Taking Antipsychotics Makes You Sound Particularly Crazy
I wish someone had asked me before naming a class of drugs “antipsychotics.” I mean, I understand that to psychiatrists it might not be a big deal, but to the medication-taking public out here, let me just say that the stigma around medication is about 10-fold when you say you’re on something called an “antipsychotic.”
Tell someone that you’re on “antipsychotics” sometime and watch them back away slowly. I’m not kidding. It’s like they think an axe is about to magically materialize and you’re about to use it to chop off their head.*
Psychosis and Why We Have Antipsychotic Drugs
Antipsychotics are, of course, anti-psychotics, or drugs that are anti-psychosis, and psychosis, itself, is not all that rare. Numbers vary, but possibly 5-8% of people may experience a psychosis in their lifetime, which is about ten times the number of people who are diagnosed with a psychotic illness.
Psychosis is not “crazy” or “scary” (although may be very frightening to the person who is experiencing it). I would characterize psychosis as a very pronounced “trick” of the brain. Psychosis consists of delusions – or believing in something in spite of overwhelming contradicting evidence – and/or hallucinations – sensing something (such as through sight or sound) that doesn’t exist. And truly, anyone can experience psychosis for any number of reasons, only some of which are related to a mental illness.
Treating Disease with Antipsychotics
And it is critical that some psychoses be treated, and generally antipsychotics are quite effective at doing so. They’re not Big, Bad Scary Meds, they are just medications used to treat a medical condition of the brain.
Antipsychotic Use Outside of Psychosis
But some while back it was discovered that antipsychotics were actually useful outside of psychosis treatment as well. Quite a few antipsychotics are approved in the treatment of bipolar disorder and one is even approved as an add-on treatment for depression. And it has nothing to do with psychosis in bipolar or depression (although that can happen) it’s just that these drugs have been found to be effective for those conditions.
It’s like anticonvulsants. Anticonvulsants are used to treat seizure disorders but it was discovered they’re helpful in bipolar too, and some are now a mainstay of bipolar treatment. Of course, no one runs away from you for taking an “anticonvulsant.”
My Experience with Antipsychotics
My personal experience with antipsychotics has been mixed. Generally, I swear off of them due to side effects (except for, you know, the one I take).
But what’s notable is that I had distinct, internalized stigma around taking something called an “antipsychotic” and that’s a shame, because they literally save people’s lives every day. And a couple of them have produced profound changes in me personally; which I would have never seen if I hadn’t gotten over my own prejudice about a silly word.
So, the next time someone squirms at the idea of an antipsychotic, tell them this, they’re dopamine modulators – which they are. They are simply a class of drugs that modulate a neurotransmitter – just like an antidepressant – the difference is in the specific neurotransmitter. There’s really nothing scary about that.
The important thing about medication, of course, is that it work for you, whether they call it an anticonvulsant, an antipsychotic or Fred.
* This is in large part due to confusion between the word “psycho” and “psychotic,” which are two completely different things. “Psycho” is a slang term used to refer to a psychopath while someone who is “psychotic” suffers from a condition that contains delusions and hallucinations.
Tracy, N. (2012, November 18). Taking Antipsychotics Makes You Sound Particularly Crazy, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2019, September 16 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/breakingbipolar/2012/11/taking-antipsychotics-particularly-crazy
Author: Natasha Tracy
The problem is people like you who hear psychotic and immediately think crazy. In your wish to not be connected to the disorder or people who suffer from psychosis in any way, you show that you still are scared of psychosis and in your video you still equate it with insanity.
Schizophrenia, the most serious of psychotic disorders, is actually quite common, with every 1 in 100 people being schizophrenic. And as you yourself pointed out, 5-8 out of every 100 people will experience a psychotic episode of some sort. Unsurprisingly, these people aren't all going out and stabbing people and being 'crazy' or 'deranged.' That's the minority of people who are affected, scared people trying to live there life and having to deal with stigma.
Through your attempt to hide the word psychosis, brush it under the rug so you don't have to deal with it, you only further the problem and the stigma. This isn't a way to deal with stigma, it's a way to hide from the work of helping. And as two people who have felt mental illness, the terror that it can cause, and have felt the misled judgment of others, I wish we could work together on this
But there's of course a huge difference between the first line antipsychotics and the newer second generation atypical antipsychotics.
There's really only one drug directly linked to diabetes, but even that can be modulated/is preventable. I know someone on it.
Sarah, good explanation later on. I couldn't agree with your point more.
Oddball, auditory hallucinations such as voices do not have to be interpreted as external, coming aurally through your ears. They can be external to you, but heard in your head. Check out this website for more info: http://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/help-information/mental-health-a-z/H/hearing-voices/
You can also look up the Hearing Voices Network, which may very well be linked to the previous page I cited.
Apparently, the stigma is not as strong, since APs are prescribed left and right, for sleep, depression, anxiety, problem behaviour in kids and some people don't ever realize what they are taking, believe it's sleep aid, something you add-on to antidepressant or that it is indeed an AD.
"But some while back it was discovered that antipsychotics were actually useful outside of psychosis treatment as well"
yeah, they are actually useful at creating profit for Pharma companies.
Call em sciency schmiency names all you want, but they are still serious drugs for serious condition and to be thrown around as candy ("off labelling") is criminal.
I think the use of any euphemism is going to increase stigma, rather than reduce it. This is one reason I like your fairly blunt and occasionally shocking writing.
That being said, I don't know if I will get better without more help...
I don't even know if what I am experiencing is psychosis (I hear other voices, but they don't seem external to me; they're all in my head), but it's good to know that they're seen as add-ons as well.
I'm okay about it now, but it was hard as a psych professional to take them.
That is one name, so is "major tranquilizer" but in North America they are primarily called "antipsychotics."
I wouldn't consider it contradictory, personally. I feel this is about dealing with other people's stigma in an effective way. I'm not suggesting that people be ashamed of the word, but I am suggesting this might be one way to deal with it.