Thursday, 22 November 2012

Benzodiazepines for Schizophrenia.

Benzodiazepines can be taken alone or in combination with more traditional antipsychotic drugs. They cause sedation, calmness and relax the muscles, so are helpful in calming down agitated people with anxiety, sleep problems, seizures, alcohol withdrawal and acute mental health problems.

Read the full summary here:

From a service user perspective (SUPER), benzodiazepines are frequently used as a drug of choice for schizophrenia.  It is sobering that this is the case even though there is little information or evidence to support their widespread use.  Furthermore, the range and complexity of drugs available to treat mental health issues is large and confusing.  Many drugs have triple barrelled and long names, which are hard to say and pronounce (Benzodiazepines, Risperidone; Antiglucocorticoid).

If people are taking one type of drug, then it can be quite daunting and scary to switch to a new drug or a combination of several new drugs.  New drugs do have the promise to work better for people who use mental health services, but there is always doubt at the back of the mind about possible relapse, not least because most drugs have side- effects (such as weight gain, sleepiness, shaking and dizziness).

This points out the fact that there needs to be better information sharing between psychiatrists and people who use mental health services.  The benefits of taking certain drugs need to be explained, as well as the potential side- effects, to promote better understanding and to encourage people to regularly take their medication. 

However, if there is little information and evidence to support a drug’s prescription, then psychiatrists might be basing their prescription of drugs on daily clinical judgement and experience, rather than strong and proven research evidence.  Although this means that better information and research evidence is needed to support the use of a drug, it also means that psychiatrists and service users hopefully know each other quite well.  They can talk to one another, collaborate and discuss which medication works best for them and come up with practical and real- life solutions to improve the lives of people who use mental health services.   

Benjamin Gray
Service User and Service User Expert
Rethink Mental Illness.

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