Psychiatric Patients and Their Medications

This is a picture of a weekly pill box.  It has compartments for each day of the week and spots for up to four times a day.  This is a very common box used for psychiatric patients.  When I worked at an MHMR center (mental health mental redardation) I had quite a few clients that used these med boxes, and they had pills in almost all of the slots.  It is very common practice for a psychiatrist to prescribe multiple medications of similar nature and different kinds (i.e. an antidepressant and an antipsychotic) of medications to a single patient. 

It became common for doctors to begin using medications to treat severe mental illness in the 1960s and by 1970 multiple medications were being used to treat an individual.  By the 80s, polypharmacy had decreased and wasn’t much of an issue.  But the 90s saw the birth of a new generation of antipsychotics and other psychiatric medications.  This has allowed, through the use of polypharmacy, many patients who were previously unresponsive to a single medication greatly improve their quality of life by taking multiple medications of similar nature.  This seems to be a mixed blessing.  I’ve personally seen many people acheive things they never thought they would, with the help of their medication.  I’ve also seen people so disabled by the side effects, alone, that they questioned which was worse, their side effects or there equally debilitating symptoms.



7 Responses to “Psychiatric Patients and Their Medications”

  1. jen07aggies Says:

    i agree… i have seen so many patients that have actually gotten worse and not better as a result of all the meds they are presribed. once they are put in a hospital/clinical setting for monitoring and then slowly weaned off each medicine, they significantly improve because their body is rid of all the junk from all the different medicines.

  2. Pharm Student Says:

    I work in a psyciatric hospital and I agree that some of the side effects of the meds are scary!

    The nurses always move quickly to give the meds to reduce EPS–muscular/movement disorders caused by some of the psyc drugs–because it can become permanent.

  3. AustinPharmer Says:

    It will be interesting to see where the future pharmaceutical companies will leave us. Plus all the synthetic breakthroughs they are making these days with new medicines.

    I am worried that the companies try to simply make the buck rather than getting full FDA testing done. Only time will tell, I suppose.

  4. This is so true! As you know, I work in a mental health clinic and see a lot of people on 7 or 8 medications for their psychiatric issues alone! And clients often complain about the side effects, which can make it difficult to function.

  5. I used to work as a Case Manager at a community Mental Health Center. This was called Intensive Case Management since the clients served had experienced multiple psychiatric hospitalizations and/or suicide attempts.
    One of the training modules was called Medication Management where I would bring meds to the clients in their home or another location within the community. They would do weekly pill minders into a Pill Box that would help them remember to take their meds. I would then monitor any side effects and report to the psychiatrist any that were causing EPS then the doc would step in and prescribe drugs like Cogentin or Prolixin to help with these side effects. I advocate for people with psychiatric illness’s to take medications. I have seen far to many positive results with taking meds as prescribed, I have seen people that were unable to function with untreated symptoms to a level of functioning that enables the patient to become functional enough to socialize in the community. I could write more but have to end for now.

  6. Why does it have to be all about drugs? Why do doctors/pharma insist that the drugs are the answer? Money perhaps? Its already been shown that people using the drugs long term have a reduced quality of life than people with the same condition not drugged up (see Robert Whitaker’s research). Why not search for real causes like nutritional deficiencies, hormonal issues, toxicity, etc instead of chemically suppressing the person and causing brain damage? Is this medicine? Ummm yea, I think not.

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