Polypharmacy: The Latest Psychiatric Fashion

Peter Stastny, M.D., Associate Professor of Psychiatry, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, film-maker and advocate for alternatives.

Over the past five years people entering the mental health system are experiencing a notable increase in the number and the type of psychotropic medications they are likely to be prescribed. For example, persons discharged form psychiatric hospitals are taking an average of five different medications, including up to three anti-psychotic drugs, one or two mood-stabilizers (generally anti-epileptic drugs), an antidepressant, and a medication to counteract side-effects. This is especially troubling as there is very little rationale provided in the literature for such an approach. It also makes it obvious that the much heralded third generation of anti-psychotics are not being viewed as an improvement on earlier drugs, but are simply being added to the old regimens. This workshop will address individual and social consequences of these recent psychiatric practices, including the rising levels of drug-induced illnesses and disabilities, the costs associated with them, and the strategies to counteract these highly problematic patterns.

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