Yesterday afternoon I participated in my first mental health call-in talk show with Priya Menon from CureTalk, Dr. Kamran Fallahpour, Jennifer Robinson, and Erin King Reitz. This was such a great experience for me and I was very nervous! Everything went well, however, and I hope that the listeners found Dr. Fallahpour’s information helpful. I am so glad that other people, especially other women are getting the opportunity to speak about mental health. Education and building awareness for mental health issues are so important.
Dr. Fallahpour’s work focuses on brain functioning. His research examines different types of brain activity such as memory and cognitive functioning. He has been developing a database which can be used to help individuals suffering from mental illness find the medication that works best for them. Dr. Fallahpour states “The prescription of most psychiatric medication is based on trial and error, with some individuals going months or even years before finding the right combination of medication.” Dr. Fallahpour hopes that the database he has been working on which collects brain, cognitive, and genomic data can be used to objectively predict a patient’s response to the different medications that are currently available.
This would be wonderful for people suffering from mental illness. I’ve realized after the past few years of blogging, group therapy, and communicating with other people suffering from a variety of mental illnesses, that each medication affects each individual differently. There is no guaranteed response that will occur if someone with schizophrenia takes Zyprexa. One person’s symptoms might be relieved completely, or only partially. A different person diagnosed with schizophrenia might take the exact same dosage of Zyprexa and experience an entirely different response. This is why Dr. Fallahpour stated that prescribing psychiatric medication is based almost entirely on trial and error.
I myself have tried a variety of anti-psychotics and anti-depressants over the past ten years. I’ve found that some anti-depressants work better for me than others. Wellbutrin gave me more energy, but during my last hospitalization, the psychiatrist switched my anti-depressant to Celexa as Celexa is better for people with psychotic symptoms. I’ve tried virtually every anti-psychotic on the market today, without much luck. I started on Zyprexa, switched to Abilify, and when my symptoms grew worse I tried Risperdal, Seroquel and finally Invega. I am not taking any anti-psychotic medication right now because I don’t believe my symptoms are debilitating enough to necessitate medication. I continue with the anti-depressant because it helps with my mood. Ultimately, I believe that when treating people with mental illness, we need to look at the whole picture using as much information as possible.
The CureTalk Show is available at the link below: