When I talk about the dangers of psych drugs, some people respond with “but my psych meds help me!” Many of my patients have also told me that while they were taking psych drugs, they thought they were okay but then when they stopped, they realized that the drugs were harming them and affecting their judgment.

Here are 5 reasons why someone might feel that their psych drugs are helping them, only to realize later on that they were harming them:

1) Placebo effect. The placebo effect is responsible for a huge part of the response to any drug. If you believe you are going to be helped by a pill, you will. This is true of any drug, even alcohol. You can give someone a non alcoholic drink and tell them it contains alcohol and they will start behaving like drunk person. (Of note, we also know from a large meta-analysis that antidepressants are essentially no better than placebos.) The problem is that many times the placebo effect wears off and the toxic effects of the drug kick in, causing many issues.

2) Emotional anesthesia or euphoria. Just like alcohol, psych drugs generally do one of two things. They either numb painful emotions so you don’t feel them or they cause an artificially elevated mood or euphoria. Keep in mind these are chemically induced artificial emotions and this also happens when you drink. But when alcohol wears off and you sober up, the unpleasant emotions come back and are actually even worse than before you drank. The same thing exact thing happens with psych drugs.

3) Spellbinding. All psych drugs, just like alcohol cause something called intoxication anosognosia. Essentially this means that you might think you are doing much better when you’re on the drug, but in reality, you’re not. Other people around you who aren’t taking the drug might notice that you seem even worse. The worst part is that you can’t TELL that your judgment is impaired. It’s just like when someone is drunk and they deny it and think they’re the life of the party, but all the sober people don’t.

4) Help is relative. Many people say that psych drugs help them, but when you look closer, they may not be helping in ways that are truly beneficial for health and thriving. For example, a psych drug might help someone feel numb so they end up staying with an abusive partner or in a dead end job. Similarly, alcohol might help someone cope with these same issues, but then it might start causing health issues.

5) Short-term versus long-term benefit. It’s clear that for some people, psych drugs might be helpful short term. The same could be said for alcohol in treating anxiety and depression. However, longterm, alcohol causes tremendous physical and psychological problems and dependence. And this is EXACTLY what we see with  longterm use of psych drugs.

So, there you have it! This is how millions of people have been duped into thinking their psych drugs are helping them, when in fact they may be causing serious harm.