Monday, February 21, 2011

Poor Physical Health: A Trade-off For Good Mental Health

Photo by: Peachcult
Living with a mental illness can't be easy.  Those who suffer just want a cure; but when mental health patients are prescribed medications that have side effects that outweigh the good that medicine provides, the patient's health is essentially endangered to an even greater extent.   

When doctors prescribe their mental health patients antipsychotic medications, a lot of times, the doctors are only concerned with the affects these antipsychotic drugs have on their patient’s mental disorder.  However, what they’re forgetting to monitor is the affects these drugs have on their patient’s physical health, such as the heart condition.     
According to the HealthDay News, those who suffer from severe mental illnesses live an average of 16 years less than people in the general population; heart disease, not suicide, is the primary cause of death in these patients, and antipsychotic drugs are proven to be a major factor. 
The antipsychotic side effects combined with poor diet, physical inactivity, high rates of smoking and socioeconomic deprivation have a damaging effect on cardiometabolic health.  It is crucial for mental health teams to take a more active role in caring for the physical health of their patients. 

According to a study published in the Archives of General Psychiatry, patients who took an antipsychotic drug gained 11 to 13 pounds within six to eight weeks after they started taking the medication. Why should any patient be forced to choose between the trade-off of mental or physical well-being?  Physical illness shouldn’t be the price the mentally ill have to pay.  Now that there’s proof that antipsychotic drugs correlate with poor physical health, doctors are obligated to better monitor and care for their patient’s physical health in addition to their mental health.  
-Jordan Gutterman    

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