Fighting the fog of Mental Illness


In this special report for the Journal Sentinel, Meg Kissinger tells the story of Amanda Farrell, a woman labeled severely mentally ill who eventually recovered and now serves as a peer specialist. Kissinger discusses the role that overmedication played in the decline of Farrell’s mental health.

“Many days, Farrell could barely think straight.

‘It felt like someone was taking my brain and squishing it out like a washcloth,” she said. “I was a zombie.’

Doctors and family members often agonize when people with serious mental illness won’t take their medication, putting themselves and others at risk. Little attention is paid to a common and equally dangerous problem: those who are given too much medication.

Treatment guidelines warn doctors not to prescribe more than one antipsychotic at a time. Farrell’s medical records show that she often was on two antipsychotics in combination with three other psychiatric drugs for anxiety and depression.”

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