tranquilizers belong to a chemical family called benzodiazapines, although more common names include Valium, Librium, Xanax and Halcium. Sleeping pills, another common type of tranquilizers, include sedatives known as barbiturates, buspirone, Diphenhydramine, Hydrozyzine and Meprobamate.
Although confirming their popularity, studies question the efficacy of tranquilizers and sleeping pills. Evidence suggests that even the most potent tranquilizers are ineffective after periods of four months and sleeping pills have been shown to lose efficacy after only two to four weeks. In addition to limited performance, tranquilizers and sleeping pills can cause a multitude of side effects, such as low blood pressure, hip fracture, liver disease, allergies and breathing problems. Mind-altering effects include decreased mental functioning, forgetfulness, withdrawal syndrome and lack of coordination. Alarmingly, approximately 16,000 auto accidents each year are attributed to the use of psychoative drugs such as tranquilizers and sleeping pills.
Studies also shows that tranquilizers are unnecessary under most circumstances. In fact, in many studies, patients responded to placebos as well as they did to actual tranquilizers, proof that the therapeutic effects of tranquilizers don’t merit their harmful effects. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), “anxiety is a normal response to stress, and only when it is severe and disabling should it lead to drug treatment.”
Antipsychotics drugs are another example of treatment clouded by misconception and misdiagnosis. Although intended to treat only serious mental illness, such as schizophrenia, an estimated 750,000 people over the age of sixty-five regularly use antipsychotics drugs. This figure is alarming considering that approximately 92,000 people over the age of sixty five have been clinically diagnosed with schizophrenia. Experts believe that many people wrongly turn to antipsychotic drugs after experiencing symptoms similar to schizophrenia, such as hallucinations and confusion, when in many cases, these symptoms are side-effects induced by other drugs the consumers take regularly.
Adverse effects of antipsychotic drugs include nerve damage, tartive dyskinesia (difficulty in chewing or swallowing), loss of balance, muscular fatigue, delirium and Parkinson’s disease. One study found that 36% of patients with drug-induced Parkinson’s had been using antipsychotic drugs when diagnosed with the disease. Assuming that the patients had classic Parkinson’s, doctors tried to treat the illness with another drugs, rather than stopping the antipsychotic drugs causing the symptoms.
Although a very real illness, the cause and symptoms of depression are also frequently misunderstood. As with other mental disorders, many cases of depression are actually caused by drugs used to treat other ailments. Depression is associated with a long list of medications, including, barbiturates, tranquilizers, corticosteroids, diet drugs and painkillers. Other types of depression may be triggered by thyroid disorders, cancer, hepatitis or other form of illness. It is critical to define the underlying causes of the depression before administering treatment.
Adverse effects of antidepressants include low blood pressure, irregular heart rate, enlarged prostate, nausea, blurred vision, worsening of glaucoma, dry mouth, disorientation, loss of memory and fatigue. The safety and efficacy of an antidepressant can only be determined after obtaining both a careful and detailed history of the patient and a complete knowledge about the available medicines and their indications.
The human mind is the body’s powerhouse, the controller of both thought and action. For this reason, the brain must be carefully nurtured and protected from harmful substances. The science of nutritional immunology advocates a diet rich in phytochemicals, which help strengthen the body’s defenses and prevent the need for serious medical treatment. Whether used to relieve simple stress or to treat a more serious mental disorder, psychiatric drugs can have a detrimental effect on both the physical and mental well-being of the body. Before consuming psychiatric drugs, it is imperative to consult a physician and conduct personal research to determine the necessity and consequences of the drugs in question. A willingness to do so may prevent critical health blunders and change minds for the better.