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eVisions - Medications

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eVisions - Medications

Vol. 4 | No. 2 | Fall 2007

online table of contents and PDFs:





Editor’s Message
--Sarah Hamid-Balma
Reflecting on her personal experiences with mental health, Visions’ editor discusses the “double-edged sword” of mental health medications. Knowing the struggle of family members in the past, she shares her hopes of consumer empowerment; now and for the future.

Glossary of Terms
Visions has compiled a glossary of important terms to help guide you through the complex topic of medications.

Medications for Mental Illness: Are we there yet?
--Debbie Thompson
Major depression is the costliest illness in the world. BC’s leading mental health pharmacologist explains why it is and why this is such a special time in the field of mental health management, with medications being one part of a larger mental health treatment plan. Reminding us of how far medications have taken us from the institutions of the past, she hopes this issue of Visions will give you hope for the future.

How Antidepressant and Antipsychotic Medications Work
--Anthony Tung and Ric M. Procyshyn
This article answers some of the most complex questions in mental health: How do our brains work? What is depression and schizophrenia? And how do antidepressants and antipsychotics work?

Myths About Antidepressants
Between media, stigma and American advertising it can be hard to know the truth about one of the most commonly prescribed medications today: antidepressants. We’ve sorted through some of the biggest fears and misconceptions of these medications and supplied you with the facts. [reprint of a CMHA-written pharmacy bulletin, online only]

Medications Used in Recovery from Addiction
--Jennifer Melamed
An addiction medicine expert explains what types of medications are available to aid in addiction management and points out that medications are only one piece of the addictions treatment puzzle.

All About Benzos
--Nicole Pankratz
Benzodiazepines or “benzos” are a type of medication used as sleeping aids and tranquilizers that can become addictive. This article gives us some facts about benzos and describes and weighs the benefits and risks of this controversial group of meds.

From Happenstance to Targeted Investigation: A brief history of mental health meds
--Debbie Thompson
The field of mental health medications is relatively new and incredibly interesting. You may be surprised to discover just how many of the breakthroughs in treatments for mental illness were found purely by chance. In this article Doctor Deb takes us on a journey from dyes to malaria treatments to antipsychotic medications. [online only]


Experiences and Perspectives

Medications: A quagmire of approaches and attitudes
--Bob Krzyzewski
A Vancouver man maps out his route through the winding roads and dead end streets that make up mental health and addictions services—public, private and alternative. His words of advice: knowledge is power.

Medication Madness
After years of mental illness, self-harm, addiction and riding the medication merry-go-round V.J. nearly lost her life. She shares her rocky, yet inspiring, journey to find a healthier space for herself while living in a tiny town in Northern BC.

A Sudden Stop: Medication management taken out of my control
--Patricia Harding
Patricia shares a lesson she learned the hard way: Psychiatric medications are not to be fooled with and it’s the consumer’s job to make sure they aren’t. [online only]

A Pharmaceutical Sunset With a Side Order of Weight Gain, Please! My journey, through cocktails, to the light
--Simone Dina-Blunck
As many people who have been searching for the right mental health med can tell you, the search isn’t easy and the results can be unpredictable. One BC woman shares her long, and sometimes bizarre, journey through treatments and side-effects, and into the light (literally). [online only]

Medications: Helping me enjoy the world go by
--Howard Dempster
A father of three bravely shares the story of his battle with mental illness and addiction. Now a grandfather he’s finally learning how to live. Hear what he thinks is the key to his success.

Tardive Dyskinesia—A Side Effect of Stigma
--Susan Katz
Fearing public embarrassment over the symptoms of her mental disorder, Susan began taking antipsychotics 15 years ago. The medication gave her a permanent disorder that causes disfiguring facial movements. Little did she know that “coming out” about both disorders would give her the strength to fight stigma and find respect.

Medications and Youth on the Street
--Don McGinnis
While working in a detox program for youth, Don witnessed a disturbing new trend: youth are lying to doctors in order to get meds to help them come down from drug highs. This article explains why this is happening and what needs to be done to better support the needs of these youth.


Alternatives and Approaches

To Take or Not to Take? The problem of compliance
--Fiona McGregor
Getting patients to “comply” or follow treatment programs is very difficult for doctors and psychiatrists. A psychiatrist and mental health advocate, Fiona shares just how big the problem really is, why it’s happening and ways that we as consumers and health providers can make it easier.

A Pill for Every Ill—Or an Ill for Every Pill?
--Barbara Mintzes
A professor of pharmacology explains how society’s need for a “quick fix” and advertisers need to make a “quick buck” are blurring the lines between treatment for mental illness and normal life problems. She offers some sound advice about how to be an aware consumer.

Medication in the Press: Evaluating media coverage of psychiatric and addiction drugs
--Donna Panitow
We’ve all heard stories in the press telling us about new medication studies or warning us about dangerous side-effects. Donna warns us that we need to seriously consider the source of the “news” and helps us learn to separate fact from sensational story telling.

Using Mental Health Medications in Children and Youth: Some thoughts...
--Lorne Brandt
A psychiatrist who works with children and youth shares the many reasons why giving mental health medications to kids should not be taken lightly.

Antidepressants in Pregnancy and Lactation: Let’s look at the facts
--Wende Wood
Women often face a lot of stigma surrounding the use of mental health medications while pregnant. Family, friends and the public often criticize these women, saying they’re putting their babies at risk. The truth is that not taking mental health meds can do even more damage than taking them. This article discusses the myths and facts of medicating while pregnant. [Reprinted with permission from Pharmacy Practice]

Medication Research in Psychiatry: New trends and discoveries
--Sylvia Zerjav
While you may think that there are many different kinds of mental health meds, the truth is that there are very few truly new mental health meds. So can we expect anything new in the near future? A psychopharmachology expert offers a glimpse into the latest trends and newest treatments on the mental health treatment horizon.


Regional Programs

Working With Your Partner in Health
--Patrick McGowan
While health professionals are a vital part of health management, we as patients also play a vital role in treatment and recovery. Patrick, a self-management expert, shares with us step by step instructions on how to play and active role in your health and offers the Chronic Disease Self-Management Program as one resource on this path.

Between Dusk and Dawn—Who Ya Gonna Call? The BC NurseLine Pharmacist Service
--Barbara Gobis Ogle and Elaine Chong
Unfortunately, medication problems don’t only present themselves between the hours of 9am and 5pm. Luckily, here in BC you can connect with a registered nurse 24 hours a day/ 7 days a week or a pharmacist from 5pm-9am daily. This article outlines the remarkable BC NurseLine Pharmacist Service.

Plan G: Financial assistance for psychiatric medications
You may not know it, but there is a government program here in BC that helps low income households afford the psychiatric medications they need. It’s called Plan G. Daryn explains how to apply for the program and supplies answers to the questions he hears the most as a Plan G administrator.

I Can’t Access or Afford the Medication I Need: Now what? Government programs are there to help...
--Megan Dumas
A regular citizen tries to make sense of two little known government programs designed to help you get the mental health meds you need: The PharmaCare Special Authority Program and the Health Canada Special Access Program.





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