AMERICA’S MOST POPULAR DRUG IS THE ATYPICAL ANTIPSYCHOTIC ABILIFY

Martha Rosenberg

Martha Rosenberg

Meet one of our newest members to join our International Coalition For Drug Awareness Facebook group – investigative reporter Martha Rosenberg.

For those of you new to this battle and unaware of the history of this battle or those who have been involved since the beginning to pave the way you need to know that Martha is an incredible reporter who has been writing about the antidepressants and atypical antipsychotics for many years now. In fact she has written some of the most hard hitting articles on this issue! An example of a recent one is posted below. She has been published widely.

We want to welcome her and thank her publicly for her tireless work in educating the public about these very dangerous drugs!

The following article was emailed to me but originally appeared in Alternet. (Please always keep in mind in learning about the atypical antipsychotics that they too are serotonergic drugs and technically should NOT be used with an antidepressant even though Abilify promotes itself as an add-on drug to antidepressant treatment!!!!!) I would encourage all of you to Google Martha Rosenberg and read and share her information far and wide!

THE MOST POPULAR DRUG IN AMERICA IS AN ANTIPSYCHOTIC — AND NO ONE REALLY KNOWS HOW IT WORKS

MARTHA ROSENBERG, ALTERNET
16 NOV 2014 AT 20:58 ET

Does anyone remember Thorazine? It was an antipsychotic given to mentally ill people, often in institutions, that was so sedating, it gave rise to the term “Thorazine shuffle.” Ads for Thorazine in medical journals, before drugs were advertised directly to patients, showed Aunt Hattie in a hospital gown, zoned out but causing no trouble to herself or anyone else. No wonder Thorazine and related drugs Haldol, Mellaril and Stelazine were called chemical straitjackets.

But Thorazine and similar drugs became close to obsolete in 1993 when a second generation of antipsychotics which included Risperdal, Zyprexa, Seroquel, Geodon and Abilify came online. Called “atypical” antipsychotics, the drugs seemed to have fewer side effects than their predecessors like dry mouth, constipation and the stigmatizing and permanent facial tics known as TD or tardive dyskinesia. (In actuality, they were similar.) More importantly, the drugs were obscenely expensive: 100 tablets of Seroquel cost as much as $2,000, Zyprexa, $1,680 and Abilify $1,644.

One drug that is a close cousin of Thorazine, Abilify, is currently the top-selling of all prescription drugs in the U.S. marketed as a supplement to antidepressant drugs, reports the Daily Beast. Not only is it amazing that an antipsychotic is outselling all other drugs, no one even knows how it works to relieve depression, writes Jay Michaelson. The standardized United States Product Insert says Abilify’s method of action is “unknown” but it likely “balances” brain’s neurotransmitters. But critics say antipsychotics don’t treat anything at all, but zone people out and produce oblivion. They also say there is a concerning rise in the prescription of antipsychotics for routine complaints like insomnia.

They are right. With new names and prices and despite their unknown methods of action, Pharma marketers have devised ways to market drugs like Abilify to the whole population, not just people with severe mental illness. Only one percent of the population, after all, has schizophrenia and only 2.5 percent has bipolar disorder. Thanks to these marketing ploys, Risperdal was the seventh best-selling drug in the world until it went off patent and Abilify currently rules.

Here are some of the ways Big Pharma made antipsychotics everyday drugs.

Approval Creep

Everyone has heard of “mission creep.” In the pharmaceutical world, approval creep means getting the FDA to approve a drug for one thing and pushing a lot of other drug approvals through on the coattails of the first one. Though the atypical antipsychotics were originally drugs for schizophrenia, soon there was a dazzling array of new uses.

Seroquel was first approved in 1997 for schizophrenia but subsequently approved for bipolar disorder, psychiatric conditions in children and finally as an add-on drug for depression like Abilify. The depression “market” is so huge, Seroquel’s last approval allowed the former schizophrenia drug to make $5.3 billion a year before it went off patent. But before the add-on approval, AstraZeneca, which makes Seroquel, ran a sleazy campaign to convince depressed people they were really “bipolar.” Ads showed an enraged woman screaming into the phone, her face contorted, her teeth clenched. Is this you, asked the ads? Your depression may really be bipolar disorder, warned the ad.

Sometimes the indication creep is under the radar. After heated FDA hearings in 2009 about extending Zyprexa, Seroquel and Geodon uses for kids–Pfizer and AstraZeneca slides showed that kids died in clinical trials–the uses were added by the FDA but never announced. They were slipped into the record right before Christmas, when no news breaks, and recorded as “label changes.” Sneaky.

And there is another “creep” which is also under the radar: “warning creep.” As atypical antipsychotics have gone into wide use in the population, more risks have surfaced. Labels now warn against death-associated risks in the elderly, children and people with depression but you have to really read the fine print. (Atypical antipsychotics are so dangerous in the elderly with dementia, at least 15,000 die in nursing homes from them each year, charged FDA drug reviewer David Graham in congressional testimony.) The Seroquel label now warns against cardiovascular risks, which the FDA denied until the drug was almost off patent.

Dosing Children

Perhaps no drugs but ADHD medications have been so widely used and often abused in children as atypical antipsychotics. Atypical antipsychotics are known to “improve” behavior in problem children across a broad range of diagnoses but at a huge price: A National Institute of Mental Health study of 119 children ages 8 to 19 found Risperdal and Zyprexa caused such obesity a safety panel ordered the children off the drugs.

In only eight weeks, kids on Risperdal gained nine pounds and kids on Zyprexa gained 13 pounds. “Kids at school were making fun of me,” said one study participant who put on 35 pounds while taking Risperdal.

Just like the elderly in state care, poor children on Medicaid are tempting targets for Big Pharma and sleazy operators because they do not make their own medication decisions. In 2008, the state ofTexas charged Johnson & Johnson subsidiary Janssen with defrauding the state of millions with “a sophisticated and fraudulent marketing scheme,” to “secure a spot for the drug, Risperdal, on the state’s Medicaid preferred drug list and on controversial medical protocols that determine which drugs are given to adults and children in state custody.”

Many other states have brought legal action against Big Pharma including compelling drug makers to pay for the extreme side effects that develop with the drugs: massive weight gain, blood sugar changes leading to diabetes and cholesterol problems.

Add-On Conditions

It’s called polypharmacy and it is increasingly popular: Prescribing several drugs, often as a cocktail, that are supposed to do more than the drugs do alone. Big Pharma likes polypharmacy for two obvious reasons: drug sales are tripled or quadrupled—and it’s not possible to know if the drugs are working. The problems with polypharmacy parallel its “benefits.” The person can’t know which, if any, of the drugs are working so they take them all. By the time someone is on four or more psychiatric drugs, there is a good chance they are on a government program and we are paying. There is also a good chance the person is on the drugs for life, because withdrawal reactions make them think there really is something wrong with them and it is hard to quit the drugs.

Into this lucrative merchandising model came the idea of “add-on” medications and “treatment-resistant depression.” When someone’s antidepressant didn’t work, Pharma marketers began floating the idea that it wasn’t that the drugs didn’t work; it wasn’t that the person wasn’t depressed to begin with but had real life, job and family problems—it was “treatment-resistant depression.” The person needed to add a second or third drug to their antidepressant, such as Seroquel or Abilify. Ka-ching.

Lawsuits Don’t Stop Unethical Marketing

Just as Big Pharma has camped out in Medicare and Medicaid, living on our tax dollars while fleeing to England so it doesn’t have to pay taxes, Pharma has also camped out in the Department of Defense and Veterans Affairs. Arguably, no drugs have been as good for Big Pharma as atypical antipsychotics within the military. In 2009, the Pentagon spent $8.6 million on Seroquel and VA spent $125.4 million—almost $30 million more than is spent on a F/A-18 Hornet.

Risperdal was even bigger in the military. Over a period of nine years, VA spent $717 million on its generic, risperidone, to treat PTSD in troops in Afghanistan and Iraq. Yet not only was risperidone not approved for PTSD, it didn’t even work. A 2011 study in the Journal of the American Medical Association found the drug worked no better than placebo and the money was totally wasted.

In the last few years, the makers of Risperdal, Seroquel and Zyprexa have all settled suits claiming illegal or fraudulent marketing. A year ago, Johnson & Johnson admitted mismarketing Risperdal in a $2.2 billion settlement. But the penalty is nothing compared with the $24.2 billion it made from selling Risperdal between 2003 to 2010 and shareholders didn’t blink. The truth is, there is too much money in hawking atypical antipsychotics to the general population for Pharma to quit.

This story originally appeared at AlterNet.

Read more here:http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2014/11/the-most-popular-drug-in-america-is-an-antipsychotic-and-no-one-really-knows-how-it-works/

Ann Blake Tracy, Executive Director,

International Coalition for Drug Awareness

www.drugawareness.org & http://ssristories.drugawareness.org
Author: ”Prozac: Panacea or Pandora? – Our Serotonin Nightmare – The Complete Truth of the Full Impact of Antidepressants Upon Us & Our World” & Withdrawal CD “Help! I Can’t Get Off My Antidepressant!”

WITHDRAWAL WARNING: In sharing this information about adverse reactions to antidepressants I always recommend that you also give reference to my CD on safe withdrawal, Help! I Can’t Get Off My Antidepressant!, so that we do not have more people dropping off these drugs too quickly – a move which I have warned from the beginning can be even more dangerous than staying on the drugs!

WITHDRAWAL HELP: You can find the hour and a half long CD on safe and effective withdrawal helps here: http://store.drugawareness.org/ And if you need additional consultations with Ann Blake-Tracy, you can book one at www.drugawareness.org or sign up for one of the memberships for the International Coalition for Drug Awareness which includes free consultations as one of the benefits of that particular membership plan.

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ZOLOFT & Geodon: Woman Assaults Another Woman on Golf Course: Drags her …

Paragraph 20 reads:  “Pearce told the psychologist she
had been doing well on a combination of Xanax, (for anxiety) Zoloft
(for depression)
and Geodon (for bipolar disorder and other
problems) but just before the golf cart incident she no longer could get

Geodon , the report states. The medication withdrawal produced agitation,
restlessness and anxiety, as well as depression and social avoidance,
the
report states.”

http://www.news-journalonline.com/NewsJournalOnline/News/EastVolusia/evlHEAD04112009.htm

Woman gets probation in golf-cart
attack

By FRANK FERNANDEZ
Staff Writer

BUNNELL — A woman who turned a golf cart into a weapon and
intentionally ran down and dragged another woman for about 15 yards was
sentenced Thursday to three years’ probation.

Pearce
Linda Lee
Pearce, 42, of Daytona Beach entered a plea of no contest to felony battery,
which could have sent her to prison for up to five years.

Circuit Judge
Kim C. Hammond withheld adjudication, meaning the decision won’t appear as a
conviction on Pearce’s record. Hammond also ordered Pearce not to have any
contact with the victim and to pay restitution of $6,299 at $175 per month, said
Chris Kelly, spokesman for the State Attorney’s Office.

The sentence was
part of a negotiated plea made in consultation with the victim, Kelly said.

Pearce, who told a psychologist she had anger problems, declined comment
when reached by phone Thursday.

“I’m not telling you (expletive
deleted),” Pearce said before hanging up.

Pearce was arrested in March
after deputies said she intentionally ran over Verna Boylan, 57, near horseshoe
pits behind the Roadhouse Bar near Flagler Beach, according to a report from the
Flagler County Sheriff’s Office.

Boylan was watching horseshoe games on
St. Patrick’s Day when Pearce, behind the wheel of the golf cart, spotted her.
Pearce told a passenger in the cart, “Oh, there’s the (expletive) . . . I’m
going to run her over, ” according to the report.

Boylan said in a phone
interview Thursday that she heard Pearce.

“I just looked over ’cause I
heard her say that and next thing I know I was already under (the cart),” Boylan
said.

She said she feared her life was over.

“I thought that was
it,” Boylan said. “My head is going under that tire and that’s the end of me.”

She heard people shouting at Pearce.

“I heard everybody
screaming ‘stop, stop, stop,’ but she wouldn’t stop,” Boylan said. “She went
faster.”

After the cart finally stopped, Pearce made her getaway in
another golf cart. Deputies later found Pearce “visibly intoxicated” at her
home, according to the report.

Boylan was left badly bruised and
emotionally battered.

“I couldn’t think,” she said Thursday. “I was
terrified. I still am. But they just told me she can’t come near me.”

Pearce told a psychologist in August she was angry at Boylan because she
had spray-painted Pearce’s girlfriend’s car, according to a psychological
evaluation in the court file.

Boylan denied Thursday, as she has done in
the past, that she had anything to do with spray-painting the car. Boylan said
she has never had a problem with the woman who owns the car and wouldn’t do
anything to her.

Pearce told the psychologist she had been doing well on

a combination of Xanax, (for anxiety) Zoloft (for depression) and Geodon (for
bipolar disorder and other problems) but just before the golf cart incident she
no longer could get Geodon, the report states. The medication withdrawal
produced agitation, restlessness and anxiety, as well as depression and social
avoidance, the report states.

Pearce admitted to having had two or three
beers before the incident, the report states.

frank.fernandez @news-jrnl.com

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Over 81% Took An Antidepressant or ADHD Med Before Being Diagnosed Bipolar

WOW!! This certainly makes the connection between the use of these drugs and Bipolar Disorder obvious! But is this suppose to be a big surprise?!

From my new DVD, Bipolar, Shmypolar, Are You Really Bipolar or Misdiagnosed Due to the Use of or Abrupt Discontinuation of an Antidepressant?, let me give you a quick synopsis.

An ANTI-depressant is the opposite of a depressant and is what?

That is correct. It is a stimulant.

What is bipolar? It is a continuous series of mild seizures.

What produces seizures? STIMULANTS, like antidepressants and amphetamines – Ritalin, etc.!

Chemically inducing Bipolar Disorder to create a whole new customer base for the new and high priced atypical antipsychotics is not the least bit difficult when you start patients out on stimulant medications, like Ritalin and antidepressants. That is especially true when given to a young patient with yet growing and developing, and therefore more vulnerable, brain!

Ann Blake-Tracy, Executive Director,
International Coalition for Drug Awareness
www.drugawareness.org & www.ssristories.drugawareness.org
Author: Prozac: Panacea or Pandora? Our
Serotonin Nightmare and audio: Help! I Can’t
Get Off My Antidepressant ()

Sixth sentence reads: “During the year before the new diagnosis of bipolar disorder, youths were commonly diagnosed as having depressive disorder (46.5%) or disruptive behavior disorder (36.7%) and had often filled a prescription for an antidepressant (48.5%), stimulant (33.0%), mood stabilizer (31.8%), or antipsychotic (29.1%].”

http://psychservices.psychiatryonline.org/cgi/content/abstract/60/8/1098

Psychiatr Serv 60:1098-1106, August 2009
doi: 10.1176/appi.ps.60.8.1098
© 2009 American Psychiatric Association

Article

Mental Health Treatment Received by Youths in the Year Before and After a New Diagnosis of Bipolar Disorder
Mark Olfson, M.D., M.P.H., Stephen Crystal, Ph.D., Tobias Gerhard, Ph.D., Cecilia S. Huang, Ph.D. and Gabrielle A. Carlson, M.D.

Dr. Olfson is affiliated with the Department of Psychiatry, Columbia University, New York State Psychiatric Institute, 1051 Riverside Dr., New York, NY 10032 (e-mail: mo49@columbia.edu ). Dr. Crystal and Dr. Huang are with the Institute for Health, Health Care Policy, and Aging Research, and Dr. Gerhard is with the Ernest Mario School of Pharmacy, both at Rutgers University, New Brunswick, New Jersey. Dr. Carlson is with the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Medicine, Stony Brook University School of Medicine, Stony Brook, New York.

OBJECTIVE: Despite a marked increase in treatment for bipolar disorder among youths, little is known about their pattern of service use. This article describes mental health service use in the year before and after a new clinical diagnosis of bipolar disorder. METHODS: Claims were reviewed between April 1, 2004, and March 31, 2005, for 1,274,726 privately insured youths (17 years and younger) who were eligible for services at least one year before and after a service claim; 2,907 youths had new diagnosis of bipolar disorder during this period. Diagnoses of other mental disorders and prescriptions filled for psychotropic drugs were assessed in the year before and after the initial diagnosis of bipolar disorder. RESULTS: The one-year rate of a new diagnosis of bipolar disorder was .23%. During the year before the new diagnosis of bipolar disorder, youths were commonly diagnosed as having depressive disorder (46.5%) or disruptive behavior disorder (36.7%) and had often filled a prescription for an antidepressant (48.5%), stimulant (33.0%), mood stabilizer (31.8%), or antipsychotic (29.1%). Most youths with a new diagnosis of bipolar disorder had only one (28.8%) or two to four (28.7%) insurance claims for bipolar disorder in the year starting with the index diagnosis. The proportion starting mood stabilizers after the index diagnosis was highest for youths with five or more insurance claims for bipolar disorder (42.1%), intermediate for those with two to four claims (24.2%), and lowest for those with one claim (13.8%). CONCLUSIONS: Most youths with a new diagnosis of bipolar disorder had recently received treatment for depressive or disruptive behavior disorders, and many had no claims listing a diagnosis of bipolar disorder after the initial diagnosis. The service pattern suggests that a diagnosis of bipolar disorder is often given tentatively to youths treated for mental disorders with overlapping symptom profiles and is subsequently reconsidered.

Related Article:
August 2009: This Month’s Highlights Psychiatr Serv 2009 60: 1009. [Full Text] [PDF]

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ANTIDEPRESSANT: Psychiatrist Goes Nuts: Diagnosed Bipolar as They All Are!

Paragraphs 6 through 9 read: “Munn lost his license to practice psychiatry in Montana in 2003, after having an ongoing sexual relationship with one of his patients. His marriage dissolved around the same time. Already being treated for depression, Munn’s condition was rediagnosed, and with the help of counseling and medicine, he rebuilt his life into one where he’s succeeding while living with a mental illness.”

“Anti-depressants didn’t help the manic side of Munn’s bipolar disorder. At times his thoughts raced. He didn’t sleep. He had grandiose ideas ­ like how to fix the entire mental health system in the state of Montana.”

“And he believed he could do anything he wanted.”

“’I felt rules didn’t apply to me. That would be grandiosity,’ he said. ‘But they do. And that’s accepting that you have a mental illness’.”

http://www.helenair.com/articles/2009/08/02/top/55lo_090802_mh2.txt

Psychiatrist brings himself back from the brink of suicide

By JOHN HARRINGTON – Independent Record – 08/02/09

Eliza Wiley Independent Record – Nathan Munn has fought back from some very low places. Rather than ending his life, the psychiatrist chose to seek treatment for his bipolar disorder and began a new career teaching psychology courses and developing a mental health direct care program at University of Montana-Helena.
In 2003, with his career and home in very public shambles, Nathan Munn nearly committed suicide.

But rather than end his life, the psychiatrist chose not to pull the trigger one fateful night. He subsequently got treatment, including psychotherapy and medications, for his bipolar mood disorder.

Now, Munn is an instructor at the University of Montana-Helena, teaching psychology courses and developing a mental health direct care program that trains students how to be direct caregivers, counselors and other types of mental health professionals.

“I’m really thankful for my job at UM-Helena,” said Munn, 49, in a candid interview last week. “And I hope that my story can be of some inspiration along with my teaching. It’s my intention that I’m still helping in the community, but now with education as opposed to direct providing of psychiatric care.”

Munn admits somewhat nervously that his past is still “hard to talk about.” He chooses his words carefully, often pausing between sentences. He’s told his humbling story before, and maybe it’s getting a little easier ­ but not much. Remorse hangs deep in his eyes.

Munn lost his license to practice psychiatry in Montana in 2003, after having an ongoing sexual relationship with one of his patients. His marriage dissolved around the same time. Already being treated for depression, Munn’s condition was rediagnosed, and with the help of counseling and medicine, he rebuilt his life into one where he’s succeeding while living with a mental illness.

Anti-depressants didn’t help the manic side of Munn’s bipolar disorder. At times his thoughts raced. He didn’t sleep. He had grandiose ideas ­ like how to fix the entire mental health system in the state of Montana.

And he believed he could do anything he wanted.

“I felt rules didn’t apply to me. That would be grandiosity,” he said. “But they do. And that’s accepting that you have a mental illness.”

Mental illnesses are by no means limited to those on the fringes of society. Millions of Americans of all walks of life ­ blue collar and white, laborers and professionals ­ live daily with schizophrenia, depression, bipolar mood disorder and other diagnosable and treatable conditions.

Mike Larson of Dillon is director of the State Bar of Montana’s Lawyer Assistance Program, which was created in 2006 after several attorneys committed suicide in Missoula.

“Lawyers, from the first call in the morning to the last e-mail at night, are busy dealing with everyone else’s problems,” Larson said. “So what do they do when their own problems kick in?”

Larson said that from a population of 2,800 members of the bar in Montana, he takes calls from eight to 10 new clients a month, around a third of which are related to mental illness, with another third dealing with chemical dependency. He said many lawyers are reticent to call the program, either out of fear that others will learn of their treatment and their careers will suffer, or from simple denial.

“There are a lot of stereotypes out there about what mental illness is, and there’s that whole component of not wanting to be under the stigma of mental illness,” Larson said.

For Munn, day-to-day life means a regimen of a mood-stabilizing drug and an anti-depressant, acknowledgement of and taking responsibility for the mistakes he made and a resolve to move forward knowing the illness will likely be with him for the rest of his life.

“It’s not like there’s one day that you no longer have a mental illness,” he said. “On appropriate treatment, it can be in remission. And you stay on your meds and you do the psychological work necessary, and you move forward.

“I hate to say it because it sounds like it’s bragging, but it takes courage. You have to face this, you face what you did, you face having a mental illness, and you accept other aspects of your life.”

Munn doesn’t hide from his condition, and hopes that sharing his story will comfort others who find themselves in similar positions.

“One of the main things I want to say is when you have a mental illness, you have to acknowledge that that’s there, and that you have it,” he said. “I have a bipolar disorder, I am not bipolar. It is something that I have, it is not something that I am. A lot of people say, ‘I am bipolar.’ Well, what does that mean? You don’t say, ‘I am congestive heart failure. I am sinusitis.’ It’s not who you are, it’s what you have.”

Just as there are ways to characterize people living with mental illness, there are productive ways to discuss the illnesses themselves, Munn said.

“(People) talked about the dark recesses of the mind. That’s not the way to talk about it,” he said. “The term ‘dark recess’ has such a negative connotation, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, that’s not it. They’re not dark recesses. It’s neuropathology. It’s limbic system disregulation. And it’s the cognitions, the thinking that goes along with it.

“That’s a tough thing for people to get, but I think it’s crucial for people to get that as they’re recovering from a mental illness, that our brains and our minds are the same thing. So when I have negative cognitions, when I’m thinking that people would be better off without me, that’s the psychological part.

“And that’s a key point for people, is that what you’re thinking psychologically and what your brain is doing physically, we don’t know how it’s the same function, but it is the same function. The subjective psychology that you’re feeling as a person with a mental illness, is the psychological aspect of the biological process, and yes, it is a real illness. The idea that a psychological illness is somehow not real is just absurd. That’s crazy.”

Many mental illnesses can be directly traced to chemical imbalances or other physical abnormalities in the brain. But having a mental illness can’t by itself be an excuse for any actions, good bad or otherwise.

“You don’t want to use it as an excuse to justify behaviors. You have to take accountability. Personal accountability is necessary for recovery, it just is,” he said. “It takes humility, it takes a lot of work, it takes compliance.

“I made huge mistakes. My choices were horrible. Despicable, really, is the term to use. I hurt a lot of people. I hurt patients that I had, the person herself and her family, and of course my family. I feel sorry and apologetic about that every day. Especially for my children, I feel horrible and always will.

“One of the points I would like to make is, yes, I have this bipolar disorder. To deny I do would be to deny I have a mental illness. But I also completely accept responsibility and accountability for my actions. And that’s a very important point: recovery requires personal accountability. Yes, I have a major mental illness, and yes, I am responsible for my actions. Those aren’t mutually exclusive.”

Treating a mental illness isn’t a guarantee of happiness. Life still presents challenges, and treatment gives those suffering from mental illness a better chance at facing those challenges head-on and coming out ahead.

“Life has struggles, with or without a mental illness,” Munn said. “Having your mental illness treated doesn’t mean your life is wonderful. You’re still going to have the struggles that everyone has. But you’ll also have wonderful things. I’m a grandfather. And that’s wonderful. If I had killed myself, I wouldn’t have known this joy of having a granddaughter.

“You have to accept mental health care of various types, and you need to know that it’s worth it, that treatments are available, the science is there, people do recover, illnesses do go into remission. Of all chronic illnesses to have, having a mental illness is not bad. Treatments are available, and you can live a long, good life having your mental illness treated.”

Larson of the Lawyer Assistance Program acknowledged that people need to want to treat their illnesses.

“There are a lot of people out there that still need the help that haven’t come forward or recognized they need the help,” Larson said. “Not only are they in denial that they have a problem, they’re in denial that everyone knows they have a problem.”

And even if the disease goes into remission or becomes manageable, a person must be diligent, even when things are going well.

“It’s not something you mess around with. And that’s OK,” Munn said. “Mental illnesses are chronic illnesses. People have the idea that, ‘Oh no, I’m going to be on medications for life.’ Well yeah, you are. And that’s all right, you have a chronic illness. There are a lot of chronic illnesses, not just psychiatric ones. And people who have those, like type 1 diabetes, will be on insulin. It’s accepted. So it’s a chronic illness, you accept that.”

And the more acceptance there is, across a broader swath of Montana at large, the easier it will be for people to summon the strength to get the help they need, to confront the illness, and to assume the places so many of them deserve as productive members of society.

To view the complete series on mental health care services in Montana, click here.

John Harrington: 447-4080 or john.harrington@helenair.com.

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