Today I’d like to talk to you about medication (for Tourettes, ADHD, OCD, depression, mania, psychosis, but also for physical disorders…you name it!) and why and why not? I have loads of opinions in my head and have my handy dandy Farmacotherapeutical Compas app with me to tell you some side effects of medication.
Medication in general
Can be very neccesary sometimes. When I take Tourettes as an example, I know people who benifit from their anti-psychotics massively, they don’t Tic as much and feel much better about themselves. They can actually do things now because they’re on medication.
You can almost hear a ‘but’ coming. Even as a Deaf person I can hear it coming. Here it is:
But: you always have to compare the up- and downsides. What weighs heavier, the upsides or the downsides of taking medication?
Are, like it says, helping people cope with their psychosis better and often ‘get them out’ of psychosis. They also help people with Tic disorders because of – neurotransmitters. I’ll explain how anti psychotics work and why they work for both psychosis and Tourettes:
Your brain has neurotransmitters (‘chemical messengers’) that sends information from one side of the brain to another side. One of those neurotransmitters is called Dopamine. A high concentration of dopamine makes your brain work differently, because information is sent through the brain in another way than it normally does. Or it fires out information too much. Basically the higher concentration of dopamine can cause both Tics and psychotic symptoms like hallucinations and delusions.
Anti-psychotic medication lessens the signals of dopamine in the brain, so that there’s a better chance of ‘normal information sending’. (Source: Psychosenet.nl )
The reason a lot of people stop this is because of side effects (weight gain, sleepiness, dizzy spells, nightmares, suicidal thoughts etc. – look it up for yourselves if you want to know more about side effects).
Are explained most of the time as meds that help with a chemical imbalance of serotonin deficiency. While I was one of the people who thought that too, let me explain further:
There’s no fixed explanation why people get depressed (some through genetics or life events- but why some people do get it and others not, that’s the question!), let alone how anti depressants improve symptoms.
That being said, researchers believe that it’s caused by how they affect certain brain circuits and how they react to the neurotransmitters (like serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine). Different antidepressants seem to affect how these neurotransmitters behave.
There are different kinds of antidepressants, like SSRI’s, SNRI’s, TCA’s, NDRI’s.. I’m not getting into what is what and might work for what, because that’s individually figured out. That’s the downside of having these kinds of medications: you never know beforehand what will work for you, so you’ll have to try a couple to see which one works for you (With the least side effects!!).
Mood stabilizers are the ones like Lithium, Carbamazepine and Lamotrigine, that stabilize the mood of (usually) people with bipolar disorder. It can also be prescribed to if you have severe mood swings (like in Tourettes, or when you have a antidepressant-resistance and are depressed).
Between 20-50% of the people who start with mood stabilizers will stop because of the side effects like: weight gain, thirst, nausea, muscle weakness/aches, emotional numbness, fatigue and concentration problems. That mean that 50-80% will stay on them, because they probably work! I don’t know how they work, but I’ll figure that out and let you know.
What should you do?
That’s always difficult to tell, because I’m neither a doctor, nor can I look into your brain to see how severe the problems are. If you’re willing to accept that side effects may arise, or really have to take medication because life becomes unmanagable otherwise: take it! Side effects might be bad, but feeling worse is even more detrimental to your health and self esteem.
Question: what kinds of medications have you been on? Did they work for you or not?
Would you suggest it to somebody else?