Antipsychotic medications made me psychotic. Really. The second time it was after one or two doses, that I then abruptly stopped. I had enough issues as a Manic Depressive, single, low-income Mom. I didn’t need to add psychosis to the list.
If I hadn’t stopped the antipsychotic medication I would have suffered more illness and most likely been hospitalized. At that time I was 38 years old, my son was eight. I had not been hospitalized in 12 years as I’d not had any episodes of mania leading to psychosis.
Every year that reality remained I was grateful for. Every day I was able to care and provide for my son I was grateful for. I still am. The last hospitalization I had was around age 26, more than 25 years ago.
I had an evaluation with a psychiatrist – last one and hope to never have another. It was not for a crisis, just supportive care. He was nice to talk to, I met with him a few times and he helped me deal with some ‘bipolar-related’ as well as personal issues
He also wanted to put me back on lithium – of course – but I said no. So he wrote a prescription for one of the antipsychotic medications on the market.
I took maybe two doses, then started to feel strange. And I’d experienced it before, from other psych meds. I knew if I took more of the drug, it would make me ill. So I stopped. I like my clear-headed, decent level IQ functioning I am fortunate to have.
The only psychotropic medication I’ve tolerated for any length of time is lithium. But even that made me worse after a year. I had to go through withdrawal alone, no medical supervision other than the books I read.
Related post: If I Can Get Off Psych Meds Anyone Can.
Understanding How These Medications Work Would Have Saved Me a Ton of Grief
Every time a medication did not work I took it as a personal failure. It felt like yet one more piece of the already large evidence pile that I was a hopeless case. That no medication would help me – like I fantisized they were helping others – therefore I’d never get better.
What a load of crap that thinking is I now know. And I want anyone else who feels this way or has felt this way to understand that too.
Related post: Would I Ever Take Prozac Again?
Olfactory Hallucination from an Antipsychotic Medication
I have no idea what medication it was, the name of the drug. But it was given to me as an outpatient after a two week hospitalization (many years ago, age 26 or so) for an episode of out-of-control mania. I wrote about it in my book in detail.
I don’t hallucinate, I’ve never heard voices, etc. But after taking the pill I started to smell smoke and went through all the drama (for about 15 minutes) of thinking the condo was on fire, or the one next door. Then when there was no fire, I started to realize I was smelling something that wasn’t there.
That’s an olfactory hallucination. The one and only time in my life I’ve experienced one – and it was from the psychotropic medication. The medical term for this is “Phantosmia”.
The below is quoted from the article: What Causes Olfactory Hallucinations (Phantosmia)?
“An olfactory hallucination (phantosmia) makes you detect smells that aren’t really present in your environment.”
“Phantosmia may occur after a head injury or upper respiratory infection. It can also be caused by temporal lobe seizures, inflamed sinuses, brain tumors and Parkinson’s disease.”
Source: The Mayo Clinic.
They can add to that list: antipsychotic medications.
If I really had a medical condition that causes olfactory hallucinations, it would have been present before I took the med (no, never) and continued after I stopped taking the med (no, didn’t). The antipsychotic medication created the symptom.
Related post: Are Your Psych Meds Making You Sick?
How Can Antipsychotic Medications Cause Psychosis in Bipolar Disorder?
The science is too complicated to get into here, but in general there are two issues:
1. If you are not psychotic, why are you taking antipsychotic medications?
2. Bipolar disorder is not schizophrenia. In general, these medications are specific for treatment of symptoms of schizophrenia.
Even for people who suffer from schizophrenia, there is much research on the negative effects of long-term use of antipsychotic medications.
Many Bipolar Disorder Patients Don’t Realize They are On Antipsychotic Medication
Many who get prescribed these medications may not even realize they are taking them. That is medical negligence in and of itself, as informed consent about any medical treatment is ethically and legally mandated.
The below is quoted from the American Psychiatric Association Resource Document on Principles of Informed Consent in Psychiatry:
“Informed consent has legal, ethical, and clinical dimensions.”
“From the legal perspective, it requires physicians to disclose certain classes of information to patients, and to obtain their consent before initiating medical treatment.”
“In its ethical dimension informed consent encourages respect for individual autonomy in medical decision making.
Psychiatrists prescribe these medications for ‘off-label’ use. You should be told if you are being prescribed a medication that is for a symptom never evaluated for risks and safety and approved by the FDA.
It is illegal for manufacturers to promote a medication for untested, unapproved medical conditions, but doctors can do it no problem. And the patient rarely has a clue that is what they are being subjected to.
Examples of off-label use of antipsychotic medications: anxiety, ADHD, depression, OCD, autism, dementia and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Source: Off-label Use of Atypical Antipsychotics.
The second – and last – time I was prescribed an antipsychotic medication (described above) it was for off-label use. And I knew that. And it is partly why I stopped taking it immediately when experienced an adverse effect.
I knew there was no reason for me to be on it in the first place. If I had been actually manic and had to be hospitalized, that would have been a different story but I was not. I went on with my life, lived well at times and struggled at other times as others do who have a mood disorder.
I am sure my experience is not unique in any way, or uncommon. It is just not commonly talked about, or those diagnosed bipolar are afraid to. They shouldn’t be.
And if psychiatric care by Big Pharma-contolled psychiatrists is making you worse, you should seek other forms of health care to help you heal.
I’ve created a free list of “Holisitc Psychiatrits in the United States“. That may be a great place to start. You can view it here: Holistic Psychiatrists in the United States.