What you need to know before starting a drug for a mental health problem

Joanna Moncrieff

In a belated new-year blog, I thought it would be useful to set out what I think someone needs to think about if they are considering taking a drug for a mental health problem, especially if they think they might end up taking the drug for a long time. These are the questions you might want to ask your doctor if you take a ‘drug-centred’ approach to the use of drugs in mental health (http://joannamoncrieff.com/2013/11/21/models-of-drug-action/).

1. What immediate effects will the drug have?

We need to know how taking a drug for a short time is likely to affect our feelings, thoughts and behaviour. Data from animal studies and ‘human volunteer’ studies can establish how a particular drug changes ordinary behaviour, feelings and mental capacities, but unfortunately, for many sorts of drug, this sort of research remains scanty or unpublished. However, the internet provides increasing opportunities for people…

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