Ruined by psychiatry, struggling to go on

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acetyl

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#1
I'll try not to let this be a long winded story, I'm more just desperately looking for some hope and advice.

I was a very high achiever and successful individual, graduated with first class honours and secured a high paying job in the financial services sector. Due to what is largely an internal struggle with self-worth and anxiety issues I saw a psychologist for a dozen sessions and when that provided no relief I was sent to a psychiatrist. He tried several antidepressants and when they failed to provide much relief changed the diagnosis to bipolar and prescribed lithium. Lithium started causing several side effects and so he started experimenting again to try and find a replacement. He determined that my fluctuating mood qualified as 'rapid cycling' and put me on the atypical antipsychotic asenapine (Saphris).
After 6 months of being on asenapine I noticed my memory was horrendous and my once highly analytical brain had been substantially slowed, additionally I had developed an essential tremor that was making it impossible to write. Accordingly I tried taking myself off the drug, unaware that I would experience withdrawals. Within 5-6 days I had crippling anxiety and complete insomnia, so I caved in and went back on the drug and the anxiety disappeared over the following 2 days.
I approached my psychiatrist about wanting to get off asenapine and he agreed that it obviously wasn't the drug for me and gave me a tapering schedule of a 25% reduction per week over 4 weeks. I followed this and experienced some minor anxiety whilst reducing the dose but nothing major. As soon as I ceased taking any of the drug however I once again got complete insomnia and after five days drug free the anxiety started to build and build and build till around day 14 when I was in a crisis state, literally clasping my head and screaming at my parents to make the pain stop. I literally cannot imagine a worse pain then the inescapable anxiety and constant panic waves that were sweeping through me that day, I honestly hoped my body would just give out on me and I'd have a heart attack and die. Unable to contain me, my parents admitted me to a hospital where I spent 5 days on a mix of benzodiazepines and low doses of zyprexa. The psychiatrist there gave me the option of going back on an anti-psychotic or trying a different type of antidepressant. I chose the anti-depressant option and was prescribed 100mg doxepin and allowed to go home.

The anxiety is still there but isn't at crisis point, however I'm worried that it is just being subdued by the zyprexa I had in the hospital and will ramp up again over the next few days. My brain feels like it has been turned to mush. I'm literally completely disabled, I can't think for myself or do anything more complicated then get dressed in the morning and have a shower. I have this constant heavy, dark brain fog that makes executing the simplest of tasks extremely difficult. I'm really not liking the doxepin, I feel spacey, dizzy and constantly lethargic.
I saw my psychiatrist again and he is of the opinion my symptoms can't possibly be withdrawal related as it has been almost 3 weeks since I stopped taking asenapine. He is viewing it as a new emergence of the bipolar disease. I never had anxiety this bad, never had insomnia or a tremor prior to treatment though and just can't accept that this is anything but withdrawal.

I feel like my life is ruined, in the space of a year I've gone from a highly intelligent, independent young man with some mental health issues that probably could've been dealt with by the right therapist, to being completely disabled and crippled by psychiatric medication. I've been off work for 3 weeks now and will likely lose my job, have had to withdraw from post-graduate studies, it just feels like I've lost everything. Without a functioning brain and free from this tremor it honestly doesn't feel like life is worth living.
 
Toasted Crumpet

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#2
Hi and welcome to the forum.

I'm really sorry you are experiencing this, it sounds horrendous and must be really frustrating for you.

Here is a link you might find useful from Mind, about how to tell the difference between withdrawal and becoming unwell

Mind - Withdrawal symptoms

I can relate to what you say about feeling your brain has turned to mush. It's difficult to know what the cause is. I found antipsychotics reduced my mental acuity but then I think my depression does this also and I'm never sure which is chicken and egg.

Can you get a second opinion off another doctor?

I think there is a section on this forum about help with coming off medication, there may be posts there that can help.
 
C

coraline166

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#3
Hi Acetyl, What you are experiencing is obviously horrifying and traumatic and makes me incredibly angry.

I have had experienced being essentially forced drugs whilst in hospital that put me through a new kind of hell and then being told that they were more symptoms of mental illness. I feel like my problems have been really complicated from having been given any drug the psychiatrist could think of since I was still a teenager.

They play mind games with you and take away your voice.

Your whole situation has obviously become really complicated and I am so sorry for what you've been put through. You should definitely get a second opinion.

I hope you get some more support and advice from people here- there is a lot of factual information available on this forum that will be able to guide you though this.
It really upsets me that your education and work have also been jeopardised.
I really think a second opinion is something you should fight for straight away.

I'll see if I can find any information that could help you with this and will get back to you, because I don't know enough to advise you with all these connected issues.

I'm sorry that my response is not ideal and if I've said anything unhelpful, but I had to reply and truely care about your situation.

Best Wishes, Liz

ADDITION: You might have already seen this but I found this link on the forum, that included further links to information on withdrawal etc

http:unsure:/www.mentalhealthforum.net/comingoffpsychiatricdrugs/information-on-coming-off-psychiatric-drugs/

I found this information on Rethink about getting a second opinion:

http:unsure:/www.rethink.org/living-with-mental-illness/rights-restrictions/second-opinions

If I find anything else that is relevant i'll let you know.
 
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Nicola398

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#4
Hello acetyl, It sounds to me like what you are going through now are the effects of withdrawal. It takes longer than three weeks to go through withdrawal.I don't want to alarm you but the effects of taking these psyche drugs can permanently affect your mental faculties. That and I would check your thyroid for its functioning as that is another thing that can affect your brain power, if you had hypothyroidism that would slow down brain abilities and make your mind go foggy.That may be the problem rather than mental illness.I had that problem, in my case I had mental illness to but in my case it was due to cannabis abuse.I think in your case you could have had a thyroid problem in the first place which ended up being misdiagnosed as mental illness.I think you should ask your GP for a thyroid test.NicolaX
 
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wellness

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#5
I'll try not to let this be a long winded story, I'm more just desperately looking for some hope and advice.

I feel like my life is ruined, in the space of a year I've gone from a highly intelligent, independent young man with some mental health issues that probably could've been dealt with by the right therapist, to being completely disabled and crippled by psychiatric medication. I've been off work for 3 weeks now and will likely lose my job, have had to withdraw from post-graduate studies, it just feels like I've lost everything. Without a functioning brain and free from this tremor it honestly doesn't feel like life is worth living.
Hi Acetyl,
I'm exactly like you a High achiever .. plagued with the diagnosis of Bipolar Disorder first and later the "Voices" popped out ... but I have managed the "Voice" sysmptom very well and NEVER allowed them to interfere and disrupt my career !! NOT a single iota ... infact I have not taken a single day off work sick expressly on account of the "Voices" though I might have taken so on account of the Flu !! ...
I have been documenting the way I have dealing with the "Voices" on this Forum ... when you get the time you can read through some of the Threads that I have started ...
Of particular interest would be this one -- http://www.mentalhealthforum.net/forum/thread78538.html Where I describe the activities of the "Voices" in relation to trying to disrupt my "Job Interviews" ... but they NEVER managed to have any impact !!
Another nice influential Thread that would provide you with insight is -- http://www.mentalhealthforum.net/forum/thread80026.html
And a next Thread that the jist of which is that You can live your life to the "fullest" despite the "Voices" is -- http://www.mentalhealthforum.net/forum/thread81465.html
Hope this Helps ..and you will be able to overcome the trouble you are having with the "Voices"...
Cheerio!!
 
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acetyl

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#6
Thanks for all the advice thus far. From reading the guides provided I think it's clear I came off the asenapine way too quickly (it was actually just under 3 weeks from reducing to taking none at all), and have been plagued by anxiety and poor sleep since. I've printed off some of the guidelines and armed with this am going to see my psychiatrist today about re-starting a much slower taper.
 
Toasted Crumpet

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#7
It can take a while for the drugs to leave your system and to feel yourself getting back to normal.

When I came off risperidone it took quite a few months to be able to perform basic self care again. I know this is a different drug but the prinicple may be the same.

I hope it goes ok with the psychiatrist today - let us know how it goes.x
 
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acetyl

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#8
That's a bit disconcerting about the length of time to recover from risperidone :(

The psychiatrist really wanted me to try another week of working through the anxiety, we discussed things like ways I could put structure back in to my day, ways I could not let my thoughts consume me etc. I actually left the session feeling pretty good and even did a light gym session last night.

I woke up in the night though with the anxiety back at excruciating levels, now today I'm having full blown panic attacks and feel like I'm going to die. I'm kicking myself now for not getting a script for asenapine. How I'm going to survive another week feeling like this is beyond me.
 
Toasted Crumpet

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#9
That's a bit disconcerting about the length of time to recover from risperidone :(

The psychiatrist really wanted me to try another week of working through the anxiety, we discussed things like ways I could put structure back in to my day, ways I could not let my thoughts consume me etc. I actually left the session feeling pretty good and even did a light gym session last night.

I woke up in the night though with the anxiety back at excruciating levels, now today I'm having full blown panic attacks and feel like I'm going to die. I'm kicking myself now for not getting a script for asenapine. How I'm going to survive another week feeling like this is beyond me.
I was on the depot and taken off it, I didn't taper the meds. It might be different for different meds and also different people react differently. I wasn't meaning to dishearten you when I said how long it took for me, just to give you a bit of hope that it can take a while but doesn't mean you will always feel as bad as you do currently.

I'm sorry about the panic attacks. Are you in the UK? If so there is this organisation that might be able to help:

No More Panic - Panic Attacks - what they are and how to cope with them

There's also a helpline for another organisation called No Panic: 0800 138 8889 (daily, 10am-10pm)

Their website appears to be undergoing construction.

Try and hang on in there, acetyl.
 
Kerome

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#10
Definitely a story to make you think carefully before allowing them to prescribe you any kind of psychiatric drugs. I'm convinced that for all but the really severe cases it does more harm than good.

I'm in much the same position - was highly analytical, gifted both creatively and mathematically, successful career behind me, but in my case a severe psychotic break rather than long standing symptoms that I sought help with. Now I'm on Risperidone, noticing decreased memory function and a few other side effects, but can't get off the drug because of withdrawal causing sleeplessness and eventually psychosis.

I don't have any answers I'm afraid :) all we can do is take it one step at a time
 
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acetyl

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#11
The pdoc is treating this as agitated depression, refusing to believe it could still be withdrawals and has me on valium and mirtazapine for the past week. I'm just feeling worse and worse, tolerance is developing to the valium and the pdoc just gave the all clear to my parents to bump up the daily dose. I'm slowly becoming a benzo addict and taking an antidepressant that is doing nothing but make me massively lethargic. Things are spiralling out of control and I have no way to stop it. If I can hold out long enough the pdoc will probably eventually put me on zyprexa or seroquel as well when the mirtazepine doesn't cure his 'diagnosis'. My parents are telling me to quit sourcing advice and evidence from forums and to just follow what the doc orders to the letter. This is insane, I'm going to become one of those zonked out zombies on half a dozen meds soon; this isn't fair, what did I do to deserve this in life :(
 
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#12
I'm sorry things don't seem to have improved for you. I mean no disrespect to your parents but sometimes the older generation can be very much inclined to accept the opinions of experts and not to questions things, my family were like that when I was on meds and suffering side effects etc, they just think the doctors know best.

Obviously I'm not an expert but if you feel the meds are causing the problems and want to come off them there are safe ways to do so.

You might find this book helpful, it gives advice on how to withdraw and how to tell the difference between returning symptoms and meds related effects such as withdrawal

Psychiatric Drug Facts with Dr. Peter Breggin - Your Drug May Be Your Problem

Also if your parents are concerned about you taking advice off people on forums, it could be worth you contacting an organisation such as Mind to get advice off them, just so your parents can understand your concerns have grounds, backed up by an "official" source.
 
Kerome

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#13
I found it quite hard to find a sympathetic doctor in the UK, one who was willing to consider that drugs do as much harm as good in the long term, and was knowledgeable about withdrawal symptoms and helping you through the process of stopping them. If you look specifically for a doctor who is good at this, you might find one and could get yourself transferred to his care. It might be easier if you could get your parents on board for that process. Mad in America has some good resources about the effects of psychiatric drugs which may help convince them.

But my experience is that the effects of changing dose in medication can take a month to six weeks to die down. It probably varies a bit from person to person, but withdrawal can take a long time to settle.

It's important to keep focus on your day to day life, rather than sitting and obsessing about the symptoms. Doing the latter can make things worse, as you get "carried away" into a whirl of stuff that the brain is generating. It's best to leave these things on the periphery of your thinking if you can.

Hope that helps :)
 
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chrissponias

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#14
You can have your life back if you will find the right natural treatment. This is not a simple matter, but there are good treatments.
 
|||ME|||

|||ME|||

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#15
Drug withdrawal can be horrendous, it's important to try and remain as calm as you can. Even in terrible cases things gradually improve over time.

Check out the links in my signature (see the beyond meds site for just how bad things can be and how much improvement can be made over time) and this post.

How are things now?
 
coldwater00

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#16
Hi acetyl,

I am so sorry what you are going through. It sounds ominously familiar. I understand the pain and the agony. I'm still going through a withdrawal syndrome from a drug cocktail I stopped 8 months ago. It was also similar for me in a sense where the pain I was going through was not attributed to withdrawal and was seen as a relapse. I am sure now that this was absolutely not the case and the drug in particular that caused the worst anxiety I have ever experienced I now know is one of the hardest drugs possible to withdraw from. However ALL psychiatric drugs cause dependance (physical, psychological, or both) and cause structural and chemical changes within the brain. That is a fact - so your psychiatrist attributing these "symptoms" to an underlying illness is talking unbelievable poppycock.

I am also wondering what the thinking was putting you on a tricyclic antidepressant when you are seen as having rapid cycling bipolar disorder. That in itself might be a valid starting point in seeking a second opinion on medication/diagnosis as that seems quite incongruous.

Do check out the links in ME's signature. Look after yourself, and I hope things improve soon.
 
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Audrey

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#17
Dear Acetyl. Thank you for your post. I have been looking on the internet since March 2013 to find information about experiences by others with Saphris (asenapine) - some have had bad reactions to this drug, but sadly your experience sounds similar to mine. I had a devastating experience with Saphris which began in November 2012 when I was referred by my doctor to a psychiatrist. I had a somewhat complicated medical history which included thyroid issues which had been rectified, a history of a mild stroke back in 1993, and a diagnosis of “depression”, which is more like severe exhaustion, and chronic fatigue. At the time I was 48. I had a full life of study and travel and my daughter was born in 1992, and I then became a mother who was raising a child, working and doing further study. I was diagnosed with “depression” in about 1999. I put myself through art school then law school and became a lawyer. I had tried many different antidepressants for around fourteen years, but on a low dose they sedate me and have other awful effects. Looking back I wish I had never started on any of this medication. Over the years, I had briefly seen a psychologist, another psychologist, a private psychiatrist for five appointments due to severe workplace stress combined with my medical history – he found nothing going on with me, then years later another psychologist. Then I was referred to the practice where the above psychiatrist works, who within one hour of talking to me and with a brief medical history, then placed me on Saphris of 5mg per night. She said I had complex post traumatic stress disorder. I was surprised at this diagnosis. I had never taken an antipsychotic before – Saphris is prescribed in Australia for someone with schizophrenia or bipolar 1 disorder – I am neither, but she said it is also prescribed for PTSD. Saphris was approved here in 2011, so there is not much knowledge about it. I think it was only put on the market in the USA in 2009. I had a severe reaction to commencing the drug even on this dose (I think the maximum dose is 10mg twice per day for people who have been given a diagnosis of schizophrenia and bipolar 1 disorder, I was being given it for PTSD), of breathing difficulties over about a week, the psychiatrist told me to persevere over the telephone. On some nights I felt like I was going to suffocate, and once I really thought I should go to Emergency at a hospital. I never should have persevered, but I am good at enduring things. My daughter remembers my severe reaction. These symptoms gradually subsided and then two weeks later the dose was increased to 10mg per evening. I was not taking any psychiatric drugs when I began to see her and was only taking Oroxine for thyroid. I did not have a history of anything such as psychotic episodes or any other “mental health disorder”, perhaps I was anxious, but I always saw this as just being “stressed out” with all my responsibilities. Two weeks later I was placed on Pristiq of 50mg with a plan to increase it to 200mg, which I did not know about. (I had forgotten I had already tried Pristiq of 50mg earlier in 2012 with no effect). With both Saphris and Pristiq I seemed to have more energy at first and did a lot of gardening at the unit complex where I live. Two weeks after the dose of Pristiq commenced it was increased to 100mg. I’m not sure if it was the Saphris or this dosage of Pristiq or the combination of them both, but I began to feel a bit odd. The details of which I won’t include here, but I was still functioning and leading a normal life. The psychiatrist increased the dose to 200mg, and did not give me very clear instructions on how to increase it. I went from 100mg to 200mg, which caused severe sedation. My feeling of oddness continued. I then went to see her and found out I was supposed to have gone from 100mg to 150mg to 200mg. She was providing me with both the Saphris and the Pristiq from her cabinet. It’s not ‘rocket science’ taking medications, but for some reason I felt her instructions to increase doses like this might be based on the combination and interaction of the two medications, but it was less complicated than that. At that appointment I was put down to Pristiq 100mg. All the changes in dosages were making me feel very sedated and off balance. She went on Christmas holidays for a month, so I went to my doctors of twelve years and got a prescription for Pristiq of 50mg. So in early January 2013 I was then taking Saphris 10mg and Pristiq 50mg. When the psychiatrist returned I had an appointment and I told her that I didn’t like what Saphris was doing to me. It really knocked me out when I took it in the evening, and I slept so deeply it was like being put under a general anaesthetic every night. The psychiatrist dismissed this as the way people usually sleep when they don’t have PTSD. I was also feeling odd and fearful. At this appointment I asked her how I should go off Saphris and she said, “Just stop taking it and it will be out of your system in three days”. At the same appointment I said I didn’t like Pristiq and so it was changed to Cymbalta 50mg. So that night I didn’t take Saphris. I had been taking it for eleven weeks and the Pristiq for nine weeks. I started the Cymbalta I believe. After three days and on the fourth day I felt my chest starting to pound. It got worse and worse and I started ruminating about details of my personal life, and worrying about mundane affairs. Worries based on reality, but then I would take these worries to the extreme of what might happen negatively. I cannot explain in words how bad I felt, physically. On the second night I hardly slept at all. After three days of a pounding heart, worse than anything I have ever experienced in my life, I believed I was going to have a heart attack and die, in fact I thought I might have to die to get away from the pain. I was eating very little because I felt so nauseous. I was in a state. I was taken voluntarily by ambulance to hospital with my daughter. I do not have private health cover so I had to use the public health system. My nightmare continued. I spent hours trying to get some treatment for the pain and because I was not getting emergency assistance I wanted to leave and go to another hospital nearby. Instead of the hospital listening to me and my claims that I had been instructed to cease Saphris, and that I was probably having some sort of withdrawal, they detained me, quizzed me about my personal life and my medical history, and then after twelve hours I was transferred to a second public hospital, and found myself in a ward of a mental health centre for the first time in my life. I couldn’t believe it. Because I had said that I felt like I was going to die etc I was then considered as someone with risks of self harm/suicide. I do not have a history of self harm or attempt to suicide. I was in the worst pain of my life, I could barely stand up, but I had to compose myself to communicate with them. The second hospital again ignored my claims. Misinformation, incorrect information and omissions were passed from hospital to hospital, from psychologist to psychiatrist to psychiatric registrar to nurse, and back again. I was treated as a person with a mental illness who “lacked insight”. I was told I was having an episode of Major Depressive Disorder and I was probably psychotic, even though I know I was not psychotic and never have been. I could not believe I was not getting medical assistance. The intense waves of chest pains and pounding continued for many days. The Cymbalta was increased to 60mg which I cannot tolerate, I was sedated with Lorazepam and Valium, and given further antipsychotics. I did not “make progress” with my “recovery” even though I told them that it was the medication and the environment that was making me worse. I was then given Lithium which made me feel even worse and made me tremble and gave me hot flushes. My medical history includes that my father may have been bipolar, but this is uncertain. I was told that I was probably bipolar and psychotic and was probably about to become “manic”, when I refused such a diagnosis it was noted that I had a resistance to such a diagnoses and therefore presumed that I did not want the diagnosis because of social stigma and because of my father. It was all unbelievable. I clashed with my treating consultant psychiatrist and she retaliated. I am simply not bipolar. I was then given three violating treatments of ECT against my will. There was a plan to give me twelve. The ECT did nothing except make me feel worse. I then left the hospital. I’m not sure now if what I am feeling is an ongoing reaction to Saphris and the damage it may have done, or being given ECT when I had had a stroke, all the other medications etc or all of these combined. Some say the feelings of withdrawal from psychiatric mediations can take a long time. I really don’t know what the effects of the Saphris were after the major withdrawal was over about a month earlier. It was about seven to ten days of withdrawal hell and then further hell at the hand of the hospital. I think when you go through such pain and trauma it can stay with you and you have to heal bit by bit. I was reduced to someone unrecognisable to my daughter, family and friends. The nightmare lasted for three and a half months – six months if I include the incompetent psychiatrist. Everyone who knows me, and my GP know what a nightmare I was put through. When my GP found out what was happening she marched up to the hospital and spoke with the Clinical Director. I was being kept on an involuntary treatment order, community, and was forced to keep taking the lithium, when I did not satisfy the legal criteria to be held under such an order. It is quite a long story and I have decided after making complaints to the hospital without results that I will continue to make complaints externally. So I will not discuss the details of this now. When I left the hospital March 2013 I was taking Cymbalta 60/90mg, lithium. When I filed in the Mental Health Court my involuntary treatment order, community, was revoked by the hospital on 9 March 2013, just sixteen days after I filed. I then went off lithium and was able to handwrite again. I then went off Cymbalta. I am now back to where I started before I saw the first incompetent psychiatrist and only taking Oroxine for thyroid. I am still not psychotic, manic or bipolar. I am now trying to deal with the trauma of what I was put through by this hospital. I am very upset about what I saw in the hospital and finding out how those with “mental health disorders” are treated. I was patronised, bullied and treated without respect. I was left so sedated I missed meals and lost weight. I will not take any more psychotropic medications ever again and will never have another appointment with a psychologist or psychiatrist again. I hope to heal bit by bit and get on with my life. I wish you all the best. I hope you will find a way to heal and put this behind you and go and have a great life. Best wishes to your parents.
 
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Nicola398

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#18
Audrey this is a horrific way to be treated by the hospital.Unfortunately some psychiatrist just make things up and diagnose and dish out pills without really knowing what the patient is going through.They often refuse to listen when we complain that the medications do not help but make things worse.You should not have been violated in this way neither by the psychiatrist or the hospital.I hope you are going to take legal action against the hospital.In my opinion your problems were probably causes by your thyroid issues,though I am not a doctor I have thyroid issues and was told by a doctor that this has psychiatric implications,certainly it can cause depression.It makes me mad also that any mention of mental illness in the family and they automatically assume you have got it too.I wish you a complete recovery Audrey and I am sorry to hear your terrible experiences at the hands of the medical staff.I am in the UK and it can be just as bad over here.Best wishes.NicolaX
 
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Audrey

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#19
Thank you very much Nicola. I am over here in Brisbane, Queensland, Australia. I'm writing accounts of my ordeal and working towards the next steps. It is very difficult to go over the details of the experience without retraumatizing myself, but I will soldier on. I have to, it's the only way I am ever going to resolve this - making complaints and speaking out... I have received copies of my medical records through Right to Information access. There was no independent monitoring of patients in the hospital although some of the nurses were very helpful and could see what was going on. I was left powerless. But now I am not! I think patients should keep a diary of their admissions, to document each day and events and how they are treated. Watch this space. :)
 
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Audrey

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#20
I've just found the Australian Government Department of Health - Database of Adverse Event Notifications - medicines.
If you search it from 2011 when Saphris became available in Australia until now then you will find that there are 76 reports of adverse events to this medication. You can print them out. Psychiatrists should know this information and if the don't then they ought to know and are therefore responsible. You can print out a copy of the list and take it with you. Please take a look. Events cover just about everything - withdrawal syndrome, panic attacks, obsessive rumination!
Database of Adverse Event Notifications (DAEN)