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Taking Schizophrenia Medication that Makes You Feel Numb

For many, schizophrenia medicine makes you feel numb as if you're depressed. My medicine made me feel numb for about 4 years. Learn about my experience on HealthyPlace. Is it depression or your medication? Let's compare stories now.

I took an atypical antipsychotic medication that makes you feel numb when I was first diagnosed with schizophrenia in 1999. It wasn’t until I was diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder, bipolar type and tried a mood stabilizer that my doctor allowed the antipsychotic dosage to be decreased. Finally, I felt like myself again.

Was It Depression or the Side Effects of a Medication that Makes You Feel Numb?

When I say the medication made me feel numb, I mean inwardly—the sensation felt a lot like depression. At first, the reaction very well could have been partially depression. I had just left my dream school, the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD), because it had turned into more like a nightmare as my first psychotic episode took hold. Two problematic roommates and spiraling paranoia soon turned my world delusional.

I had wanted to go to RISD since I was a sophomore in high school. I made it there and flourished my freshman year. It all fell apart the next year and that did make me depressed, even though I was speedily accepted at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC) with a merit scholarship. The SAIC turned out to be the real dream school, though I didn’t know that at the beginning of the first spell of medication and that unsettling numbness.

When Medications Make You Feel Numb and Rob You of Your Spark

I was diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder in 2002 and, by then, I realized SAIC was the place for me. It became clear the numbness wasn’t depression at all. I simply felt I had no spark. This manifested in all sorts of ways—even in the way I dressed. Before the symptoms of schizophrenia triggered, I had a very quirky, funky style of my own–darkly goth dresses and vintage hippie outfits filled the closet. But jeans and tops were all I could manage with my illness. Of course, part of the change in the way I dressed resulted from the weight gain caused by the antipsychotic medication.

Finally, at the beginning of getting my MFA at Columbia College Chicago, enough was enough. I got a second opinion from an esteemed psychopharmacologist who asked me if my psychosis was accompanied by mood swings. I said yes—in fact, I’d been having extreme mood swings since I was 11. She finally figured out my diagnosis, bless her. I had schizoaffective disorder, bipolar type. A mood stabilizer helped a lot and my dosage of the antipsychotic was decreased— no more numbness.

I was back to my old self. I didn’t just sit there like a motionless log when I went out with my friends. I laughed again. I was again overflowing with stories and anecdotes. I wanted to do things other than sleep all the time.

My medication had made me feel numb, but with the adjustment, my spark came back.

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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