Questions & Answers on Psychiatric Medications
Tadao Ogura, M.D.
Are Psychiatric Medications "Mind-Altering"?
This seems to be a very common misconception also. In reality, most "psychiatric medications" are NOT mind-altering drugs but, rather, "mind-healing" or "mind-enhancing" agents. Psychiatric medications have been formulated to compensate or enhance the brain functions, and research suggests that this actually helps the brain heal itself. If any medication causes any "mind-altering" effects on anyone, they are either not right for that person or have been blatantly misused or abused.
What most people refer to as "mind-altering drugs" are the class of drugs such as narcotics, barbiturates, amphetamines, and hallucinogenics. When used improperly, these drugs interfere with your normal mental or emotional functions, which is why people consider them to be "mind-altering." Since many "mind-altering drugs" such as Heroin, Cocaine, Cannabis and various Hallucinogens are illegal drugs, they carry a bad image and promote fear and misunderstanding regarding the "mind-altering" aspects of drugs and medications, including psychiatric medications.
In fact, some medications that are classified as "amphetamines" are used in the management of geriatric depression and Attention Deficit Disorders, and do not cause "mind-altering" effects when used properly, as opposed to "recreationally." Many barbiturates are also used as anti-seizure or anti-anxiety agents and are not addictive if used under medical supervision.
Ironically, the most widely abused "mind-altering drug" is alcohol and it is not even illegal! Consequently, too many people feel free to abuse it and fall into alcoholism. But these people, who feel free to abuse alcohol, which is truly "mind-altering," often are afraid of psychiatric medications because they might be "mind altering." It is funny and ridiculous when you stop and think about it.
In short, you do not have to worry about any "mind-altering" aspects of psychiatric medication as long as you take them under the proper supervision of a qualified physician, and you strictly follow the directions of use that you are given.