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)