While mania, psychosis, anxiety, agitation, hostility, depression, and confusion may be signs of mental illness, these same symptoms are referred to as side effects on the labels of the most commonly prescribed psychiatric medications used to treat mental illness.
Once Susan Florence was placed on medication, whenever she experienced a side effect from one drug, her doctor simply prescribed another until she ended up in a drug-induced frenzy for which it would have been impossible to distinguish which drug, or combination thereof, was causing the adverse reactions.
The frenzy got worse and worse until she finally realized that she would have to get off all the prescription drugs if she wanted it to end.
Klonopin is used for treating seizure disorders and panic attacks. The package insert says less serious side effects that may be likely to occur include drowsiness or dizziness, poor coordination, nervousness, and depression.
It also says, Klonopin may increase the effects of other drugs that cause drowsiness or dizziness, including alcohol, sedatives, other seizure medicines, pain relievers, antidepressants, anxiety medicines, muscle relaxants, antihistamines, and others.
In 2001, Dr Stefan Kruszewski, a Harvard-trained psychiatrist working for the Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare, began documenting cases of what he refers to as "insane polypharmacy," the widespread off-label prescribing of drugs for uses not approved by the FDA.
He found Neurontin, a drug with FDA approval for controlling seizures, "was being massively prescribed for anxiety, social phobia, PTSD, social anxiety, mood instability, sleep, oppositional defiant behavior, and attention deficit disorder."
There's almost no evidence to support these uses, Dr Kruszewski says.
There was no evidence to support placing Susan on an anti-seizure drug and doing so led to more side effects. "Between the Paxil and especially the Klonopin," she said, "I became more sedate than I wanted to be."
Mentioning this side effect, prompted the doctor to add another drug to Susan's regiment.
Next, he prescribed Provigil, "as an antidote to psychotropics that had me over-sedated," she explains.
But here again lies the problem. Susan says she never had narcolepsy. "I was just sluggish-feeling," she says, "I didn't feel sleepy at all.
Provigil was approved to treat narcolepsy. According to the August 4, 2005 Wall Street Journal, Provigil was approved by the FDA in 1998, to treat excessive sleepiness and in 2003, it was approved to for the treatment of "shift-work sleep disorder."