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Do Zyprexa and other antipsychotics cause brain damage?
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An_203961 posted:

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susiemargaret responded:
hello, A192 --

webMD on zyprexa/olanzapine is at http://www.webmd.com/drugs/drug-1699-Zyprexa Oral.aspx?drugid=1699&drugname=Zyprexa Oral&source=2 .

side effects that are listed as infrequent include loss of memory and mental impairment. a rare side effect is tardive dyskinesia, a nervous-system disorder characterized by involuntary jerky movements of various parts of the body. call your dr immediately if you think you are having one of these problems while you are taking zyprexa.

the idea of side effects can be scary. but most people do not have side effects from meds, or the side effects decrease after a short time, or the side effects are livable-with considering the benefits. if you are concerned about side effects of any med or think you may be experiencing them, talk to your dr as soon as possible.

-- susie margaret
what good is gold, or silver too, if your heart's not good and true -- hank williams, sr.
 
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Thomas L Schwartz, MD responded:
HI
I know of no reports showing this or other antipsychotics causing brain damage (loss of function)..
I know that depression and anxiety can cause such memory problems that patients can look like they have alzheimers, we call this pseudodementia. More recent research actually suggests that the longer you are depressed/stressed that certain parts of the brain actually shrink- so that the depression itself is causing a form of brain damage... When treated early and when depression remits, these parts of the brain tend to grow more in size.....
Schizophrenic brains actually do shrink in size over time like a dementia in some ways and schizophrenics IQs lower, verbal abilities lower.... So in some ways the mental illness may actually have a component of brain damage or degeneration in theory...
 
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An_203962 replied to Thomas L Schwartz, MD's response:
Really? There are a lot of new human studies (and animal studies going back decades) showing correlations between the use of anti-psychotics and brain shrinkage:
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/09/16/health/research/16conv.html

http://www.nature.com/news/2011/110207/full/news.2011.75.html
http://www.nature.com/news/2010/100606/full/news.2010.281.html

Of course, psychiatric diseases may also have a neurodegenerative component all on their own, as Dr. Schwartz suggests:
http://www.nature.com/news/2007/070716/full/news070716-16.html

It's hard to know what is the contribution of the disease and what is the contribution of the medicine, but many of the "side effects" of anti-psychotics are typical of brain damage (and some of those side effects are similar to the side effects patients experienced following induced insulin coma, an early precursor to antipsychotics, which, like lobotomies, were intentionally-induced, "therapeutic" brain damage).

Anyway, one of the Nature articles puzzlingly suggests that brain damage might be therapeutic, and that brain shrinkage might not be such a bad thing.

It worries me (and I have this experience very often in my interaction with doctors) that someone tasked with doling out power drugs can have no knowledge of studies about the potential harm of those drugs, studies that can be easily found within seconds on Google, Google Scholar, PubMed, etc., or on topics for which dozens of books have been written.

There may be some patients where the benefits of anti-psychotics truly do outweigh the risks, but the long-run risks are much more serious than most healthcare providers will tell you.


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