What are the downsides of taking any meds?


#1

What are trade-offs of taking meds? I assumbe they aren’t going to affect my intelligence, what they are going to affect then? Liver?

Lets say i’ll have to use meds for ADHD and Bipolar / Anxiety Disorded, what would be side effects of using meds?


#2

This is purely my take, not a generalisation. As for side effects, all psych meds meddle with brain functions, so side effects are likely to be psychological or neurological as well. I’ve seen people on horse tranquilizers, on really addictive stuff, some seem to have too much energy, some mess with your libido.

My problem with them is - they are not that effective. At least not long term. You might get a great effect out of them for a while, but not for that long. Now that doesn’t mean one can just stop taking them, that might be worse. Meds save lives, stabilize and essentially buy you some time to figure things out, but they aren’t a magical fix.

They can get you out of bad spots, take the edges off the highs and lows and buy time. But long term, they are just one part that keeps you on track. Therapy, friends, family, exercise, diet, work-life-balance, … are needed just as well.


#3

Different meds have different effects, you have to research them individually. Effects can range from mild nervous jitters to reduced libido to many other things, Wikipedia generally has decent info and relevant links for many meds. In my opinion the two most important things to consider when choosing a psychiatrist are how much rapport you feel with them and how careful they are with prescribing meds. The good ones try the ones with least side effects first, and that too starting with a mild dosage.

I view meds as literally the equivalent of walking aids when you’re recovering from a fracture - they’re there to help you get up and walking, temporarily giving back to you some control of your mind so that you can actually pursue the other steps needed for long-term recovery.


#4

Doc Phelps has quite a bunch of resources on bipolar on PsychEducation including on page on the possible weight gain cause by meds.

I know some meds also used as mood stabiilizers (e.g. Lamotrigin) as I’ve taken them against (what was thought to be) epilepsy. Sure it stabilized my mood but it also took what was left of my motivation and what might have been minor maniac episodes. Make sure you have a doc who knows you need some joy in your life :wink:


#5

Unfortunately, some of them will affect your intelligence, at least while they’re in your system. One of my biggest personal challenges in finding treatment was that the only things that were numbing the depression enough to cope with it was also hampering my cognitive abilities. Memory, attention, and even processing speed were all noticeably impacted. As a knowledge worker who depends on their ability to think for their living, this was really not a viable or sustainable situation. Even more fun, is that all these drugs don’t effect everyone the same way, so you get to go through a whole lot of trial and error to find the right combination for you as an individual. Some get lucky on their first try, some spend years experimenting, and it can sometimes be made a lot worse before it gets better.


#6

Every medication has side effects. SSRIs in particular (Paxil, Prozac, et al.) can have some nasty side effects.

I was on Paxil for a long time (10 years). One downside was sexual side effects. The other downside was that, after several years, its efficacy started to go down. Another med that gave me some bad side effects was Prozac. I was on Prozac for approximately 2 months, and it made me constantly have violent thoughts. I thought I was a psychopath. As soon as I stopped the Prozac, that went away.

I’m on Zoloft now, have been for a little over a month. So far, I haven’t noticed any detrimental side effects yet. Of course, it doesn’t seem to be helping me very much, either.

Sometimes finding the right medication can be like throwing stuff at the wall and seeing what sticks. It can be very frustrating.


#7

Really. I’ve noticed some psychological benefit. Not great, I still have to push myself but some benefit. The physiological side effects are kind of weird though.