Adverse Effects of
Specific Psychiatric Drugs
Psychoactive drugs--those that affect the brain and mind--can cause harm in two different ways. 1 Most obviously, they cause direct adverse effects by impairing the function of the brain or body. Drinking alcohol, for example, can result in an intoxication characterized by slurred speech, incoordination, and impaired mental processes. Many psychiatric drugs, especially sedative tranquilizers, have similar effects.
Psychoactive drugs can have equally harmful indirect effects that usually begin to develop after days or weeks of exposure to them. These indirect, delayed effects are caused by the brain's attempt to overcome the original drug effect. In essence, by "fighting back" the brain creates its own problems. For example, when a person has been drinking, the brain becomes more excited or energetic in order to overcome the effects of the alcohol. If an alcoholic suddenly stops drinking, he or she can go into a state of withdrawal involving agitation, anxiety, tremors, and, in extreme cases, psychosis and seizures. Again, many psychiatric drugs produce similar withdrawal effects.
All psychiatric drugs produce both direct and indirect adverse effects. This chapter focuses on the direct effects, whereas Chapter 9 concentrates on the indirect effects that often manifest themselves between doses or during and after withdrawal.
Dangers of Psychiatric Drugs
The use of psychiatric drugs, especially stimulants for children and antidepressants for all age groups, has been escalating in recent years. 2 At
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Publication information: Book title: Your Drug May Be Your Problem:How and Why to Stop Taking Psychiatric Drugs. Contributors: Peter R. Breggin - Author, David Cohen - Author. Publisher: Perseus. Place of publication: Cambridge, MA. Publication year: 2000. Page number: 59.