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The 3 Paradoxes of Psychiatric Drug Treatments

Thomas Insel, the director of the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), has been writing some very interesting blog posts over the past month (this one, and this one).

The theme is that there are very few drug treatment innovations coming for mental disorders. He said that this is due to changes in focus and funding at the big drug makers. He also adds that there are very few new “targets” (areas of the brain for drugs to influence) for drug researchers to explore.

When I read this I couldn’t help but think back to something Dr. Morgan Sammons (Aliant University) describes as the “paradoxes” of drug treatment for psychiatric disorders.

7 Comments to
The 3 Paradoxes of Psychiatric Drug Treatments

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  1. THANKS for writing this. I took psych drugs off and on for years, with no real improvement in my quality of life. Dialectical Behavior Therapy– a research based treatment and skill training– has made a tremendous difference to me, without any of the negative side effects or frustration I’ve experienced with drugs. I wish more mental health professionals- psychiatrists, psychologists, etc. would devote their time and energy to implementing more DBT programs and developing other similar programs that work. I truly can’t express the difference DBT has made, and it saddens me how many people who struggle with suicidal thinking/depression haven’t heard of it or can’t find it in their area. This treatment is LIFE SAVING, whereas for me, overall, drug treatments have been spirit-sucking.

  2. The mainstay of mental health treatment, by in large, is psychotherapy. Why my profession basically just laid down and let itself be trampled by managed care in assuming other providers outside psychiatry could be reimbursed at much lower rates in allegedly providing therapy without real documentation of sustained, efficacious effect is beyond me to this day. And now, the cows have come home to roost. Not a typo, my profession has just gotten fat and inattentive in trying to be a species that does not fit the upbringing. The truth is now very overt, meds do not bring about sustainable change.

    Again, the adage I heard in a show a few years ago will be applicable for eons: if you want to get better, take a pill, but if you want to get it right, face the truth!

    Truth number one, mental health is not just a biochemical imbalance. Just do not expect to hear that opinion from an APA member or Academic Psychiatrist! Doesn’t that choir get to be excruciating to listen to of late?

  3. Diagnosed with ADHD late in life at 51 I had been on anti-depressants for years. Sure they lift your mood …. for a while … but until you understand what causes the depression you can’t manage the problem. This is where ADHD Coaching saved my life. My ADHD meds help slow my brain and give me time to make the correct decisions which I can choose to do or continue to act impulsively. I still take anti-depressants as well because depression and anxiety are common co-occurring conditions with ADHD and our visual minds play havoc with our emotions. I will always have ADHD and will continue to fall back on occasion but at least I now know why.

  4. i am one of those that will take drugs the rest of my life. I look at the meds as the means I got/am well enough for psychotherapy. I learned a pill would not cure me alone anymore than just talking can help me. I need both. drugs i take– funny one of the oldest and one of the newest. i have lowered doses successfully over the years but to stop is a life threatening issue. I am unable to think with any judgement sufficient for therapy. I am not holding out for any “cure.” everyone is different it’s apples and oranges. for me both have worked because i took the meds and did the mental work. i see no wonder drug on my horizon nor a wonder session that cures me. Acceptance of that works for me.

  5. I couldn’t agree more. I often tell clients that drugs and medication don’t heal. Healing comes from psychotherapy! Thanks for posting this.

  6. I would echo much of the sentiment here. Drugs, in spite of the cliche, make the symptoms better but the problem worse. We have let capitalism intervene where a problem exist. The problem with the capitalist approach to solving a problem is that it will solve it once. After that only variations of the existing solution will be presented. Anything completely new will be a threat to the establishment and there for lobbied against. With AD’s it is only a chemical version of a lobotomy. “same results, less ‘toxic’.”

    Though I am a big fan of Dr. Freud, many of his ideas have become outdated. Many of the lasting ones are ignored not only by the medical community, but the governing one as well. We will not solve the mysteries of mental illness until we are willing to accept the root causes of them. This will mean taking a hard unbiased objective look at our race, society, culture, and ourselves.

    Aside for the horrid side affects to the user of today’s AD’s there is that unrecognized group of people who are ill affected when their loved one turns “manic” and the doctor doesn’t even know what that is, let alone believe us. It’s not nice to mess with Karma.

  7. People find it hard to believe that there is an alternative to drug therapy for mental illness AND an alternative to talk-therapy as well. It is beyond biochemistry AND psychology and people have problem looking an oher alternative at;

    Depression – A Nutritional Disorder



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