Do Antipsychotics Affect Your Mood?
Yes, antipsychotic drugs can impact mood. Of course, some individuals hope to alleviate low mood symptoms like depression and hopelessness. However, antipsychotic medications may instead impact mood in ways you weren’t anticipating.
Although these drugs can help prevent psychosis, they can lead to an increase in other negative mental health symptoms, including depression. This is just one reason why antipsychotics aren’t an effective method of treating clinical depression or major depressive disorder.
Do Antipsychotics Increase Depression if the Disorder Is Already Present?
If you have already been diagnosed with depression or have a history of depressive symptoms or behaviors, it can be highly damaging to use antipsychotic medication. There is evidence suggesting that antipsychotics may even increase suicidality in patients with past or current suicidal ideation,5. More specifically, it’s possible for antipsychotic medication to act upon common predictors of suicidal ideation or behavior like anxiety, agitation, and impulsivity. This essentially means that these drugs are indirectly pro-suicidal—their side effects can result in an indirect pro-suicidal psychological and neurological impact.
The above is especially true for first-generation antipsychotics, which are known to cause some of the most severe neurological side effects. Alongside these neurological or extrapyramidal effects, typical antipsychotics can lead to additional psychological effects. All these negative side effects can have a detrimental impact on your mental and emotional wellbeing. If you are already dealing with depression, it’s possible that depression or suicidal ideation could become even more severe.
Alongside worsening depression, antipsychotic drugs can also result in symptoms like weight gain, frequent sedation, and anticholinergic effects. Any of these side effects can negatively impact a person’s mental or emotional well-being.
As a whole, it is especially unwise for antipsychotic drugs to be used by patients diagnosed with non-psychotic forms of depression6. Unfortunately, depression of any kind can be a debilitating condition, and as one might expect, many individuals with depression will search far and wide for an effective treatment. As a result, even if you don’t experience psychosis or psychotic symptoms of any kind, you could still be prescribed antipsychotics such as risperidone or ziprasidone.
What Are the Alternatives to Antipsychotics?
Currently, it’s common for antipsychotic medications to be prescribed as soon as a label is placed on the patient’s condition. When symptoms are present (such as depression or psychosis), there isn’t an investigation into why or how these issues came to be in the first place. For the symptoms to be treated most effectively, however, their origin should be uncovered whenever possible. It’s always beneficial to treat mental health conditions at their source, rather than attempting to mask symptoms with drugs.
Medical professionals should attempt to find the root cause of a patient’s mental health symptoms. This approach is far superior to simply finding the right label and a drug to match. Isolating the root cause can allow caregivers to determine the most effective non-pharmaceutical treatment.
Antipsychotic drugs aren’t the only way to successfully manage psychosis and conditions like schizophrenia. After you’ve decided to cease the use of antipsychotics, the next step is to utilize the alternative treatment options at your disposal. With alternative treatments, it’s possible to steer clear of antipsychotic medications and their side effects, including new or worsening depression.
The practice of treating schizophrenia and psychosis without the use of antipsychotics is becoming increasingly popular and for good reason. In Norway, for example, drug-free treatment is offered to those experiencing psychosis7. As arrangements like this prove themselves to be effective, it’s becoming clear that the psychiatric field should rethink its traditional approach to diagnosing conditions and prescribing medications.
One of the top ways to battle psychosis and other mental health conditions is talk therapy. Because there is more than one form of such therapy, it’s possible to find the style that best suits your unique psychological needs. For example, you might opt for open dialogue therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), EMDR (particularly if you experience psychosis with PTSD features), and prolonged exposure therapy9.
Research in the field of mental health is constantly evolving, meaning that new therapies and forms of treatment are regularly being discovered. For instance, certain kinds of physical activity have been linked to improved mental health.
A notable example is yoga8. Rather than being a passing trend in the world of holistic health, yoga has been shown time and time again to provide noticeable relief for patients. Rather than relying on the long-term use of antipsychotics, many patients can benefit from adopting a regular yoga practice. Other emerging treatments include “fear learning” (which is intended to improve the REM cycles of those with PTSD10) and the “rapid-gain” treatment model11.
Holistic Medicine to Replace Antipsychotics
If you are experiencing depression and psychotic episodes, alongside talk therapy or counseling, you can also experiment and see what holistic alternatives12 work for you. For example, eating a cleaner diet and cutting down on caffeine can positively impact your mental or emotional well-being. It’s a good idea to begin eating a hypoglycemic diet, as this can allow you to keep their blood sugar levels in a healthy range.
A holistic treatment center can help you explore several vitamins and supplements that can be incorporated into your treatment, such as:
- Taurine or lithium orotate14
- High dose vitamin C or niacin15
Overall, there are a number of natural remedies that have shown promise as treatments for psychosis and mental health conditions.
Avoid the Depressive Side Effects of Antipsychotics with Holistic Alternatives
When it comes to mental health conditions, antipsychotics often cause far more issues than they alleviate. If you’re currently taking an antipsychotic, consider asking a provider to taper your medication and investigate the root cause of your symptoms. This often involves lab testing, which allows your provider to uncover the hormonal, nutritional, and medical contributors to your condition.
Work to adopt a nutritious, clean diet, high in organic foods and low in sugar and processed ingredients. Then, consider pursuing healthy neurochemistry using natural supplements based on your unique needs and symptoms. Keep in mind that it is important to ensure that you come off antipsychotics in a safe and comfortable environment, under the supervision of trained medical and mental health providers. By doing so, you can avoid the many negative side effects of antipsychotics with a safety net in place as you explore more holistic alternatives.