Questions & Answers on Psychiatric Medications
Tadao Ogura, M.D.
How Safe Are Psychiatric Medications?
There are many different classes of medications. Over-the-counter medications are considered to be the safest - safe enough to be administered by consumers themselves by following the directions on the packages. Many of these medications, like aspirin or acetaminophen (e.g. Tylenol) have not necessarily been tested extensively, but have been around for so long that they are "Generally Recognized As Safe and Effective" by the FDA, as long as the consumer sticks to the dosages and indications on their packages.
Prescription medications have all undergone extensive testing on both animals and humans over many years, with results scrutinized by the FDA before they are approved. When they are approved, all the proper usage, dosages, side effects, interactions with other medications, etc. are all documented.
Thus, any medication approved and regulated by the FDA can be generally considered safe and effective, as long as they are used under the advice and direction of a physician. All psychiatric medications, not surprisingly, are prescription medications and, therefore, the same principle applies to them.
Unfortunately, however, this does not mean that all prescription medications are safe. As discussed earlier in this booklet, medically, we are NOT created equal and, therefore, may still develop "bad reactions" to medications that are completely safe for everybody else.
The only way to settle the issue of safety is to resort to your body's "natural wisdom." Only your body can tell you if a medication is right or wrong for you.