The Mental Health Solution . com
"The entrance of thy words giveth light (Psalm 119:130)."

Psychotropic Drugs

Psychotropic medication is a critical issue in mental health. I've talked to hundreds of clients who were on psych meds. I'm going to share with you what I have seen.

To be sure, there are some 'success' stories. I'll list a few.

  • One individual had, as his mission in life, to take out the mafia. He made a diligent—though unsuccessful—effort to do just that. He was well-armed: He had a BB gun. His diagnosis: Paranoid Schizophrenia. After he was put on psych meds, he was rational and appeared well-adjusted in every way.
  • Another individual was a retired businessman. He had been successful in his business career. However, he was always angry. He would repeatedly break furniture in his home during episodes of rage. His symptoms improved greatly after being put on Paxil: "I've never done this good before."
  • An 18 year old housewife complained of persistent anxiety. Her doctor gave her 10mg of Prozac which seemed to completely clear up her symptoms. She was a different person, smiling and making jokes. She then celebrated her success by cheating on her husband.
  • A girl of about 11 used to go into uncontrollable rages. And this was a nice girl. Her symptoms showed major improvement after being put on the drug Tofranil. This was a secular client; I couldn't say anything about the Bible.

With stories like these, you might think that I'm an unabashed advocate of psychotropic medication. I'm not. I've seen too many other things. Some examples.

  • One client was a married housewife—about 35 years old. She had been in the military. According to her husband, she was once energetic and very attractive. Then, she had some depression. She was put on anti-depressants. Years later, she became my client. She had gained weight and could do little more that sit around the house and watch TV. And nothing I could do could change anything. Her psychiatrist refused to take her off medication.
  • Another client had issues with depression and anxiety. He was on 5 different psych meds. I couldn't get him to do anything. Not even read his Bible. Like most others, he sleeps a lot.
  • I sent one client to the emergency room who needed to be seen right away. His symptoms were serious and possibly life-threatening. The emergency room doctor told him that his symptoms were caused by his psychiatric medication. He was taking his medication as directed.
  • A high school age boy: He was also on 5 different psychotropic drugs. His case was severe—he had threatened his mother with a knife. Still, keeping him doped up is no answer. It's just a confirmation that secular psychology has no real answers.
  • A then 18-year-old boy. And this is a relative. He used to be highly intelligent, easily able to beat his father in chess. Then, he developed some depression due to to anger issues. His parents took him to reputable doctors, thinking that they were dealing with a medical issue, not a spiritual foothold. He was put on Zyprexa, Seroquel, Wellbutrin, Ativan and just about every psych drug under the sun. The last time I spoke with him, he couldn't even remember a single sentence. He had experienced a severe cognitive decline—along with mania—as a result of the medications his doctors had prescribed. And he was no better off emotionally: "I feel terrified!" "I can't organize my thoughts." "I don't know what to do." This is the worst case I have ever seen. But it points out the possible negative consequences of using psychotropic medications.

Psychotropic drugs always have side effects. They tend to stop working over time. Doses have to be increased. Medications need to be added. Medications need to be changed. It's a never-ending hassle.

Medications make it impossible to learn self-control. You instead learn to rely on the medication. Medications can eliminate the consequences of negative thinking and maladaptive behavior. They often reduce mental acuity and produce lethargy—especially with long-term use. So clients usually make no progress whatsoever.

I would like to tell you that your doctor is the best person to evaluate whether or not you should be on psychotropic medications. I can't. I think these drugs are over-prescribed. Way over-prescribed. When doctors tell their Christian patients that they should be taking psychotropic drugs, they are usually wrong.

In fairness to doctors, three facts should be noted: 1) Doctors are aware of the limitations of secular therapy. 2) They generally know little or nothing about the Bible. 3) They know that if they don't prescribe drugs—and something happens—they may be sued. And they will probably have to pay damages.

I'm not saying you shouldn't listen to what your doctor has to say. You should certainly give serious consideration to your doctor's advice. You should also do your own research. And you should also seek counsel from others—especially others who have a reputation for sound judgement.

In terms of obtaining counsel, recognize that the Standard of Care for just about any mental condition is psychotherapy and medication. Anyone with a license who says not to take the drugs is taking a risk in regard to licensure and litigation. So they can't really be objective.

When evaluating whether or not you should take psychotropic medication, consider the following:

  • Why is this drug being prescribed?
  • Is the drug really necessary?
  • How long is this drug going to be needed?
  • What are the health consequences of taking this drug over the period of time in which it will be prescribed?
  • What are the side effects (Sleepiness, dizziness, nausea, dry mouth, sexual dysfunction etc.)? Psychotropic drugs can also cause brain damage and other serious health problems. They can also make your problems worse.
  • Is the drug compatible with other medications you are taking?
  • Is the drug compatible with other things you may be using (Illegal drugs, alcohol, herbal preparations, supplements, energy drinks etc.)?
  • Recognize that no drug is without negative health consequences. The question is whether or not the drug's benefits outweigh its risks. Most of the time, for Christians, the risks—and actual negative consequences—far outweigh the benefits.

Pharmacists are a good source of information for all medications as well as drug interactions.

I think parents should be especially cautious in allowing their children to be prescribed psych drugs. These drugs are much more damaging to children and adolescents than they are to adults. Psychiatrist Dr. Thomas Szasz stated: "Giving a child a psychiatric drug is poisoning, not treatment." Home schooling is a much better alternative for serious behavioral disorders. Most of these will go away with time anyway.

If you are currently taking psychotropic medication, do not abruptly discontinue or reduce your medication without first consulting with your doctor. Reductions in the dosage of many medications should only be made slowly. Doing otherwise is dangerous.

One key question to ask a doctor is this: "If you were going to take your patient of of the medication(s), how would you do it?. And how fast?"

Also, if you are making any changes in your medication, you really don't know how you will be affected until after you make the change. It's a good idea to have someone nearby who knows what is going on. This way, that person will be in a position to help, if needed.

If you're thinking about discontinuing medication, contrary to your doctor's advice—but are not emotionally strong enough to say 'no' to your doctor—take a family member or friend with you to the doctor.

Some psychotropic drugs are even more difficult to get off of than street drugs. If you attempt to get off these drugs, you can expect your mental health symptoms to get worse before they get better.

If you decide to stop taking your psychotropic drugs—contrary to your doctor's advice—it is highly unlikely you will be able to find a licensed medical facility that will be willing to supervise the process. This is because they will view the medication you are taking as 'medically necessary' to treat an incurable chronic medical condition.

Even if a psychotropic drug is effective in reducing symptoms, it is still usually a bad idea. Psychotropic drugs make it impossible to learn to rely on the Bible to regulate one's emotions. And, when the medication stops working, you are very much out of control.

Psychotropic drugs can reduce the risk of death or injury, for periods of time, while they are working. Depression, for example, can be extremely painful—and suicide risk is a serious concern for anyone who is experiencing depression.

I would make the argument, however, that, over time, psychotropic drugs increase the risk of patient suicide. This is true for three primary reasons: 1) The drugs usually result in the person having to live in an unnatural, uncomfortable medicated state. The drugs deaden emotions, take away joy and may make the person feel consistently bad. Under such circumstances, life itself can become a burden. 2) When the medications stop working—which usually happens from time to time—the person faces the dual onslaught of painful emotions and no way to control them. This is a very scary predicament. And it's a dangerous predicament. 3) Taking the medications daily, over extended periods of time, usually results in physical health problems. Your body is trying to get the drugs out of your system for a reason.

Psychotropic drugs should normally be viewed as highly suspect in light of Scripture. That is because the Bible says: "By his divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life (2 Peter 1:3 NLT)." One thing I've noticed in therapy is that Christians on psych drugs usually don't make much progress.

Psychotropic drugs are commonly prescribed because secular therapy usually doesn't work very well.

So, should you use psychotropic drugs? I cannot provide a definite answer—there are too many variables. But I will provide some guidelines.

These guidelines assume that you know and have tried biblical interventions. And that you recognize that biblical interventions usually take time to work. Some problems, like anxiety and depression, may require years of effort.

I believe that psychotropic drugs should only be considered under the following circumstances:

  • You need the drugs because you are a danger to yourself without the drugs.
  • You need the drugs because, without the drugs, you are a danger to others.
  • You are near death and still experiencing disturbing mental health symptoms. Under such circumstances, the health consequences of these medications are less problematic.
  • Only as an absolute last resort.
  • Only for as long as necessary.
  • Only after first bringing the issue to God in prayer.
  • Only after wise Christian counsel (More than one person. Emergencies excepted.).
  • Only with a doctor's prescription.

Disclaimer: I am not a doctor. Discuss your individual situation with your physician before making any changes.


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