The Side Effects of Risperdal - My Story

Updated on January 7, 2019
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Josie has worked with people suffering mental health problems and experienced a variety of medications personally due to her own

Prescribed Risperdal - A Doctors Favorite

My psychiatrist was very convincing. Risperdal (Risperidone) was going to fix my problem, he raved about the medication's benefits and the side effects were almost whispered under his breath like they don't mean a thing. What does a male doctor know or care about a bit of lactation and some absent menstruation? This was to be the least of my problems, but anyone would think the doctor was getting paid the way he pushed me to take it.

The text book said I needed to take an anti-psychotic so my doctor wanted me on one. As it turns out there is nothing wrong with me, except that I had started to experience episodes which looked like psychosis, but were actually trauma related from living in a toxic environment with my ex husband. Due to the fact that medication is preferred to finding a cause to cure mental anguish, I had to endure years of different medical concoctions.

Risperdal was my least favorite due to the side effects I suffered.

Side Effects of Risperdal

So what are the side effects? If you read the fine print on the leaflet they are vast, and lots of big words that nobody understands. If you think about it this way, Risperdal effects the brainwaves somehow. Anything changing the way your brain works is going to be a risk. The brain controls the body.

One of the most dramatic effects is an example of how risky it is playing with brain waves: Tardive dyskinesia. This is a muscle spasm usually in the neck area and it looks like a "tick." Especially given mental health involves illnesses that are unseen, imagine if you have schizophrenia or bi-polar disorder and suddenly you have a physical disability thrown in!

Luckily I didn't suffer this, but I ended up with dystonia. This is a condition where the muscles in the body spasm in such a way that you are stiff and can't make movements normally. What this meant for me is that when I walked my arms came up to my side and didn't swing properly and I walked slowly with stiffness.

The lactation wasn't too bad for me. I had breast fed three kids, so a bit of discharge wasn't frightening. This can be disturbing if you're a man! There's also been reports of young boys prescribed the drug developing breasts, which is incredibly disturbing.

My period stopped. I wasn't complaining about it. It does make you think about what I was saying above about just how much a drug that effects the brain can change your body, and if these are the physical things we experience imagine the unseen things within our bodies.

My Experience with Risperdal Side Effects

When I started taking Risperdal I must say it was a relief. At the time I was suffering from what can only be described as scrambled egg brain. I couldn't concentrate, and it was like a million thoughts in my head all at one. The scariest thing I experienced was the audible yelling - usually my husbands voice shouting at me. This was an external voice and of course chalked up to a psychotic symptoms when obviously in hindsight it was trauma related.

The drug helped sooth my brain. I could think straight and the confusion ceased. I was dopey though, and it had a sedative effect. I struggled when I had to attend a work conference and noticed a drop in my ability to keep alert through a long day. I was visiting people with mental illnesses, all the while I was often taking the same drug.

It's hard to say when the decline happened. I had been coming of Tegretol (that's another story in itself!) and ended up on a benzodiazepine to combat those side effects. The doctor had insisted on an antidepressant (again following the text book) and it was upon withdrawing from the other and adding this that my condition deteriorated rapidly.

I started just wanting to lie down. Everything was an effort. It wasn't like depression where you feel down, it was a void. A nothing. I would gather all my energy to get tasks done then collapse in bed. When I was visiting disability sites as part of my work, it became more and more difficult to hide as people asked me what was wrong as they noticed I was having problems with my movements.

The strangest things was the arms coming up to my side. I couldn't control it, that's just where they sat. It got worse and worse until I was a zombie. I was just existing and spent my days in bed just lying there motionless. Not sleeping or doing anything. Just lying down. It wasn't a life at all!

My appetite was non-existent. I dropped weight dramatically and just couldn't eat. Driving was starting to be dangerous. I had previously asked my psychiatrist and expressed something was wrong but he was just looking for more medication to prescribe me!

Risperdal Side Effects Finally Identified

The psychiatrist finally identified that the problem was the Risperdal. I had stopped taking the antidepressant because of fear as it appeared that was when the declined happened. My own research which was confirmed by my GP when I went for a second opinion revealed that the dystonic reaction can be found in the combination of drugs, rather than one particular cause.

The answer? You guessed it, the prescription pad came out again! I was put on muscle relaxants to counter the side effects of the Risperdal while I starting the slow process of coming off it. This involved slowly decreasing the dose. You can't suddenly cease taking it as that can also have serious side effects.

The side effects didn't cease straight away. It took over a month for my muscles to start moving normally again. I looked like the walking dead for a long time! I couldn't drive for a couple of weeks and had to take time off work. Luckily I was working among understanding supervisors being in the industry.

My period eventually came back and my body returned to normal. These months were the darkest most difficult of my life, and I was afraid I would end up unable to work and permanently disabled. Whenever I look at what I'm accomplishing now I never take it for granted. After suffering as I did, and doing the corresponding research in combination with seeing the side effects in the patients I have visited I can not see how the benefits of this drug could ever out weigh the dangers.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.

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