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Antipsychotic Medicines Overused

Antipsychotic medications were developed for treating severe mental illness, in particular schizophrenia. Older antipsychotics such as Thorazine, Mellaril and Haldol have a number of serious side effects including weight gain, diabetes, skin reactions, hormonal disruption, seizures and uncontrollable muscle movements. When a new generation of medications called atypical antipsychotics came along, physicians were excited about the potential for safer and more effective treatment of mental illness. In recent years, however, drugs such as Abilify, Risperdal, Seroquel and Zyprexa have not been shown to be substantially more effective. They have also been found to cause weight gain and diabetes along with a number of other serious side effects.
A recent study suggests that these drugs are being overused. They are frequently prescribed for conditions other than schizophrenia including autism, bipolar disorder, depression and dementia. The number of prescriptions for such medications has nearly tripled over the last 15 years. Some experts believe that some manufacturers have been inappropriately promoting off-label uses. Overuse of these drugs in children may be especially problematic.
[Pharmacoepidemiology and Drug Safety, Jan. 2011]

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About the Author
Terry Graedon, PhD, is a medical anthropologist and co-host of The People’s Pharmacy radio show, co-author of The People’s Pharmacy syndicated newspaper columns and numerous books, and co-founder of The People’s Pharmacy website. Terry taught in the Duke University School of Nursing and was an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology. She is a Fellow of the Society of Applied Anthropology. Terry is one of the country's leading authorities on the science behind folk remedies..
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