ON MENTAL ILLNESS: Antipsychotic Meds Marketed to Treat Depression

Jack Bragen
Saturday February 02, 2019 - 04:27:00 PM

New medications are continually invented and are sold under fancy names. Our government requires that drug advertisements disclose some of the possible side effects of the drugs being sold. These disclosures should be taken seriously.

Antipsychotics to treat depression could be done under the premise that the depression is created by too many negative thoughts. If you reduce a person's number of thoughts by fifty percent with an antipsychotic drug, it could decrease the number of negative, or pain-inducing thoughts by the same percentage. Thus, if a person's depression is caused by excessive pessimistic, self-hating, fearful, or upsetting thoughts, reducing the number of overall thoughts could reduce depression. This does not necessarily happen in a linear manner. 

I don't know for certain that the above paragraph represents the ideas of the pharmaceutical companies and/or doctors when they promote an antipsychotic to treat depression. From what I've read, doctors do not really know the mechanisms by which antipsychotics appear to help with depression. 

When I hear the disclosures of possible side effects of the medications being marketed, I can conclude through my knowledge base and experience that some of these drugs with newfangled names, in advertisements I see, are probably in the same class of substances as "second-generation antipsychotics." 

Any drug can have any name. For example, Bupropion is called "Zyban" when it is promoted as a stop smoking aid. The same substance is called Wellbutrin when it is used to treat depression. I am not familiar with the exact regulations pertaining to the naming of drugs. However, I've taken numerous substances that were sold under different names at different times. (Bupropion, to clarify, is not an antipsychotic.) 

You might wonder why I mention drug names and variations on drugs. I speculate that the pharma industry is doing a bait and switch in their marketing. If a depressed person realizes that the great new treatment for depression is the same old antipsychotic that they have despised in the past, they could be reluctant to buy. 

Antipsychotics are central nervous system depressants. They decrease a person's capabilities. Therefore, you could feel less emotional pain because the load of pain-inducing thoughts is decreased. However, your level of functioning at many things could be impaired. 

Mindfulness techniques are sometimes an alternative to medication, for depression and other problems that affect the emotions. However, if the problem is severe enough that it is debilitating, and/or if your symptoms are worsening, an MD psychiatrist should be consulted. 

On the other hand, if you are miserable but still able to function, and if you do not have thoughts of harming yourself or someone else, mindfulness methods could be explored rather than instantly going to psychiatry. If the mindfulness doesn't work well enough, at least you've tried it. 

I find that as a person with severe, paranoid schizophrenia, and in treatment for that, depression is an element of my life that is sometimes unavoidable. What I try to do, among other things, is to have some separation between emotions and perceptions. 

This means that when my emotions are generating depression, I am aware that my body and mind are depressed, but my consciousness has some insulation from that. This ability stems from the fact that I have practiced mindfulness for most of the thirty-five years plus of adulthood, following the time I became mentally ill. 

Meditation combined with medication works for me. If you do not feel able to go somewhere that meditation is taught, or if you are not comfortable with the idea, you could read books on the subject. 

Insofar as antipsychotics used to treat depression, you are not always being shortchanged. In my past, when I was in my twenties, I found that an increase in my antipsychotics alleviated my depression. 

Drug companies could be "pulling a fast one" on us, or perhaps doctors are just trying to do something that might work. 


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