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Taking an Active Role in My Psychiatric Medication Changes

Psychiatric medication changes are familiar to people with schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorder. I'm going through one right now. Here's what it's like.

Since I was diagnosed with schizophrenia almost 20 years ago and then with schizoaffective disorder 15 years ago, I’ve gone through scores of psychiatric medication changes. They’re never fun but remain necessary as I work with my doctor to keep the dosage as low as possible and schizophrenia symptoms under control. I’m going through a psychiatric medication change right now after a peak of anxiety. You can probably relate to the way it’s affecting my schizophrenic and schizoaffective symptoms.

Why I Want Psychiatric Medication Changes

As many of you know, I am trying to lose weight while staying on an atypical antipsychotic that causes weight gain. I decided to remain on the same dosage because it’s working. But when I told my psychopharmacologist that I needed my psychiatric medications tweaked as I plunged into acute anxiety, she suggested I raise my antipsychotic medication because it is very sedating. I balked at the idea. I just can’t gain any more weight (Disagree With Your Doctor? Respectfully Explain Why).

There were other reasons I didn’t want to increase my antipsychotic medication. I’d been thinking for a long time about decreasing my antidepressant. I felt that particular psychiatric medication might be making me “revved up,” causing increased anxiety.

If increasing my atypical antipsychotic turns out to be the only thing that decreases my anxiety, I might go for it, but since I’m trying to lose weight, I wanted to try decreasing my antidepressant first. My doctor agreed to give this psychiatric medication change a try.

Psychiatric Medication Changes Are Affecting My Schizoaffective Symptoms

I’ve noticed right off the bat that decreasing my antidepressant is making me more sedated, which gives me hope that this strategy will, indeed, decrease my anxiety. However, my schizoaffective brain, in all of its anxiety, is doing somersaults with the fact that brain chemistry is being changed.

As of this writing, I’ve been on the decreased dosage of my antidepressant for five days. That’s not a lot of time, especially when you consider that I’d been on the old dosage for years. Also, my brain is freaking out about other things. I have a week-long family vacation coming up. I’ve been looking forward to it for months, yet, while I’m excited about it, I’m also anxious. In addition, it’s that time of summer when it’s been too hot for too long and my brain just needs to cool down (Heat Can Affect Psychiatric Patients).

So will this psychiatric medication change work? I’ll have to wait and see. I do feel bad that I didn’t want to go with my psychopharmacologist’s first suggestion because of fear of weight gain. But doesn’t it make sense to go for the more physically healthy alternative first? Anyway, I have a good feeling that once I’m out the door leaving for my vacation, I’ll be happy and ready to actually enjoy a bit of summer fun.

Psychiatric Medication Changes Are Hard on My Schizoaffective Brain

Author: Elizabeth Caudy

Elizabeth Caudy was born in 1979 to a writer and a photographer. She has been writing since she was five years old. She has a BFA from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago and an MFA in photography from Columbia College Chicago. She lives outside Chicago with her husband, Tom. Find Elizabeth on Google+ and on her personal blog.

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