Antipsychotic meds prompt zombie-like state among patients

Antipsychotic meds prompt zombie-like state among patients
Disturbingly, researchers found participants often exhibited 'a culture of hopelessness' where acceptance was dominant, which they warn can destroy an individual's will to recover. Credit: Charlotte Spencer

Interviews with community members who are taking antipsychotic medication for mental health problems have added to growing concerns about how the drugs are administered, their effectiveness against placebo and the severity of their side-effects.

The recent research also touches on how stigma can lead individuals to 'just put up with the drugs' despite not believing they help.

While their sample size is limited, Murdoch University and the University of Queensland researchers say insight into lived experience is invaluable.

"People using antipsychotic medications experience adverse side-effects that reach into their physical, social and emotional lives, and cause a level of fear and suffering that is difficult for anyone else to fully comprehend," Murdoch Professor Paul Morrison says.

"The proportion that experiences a disturbing side-effect has been estimated at between 50 and 70 per cent, and participants in our study reported on average between six and seven medication side-effects.

"It is difficult for an outsider to appreciate what this means to individual consumers, and how it impacts on their self-image and ability to cope."

Side-effects can include Parkinsonism, akathisia (restlessness) and tardive dyskinesia (involuntary movements), as well as weight gain, hypersomnia, insomnia, sexual dysfunction, dry mouth, constipation and dizziness.

The most profound side-effect is extreme fatigue, which leaves many in a 'zombie state'.

Participants engulfed by hopelessness

Disturbingly, researchers found participants often exhibited 'a culture of hopelessness' where acceptance was dominant, which they warn can destroy an individual's will to recover.

"The issue here is the extent to which people with a mental illness have been conditioned into accepting the disabling effects of without protest," Prof Morrison says.

"The ability of mental health staff to forestall protest arises from the guilt communities thrust upon the sufferer.

"Without this guilt and shame, would consumers and their loved ones be so ready to accept that a life of zombie-like consciousness and physical discomfort is preferable to hearing voices, or would they be demanding more intensive efforts to develop 'cleaner' medications?"

The study advocates creating a standardised rating scale for assessing and monitoring side-effects and better communication between practitioners and those taking medications.

The research suggests psychosocial treatment methods should be explored, such as relaxation and distraction techniques, which have been proven to improve quality of life.

Researchers also recommend giving patients more say in what medications work best for them, empowering them with a sense of meaning, purpose and self-esteem.

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More information: "Living with antipsychotic medication side-effects: The experience of Australian mental health consumers." International Journal of Mental Health Nursing. doi: 10.1111/inm.12110
Provided by Science Network WA
Citation: Antipsychotic meds prompt zombie-like state among patients (2015, February 5) retrieved 19 October 2019 from
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Feb 05, 2015
Many of the people being victimized by psychiatry have untreated illnesses other than a psychiatric problem. For example, one of my good friends was being treated with antipsychotics for two and a half years because of a schizophrenia diagnosis before finding out that he was actually HIV positive. Problems like this occur because psychiatrists do not use physical tests such as lab work or x-rays to support their diagnosis. Patients give up a will to live because psychiatric treatments often cause additional harm and the initial illness remains untreated. Psychiatrists should be charged with assault in instances like this because the psychiatric treatment is not medically beneficial and harmful instead.

Feb 05, 2015
Psychiatry does play lose with people lives. I had no history, no family history, no medical reason, no bad habits yet they prescribed for me one year of these hyper expensive meds to get better. I knew nothing of this practice and fully complied. I started the exact same symptoms as depicted in this article. Also, the meds made me psychotic. It was chemical incarceration in which if you had any emotion or alertness the drug would inflict most undesirable experience. Worse if you tried to quit. The Doc said it was underlying illness. I read up and became convinced the industry does prey on people and works to make them life long paying patients. It took me 18 months after that to recover, by quitting meds and a better diet w/o local Amish whole grain. I'm 60 years old and wish I never stepped into their office. I lost two years of my life and it was a fight to get well again. Now, I'm 100% and enjoy life. That was waste of $20k.

Feb 05, 2015
It is well known that certain asocial persons, e.g. serial killers, rapists, suffer from a lack of empathy with their victims. In other words, they are incapable of identifying with the pain and suffering of the people they hurt and kill. Occasionally, this condition is found in persons in the practice of medicine. We call them ...


Feb 05, 2015
It is unwise to draw broad generalities from personal anecdotes. Without consistent use of antipsychotic meds, many people would be totally non-functional. The key is to find a psychiatrist who takes time with her patients and prescribes with care, including exploring possible medical causes for the patient's condition. There are many out there like that - just take the time to find a good one.

Feb 05, 2015
Weight gain? Hypersomnia? Insomnia? Extreme fatigue? Hopelessness?

I couldn't help but notice that these symptoms are awfully similar to the effects of having a day job. Being employed really does drive you crazy!

Feb 06, 2015
What are the psychotropic drugs this article refers to? LSD? Marijauna? Zoloft? Valium? My family doc gave me a prescription of Xanax once, because I complained about work related stress, and I resolved to never take that medicine again. I have never felt so "care less" in my whole life. I didn't care whether you or I lived or died. No wonder the damned chimpanzee ripped that woman's face off, if she really did give the beast Xanax.

Feb 06, 2015
The author of this article recently wrote "Is Ebola a Product of U.S. Germ Warfare Research?" October 31, 2014, writing " I also know that trusting in the U.S. government is suicidal considering its track record of secrecy and blatant lies. Look at how many wars of choice the government has entered into with all of the reasons given based on nothing but lies." Look at his blogsplot for a fountain of misinformation and incendiary topics.

Does he have scientific credibility or an axe to grind?
Trust this article? I don't think so.

Feb 06, 2015
"Antipsychotic meds..."
All FDA and DEA approved... great job, fellas...

Meanwhile, cannabis is prohibited...
What's up with this???

Feb 06, 2015
Nothing too startling here. People have been doing exactly the same thing to their kids for decades using Ritilin.

Feb 06, 2015
To quote Joyce E. Mauk, MD, pediatrician and neurodevelopmental pediatrician, board-certified, in Texas Monthlly, February 2015, page 22, " . . . When carefully prescribed by a trained physician, medications can make the difference between an out-of-control child with frequent hospitalizations and one who can function. All medications have the potential to cause side effects, but the side effect of untreated mental illness is devastating and costly." . . . "No one wants to turn children into 'zombies,' a frequently quoted term for children treated with medications."
This is the real attitude of people involved in the field, not the distorted projections noted above.

Feb 06, 2015
I am so glad to run across this conversation. I have what my doctor says is the classic manic depression, diagnosed as Schizophrenia in the USA until the 1970's and the use of lithium and antipsychotic drugs. My doctor has been very conservative in his prescribing of the antipsychotic drug. I take the same drug that those with schizophrenia do-only much less. It does not seem to keep the delusions away if they get started (caused by the psychological part of my disease)-but it will shut down the delusions when upped while in the hospital after hospitalization-then when recovering. He leaves me on the increased dosage for awhile
and then when the side affects begin he reduces the dosage. I have often thought i didn't need the anti psychotic drug as it does make me much more "reserved" than i ever remember being-and it doesn't actually keep the delusions away-it is the original trigger of my psychosis that brings the delusions on as an escape from reality-

Feb 07, 2015
I know Dr. Mauk. She
1. Cares about her patients
2. Recommends effective medications that are affordable to her patients.

Feb 18, 2015
They had to do a study to observe this? Anyone who has worked with people on antipsychotics who is not him/herself sociopathic would easily see that these people are for the most part inert, lethargic, and unengaged in life. And they are often, in fact, told to expect this and that they should give up on any higher-level goals and dreams and just resign themselves to being disabled for life. This is what successful treatment looks like for most people labeled with bipolar or schizophrenia - weekly "med checks" (or less often), no real therapy, spending most of their time watching TV and smoking cigarettes. Many individuals strive for more than this, but the system considers what I outlined above "success." As long as you're "taking your meds" and not being hospitalized, the bulk of clinicians appear almost completely unconcerned for what else is happening in your life. Of course, there are exceptions, but the aim of the system is to subdue symptoms, not to create a livable life.

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