Tag Archives: dopamine

Antipsychotics Block Pleasure in Life: It’s All About Dopamine…

It has always been about Dopamine, but they never told us that impeding our dopamine receptors would impair our ability to feel pleasure and the high of "reward" -- No wonder our "negative symptoms of "not wanting to do" so many things! The drugs blocked our native dopamine flow! (Decades ago they knew that it has NOTHING whatsoever to do with schizophrenia, but they persisted in the lie nevertheless...
It has always been about Dopamine, but they never told us that impeding our dopamine receptors would impair our ability to feel pleasure and the high of “reward” — No wonder our “negative symptoms of “not wanting to do” so many things! The drugs blocked our native dopamine flow! (Decades ago they knew that it has NOTHING whatsoever to do with schizophrenia, but they persisted in the lie nevertheless…

To explain the picture/letters above, I was practicing some lettering, briefly, and did not know what I was writing until later…which makes what I wrote all the more interesting a message from my subconscious.  Clearly I agree with almost everyone else I have ever heard from: Haldol is the drug from hell!  About the rest of it, well, Psychiatrie macht frie derives from the sign that was posted above Auschwitz and other concentration camps during WWII, Arbeit macht frei, or Work makes (you) free. So this transposition is meant to suggest (sardonically) that psychiatry will free you in just the same way… NOT!

What particularly sickens me personally is the damage the fiction called the Dopamine Hypothesis  — how an excess of dopamine causes schizophrenia — may have done to the millions of people like me who have taken antipsychotic drugs for decades, unknowingly buying into the medical model and this notion that we somehow had too much dopamine coursing around in our brains.

Life is ALL about dopamine, LIFE has always been about dopamine. Here are some of the human functions to which dopamine is essential

  • movement
  • memory
  • pleasurable reward
  • behavior and cognition
  • attention
  • inhibition of prolactin production
  • sleep
  • mood
  • learning

Why on earth would anyone deprive another human being of the one neurotransmitter that allows us to feel good about things? It would seem to be a diabolical plot, if anyone actually did such a thing, right? And yet, for decades right on through today, that is what doctors want us to do, block the transmission of dopamine to the brains of those of us diagnosed with schizophrenia. They know, of course, that it is impossible, that the brain up-regulates the flow of dopamine in such a way as to thwart at least in part the antipsychotic receptor blockade. Homeostasis will be re-established eventually, even if at abnormal levels due to the drug’s presence.*

No one can live without dopamine, after all. But to understand the necessity of dopamine, and that they have known for years that an imbalance of dopamine metabolism is NOT implicated in schizophrenia, and finally to “grok” that they have nonetheless perpetuated the lie that is the “dopamine hypothesis” just boggles the mind with its enormity. How can we believe anything they tell us about negative symptoms, now, when  as one website informs us:

“Low D2 receptor-binding is found in people with social anxiety or social phobia. Some features of negative schizophrenia (social withdrawal, apathy, anhedonia) are thought to be related to a low dopaminergic state in certain areas of the brain.”

The atypical AP drugs induce a D2 receptor blockade as a matter of course. After all, if you don’t feel any reward-sense from your life and living, your normal dopamine being in an antipsychotic blockade, why would you want to change your clothes, or take care of yourself, much less bother to go to work or even think? But we have been led to believe that such negative symptoms are part of schizophrenia and NOT part of the drug treatments for it! No one told us they were taking away all our incentive to do anything, to even move or think. They told us they were helping us, not hurting us, not destroying our lives!

Even more diabolical, to my way of thinking is the idea that some doctors actually add an atypical antipsychotic onto the treatment of mere depression. Can you imagine how you would feel if you were taking an SSRI (which is ineffective) and which already deprived you of sexual satisfaction or any sexual feelings at all, and then you are given an adjunctive antipsychotic that subsequently deprives you of dopamine? It might add twenty to forty pounds or even more in no time, up your cholesterol and blood sugar, and then deprive you of any feelings of reward or pleasure…Ah but it will boost your antidepressant’s antidepressant activity? J’en doute fortement… I doubt it highly!

What do the doctors care? Either they bought into the drug company’s literature and haven’t read anything independently since med school…or they are on the take themselves from Big Pharma in some fashion and don’t give a damn.

We need to be on the look out for ourselves, because god knows the doctors are not on our sides, most of them. They cannot be. This is their bread and butter, folks esp the psychiatrists and if they cannot prescribe pills, what will they do? They won’t be “real doctors” any more and their prestige will plummet yet again…OH NO! The fact is, they need to learn to do psychotherapy again, or get out of medicine because they cannot prescribe pills that do not work, and there are none that do! None that do reliably and well or better than placebo. In fact, except for the occasional use of a benzodiazepine, and the judicious use of cognitive enhancers for the proper people, and meds for sleep, I am convinced that precious few drugs in the psychoactive armamentarium are worthy of anything but the dustbin.

I think most are ONLY placebos, if they do anything at all. Frankly. And I say this despite having once written testimonials in praise of Zyprexa and other drugs…I dunno, I dunno. How could Zyprexa be anything except a placebo? It is a dirty drug that hits nearly every known neurotransmitter of importance…And yet we do not know how it does what it does…and it has horrendous side effects. That much we know. Since we do not have any reason to think  it is the action on dopamine or serotonin that is the “antipsychotic” activity, in essence we cannot say why or if it does anything at all. ALL the AAPs drugs work on the neurotransmitters in a more or less dirty fashion. In fact the OLDER drugs were less dirty, being more specific to just dopamine!

I reiterate, there is no “chemical imbalance” in schizophrenia, or bipolar “illness’ or in depression. No one has ever proven or shown any such animal ever. Only after patients have taken a drug to “treat” such conditions is there ever an “imbalance” and this imbalance is a direct result of having taken the drug. PLEASE remember this and question your doctors next time they warn you that if you stop your meds your “chemical imbalance” will reassert itself and make you sick again. Ask, “What chemical imbalance and where did it come from? What chemicals and what is the normal level I should have?” I know I know, the doctor will say, dopamine, if you “have” schizophrenia, or “serotonin” if you “have” depression. Lord knows what she will claim if you “have” bipolar tendencies of one sort or another, as so many millions upon millions of Americans these days have been told they now do…But it isn’t true. Not even if they claim it is. There has never been any proof of altered neurotransmitter levels and in fact it is the opposite: drug-naive people with schizophrenia and depression, that is to say, those who have never taken any medication, have been shown to have the exact same dopamine and serotonin levels as anyone else!

As for those who suffer from the condition called “bipolar” — You know, it used to be a very rare condition,  manic-depression. Now, you see “bipolars” coming out of the woodwork everywhere. One used to have to have been crazy-manic at least once, to the extent of having been hospitalized to qualify for the diagnosis, and this made sense as it was restrictive and not a broad umbrella. Given that the illness was considered a very serious one, no one wanted to bring too many within the definition. Now, with so many drugs used to “treat” (ha ha ha) the condition,  and with the help of DSM IV and 5 to bring patients to the drug companies’ financial assistance, you need only complain of a garden variety “depression” to be counted as bipolar…

But remember: 1) the drug companies treating bipolar etc only want to make money, 2) the drugs treat something — a neurotransmitter imbalance that doesn’t exist 3) bipolarity is a fiction that keeps lengthening, like Pinocchio’s nose, with every newly expanded definition…

Think about malaria, a real illness. It doesn’t make more people ill just because it gets redefined. Malaria is caused by a protozoan (injected through the bite of a mosquito), and it sickens people who are vulnerable to the ravages of that organism inside the body…in the same way each time. You don’t “get” malaria more because a financially- interconnected organization of doctors/drug companies decides to change the definition of what constitutes malaria. No, you  get malaria the way people always gotten malaria, largely through not using mosquito nets and other preventive measures…i.e. via a mosquito bite.

Ay, this is NUTS! It should not be so fricking easy to fit everyone into a diagnostic category of mental illness.  Emotions are NOT illnesses by definition, they are normal and necessary, even excessive emotional reactions are quite normal; they happen every day to everyday normal people. Some cultures define themselves by their emotionality! It behooves us to remember this and not pathologize it.

So too, think of this: depression frequently is just sadness, folks. We used to know the truth of the saying, “This too will pass…” There are problems in living that are just problems in living, and I think that some people for whatever reason are simply miserable, without having a mental illness. They would not do better being labeled with an illness or being treated for one. In fact, I have seen people in states of abject misery do a great deal worse under the burden of a label…

I have had it. I do not trust a drug company or a prescription at all, none of them. The foxes are in charge of the chickens and they are up to no good, no good at all. So this weekend I am OFF all Abilify. HURRAY! After that I start cutting out the Geodon…(I have already halved the Ritalin simultaneously with the decrease of Abilify. I had to, I simply don’t need the Ritalin as much, as I am not as sleepy. After Geodon, there is only the Topamax, which I take for seizures and migraines.. Have to decide about that one. I want to be off it, I really do. But can i?**

*Note that although some of these conclusions are my own, I drew most of the research I have based them on from my readings in Robert Whitaker’s fine books MAD IN AMERICA and ANATOMY OF AN EPIDEMIC. I highly recommend reading both of them, which can be accessed through the link I provide at the top of the page in my blogroll. The link goes directly to ANATOMY but MAD can be found easily through there. Good reading! And please do let me know what you think at any time. (Adding this note at a later time, very much the same information can be found in Dr Joanne Moncrieff’s books — a British psychiatrist who came to similar conclusions as Whitaker. Her book on antipsyhcotics is THE BITTEREST PILLS, and her book on psychtherapeutic drugs in general is THE MYTH OF THE CHEMICAL CURE.

**writing in Dec 2017 i have never been able to get off the Geodon or the Abilify, nor the other drugs, though i have cut the Geodon in half somewhat successfully. (I am unable to speak at present, but i do not believe the two are linked, as i dropped the Geodon/ziprasidone dose more than a month ago and the muteness started less than a week ago). That said, i still do not believe they help me. I just maintain that once you have been on these drugs for literally decades as i have been, more or less by force, then your brain changes in response and ends up “imbalanced” and in that sense alone does need the drugs.

Changing Therapists and Current Concerns

When I was in the hospital this past February, I made the tentative decision to leave Dr O, despite having seen her and indeed depended upon her for nine years. At the time, I was feeling, I dunno, burned? Not in the sense of angry but in the sense of, uh, oh, I’d better cut out while I am not too hated, because soon she really will be sick of me and won’t remember anything about me but how much she hated me…Where did that come from? Well, you might laugh, but I did not. It came from having called her on her cell phone, as she has encouraged me to do, on a working day, and reached her instead of her answering machine. I had wanted to know if she had informed the book publisher about my hospitalization. I was taken aback by the sharpness and peremptory note in her voice as she answered. It did not sound like her .

“I, uh, it’s me, Pam, I was calling to –”

“Yes, Pam, what do you want?”

“It sounds like you are sick. I’ll call back later. I was expecting your answering machine anyway.”

“Tell me now. I don’t want to have to answer my machine or call back later.”

“But it is clear you are in a bad mood. I don’t want to talk to you now…”

“I’m not in a bad mood, I’m ill and you are calling me at home.”

“How was I to know that. It is a work day and this is your cell phone, you shouldn’t have picked up if you are sick. You are allowed to be sick you know…”

“Why did you call?”

So I told her, then when she said she would call the Press, I hung up. But I felt terrible, because it was clear that she was angry and it felt personal, felt as though she was angry at me. But I didn’t know why, could only imagine, and so I did, I came up with 100 reasons why she might be angry with me, hate me, want to get rid of me or leave me…This is important, that reasoning, because is lies directly beneath my first impulse to leave her, though it is not and was not in the end my primary motivation. Because I feared she wanted to leave me, I determined to leave her first. It was an old old story, and not a healthy one at all.

But as I said, in the final analysis, it was not really the reason I wanted to find another doctor. No, that was for two other more reasonable, um, reasons: one was that I did not want to have to traverse the state to see her any longer. It took me all the morning and part of the afternoon to do so, which ended up exhausting me for the rest of the day. That, plus the fact that I did not even drive myself, so it cost me extra to pay Josephine to drive me there and back. But more than that was the fact that the doc at the hospital was so – what? not into power, not into authority, or at least played it that way. He would ASK me what drugs worked for me and at what dose. And then proceed to prescribe precisely those drugs, not just ask me and then ignore what I said. Dr O never asked me what drug I wanted or what drug worked for me, simply decreed what I would take and then asked me to take them. She only listened to me when i refused to take them, perforce.

Now, this is not to make Dr O seem like any sort of dictator, because in fact I was very resistant and noncompliant, and often refused any med at all that seemed to help, so I could be infuriating. Also I was in and out of the hospital when not taking her meds. It was only she who had the patience to work with me for 6 years to finally find a combo that worked for me without any undesirable side effects (except a little sleepiness) so that I’ll take it willingly. Nevertheless, I think she is so used to my being ill that she cannot actually treat me like an equal, and someone who might be getting better..For instance, I really need to be able to call my shrink by his or her first name, esp if they call me Pam, which i would insist upon (because I cannot feel comfortable sharing personal information with someone who still calls me Miss Wagner!). It is patently ridiculous at my age that I should call someone twenty years younger than me by a title when they do not use one for me…But I would rather be Miss W than Pam if he or she is going to be Dr so and so at age 35-45!

Anyhow, where was I? Reasons why I was leaving Dr O. Yes, well, be that as it may, I had a feeling as well that she herself was not going to be staying. Don’t know why, but I just had this strange niggling feeling that somehow it was time, or would be. Then I mentioned, in my first appointment post-hospital that I might need to have some help finding a local therapist. She did not seem surprised or if she did, did not object at all, mentioned in fact that she was leaving her sleep practice in June, which precluded my continuing on as her sleep patient in any event. That gave me the first indication. Then when I returned two weeks later, which was last week, I said to myself, I know she is ending her practice of psychiatry as well, because she is moving, moving away, moving, well, inland…I knew this with absolute conviction, not delusionally. I knew I could be wrong, and I was hoping I was. But somewhere deep down I suspected I was not.

I was so exactly on the money it was uncanny. She was moving, was ending her practice. I asked her if she was moving inland. She made light of it, said she wasn’t going closer to the coast if that’s what I meant, but that wasn’t the point of moving. I said I doubted that…And she said nothing. But it scared me, as it always does, because I still feel that I will drown when Antarctica and Greenland melt, as they will MUCH sooner than any scientist now predicts…

I will not continue on that path at this time, however. I was speaking of changing therapists. So now I have made an appointment to see someone new, and only 10 mintues away from me, close enough that I can actually drive there myself. Very close, in fact, to the Vision Therapist I used to see. I do not know how to interview a prospective psychiatrist, or to doctor shop. All the other switches have simply been handed me, and they stuck, or I stuck with them as they seemed reasonably good, and i liked them. But this time, I have no one to hand me someone with their imprimatur and am on my own. I don’t know how to do this. Will I know who is good, who I can trust? I am very bad at that, trusting all the wrong people. Well, this person at least comes recommended by someone Dr O knows well, or at least knows. That ought to count for something. But it is a he, and I have not seen a male shrink in many years, nor had a good experience yet. Dunno how that will go.

But things change and so do people. The doc in the hospital was male, both of them were, and I liked them both. So maybe this time I could tolerate it. Dunno, but we’ll see. If I can, I will write again on April 1, which is when I have the consultation. Will let you know how it went, if it turns out to have been productive in any fashion.

Note: All the information that I have been reading points to two things that I find very disturbing: one is that Inderal (propranolol) which I take for akathisia, a side effect of many psychotropics but for me of Geodon, apparently and quite effectively “blocks traumatic memory.” Now this would be fine, except that it seems to block the formation of emotional memories of ALL bad events, or at least block the bad emotional memories of the events, such that if you recall the event, you cannot actually go back and feel the way you did at the time. Now I imagine that this would be desirable for most people, who usually do not want to suffer from their memories, but I feel deprived of so much of my life, having been on Inderal or a beta blocker (the same class of drugs) for thirty years. I never knew why i could not quite feel the memories I wrote about the way others seemed to be able to feel their memories…I can see them, but I am outside of them, looking on. I feel nothing. I literally look in and see myeslf from the outside, that is how detached I am from the person I used to be, all because, as i believe, I have no emotional recall of the event. Which is why I want to stop taking the inderal…If my blood pressure rises (it is also effective for that) then I will deal with it another way, but I need to see if not taking the Inderal brings back something vital to my memory.

Number two is much more problematic, because it involves the very medications that keep most of usw with this ilness sane and this side of an institution: most antipsychotics and even the SSRI antidepressants block dopamine to a greater or lesser degree. Now no one knows where or even if people with schizophrenia are actually suffering from an excess in dopamine. That is the theory and it may be that dopamine is involved in some fashion but it is not the whole story, The newest drugs are now working on glutamate, another neurotransmitter entirely. Either neurottransmitter may not affect the entire brain the same way. What is certain is that the drugs tamp the dopamine levels down. Supposedly this is only down to a “normal” level, but who knows what a normal level of dopamine is? We know that dopamine is the pleasure molecule, that without enough of it people become thrill seekers, needing highly exciting situations in order to experience pleasure. But what does it mean that many SSRIs cause sexual dysfunction and/or loss of interest in sex? It implies that with suppression of dopamine (and cure of depression?) the dopamine falls below “normal” producing this lowering of normal pleasure and pleasure-seeking.

It is well known that many fewer people with schizophrenia marry, have children or even fall in love…I myself feel detached and cool, feel no particular sexual urge or even the desire to meet a significant other, let alone pursue someone with marriage in mind. Now I’m wondering if this was not me, not really, so much as the anti-dopamine drugs I’ve been taking most of my life…What a tragedy if the reason I feel no love for anyone is the lack of dopamine the drugs forced on me! What a pity if the coldness I feel towards all of my life and all people in truth, is due more to my drugs, the inderal as well as the anti-dopamines than to any deficient genetic make-up . It’s like the wind farms and the sonar of nuclear submarines etc. We build them as if they are reasonably green, having zero effect on the enironment. only to find out years later that the effect was devastating. (I suspect that the wind currents and subsonic vibrations given off by mega-windfarms might be discombobulating our honeybees and even undermining the vitality of our bats (both dying off alarmingly in 2009). What I mean is, we have developed all these so-called miracle drugs for schizophrenia and depression etc but do we really know what they do to the person, quite apart from the alleged antipsychotic effects? What about other costs to the individual? What are they and has anyone thought to look for them? Does anyone have a choice in the matter? Is it fair? (Obviously no, it is not fair, but then life isn’t fair, so that is a silly question…) Should they have a say, a choice?

These are notions that currently concern me. I wonder if anyone else has been pondering them…If the honeybees and bats and dying whales and dolphins deserve our attention, as most surely surely they do, the highest priority, I would hope that somewhere down the pecking order we with schizophrenia might deserve someone taking a good hard look at just what the suppression of dopamine might be doing to us in the larger picture as well as the smalller one. Just as schizophrenia, I am convinced , does NOT condemn one to obestiy, but the drugs do, just so I believe that the drugs do a number on us the full nature of which we have no inkling of.

Note: this is NOT to encourage anyone to stop taking their medication. Obviously I still take mine, fearing psychosis and the return of the voices far more than I want some dopamine at this point. But I ‘d like some input in the matter, too, and wish they’d develop some better drug or treatment protocol than the present one. Surely I can still be human even with schizophrenia. What with Inderal and the antipsychotics etc I feel more like an automaton, or Mr Spock or Data.