How do psychiatric drugs really work?
There are answers to that question in this article. If you look at your head in profile, you'll see it's not flat like the heads of apes. It's not flat like my dog's head. It's got a big bulge - that's your frontal lobes. Your frontal lobes are the highest evolutionary flower of human existence. It's what makes us what we call human beings. It's the seat of civilization.
That wonderful brain of yours, mine and everyone else's develops before we had the internet before we had tools. It probably developed before we were writing on walls. Because it developed about a hundred thousand years ago. That's before towns and cities.
So, what did it develop for? It developed for social relationships. And our social relationships are so complicated. subtle and marvellous and at times destructive that it took all of our brains to become who we are as persons, social beings.
Every single psychoactive substance disrupts that function. There's no drug to put in there and make it better. They all disrupt that function. Why do we think that they're helping?
If you drink a couple of beers at night, it relaxes you. Maybe helps you sleep for a few hours. What's going on? Your brain is being sedated, shut down, slowed down. That's not an improvement in function, it's actually a harmful dysfunction.
Any psychiatric substance like marijuana, alcohol, Prozac, Abilify, Lithium, Ritalin, Adderall are impairing that function. Why does it seem like it's helping? We already saw that it might seem like it's helping if you want less function at night and you just want to have yourself pressure to go to sleep. It's an abnormal state pushed into sleep by a sedative.
Basically, all psychiatric drugs take the edge or if your frontal lobe function, off of your caring, your thinking, your feeling. That's the primary effect that most of them have that people seek.
We have less pain. It's an anaesthesia of the brain and, hence, the spirit or soul. All psychoactive substances tend to do that. They do that somewhat different ways but that's what they do they suppress the brain function. In my articles, I call that the brain-disabling principles of psychiatric treatment.
If you take a benzodiazepine like Xanax, Klonopin or Ativan, it's having an alcohol-like effect. It, in fact, is jacking up a system called GABA, which is an overall suppressant system in the brain. If you took enough of a benzo, you could actually undergo anaesthesia without anything else. Most anaesthetics are related to the benzos.
That will reduce your anxiety for a time, but it's not actually specifically affecting your anxiety. It is suppressing your higher brain functions of which anxiety is one. It's also going to be suppressing some of your cognitive functions, your memory function and overall brain function.
Let's say you're taking Abilify, Seroquel, Risperdal or Zyprexa - one of the so-called antipsychotic drugs. These drugs block a specific neuronal pathway – dopamine, which is the main pathway to guess where? Your frontal lobes. You're getting a chemical lobotomy when you take these drugs. That produces, probably, most impactfully apathy, indifference, not caring, not being involved with yourself. Patients who are hearing hallucinations, they don't go away when they take one of these drugs. Just don't care so much about them. It's a generalized apathy and indifference – the same thing produced by surgical lobotomy, which cuts the same pathways.
What About ADHD Drugs?
What about Ritalin and the drugs we use as the stimulants? Drugs that we use to treat kids for ADHD? We know exactly how these stimulants work because there are lots of animal studies showing that stimulant drugs cause animals to again be crushed in their spontaneous behaviour. You can actually measure in an animal that like a chimpanzee it won't explore as much, won't run around as much, it won't groom as much, hug as much because there's a suppression of spontaneous behaviour. And because of an effect on the basal ganglia.
If you take this animal and put them in a cage he looks like a much happier animal because he's not trying to escape, he's not trying to do anything. That's what we do with our children in our classrooms. We turn them into good caged animals by giving them a drug that disables their brain by suppressing spontaneous behaviour and causing obsessive behaviour. They might copy real hard from the board but they're not learning anything more.
It's going to be a special simple truth about psychiatry to talk more about stimulant drugs and ADHD. What I want to leave you with now is that if you are getting an effect from a psychiatric drug, it's a disabling effect. It may have even started with euphoria because that's another thing that can happen when you hurt the brain.
You can get apathy, indifference, sedation, but you can get a temporary high. Many patients who just continue their lives searching for that high again to feel better than ever on a psychiatric drug. That's usually the newer antidepressants the SSRIs like Prozac, Celexa and Zoloft.
In fact, if a patient goes into a doctor's office and says I am feeling better than I ever had this first couple of weeks on Prozac - that's not a good sign.
Let me think about it. Is that good that you've taken a drug and now you're recording you feel better than ever than your whole life? You're not saying I'm closer to my wife, children and my husband. I've been more creative. I finally dealing with work and I'm no more responsible fashion. I've given up drinking. I've really taken responsibility for my life. No! You're saying I'm feeling better for the first time in my life due to the drug!
It's actually a very bad sign. It often is the first stages of mania, which is frequently caused by these psychiatric drugs.
Don't be fooled! As I said, in simple truths about psychiatry number one drugs are correcting a biochemical imbalance. Drugs only work by making you less than you really are you.