Bipolar diagnosis takes years off life #bipolarlife

Warning: Suddenly stopping any psychiatric drug typically results in very unpleasant  feelings, changes in energy levels and the potential for distorted thinking. There is a lot of pre-work to be done to successfully come off drugs.

My belief: Most of the damage done by drugs is through taking too much for too long, rather because any one chemical is especially more dangerous than another. Taking a small amount of an appropriate drug every day may in fact be the best way to get through life. If the drug is making you ill, then you need to get help so you can take less of it.

Suggestion: If your doctor will not discuss your prescription with you, think about ways to find a doctor who knows about emotions, medication, risks and can help you get the dose right.

Some say bipolar diagnosis takes 25 years off life expectancy

I didn’t want to have to say any more about psychiatric drug risks at this time. The trouble is doctors do not seem to be aware of the risks.

There are many reasons why the people diagnosed with bipolar tend to die younger than people with similar emotional distress who avoid diagnosis. From scans of brains damaged by prolonged use of psychiatric drugs we know drugs contribute to early death.

Here is a quote from and a link to a recent article discussing research into early death among those who take psychiatric drugs…

…second-generation antipsychotic drugs can trigger metabolic syndrome, which is associated with a two- to threefold increase in death from cardiovascular disease and a twofold increase in deaths from all causes combined.

from Dr Jane Collingwood’s article: Premature Death Rates Rising in Schizophrenia, Bipolar Patients

Doctors need help in understanding how people can return to good mental health without the need to diagnose. Here is a link for: doctors who would like to know more about emotional people getting by without the need for diagnosis and with little need for medication

About Roger Smith (in the UK)
Helping you to think about bipolar disorder in different ways so that we can eliminate the disorder and eventually eliminate the need for this diagnosis.

4 Responses to Bipolar diagnosis takes years off life #bipolarlife

  1. Excellent, thought-provoking stuff! A measured response to what can only be translated as “silence” from the people you assume should know better.

    Roger, you are a scientist, researcher, writer, and friend.

    More power to you as you seek truth and reconciliation for all.


  2. Ruth says:

    Not the best news I’ve had recently…….
    In twenty five years I have tried coming off my medication only to feel even worse than I was before. So, for me,weaning myself off my meds is not an option.
    For those who have won the battle that is wonderful but,for the rest of us,we don’t need written articles of possible reduced life expectancy.


    • Roger Smith says:

      Hi Ruth,

      (I am keen to discuss where is going and how I am hoping you can help me stay on track)

      You are correct. It is very difficult coming off psychiatric drugs. Someone told me the other day that he found it easier to stop smoking. How difficult it is to get off varies from person to person. I accept that after many tries it does seem impossible and for some is not a realistic goal, especially when we consider there is no support from those who supply the drugs. Certainly the NHS have NO appropriate procedures to help people taper off the drugs.

      “For those who have won the battle that is wonderful” – from my own experience and most people I know who have successfully withdrawn and now live without drugs it is rarely if ever wonderful. We are still emotional people struggling in a world that wants to label us as being ill. There is a lot of pressure on us to go back to the old medication or to try the latest wonder-drugs. We are told things like, “It is OK this one is not addictive.” Family and friends are troubled and are unlikely to ever get their heads around why we took drugs and now do not.

      Also for many (most) who come off their drugs they effectively lose all access to health services as every ailment, (headache, back-ache, abdominal pain, urinary-tract-infection…) are all seen as symptoms of not taking the drugs. Some of us who come off the drugs live in fear of going to the doctor.

      Also the way I have presented the facts above implies it is the drugs that are killing us. The reality is more complex with all kinds of stigma and our own shame certainly having a big effect too. How bad are these drugs? I have an article explaining how psychiatric drugs are probably no worse than nicotine, alcohol, cocaine etc. It is rarely one dose that kills – with most drugs it is the quantity and time for which we take the medication that influences the damage.

      (I’ll email on my thoughts on how we can get articles right first time, cut out ambiguity and make the whole site more positive.)


  3. Mark Whitehead says:


    Drugs that work on the brain, whether for a psychiatric, psychological or neurological condition are still not properly understood in many cases. This is particularly true of any practitioner who is not both seeing plenty of patients and completely up to date with research. Unfortunately, these two parts rarely go together – with any luck, the practitioner is at least one or the other!

    I suffer from depression though not bipolar. I have, in the past, suffered from epilepsy and still need to take the meds for it.

    My daughter trained as a pharmacologist, and still has plenty of the textbooks around, so one day I looked up my antiepileptic med. Essentially, it celebrates its 106th birthday this year!

    I take the preparation Mysoline. I knew that this was a modified form of phenobarbital (for once the US version of a name is more accurate; it’s an aldehyde not a ketone!) but didn’t realise just how little modified it was. The side effects are the same as phenobarbital (though I’d been told differently in the past).

    A major side effect is depression.



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