As mental health concerns are more widely publicized, psychiatric drugs are on the rise. In 2009 alone, doctors wrote more psychiatric prescriptions than there are people in the United States. From 2001 to 2010, the number of adults on medications used to treat mental disorders increased by 22 percent. Women are more likely to take prescription drugs for mental health than men, as more than 25% of the adult female population was on some sort of medication in 2010. However, younger men experienced the greatest increase of psychiatric drug use, jumping 43% in the last decade.
This trend isn’t just happening in the adult population. The number of children ages 0 to 5 on psychiatric drugs has escalated a whopping 42% since 2009. In 2013, there were over 8 million children ages 0 to 17 on psychiatric drugs and that number is constantly rising. Unfortunately, there is no overwhelming proof that these prescription drugs are safe or effective, especially for the treatment of children. Millions of babies, toddlers, and preschoolers are being given prescription drugs that carry 386 international drug regulatory warnings. Children from ages 0 to 5 are prescribed everything from ADHD medication, antidepressants, antipsychotics, and anti-anxiety medications. Many of these psychiatric drugs are having long-term effects.
So if they are so commonly used, what are they used to treat?
Psychiatric drugs can be prescribed to an individual that may suffer illnesses such as:
• Problems with attention (Such as Attention Deficit Disorder or ADD)
• Psychosis (Such as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder or eating disorders)
• Mood disorders (Such as Bipolar Disorder)
Though all prescription drugs have side effects, specific psychiatric medications can be classified as more dangerous than others. Take a look at the top 3:
Often referred to as “neuroleptics” or “major tranquilizers,” these prescription drugs are used as dopamine receptor antagonists. They connect to the dopamine receptor to avoid additional stimulation from dopamine misfiring. One of the scariest parts of taking one of these psychiatric drugs is the risk of long-term effects. There have been reports of gaining hundreds of pounds of weight, and there is a chance of developing Type 2 diabetes and a permanent, uncontrollable twitch called tardive dyskinesia. There is also evidence suggesting brain volume loss.
These are reported as one of the most effective medications for relieving anxiety, as being fast-acting and providing near-immediate relief. Benzodiazepines also come with the risk of having a high abuse potential. They are considered to be one of the most addictive drugs. There is also evidence of benzodiazepines causing dementia and permanent memory impairment.
Nonbenzodiazepine hypnotics, “Z-drugs,” or sleeping pills are frequently recommended without consumers fully understanding the risks associated with the medication. Many hear, “It’ll help you sleep!” and ignore the rest. According to a recent study, individuals who take sleeping pills increase their risk of early mortality and cancer. Other severe side effects include memory loss, depression, amnesia, and hallucinations.
These prescription drugs for mental disorders are often prescribed to a patient by a psychiatrist. The relationship between a psychiatrist and a patient is often intensely personal. It involves a great deal of trust. As such, a psychiatrist’s mistake in treatment can have substantial consequences on their patients. In some cases, a psychiatrist may be held liable for medical malpractice if that mistake harms a patient.
Oftentimes, however, these prescription drugs are routinely being prescribed by a primary care physician and, although writing a prescription to treat a mental health disorder may be easy, it may not always be the safest or most effective route for patients. According to a study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), patients often receive psychotropic medications without being evaluated by a mental health professional. In these cases, many patients walk away with prescription drugs, such as antidepressants, from their family physicians, and often are not made aware of other treatments, including cognitive and behavioral therapies, that may work better without the risk of permanent side effects. Again, in some of these cases, the family physician may be held liable for medical malpractice if they make a mistake in treating a patient’s mental health condition and cause harm.
You should not discontinue the use of any prescription drugs without first consulting your physician, mental health care professional, or, if necessary, an emergency department medical provider, as there could be severe health consequences in doing so. If you have concerns about the risks of continuing to take prescription drugs for the treatment of a mental health condition, you should discuss this with a medical or mental health provider prior to discontinuing the medication.
If you or a loved one has suffered from severe side effects after taking prescription drugs, you need The People’s Lawyer on your side. Brindisi, Murad, Brindisi & Pearlman are experienced personal injury lawyers ready to fight for you. Contact us for a free consultation today.
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