The Psychiatric Drugs
Desiring optimal health, people frequently turn to drugs to alter their physical and mental health. Surveys show that many Americans regularly use some type of psychiatric medication such tranquilizers, sleeping pills, antipsychotic drugs and antidepressants. Easily obtained in today’s market, these drugs are used to treat a wide variety of symptoms from anxiety and difficulty sleeping to decreased energy levels, disorientation and depression.
Although these are serious health issues, the treatment of these disorders is often misunderstood and abused. Not without consequence, the use of any mind-altering substance must be prepared by thorough research and careful evaluation.
Tranquilizers and Sleeping Pills
Today’s hectic schedules and external pressures put great strain on the human body, often resulting in stress and agitation. Surveys show that 15.6% of people use tranquilizers to relieve anxiety. Of this percent, 39% use them daily, and 78% admitted to taking tranquilizers for more than a year. Most tranquilizers belong to a chemical family called benzodiazapines, although more common names include Valium, Librium, Xanax and Halcium. Sleeping pills, another common type of tranquilizers, include sedatives known as barbiturates, buspirone, Diphenhydramine, Hydrozyzine and Meprobamate.
Although confirming their popularity, studies question the efficacy of tranquilizers and sleeping pills. Evidence suggests that even the most potent tranquilizers are ineffective after periods of four months and sleeping pills have been shown to lose efficacy after only two to four weeks. In addition to limited performance, tranquilizers and sleeping pills can cause a multitude of side effects, such as low blood pressure, hip fracture, liver disease, allergies and breathing problems. Mind-altering effects include decreased mental functioning, forgetfulness, withdrawal syndrome and lack of coordination. Alarmingly, approximately 16,000 auto accidents each year are attributed to the use of psychoative drugs such as tranquilizers and sleeping pills.
Studies also shows that tranquilizers are unnecessary under most circumstances. In fact, in many studies, patients responded to placebos as well as they did to actual tranquilizers, proof that the therapeutic effects of tranquilizers don’t merit their harmful effects. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), “anxiety is a normal response to stress, and only when it is severe and disabling should it lead to drug treatment.”
Antipsychotics drugs are another example of treatment clouded by misconception and misdiagnosis. Although intended to treat only serious mental illness, such as schizophrenia, an estimated 750,000 people over the age of sixty-five regularly use antipsychotics drugs. This figure is alarming considering that approximately 92,000 people over the age of sixty five have been clinically diagnosed with schizophrenia. Experts believe that many people wrongly turn to antipsychotic drugs after experiencing symptoms similar to schizophrenia, such as hallucinations and confusion, when in many cases, these symptoms are side-effects induced by other drugs the consumers take regularly.
Adverse effects of antipsychotic drugs include nerve damage, tartive dyskinesia (difficulty in chewing or swallowing), loss of balance, muscular fatigue, delirium and Parkinson’s disease. One study found that 36% of patients with drug-induced Parkinson’s had been using antipsychotic drugs when diagnosed with the …