Psych drugs and brain injury, antipsychotics and brain shrinkage

Joanna Moncrieff revisits a very important issue…one of which has been discussed on Beyond Meds many times. I like to remind people that “antipsychotics” are really misnamed. They are a class of drugs called neuroleptics and quite often do not do anything at all to mitigate psychosis. They are major tranquilizers and neurotoxic drugs that harm and use should be minimized as much as possible.

Antipsychotics and brain shrinkage: an update

Evidence that antipsychotics cause brain shrinkage has been accumulating over the last few yearsbut the psychiatric research establishment is finding its own results difficult to swallow. A new paper by a group of American researchers once again tries to ‘blame the disease,’ a time honoured tactic for diverting attention from the nasty and dangerous effects of some psychiatric treatments. In 2011, these researchers, led by the former editor of the American Journal of Psychiatry, Nancy Andreasen, reported follow up data for their study of 211 patients diagnosed for the first time with an episode of ‘schizophrenia’. They found a strong correlation between the level of antipsychotic treatment someone had taken over the course of the follow up period, and the amount of shrinkage of brain matter as measured by repeated MRI scans. The group concluded that “antipsychotics have a subtle but measurable influence on brain tissue loss” (1). (read the rest)

Brain shrinkage or not, it’s clear that psych drugs, in general, can negatively impact the brain in numerous ways

More on Beyond Meds about psych drugs and brain injury of various kinds:

Don’t despair — we can heal: Neuroplasticity: enormous implications for anyone who has been labeled with a psychiatric illness

More posts that feature Joanna Moncrieff’s work

*it is potentially dangerous to come off medications without careful planning. Please be sure to be well educated before undertaking any sort of discontinuation of medications. If your MD agrees to help you do so, do not assume they know how to do it well even if they claim to have experience. They are generally not trained in discontinuation and may not know how to recognize withdrawal issues. A lot of withdrawal issues are misdiagnosed to be psychiatric problems. This is why it’s good to educate oneself and find a doctor who is willing to learn with you as your partner in care. Really all doctors should always be willing to do this as we are all individuals and need to be treated as such. See: Psychiatric drug withdrawal and protracted withdrawal syndrome round-up

It’s become clear to me that whenever it’s possible that it’s helpful for folks who’ve not begun withdrawal and have the time to consider a carefully thought out plan to attempt to bring greater well-being to your body before starting the withdrawal. That means learning how to profoundly nourish your body/mind and spirit prior to beginning a withdrawal. For suggestions on how to go about doing that check the drop-down menus on this blog for ideas. Anything that helps you learn how to live well can be part of your plan. That plan will look different for everyone as we learn to follow our hearts and find our own unique paths in the world. Things to begin considering are diet, exercise and movement, meditation/contemplation etc. Paying attention to all these things as you do them helps too. The body will start letting us know what it needs as we learn to pay attention.

For a multitude of ideas about how to create a life filled with safer alternatives to psychiatric drugs visit the drop-down menus at the top of this page or scroll down the homepage for more recent postings.

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About Monica Cassani

Author/Editor Beyond Meds: Everything Matters