But are you willing to take an antipsychotic drug to make it stop? Some people are and I think this new trend is a slippery slope that could turn into a big problem.
See, a few weeks ago I had to write a paper about the off-label use of antipsychotic medications for school.
Right after I turned it in, like a day after, I ran into this article in the New York Times.
In it professor of psychiatry Dr. Richard Friedman argues that unless you have schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, or severe depression, taking antipsychotics may be a bad idea.
First, a little background. Antipsychotic drugs are better known under their brand names such as: Abilify, Seroquel, Haldol, Zyprexa, and a bunch of other names.
In the 1950’s antipsychotics were first used as a postoperative sedative. Over time doctors figured out that they could also be used on psychotic patients to great effect.
Since then a wide array of “second-generation” antipsychotics have been developed to help people cope with psychotic symptoms like hallucinations.
So how the heck did these drugs end up in anxious people? These drugs are powerful sedatives that block serotonin and dopamine reuptake which reduces “overactive” brain activity. In English that means that these drugs are the ultimate “chill pill.”
Plus, it isn’t shady to prescribe medications that aren’t designed to treat what you have. It’s called off-label use. In fact, the FDA says that doctors are free to prescribe medications to treat off-label conditions as long as doctors have a “firm scientific basis” to do so.
The problem is that there are too few studies proving that these powerful drugs are effective in people with anxiety. By effective I mean treating the underlying anxiety versus just making you sleepy. What is known however is that these drugs come with a ton of side effects.
Here are a few:
Antipsychotic Medication Symptoms
1. Weight gain
2. High triglycerides
4. Hand tremor
7. Irregular heart beat
9. High cholesterol
Does this mean that all people with anxiety problems should stay away from antipsychotic drugs?
I think they should be considered carefully unless folks are crawling out of their skin and nothing else is working.
I’d like to see more studies, more stats, and more information about the risk-benefit ratio of taking such a drug given all the potential side effects.
This is despite the fact that antipsychotics are often prescribed for mood disorders as a low dose augmentation for other medications.
I want to see this happen before these drugs become the new normal for people with anxiety problems. What I don’t want is a bunch of nervous folks losing their ability to function in the world because they couldn’t find a better way to reduce their high anxiety.
I can think of a lot ways to lower anxiety that don’t involve a pill and chronic sleep. I want to encourage you to be more creative than that.
This is especially true because there are already far less potent drugs available to treat high anxiety. Some of the drugs include:
You have options. Every single drug I listed also come with side effects, but most of those include nausea, stomach problems, and dizziness. The reality is that most psychotropic drugs cause side effects. The question is are you willing to put up with potentially severe side effects?
The other issue is that antipsychotics can really knock you down. When they say sedation, they mean sedation. Below you’ll find a video of a guy on Seroquel. He provides a firsthand account of why antipsychotics can be problematic when you have to work for a living.
Do you need to go through life like a zombie to not feel anxious? No, you don’t.
That being said, always do what works for you as long as it’s safe. My concern is that I don’t want anxious folks taking drugs that they don’t understand, need, or cause harm.
I’ve included in this post several links highlighted in blue so you can dig a little deeper. I simply wanted to introduce you to this new prescription trend.
You know, I’ve never been a huge fan of psych meds, however, I understand that they do help many people get better. There is no doubt about it. I just want you to have the information you need to make good decisions about your own care.
Listen to the podcast below:
When making decisions about medications always speak with your doctor or pharmacist.