What are the Alternatives to Using Psychiatric Drugs?
• Friendships with people who believe in your capacity to take charge of your wellness can be crucial. Ideally these should be people who have seen you on your “bad days,” are there for you when you’re in trouble, and are prepared for difficulties that can come from withdrawal. At the same time, they should be friends who know the limits of what they can offer and know how to say “no” to protect themselves from burnout.
• Consider going off recreational drugs and alcohol. Many people who go through extreme emotional distress and end up with psychiatric labels are much more sensitive than others, so what affects your friends one way may affect you more strongly. Abstaining from drugs and alcohol can dramatically improve your mental wellbeing. Even milder drugs like marijuana and caffeine can undermine health, stability, and sleep for some people. Sugar (including sweet juices) and chocolate can also affect mood and wellbeing. Some people even have reactions to blood sugar levels or caffeine that get mistaken for psychosis or mental disorders.
• Rest. Do what you can to ensure a healthy sleep routine, and discover tools to help you sleep. Medical sleep prescriptions, such as short-term psychiatric drugs like benzodiazepenes, might be good as a backup, but start first with herbs like valerian and skullcap or homeopathics. If you have trouble sleeping, consider eliminating caffeine such as coffee and sodas. Caffeine can disrupt your sleep and make the sleep you do get not as restful. Remember that even if you get plenty of hours of sleep, staying up late means the sleep might not be as good; if you don’t feel rested, try to get to sleep before 11pm.
• Nutrition can play a huge role in mental stability and overall health. Explore what foods you might be allergic to such as gluten and milk, and consider taking proven supplements that nourish the brain and help the body’s ability to detoxify, such as vitamin C, fish oil / essential fatty acids, and b-vitamins. Eat plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, and beware of junk food. Some people are sensitive to artificial sweeteners like aspartame or saccharin, and to preservatives and other chemicals in processed foods. If you take herbs or medical drugs for physical illness, consult with an herbalist about interactions, especially if you are pregnant or nursing
• Drink plenty of fresh water (nothing added) throughout the day: water is crucial to your body’s ability to detoxify. It is recommended you drink 1/2 your body weight in ounces per day minimum (i.e. someone weighing 140 lbs needs to drink 70 oz. of water every day). Each glass of wine, alcoholic drink, coffee, black tea or soft drink you drink dehydrates you, and needs to be replaced with an equal amount of water. If your tap water is not good quality, consider a filter. If you are overheated or sweating, or become dehydrated, make sure to replenish sodium, sugar, and potassium electrolytes.
• Chemical exposure and toxins in the environment can stress the body and cause physical and mental problems, sometimes very severe. If you can, reduce your exposure to such pollutants such as furniture and carpet fumes, household cleansers, harsh noise, and fluorescent lights. For some people, going off psychiatric drugs might make them even more sensitive to toxins for a while.
• Take a careful look at other medications you are taking for physical diagnoses. Some, such as the steroid Prednisone, can themselves cause anxiety, sleep disturbance, and psychosis.
• Many holistic practitioners such as homeopaths, naturopaths, herbalists, and acupuncturists are skilled in assisting people reduce psychiatric drugs, and can provide powerful, non-toxic alternatives to help with anxiety and other symptoms. Find a recommendation from someone you trust. Be prepared to make recommended lifestyle changes such as diet and exercise and quitting drugs and alcohol. Be persistent if money is an obstacle: some providers have sliding scale or offer barter or other options. If you do take herbs, make sure to check for drug interactions if you are taking medical drugs.
• A counselor, therapist, or support group can be very helpful. Allow yourself time to settle in as a new client or participant before beginning a medication reduction plan.
• Many people find a spiritual practice helps them endure hardship and suffering. Find a practice that is non-judgmental and accepts you for who you are.
• Being in nature and around plants and animals can be very helpful to calm you and give you a bigger perspective on your situation.
• Art, music, crafts, and creativity can be a powerful way to express what is beyond words, and create meaning out of your ordeal. Even a crayon sketch in a journal or a simple collage with the theme “what do I feel right now” can be very powerful.
• Exercise such as walking, swimming, bicycling, yoga, or sports can dramatically reduce anxiety and stress. Exercise also helps the body to detox.
• Consider on-line support networks such as www.benzo.org.uk and www.theicarusproject.net as an addition to, but if possible not replacement for, direct support.
Intermittent Use: Taking Drugs From Time To Time
Some drugs take time to build up to effectiveness in the body, but others – especially to help with sleep and episodes of anxiety – work right away. It might be wise to occasionally use them to get rest, prevent crisis, or protect you from overwhelming emotional extremes. While many people who go off drugs do go back on them after some time, there is, however, very little research on the possible risks of going off and then back on neuroleptics, lithium, or anti-convulsant medications.
A previous article entitled What You Should Know About Psychiatry and Psychiatric Drugs provides information... mental illness, Prozac ve Psychiatry and Psychiatric Drugs