I was inspired to write about this after reading this excellent article on the bbc which discusses some of the short and long term problems with taking anti psychotic medication. As if someone suffering from psychosis didn't have enough problems as it was fitting in with society, add side effects such as weight gain, trembling, dribbling, diabetes, blood clots and the risk of cardiovascular disease into the mix...and life is not going to be easy. These side effects can worsen the longer an individual is medicated, and medication may be for life.
And this is on top of the effects of the illness itself!
Of course, not taking the medication is not a great option either. In fact its probably not an option at all! But for someone suffering form these side effects, it must be very tempting to stop taking it when the medication is "working" in that you are not sick, but instead are suffering more from the side effects of the medication itself.
The risk is then a relapse with the illness itself...
A couple of articles I have read about mortality rates in mentally ill people make shocking reading: Life expectancy is 15-22% less than that of a "healthy" person. It seemed 2 big factors causing this were: suicide...and lifestyle. The latter being bad diet, lack of exercise, and problems with addiction.
Whilst I absolutely believe that medication is an essential part of mental health treatment, I just don't think it should form the only treatment as is so often the case. So helping to treat a mentally ill person also needs to focus on keeping them healthy.
Finally, I hope anyone facing this challenge experiences such a positive an outcome as this guy in Sydney, who, as part of an Australian program for early intervention, used surfing and more holistic approach to treatment to shed 20kg of weight gained from anti psychotic medication.
And I see in the latest rethink newsletter a focus on early intervention as well, especially with school aged people in Britain.
3 Weeks to go...
I've got 3 weeks left before my own LEJOG challenge starts, and a BIG thank you to everyone who has donated towards rethink and the Dom Pardy Trust. Over the next 3 weeks I'll be finalizing my route and riding my last few training rides...