Patients Complain about Antipsychotic Medications Inducing “Zombie-like” State

Rob Wipond
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People who take antipsychotic medications experience a wide range of side effects, many of which have “major disruptive impact on their lives,” according to research in the Journal of Mental Health Nursing. The most common complaint was of a “zombie-like” sedation.

The Australian researchers conducted semistructured interviews with 10 people who were taking antipsychotic medications. “Each participant reported between six and seven side-effects on average, which were often pronounced and had a major disruptive impact on their lives,” stated the researchers. “Of these effects, the most commonly mentioned was sedation, which the participants described as leaving them in a ‘zombie’-like state. Most participants expressed an attitude of acceptance about the side-effects.”

“People using antipsychotic medications experience adverse side-effects that reach into their physical, social and emotional lives, and cause a level of fear and suffering that is difficult for anyone else to fully comprehend,” lead researcher Paul Morrison was quoted saying in MedicalXpress.

He also said that a “culture of hopelessness” seemed to be common, where the patients had come to accept common side effects such as severe motor dysfunction, agitation and restlessness, weight gain, sleep disturbances, sexual dysfunction, constipation and dizziness.

“The issue here is the extent to which people with a mental illness have been conditioned into accepting the disabling effects of psychotropic medications without protest,” Morrison said. “The ability of mental health staff to forestall protest arises from the guilt communities thrust upon the sufferer. Without this guilt and shame, would mental health consumers and their loved ones be so ready to accept that a life of zombie-like consciousness and physical discomfort is preferable to hearing voices, or would they be demanding more intensive efforts to develop ‘cleaner’ medications?”

Antipsychotic meds prompt zombie-like state among patients (MedicalXpress, February 5, 2015)

Morrison, Paul, Tom Meehan, and Norman Jay Stomski. “Living with Antipsychotic Medication Side-Effects: The Experience of Australian Mental Health Consumers.” International Journal of Mental Health Nursing, January 1, 2015, n/a – n/a. doi:10.1111/inm.12110. (Abstract)

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Rob Wipond
Rob Wipond is a Victoria, British Columbia-based freelance journalist who has been writing on mental health issues for fifteen years. His research has particularly focused on the interfaces between psychiatry, the justice system, and civil rights. His articles have been nominated for three Canadian National Magazine Awards, six Western Magazine Awards, and four Jack Webster Awards for journalism. He can be contacted through his website.

26 COMMENTS

  1. What this writer doesn’t seem to understand about the doctors coercing and forcing antipsychotics onto other human beings is that the doctors create anticholinergic intoxication with their neuroloptics,(“anticholinergic intoxication syndrome … Central symptoms may include memory loss, disorientation, incoherence, hallucinations, psychosis, delirium, hyperactivity, twitching or jerking movements, stereotypy, and seizures.”) Being made psychotic is, of course, frightening for the patient. And as the doctors make the patient ungodly ill, they are lying to the patient and her family claiming the adverse effects of the neuroleptics are the “lifelong, incurable, genetic mental illness.”

    And each time the patient tells the doctor the drugs are making her sick, the psychiatrist ups the drugs, or adds to the drug cocktail, or switches the drugs. Complaining about the drugs only makes matters worse. But the reason the patients can’t just go off the drugs is because it well known that it is unsafe to get off these meds without medical supervision.

    • I totally agree with what Someone Else. I repeatedly told my psychiatrist I was experiencing unusual feelings, thoughts and behaviors when he started poly drugging and yes you’re right all he did was up the dosages or change what kind of psychiatric drugs I was on. I got stuck on a horrible Merry-Go-Round not knowing how to get off. The prescribing psychiatrist kept telling me I was persistently mentally ill and the only chance for me to get better would take these drugs. Most of us are taught to believe what the doctor tells us and we have no idea how we seem to others when we’re on these drugs. To list the severe physical effects caused by the toxic drugs would take several paragraphs. When I successfully became psychiatric drug free all the disabling toxic side effects went away. As many of the members on this forum have learned their psychiatrist was wrong wrong wrong wrong and it cost them dearly.

  2. “The issue here is the extent to which people with a mental illness have been conditioned into accepting the disabling effects of psychotropic medications without protest”

    It goes like this, “take these pills or we will assault you with a needle.” That threat is usually combined with a threat of lockup in the state hospital.

    Why did they leave that part out of the article ?

    Ryan is a resident of Australia who survived 14-months of an incredible type of involuntary psychiatric drugging: Forced home drugging.

    Here is the video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JkdaUWeausg

  3. This “zombie” word in describing neuroleptic drugs is interesting. I have it in my records that “patient had problems describing his emotional states”, and soon in my “treatment plans” that I was feeling like a zombie. At that time, I had not read basically any sources from “anti-psychiatry” or “critical psychiatry”, or even good critical accounts from “service users”. I think I had kind of invented that word by myself. Later on I noticed there were lots of other persons describing the state of mind in the same manner.

  4. Amazing that something like this would be considered research. Every doctor that has ever prescribed those drugs has heard thousands upon thousands of complaints of the drugs turning patients into “zombies”, so much so that reading something like this in a scientific journal must be akin to opening up a scientific journal in the year 2015 and reading about how the Earth just happens to be round after all.

    This happens all the time though. Probably a third of all of the stuff I come across makes me scratch my head and wonder… if I knew this stuff back when I was a little kid, but the doctors didn’t/still don’t… then by what twisted logic and rationalizations can they be considered qualified… to do anything to another human being!?!?

  5. “Zombie” is exactly the word I always use to describe it. Just to shake it up a little now and then, I sometimes use the expression “brain dead”, or I might compare it to being in solitary confinement for a few years: a kind of mental and social jail cell where you can’t really think, feel, or relate to anyone around you. Lately, I’ve been seeing this guy at the gym, and you can spot it right away: the weight gain, the dead staring eyes and expressionless face, the slow shuffling steps. I say this not to shame anyone for their appearance, but because that was me for a few years, and once you’ve seen it in the mirror for a while, you can spot it immediately. The guy is so doped up that it’s like broadcasting to everyone around him that something is wrong, and everyone acts accordingly — the same way I was treated for years — which is to ignore him completely. Being in that state essentially enacts a social death on top of the internal death you’re already being subjected to, at least if it’s as bad for you as it was for me and lots of other people I see, and now when I see him I can’t help thinking that he’s been buried alive. He’s been buried alive, and no one is listening, because he probably doesn’t even realize that he should be screaming his lungs out. And if he did, how many people would actually listen to him? Or would they just tell him these are “side effects” that he needs to get used to? Side effects, they call them — as if reducing him to this state wasn’t the whole point. They can’t fix you, but they sure can keep you quiet and manageable, and that works out great for a who doesn’t want to feel uncomfortable or inconvenienced by the ugliness of your struggle while you’re working things out.

    Jeffrey, I’m going to quote you some day. The amazing way our experience is disregarded — that our point of view is almost always invalidated and disregarded, whether it’s viewing any concerns we might raise as a “lack of insight” or “non-compliance”, regardless of how legitimate it would be coming out of anyone else’s mouth in any other circumstance, or the way our point of view is deliberately excluded from the profession by quietly keeping us out, when in any other circumstance someone who’s actually dealt with a problem themselves (diabetes, sports injuries, cancer . . . anything at all) is considered a valuable resource — all of that speaks volumes about how the psychiatric profession really works and what its priorities are. It seems that it’s only when one of their own finally points out the elephant in the room that it’s considered legit, and as outrageous as it may be that this report even needed to appear, maybe we’ve got an ally out there — someone in the profession who’s willing to go through the motions of dressing it all up as a study in order to get our point of view out there. It’s easy to forget that a few of them still have functioning consciences, that they’re appalled at what they’re seeing, that it was psychiatrists like Szasz and Laing who got the conversation moving, or that there are some of them out there now who want to change how it works, but you see signs of it now and then. I figure any psychiatrist who dares to write for this site has to have a lot of guts and integrity to run the risk of being excluded by the rest of their own profession, taking a chance with whether they’ll be able to hold onto a job while expressing their doubts or their opposition — the same kind of courage and integrity that it takes for a cop or a member of the maffia who dares to come clean about what’s really going on — and I have to give the people who put this article out there some kudos.

    • ” I say this not to shame anyone for their appearance, but because that was me for a few years, and once you’ve seen it in the mirror for a while, you can spot it immediately. ”

      I know exactly what you mean. A dead, expressionless face…

      “I figure any psychiatrist who dares to write for this site has to have a lot of guts and integrity to run the risk of being excluded by the rest of their own profession, taking a chance with whether they’ll be able to hold onto a job while expressing their doubts or their opposition — the same kind of courage and integrity that it takes for a cop or a member of the maffia who dares to come clean about what’s really going on — and I have to give the people who put this article out there some kudos.”

      But this is exactly why I feel like everyone has been going about this all wrong. With the scientific evidence on our side, the efforts should be to bring criminal charges against psychiatry, much like the Nerumberg trials that Whitaker wrote about in his first book. It can be PROVEN, regardless of public or professional opinion, that what they’re doing is an atrocity… including damaging millions of childrens brains for the sake of behavioral control! That would absolutely NEVER be allowed once proven. While I don’t necessarily advocate for corporal punishment; could you imagine if spankings caused tardive dyskinesia, and what would happen to parents who spank if they did?

      • Eric and Jeff, I agree with you both. And my recollection, I think from Mad in America, was that Whitaker pointed out that the US psychiatric industry itself stated in the 1970’s that the use of neuroleptics was inappropriate by the Russian government for use in the Russian dissidents. But the US psychiatric industry today believes it’s appropriate to use neuroleptic torture if a person has concerns, with medical evidence, of the abuse of their child or proof of easily recognized iatrogenesis. And, it seems, if they disagree with the takeover of our formerly competitive market economy by the oligopolistic corporations.

  6. Zombified…that is what I was on neuroleptics. Everyone but the psychiatrist seemed to know I was drugged out of my mind. To this day I can’t fathom any psychiatrist prescribing drugs that completely change a person’s personality, perception and have the nerve to say oh it’s due to them being mentally ill. When we did complain about toxic effects we’re ignored and given more drugs.

    • ” Everyone but the psychiatrist seemed to know I was drugged out of my mind…. and have the nerve to say oh it’s due to them being mentally ill. When we did complain about toxic effects we’re ignored and given more drugs.”

      That’s because the psychiatrist is a professional making lots of money (6-figures a year) and his entire career is dependent on prescribing those drugs. They are not blind at all to the reality of the harm they are causing. They are complicit, which is why the focus should be on prosecuting them, because no amount of evidence or arguments is going to cause them to flush their atrocity of a career down the toilet and go find other work. Nobody would turn their back on 160+ thousand dollars a year.