And a question: medications

Oh, and this was bothering me earlier:  are Americans on a lot more medication that the rest of the world?  The answer is most likely yes (privatised healthcare et al) but I thought I’d ask for personal experiences to see for myself.  When I’ve peeked at mentalist forums, which often have signatures that share diagnosis and medication- the Americans seem to be on a fuckload of pills that I’ve never heard of but that if I didn’t know the context, I’d swear were the Latin names for plants.

So, out of curiousity…(and by prescribed, I mean currently, not in total)…

Included Canada because, although I know their healthcare is different,
though they still have a ton of medical billing people and nurses, I
wondered if it had a similar attitude.

If you’re taking more than 4, why?  I don’t mean that in a howling OH MY GOD WHY way, but what were they prescribed for? I know with things like manic depression you can get a mood stabiliser, antipsychotic and antidepressant, so there’s three already (that’s the most I’ve been on at any one time and it felt like far too much).

Thanks, I’m just curious!

63 Responses

  1. Just wondering why you included Canada. My understanding is that they have almost the opposite healthcare system to the US/

  2. Im on 4 (maybe 5, the jury is still out)

    Lithium- to bring down the manias
    Lamictal- to deal with the depressions
    Zyprexa- For the psychosis and also for sleep
    Abilify- for psychosis, and to counter the hangover from Zyprexa.

    Im also supposed to be on a thyroid medication for weightloss and to help with the more intractable depressions, but it (to be blunt) causes “intestinal distress” so im not sure if im going to continue with it.

    I also take a buttload of supplements to help with moods, memory etc. If you shake me, i sound like maracas.

  3. I have bipolar and ADD so a mood stabilizer, anti-depressant (well two), and ritalin. Anyone who’s tried to get into a new psychiatrist can tell you the answer. Americans pop pills whether they have a legitimate mental health issue or not.

    • I completely agree that Americans pill pop regardless of an actual mental health issue.
      After having a baby I was offered anti-depressants because I was feeling overwhelmed-not depressed overwhelmed. What was even scarier is that I had a history of reacting terribly to anti-depressants and was on a variety of medications and she (my Obstetrician) said that I really should consider anti-depressants.
      There are many other women I know that have ended up on many drugs for no reason other than a bit of the baby blues.

  4. I totally lied i said 2, overall I’ve tried 3, but am taking 2 right now…

    I live in Canada and had a brief conversation about this with my psychiatrist b/c the doctor who was treating me in the bin wanted to try more medications on me -which I refused– when I asked her why he was so keen and pushy about this she said he was trained in America and in general in America they’re more inclined to just throw meds at the problem and see what happens instead of being I guess more wary or if you look at it a different way more time consuming going up little by little and seeing what happens etc.

  5. Very interesting.

    • Although… I assumed the question is “how many you’ve had prescribed at a specific time?” Because if so, the answer is 3 at the time. It was two antidepresants and a mood stabilizer. Later the other psychiatrist said it was a mistake for the first psychiatrist to have me on two antidepressants that would do the same thing on their own.

      Or is the question… “how many you’ve EVER been prescribed” Because then… the answer is… I don’t remember.

  6. I’m an American, and thankfully I’m only on Lamictal, with Xanax as a PRN medication. I’ve only been taking medication in one form or another for 4 years, and for the most part it’s been monotherapy.

    A close Canadian friend of mine was on a disgustingly extreme regimen of Lamictal, Wellbutrin, Adderall XR, Zopiclone, Lithium, and Klonopin. The even scarier part is that she was only being treated for cyclothymia (as far as I knew), and her doctor was located in a different city than the one she lived in. I think he had just reached the point where he was prescribing medications to treat the side effects of the other medications, and because of that, my friend could barely function. The fact that it was all a long-distance (doctor-patient) relationship probably didn’t help anything.

    I remember a time where he sent her 4 different sleep aids, ranging from benzos to Seroquel, each filled for the full month’s worth of pills. He wanted her to try them all out to see what was the most effective. I don’t know what she ultimately chose, but if she had wanted to off herself instead of sleep, it would have been really easy. Eventually she started abusing some of the drugs that he was constantly prescribing, seemingly because there was just never a shortage and never any questions asked. I will never get over how ridiculously reckless that asshole was…

    Obviously, that’s a really extreme case, and I’ve never heard of anything else like it. A lot of doctors are apprehensive about prescribing any medication, and a lot are quite comfortable with the idea. It really just comes down to the individual, I think.

  7. I am in the U.S. and am on Lithium for antipsychotic, Lamictal for a mood stabilizer, Seroquel to help me sleep since all other sleep meds don’t work well for me and it also helps for anxiety some. Klonopin for anxiety and if I get a panic attack I have Ativan, but this is mostly an as needed med.

    My little sister is also bipolar and she is on 9 medications. I can’t for the life of me remember all of them or why she is on them.
    I think the US is much more likely to put people on medication in general and it seems that they think they can treat every little symptom with a medication.

    However, more and more doctors are moving towards minimalism. Mine hates that I am on so many and wants to find a way for it to be less.

    • I meant to reply to your post but somehow it was further down. I always thought Lithium was a mood stablizer. Is it actually classed as anti pyschotic? I tried looking on a few sites but couldn’t come across anything.

  8. I think you should also look at the doses people are on.

    This is a very interesting topic.

  9. Wow, I feel left out that I am only on Effexor and Ambien (for the sleep). Although I suspect an adjustment is on the way, due to the Effexor making my teeth feel like they’re vibrating and the disturbingly nightmarish dreams I am having. I think there is a tendency to quickly medicate MH patients here in the states as a way of plugging the leak. Too often a Pdoc will grab a prescription pad at your initial meeting, which is unsettling because how can you adequately diagnose someone in the first hour session.

  10. I take 5 pysch meds
    Venlafaxine anti depressant
    Lamotrigine (not sure on spelling) Mood Stablizer
    Ziprasidone anti psychotic
    Lorazapam for anxiety
    Zopicolone to help sleep although that one is only PRN
    There for Bipolar 2 and to help with the paranoia in Paranoid personality disorder.

    Alot I know. but I am coming off the venlafaxine slowly.

  11. I thought Lithium was a moodstablizer. Is it actually classed as an anti psychotic but has mood stablizing effect that people use it for that.

  12. I’ve noticed this a lot even on a general level for all physical conditions – I never take any regular medication for anything – I have relatively healthy US friends who have at least two regular prescriptions – the ones with a few problems are on so many meds (plus attendant vitamins and supplements) of the level I would associate with someone my grandmother’s age. It seems to be a major cultural difference – pharmacy companies are also allowed to advertise over there as well – people are very clued up on what’s available and the companies that make them.

  13. Let’s see, the most I was ever on at once was 8 – I remember fixing that factoid in my head, but I’m not sure if I can remember them all. It came out to something like 20 pills a day, since a lot of them were multiple times a day.

    I was also cycled through them incredibly fast at that point, because I kept having such horrid reactions to the antidepressants.

    Lithium – for mood stabilization
    Propranolol – to mitigate the tremors the lithium caused
    Ambien – for sleep
    Geodon – for psychosis
    Effexor – for depression (I cycled through a bunch in this slot)
    Ativan – for panic attacks
    …and I can’t remember which others. It was a long time ago, the “take every psych med in existence at the same time” approach was highly unsuccessful.

  14. The answer is yes – many doctors in the US prescribe fuckloads of meds – scripts of 2 anti-psychotics for 8-year-olds is not uncommon.

    Reasons are threefold in my view:
    – doctors in the US typically work alone out of a clinic, usually without access to a CMHT type team, so pills are the only thing they have. No CPNs, no OTs, no CBT therapists. If the patient chooses to find a therapist, they generally do so independently of the doc and the doc does not get any money as a result. So, there is a tendency to just keep throwing pills at the person instead of referring them.
    – docs are free to prescribe whatever they choose and drug company lobbying is more intense. No-one is going to stop them, other than insurance companies who insist that to prescribe pill Y, diagnosis X must happen. This, coupled with the fact that a lot of psychiatrists are bad doctors, leads to tons of pills.
    – No cost incentive to keep the cost of scripts down.

  15. I read an article about how American pyschiatrists have created conditions in order to increase business and perscribe medication. I should look for it and post a link. It’s a scary read. But back to topic:

    It isn’t only about how much is being perscribed, but also what is being perscribed. I am bipolar and my US doctor put me on a combination of anti-depressants with no counter measure. Later I discovered that one of them – Effexor I believe it was – was known to kick-start manics. It did. At the end of the worst manic episode to date, I had lost everything: my 20 year marriage, the love of two step-daughters, my career, my home, my possessions. All of it gone. A new doctor perscribed Lithium and Lamictal, which brought me down to Earth – but it was a barn door/horse thing. I became sane to an empty world.

    Now I live in the UK and have to deal with a terrible mental health system with a hands-off psychiatrist who doesn’t take me seriously. He put me on Depakote, which didn’t work and caused horrible side-effects. When I told him I wasn’t handling the drug well, he upped my dose. For my 2 stone weight gain, he perscribed “eating celery”. The rest of the side-effects (and there were a few), he dismissed. But he only sees me once every 3 – 6 months; which simply isn’t enough considering my function level right now.

    Anyway, as a result of that, I am flying medication -free; which is threatening what I have in place now re: ‘life sort of thing’ (couldn’t call it a life really). My partner wants me back on Lithium and Lamictal (because it worked well) but no one here will cooperate by perscribing it.

  16. Seroquel & Pristiq. Originally I was on Pristiq alone but as it turned out I needed something else. My psychiatrist has a very minimalistic approach to medication, which pleases me as I already take enough medications and I don’t need more variables flung into the mix. I’ve never been on more than 2 psychiatric medications at the same time.

    My partner has said she doesn’t think that combination is sufficient, though, and thinks that I should either have my dose of Pristiq increased, or that I should try a mood stabiliser. I’m not sure if she still thinks that.

    I’m a bit reluctant to take even more pills, as I already take more than I’m comfortable with for physical conditions and juggling the side-effects is a drama.

  17. I live in Australia. I take one psychiatric medication myself, but I have a friend who had bipolar ii who takes five different medications. Carbamazepine, pristiq, atomoxetine, lorazepam and lamotrigine.

  18. I am on for:
    Carbamazapine as a mood stabalizer
    Sertraline as a antidepressant
    Seroquel as a antipsychotic
    Propanolol as a anti-anxiety
    And then there is 3 others for other

  19. In the UK and I am on:

    Lamotrigine – mood stabiliser
    Reboxetine – anti-depressant
    Propanolol – anti-anxiety

    plus I’ve been prescribed tempazepam as a sleeper, but it doesn’t seem to help so I am not using it.

    I’ve been on more at other times too, so I don’t think it is just limited to the US.

  20. I am currently only on Diazepam, but for many years I was on 3 (An antidepressant, which changed a few times, Diazepam, and Zopiclone) and at one point there were 4 as there was another anti depressant added into the mix. I would say the majority of the time I have had MH problems I have been on 3 medications, as I was on 3 or 4 for about 4 years, but I am not only on 1, so haven’t filled in the thing because I wasn’t sure what to say. I am in the UK.

  21. US

    Lamictal 400mg
    Seroquel 300mg
    Lithium 900mg
    Clonazepam 1.5mg

    It has been a good combo

  22. Currently I am on 5 medications: trileptal for mood stabilizer, wellbutrin XL for antidepressant, Abilify for antipsychotic, Klonopin for anxiety, and Provigil for ADHD. So I’m an American on a lot of meds for the bipolar, but they’ve all proven to be necessary meds for me. We’ve tried doing without one or two of them at different times; but when you mess with my cocktail, things start going downhill. This is an interesting question.

    • I’m also on Trileptal. It’s been a wonderful relief, and the first real stability I’ve had. 🙂

  23. i’m in the uk and the mot i’ve ever been prescribed together is 3. sleeeping pills,anti anxiety and anti depressants. i have been on about every anto depressant you can think of, bit obviously only one at a time.
    i am currently only on citalopram and diazepam. my dr is reluctant to prescribe either diaz or slepers long term due to the risk of addictions. i of course just slef medicate.
    i also have lots of health problems and take a shit load of things for my medical problems. about 9 different pills in total. not sure if any of that is useful in any way.

  24. Where are my posts???

  25. Try the US

    Lamictal 400mg
    Lithium 900mg
    Seroquel 300mg
    Clonazepam 1.5mg

    It has been a good combo.

  26. 1 mood stabiliser + 2 antipsychotics + 1 antidepressant + 1 benzo + 1 artane = 6!

    i was on 2 kinds of low dose antipsychotics at once because the side effects from a single dose of either were too much for me.

    eventually i got weaned off to 1 mood stabiliser + 1 antipsychotic = 2!

  27. Ah, I didn’t follow instructions. Too lazy to post again now.

  28. I’ve been crazy in three countries – originally Canadian doctors prescribed paxil (depression) and Tegeratol (seizures). When I moved back to the UK my GP took me of Paxil but kept T. I spent a few years living in the US and my neuro/GP had me up to seven. (I didn’t even fill the scripts, so I can’t remember what they are).

    Of course, I think that was a function of small-town neurologists being over-zealous with bizarre conditions rather than a US thing in general.

  29. Lithium – For mood stability.
    Serequel – For psychosis, impulsivity.
    Paxil – for depression and acute anxiety.

    For supplements I take Omega 3, 6 and 9; Vitamin supplement, and a separate b12 one many times a day.

    Lamtical is also being considered to help more with the depressions.

    With Love,

  30. In the UK, current medication is:

    Citalopram – To stop me going too low.
    Risperidone – To stop me going too high (complicated – when I’m suicidal, I get a lot of energy to act on it and certain obsessions, don’t know if that’s psychosis or not)
    Lorazepam – To calm my anxiety and basically send me to sleep when highly anxious/energised/dangerous.
    Melatonin – To help me sleep naturally.

    I don’t like it all but when I’ve tried to get off them, I’ve gone insane again so I’m just having to deal with it.

    outwardly x

  31. My posts aren’t showing?

    I’m from the UK and my medications are:

    Citalopram – To stop me getting too slow.

    Risperidone – To stop me getting too high (complicated, I basically get an unusual amount of energy when I’m suicidal, almost like a mania. I get quite vivid obsessions with self harm too, so I don’t know if this counts as a psychosis or not.)

    Lorazepam – To stop me getting too anxious and for above explanation. Also, if I’m given enough, I will just fall asleep which is useful when I’m trying to jump off bridges.

    Melatonin – To help me go to sleep naturally.

    outwardly x

  32. *Too low! Slow sums it up as well, though..

  33. This is so awesome, finally, someone has asked the question I have wanted to ask. I’m 17 and from the US. I have a psychopharmacologist and therapist, who have been prescribing my meds before I was diagnosed last year with BP1. (I am totally BP). Everyone thought I was ADHD (I do miss my Adderall). Then they thought I was depressed until the Lexapro made me totally crazy, so off to the hospital. I have had 20 med or dosage changes in 10 months. Up and down, up and down. I am doing really good right now with no side effects…. I take Lithium (daily), Trazadone (as needed for sleeping), Clonazepam (as needed for anxiety), Zomig (as needed or migraines), Prevaced (over the counter as needed because maybe I have acid reflux) and I take Ocella (it helps with mood and because I can figure out what time of the month to be extra aware of how I feel, but I don’t need the birth control part).

  34. Lithium – mood stabiliser (slow mood cycling, mostly)

    Lamotrigine – mood stabiliser (as an adjunct to lithium it can stop the frequent latent depression from treatment with lithium alone)

    Sertraline – anti-depressant (it stops the horrifying depressions)

    Aripiprazole – anti-psychotic (it stops me having hallucinations, prevents mania)

    Diazepam – as required

  35. I put 4 or more, and this is why:

    1 mood stabalizer for BP1. Daily.

    1 anti anxiety for BP1 issues. Daily.

    1 reflux med for inadvertent ingestion of wheat. (I have a wheat allergy, but am NOT allergic to gluten in general.) Daily.

    1 antihistamine for resulting hives from accidental ingestion of wheat and for Nasty Tree Pollen allergy that causes hives. As needed.

    1 Rescue inhaler for tree pollen issues. As needed.

    1 Pain killer for joint deterioration issues with EDS. This is less in the summer when heat eases issues and more in the winter when the cold makes me creak and aches. I’m too young for a hip replacement, so I make do.

    1 Glucosomine supplement for hips issues so I can stay on lower doses of pain killer.

    So… 2 BP1 related, 3 severe allergy related, and 2 joint disorder related. I have many allergies, but I only treat the ones that cause hives and breathing issues as scratchy eyes and a faucet for a nose are not life threatening, just annoying. I also refuse to move up to the next level of pain killer as it would have a possibility of addiction. I do NOT want to risk that, and I feel it IS a risk with my BP.

    I avoid meds as I can though. I’ll admit my family is unusual… I got a joint disorder and BP from grandparents on one side. From the other I got severe allergies to yeast, wheat, mushrooms, and tree pollen. Through due consideration, I have informed my fiance that there will be NONE of my genes in our children and already have two possible friends who would surrogate in the future lined up.

    His family is disgustingly healthy!

  36. Canadian

    Currently on:

    Divalproex Sodium (mood stabilizer)
    Zopiclone (as needed for sleep)
    venlafaxine (antidepressant)

    I also have chronic anxiety and was offered ativan, but I declined because I’ve read it is habit forming and loses its effectiveness over time.

  37. I said two, which I hope was accurate, because I take Quetiapine and Venlafaxine daily. However, I also have access to Diazepam and Zopiclone, but they’re on an ‘as needed’ basis, so I didn’t include them.

    (UK, for those that don’t know).

  38. I don’t take anything currently, but when I get depression they usually put me on fluoxetine (prozac) and a very low dose of Olanzapine (Zyprexa), mostly because of my family history of BPD rather than actually having symptoms myself. The Prozac I find ok in small doses but if they increase it, it affects my sexual function so much that I just think it’s not worth it and take myself off. For me, a healthy sexual relationship is much better therapy than popping a couple of pills.

    • oh I forgot I do have some diazepam if I need it, but I haven’t taken it for about a year. I do, however, have to take seretide inhalers and aspirin for my asthma and antiphospholipid syndrome.

  39. I live in America, this is interesting and something I have never thought about. A lot of drugs have been suggested for me to take, A LOT. I have really had to advocate for myself and be assertive to get what I want to take (what I know will and will not work for me) and to even get psychiatrists to discuss the pro’s and con’s with me as I have co-morbid disorders. Fortunately, I am studying to enter a program to get my doctorate in pharmacy, so I know quite a bit about these things. But I find that a lot of people are told to take SO many drugs and just feel terrible from side effects and never question their doctors or ask to be switched to something else. Going into the psych. office, they will just throw so many things at you and you have to be a strong person to assert yourself. It is really a terrible thing. I am not against medications, but I think a lot of people are taking the wrong ones or just two many, when they could really be consolidated.

  40. 1. Lamictal (mood stabilizer)
    2. Effexor (antidepressant with a hint of antianxiety)
    3. Seroquel (antipsychotic for when I flip the fuck out and/or cannot sleep)
    4. Strattera (for my ADD)

    My psychologist was always lobbying for less meds, which I talked to psychiatrist (aka pdoc) about. Since I’ve been on so many things already and know myself so well, if I lobby for different doses or discontinuation of a med, then they pdoc – after a debate – usually goes with my recommendation unless there is a reason not to. My psychologist was always lobbying for less meds, which I talked to psychiatrist (aka pdoc) about.

  41. Hi, I’m from the UK, and I have been diagnosed with bipolar (2 I think, but no one tells me). I take a few medications:

    Lithium (to stabilise mood)
    Lamotrigine (same)
    Venlafaxine (aka Effexor, anti-depressant)
    Respiridone (anti-psychotic for anxiety)
    Mirtazipine 9anti-depressant, in low doses causes sleep)

    I also take metformin for diabetes and simvostatin for high cholesterol.

    I think these work ok really, though I’m aware they are a lot of medication.

  42. In Canada
    I have gone through the rounds of a large percentage of psych meds, trying to find the right cocktail.

    As of right now I seem to be doing ok on:
    and I have Seroquel,Clonazepam and Trazadone all as PRN’s

    Yes Lithium is technically classed as an anti psychotic but it is referred to as a mood stabilizer by everyone, it’s not well known as an anti psychotic.

  43. Canada girl here:

    Been prescribed the following….

    Effexor – for anxiety but actually made it worse
    Seroquel (400mg) – mood stabilizer & sleep aid
    Lithium (1350mg) – mood stabilizer
    Lamotrigine (200mg) – mood stabilizer
    Zopiclone (10mg) – for sleep – worried I won’t be able to get off it since I take it every day

    I’m currently on Seroquel, Lithium, Lamotrigine, and Zopiclone. Been diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Depression, and in the bipolar “spectrum”, though I don’t know what the use is in saying that!

  44. I’m British and I’m one & regular antidepressant + PRN Zopiclone and diazepam.

  45. Amerikan.

    Others I have tried this year cocktailed with the above

    People wonder why I forget to call,or meet when I said I would because Im home sleeping or creating something that doesnt matter.Its great fun.Laugh now cry in a second.
    Im tired all the time,but once you get used to the drugs,you can actually stay awake,experience what the drug does to you after your sleeping,and have a real paranoid,scary time .Sometimes I think its better to see how I really am,so I stop the meds for a day..or so,depending on how crazy out of my mind I want to get.Super hyper,scattered and blissed with the beginnings of an LSD trip that never just progressively start to let time take you.Then I go take all the pills.And my headache goes away.And my mind goes away to another state.It sucks to have to take the meds.I fucking hate it. But I guess at least I have a very small window to work with.So I do it.And my friends are happy.And my friends are happy.And I can Put on a happy face.Just as long as the front door or the bathroom is close…in case I need to duck out for a hard,4 second cry.

  46. We are all brainwashed by big business. Pills and tablets are just money making rackets. Our ancestors survived without half of that rubbish. They relied on Mother Nature.

    • …And they had short, unpleasant, brutal lives. If you want to go back to that? Feel free. I think I’ll stick with my decent healthcare and quality of life, thanks very fucking much.

    • that was long before all of the drama that has been cast upon our last 20 or so generations.more people seems to equal loss of touch through the generations,now,people are different,its genetics.

    • They died when they were 30!

  47. Hi I just wanted to leave a comment to say that I enjoy your blog. Looking at the number of comments, I see others feel the same way! Congratulations on a very popular site.


  48. xanax seems to work well for my manias

  49. xanax seems to work well for my mania

  50. Should (SHOULD) be taking four. Holy shit, four! And two years ago I was just a dysthimic human being who had tried antidepressives, hated them and survived through her teens pill-free. Then major depression kicked my ass into a psych ward after a suicide attempt, doctors came and fucked my brain more than it already was.

    The pills I’m (not) taking are…

    Zoloft (Sertraline) –> No way in fucking hell I’m going back to the pill that made me have my first and only hypomania, no matter how depressive I get.

    Lithium –> Sure, we’re not even sure if I’m bipolar or simply a depressive woman with bad reaction to meds and I should be taking that. Makes sense… In some doctor’s sick mind.

    Seroquel (Quetiapine) –> Doesn’t do shit, but somehow it’s the only med that hasn’t given me a severe side effect.. So why not? Because it doesn’t do shit, I said!

    Zolpidem –> 20mg didn’t make me sleep, only send “drunk” text messages and wake up at 1am SINGING… Oh, and forget about it. Completely. Who knows what else I did.. All I know is I wasn’t sleeping, and it gave me the worst hangover ever.

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