Thursday, May 13, 2010

Obesity and Psychoactive Drugs © Megan Snider

** First of all, I want to make an amendment to this article that I did not clarify to the best of my ability. I consider a child any human under the age of 10 to 12 years of age.**

Out of all the effects of psychiatric medications can have, I suppose obesity shouldn't be taken seriously. But, let's talk frankly for a moment. Obesity ruins bodies, self image and skewers our sense of beauty in relation to ourselves and in relation to the eyes of others.

I'm embarrassed to track my own record with psychiatric drugs and obesity. All I know is that I couldn't fathom how or why I was getting fat when I started anti-depressants. I remember staring into my mother's full-length mirror, cradling my stomach like a pregnant woman and being at a loss of words and feeling shame stacked upon more shame. I had never been fat in my life and I didn't know what to do. So, I bit the bullet and I began to work out. That helped. Until they introduced the antipsychotics.

In a study done to track the effects of antipsychotics on children (yes, children! What a horror!) two doctors studied the effects of six different medications on animals. Within a six week study, the animals virtually DOUBLED their body weight and developed Type II Diabetes.

There had also been reports that some children on antipsychotics had died of diabetic ketoacidosis, which is a rare complication to Type I Diabetes. In the research with the animals, rare complications in Type II Diabetes had been recorded as well.

My father has diabetes and every night I watch him give himself a shot through his stomach wall and wonder how he seems to manage that so easily. If that were me, I'd ask for a blindfold and cigarette before I even contemplated the shot.

I still struggle very much to this day to keep my weight under wraps. I try every diet I read about, even the ones which include virtual starvation. I think there's a sad loop that goes on in someone's brain who used to be beautiful and knows they have lost that quality. The loop is of former days and causes him or her to see him or herself in the minds' eye as that old beauty he or she once was. When confronted with a new image, one of a mishappen and twisted body, he or she is unable to recognize that reflection in the mirror for a few seconds. I am no longer blessed with the perfect metabolism or the perfect body. But, I am working very hard to get it back.

Now, when I think of these atrocities happening to children, it bothers me a great deal. Imagine how a child would see him or herself as he or she ballooned and swelled from medications. It's a very sad thought. More dangerous is the threat of juvenile diabetes and the strict regimen one must follow with that disease.

I was never formally treated for my illness until I turned 18. I have had Panic Disorder since a very young age and it did affect me in very scary ways. But, then again, it still does. I don't believe children should be treated in any manner until they are grow. If they are of a reasonable age and have the courage to say that they have a mental illness, then they should be treated. But I think this reasonable age should be around 17 to 19. And I think they should be prepared for the effects no one ever mentions, which is obesity which piles on you year after year if you are not vigilant and prepared to take your own bodily health into your own hands.

© Megan Snider
Sources Cited:

Friday, May 7, 2010

Extrapyramidal Disorders: A Brief Introduction © Megan Snider

I've been meaning to post this for a while now, but since there is such a huge burden of information pertaining to this subject, I've been putting it off. Shame on me. Okay, let's talk about extrapyramidal disorders. The culprit for extrapyramidal disorders in the psychiatric world is antipsychotics. You may experience extrapyramidal disorders as a side effect of a large dosage of medication or as an effect of taking antipsychotics for a large number of years. Extrapyramidal disorders you are likely to see with antipsychotics are:

Neuroleptic malignant syndrome
Pseudo-Parkinson's Disorder/ Pseudoparkinsonism
Tardive Dyskenisia

The effects of these disorders run the range from inability to move to inability to stop moving.
The effects are also heartbreaking. Some may remain even after the antipsychotics are stopped. For anyone taking an antipsychotic or anyone connected to them, it is important to know the effects of these medications. I recently had to make a choice with taking Prolixin. I had to decide whether the risk of having a movement disorder outweighed the treatment Prolixin could afford. Since I've had a movement disorder before in response to Haldol and since Prolixin is stronger than Haldol, I stamped a big "NO" on that medication in my mind.

Every person will have to decide what is right for him or her. But at least the information is out there. I will say that these disorders, or at least the one I experienced are very painful and can last for hours if not treated.

Newer antipsychotics still carry this risk, but I still suggest taking an anti-convulsant or counteracting medicine with them. The older antipsychotics are dangerous and straight out of the "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" era. They are among the strongest and scariest medications ever created and prescribed. These are known as the first generation antipsychotics.

First generation antipsychotics

I included the video at the bottom so you can see the severe effects of Parkinson's. Remember that some of these antipsychotics create something known as


. I have similar a similar warning, drug list and videos on my post about Tardive Dyskenisia, but I never fully listed all the movement disorders antipsychotics could create. I am sure my list is incomplete, which is scary. I borrowed it from Wikipedia.

Parkinson's Dyskenisia:

© Megan Snider

Sources Cited:

Mental Health and Faith © Megan Snider

Oh no. What a can of worms we have here. The blending and blurring of mental health and faith together. Is it a good idea? Should we do this? Should we tell people that only if you believed more that God would save you from the fires of mental illness?

I don't know.

I wish I knew.

I am struggling with this myself. I am a person of faith. On my good days it seems easier to be a person of faith. When I'm driving down Alabama highway 411 questioning my reality, faith seems slippery and hard to grasp.

I don't want to discourage anyone from faith. Please, by all means, believe, pray and worship. There is nothing better for the soul and the broken heart to know that God loves you. There is no better, sweeter tasting medicine than believing that the Almighty has your back. Simply don't rule out medicine.

I put mental illness at the same status as cancer. It could be called a cancer of the brain. It metastasizes in its own way, it destroys, diminishes and obliterates functions; it burns down family trees, ruins communication and refuses to go away, but instead hangs on with the teeth of a 2,000 pound bulldog. When I say cancer, I mean metaphorically, of course. It doesn't show up as a tumor or menacing white spot on an X-ray. But it does require horrible, painful medicine such as chemotherapy.

(If you don't believe me, check out my posts on Haldol, Prolixin and Tardive Dyskenisia. I plan to write more articles on the effects of antipsychotics.)

So, what are you saying, Megan?

I am saying believe. But believe in other things as well. Believe in God and the new, safer medications. Believe in God and yoga. Believe in God and meditation of the mind and spirit. Believe in God and medical choices. Have faith, but don't just limit it to God. Don't be afraid to branch out and see if a medication works for you. I made this statement and I will make it again: I am not anti-drug; I am anti-horrible-side-effects.

Please, nonetheless, believe.

© Megan Snider

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Prolixin © Megan Snider

"(...)as if a magic lantern threw the nerves in patterns on a screen"


Introducing the players:
Modecate, Permitil and Prolixin A.K.A. Fluphenazine

This medication is one of the oldest, hardest hitting player against Schizophrenia and psychotic disorders.

But at what price?

I was offered Prolixin as a substitute for the $59.95 medication I had wanted earlier.


It seems to be a great trade. Only $8.00 for a ride on this psychotrophic philly.

Prolixin carries an even greater risk of producing extrapyramidal side effects in the patient than Haldol does.

Let's talk about extrapyramidal disorders. Extrapyramidal disorders are movement disorders such as Tardive Dyskenisia, Akathisia and pseudoParkinsons. They range in effects from akinesia, the inability to move, to akathisia, the inability to remain motionless. They are extremely painful. The pain of movement is electrical and excruciating. Small rapid movements of the fingers, rapid blinking, uncontrollable mouth movements, the thrashing of your arms and legs are all terrible consequences of this drug. Unbelievably, Prolixin is STRONGER than the beast Haldol, which I personally find amazing.

Now these symptoms are not rare and segregated to a few unlucky lasses and lads, oh no-- these symptoms are COMMON. The likelyhood of having permanent Tardive Dyskenisia increases with each year you take an antipsychotic. Females are at a higher risk than males. No matter what your therapist tells you, there is no known cure for Tardive Dyskenisia. These symptoms just rip your body apart and ravage you until you are nothing but a bundle of painful nerves and muscles, contracting painfully and eternally.

Take your treatment into your own hands: Focus; learn, and question. Leave nothing to chance with psychotrophic drugs. Save yourself, save your children, your nephew, your parent from enduring the Hell of everlasting twitches and jerks, pacing until a track is worn into the carpet, nights full of flexing fingers and frightening pain. Be your own advocate. Always wear that big heart of yours on your sleeve. Always inform and help. There is no shame in knowledge-- only power and safety.

© Megan Snider

Sources Cited:

Friday, April 30, 2010

Mental Health Care Costs Skyrocket © Megan Snider

“Mental health problems do not affect three or four out of every five persons but one out of one"
-- Dr. William Menninger

The rising cost of psychiatric medication is unbelievable. Patients desperately need their medicine, some of which they may be physically and psychologically dependent upon. Mentally ill people may have conditions that interfere with their income and access to cash. Some of us are shut ins, people with unstable moods, and unbalanced brain chemicals. It's hard to get out there and work for the mentally ill who have serious conditions.

So, what to do?

Today I was prescribed a new medication. I called the pharmacy for the price. This price is a monthly quote. The medication cost was $59.95. I could not afford it. This forced my mental health providers to scramble for a new generic medication I can afford. The shame is that the medication I was initially prescribed probably would have worked much better than my therapist's second choice. The second choice was influenced by cost effectiveness, not psychological effectiveness.

Many people in the U.S. struggle with the same problems I do. What medications can I afford this month? What medication do I have to stretch out until next month? How can I get by?

It is a sad situation that we have to face. Without resources and money to draw upon, many people are left stranded psychologically and emotionally with their backs up against the wall.

© Megan Snider

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Dealing with Panic Disorder © Megan Snider

"Nothing is wrong with me except myself."
--Franz Kafka

Panic Disorder can literally destroy lives, especially when it is accompanied by Agoraphobia. It is crippling and destructive to people and their souls.

Derealization and Depersonalization with Panic Disorder destroys the core of a person. Conflicting experiences with reality and "unreality" are terrifying and traumatic. These experiences can lead to self-imposed confinement and extreme fear and anticipation of the next attack.

What can family members do to help people with Panic Disorder and these accompanying illnesses?

Don't be spontaneous. Follow a plan and don't "spring a new plan" on a family member with Panic Disorder.

Allow them access to their "safe places".

Remove them from a frightening location if they ask to leave because of overwhelming terror and sensations.

Listen to them and try to imagine their symptoms. Don't get hung up on the technical issues of the disorder.

Allow them to carry their medications with them if they so desire.

[Warning: DO NOT take pill bottles without the prescription labels on them with you. Xanax, a popular medication for Panic Disorder, is a controlled substance. If you are caught carrying Xanax with no prescription, you may be charged.]

Let them know that they can leave the situation if they need to. Feeling trapped is a horrible side effect of agoraphobia. So, allow them to be comfortable.

Be willing to listen to their description of symptoms without judging or becoming angry. Remember that your family member is suffering--no matter how they describe their symptoms,
try to have an open mind and heart and do not label them automatically as seriously mentally ill.

Do not become angry at the family member because of their limitations [which may be severe.]

Always remember that Panic Disorder is a monster, but it should not be hidden in the closet; it needs to be examined in the light and not quickly labeled and shoved aside. Try to pray, heal,
and destroy the negativity of this roaring monster that is Panic Disorder.

Never lose hope. Even on the dark days.

© Megan Snider