New Medication: Review of Saphris

Just over a month ago, I started a new medication. It’s called Saphris It’s a sublingual tablet that I have to take daily which dissolves underneath my tongue.

Medication is very tricky for those with schizophrenia. Finding the right medication and the right dosage of that medication requires a lot of experimentation. Often those ignorant of mental health issues mistakenly believe it is just a matter of ensuring that those with mental illness pop some pills (and sometimes this is advocated to be mandatory) and then society will be safer. It’s far more complicated than that.

My psychiatrist only has an educated guess as to how I will respond to the medication. Quite likely, because these drugs seriously mess with my neurochemistry, there will be serious side effects. These side effects can severely outweigh whatever benefits I get from taking the medication. Not only that, but some medication simply doesn’t work compared to others. If you read Erin Hawkes’ book, she discusses her experiences with multiple drugs that failed to manage her symptoms.

Now I am fairly lucky in that I responded very positively to the drug I was initially placed on (Zyprexa). It managed my hallucinations and helped with my disorganized thinking fairly well. However, I experienced severe weight gain, Negative Symptoms and slept at least at first close to 14 hours a day. After years of effort (and years of well doing nothing about them), I managed to get a hold on all three.

After my relapse, my psychiatrist suggested another drug (Zeldox), which he hoped would help me and have fewer side effects than the Zyprexa (particularly with weight gain). Unfortunately as long-time followers of the blog know, the severe side effects (dizziness and cold sweats) led me to have a some fun at the end of April and beginning of May. After consulting with my psychiatrist I went back to my old medication because I simply needed stability, weight gain and other side effects be what they may.

Anyways, I’ve talked a bit about my experiences with Saphris before. So today I thought I would elaborate. Overall, my experience with the medication is positive. Except when under stress/exhaustion (which in completing my masters and finishing up some loose ends, I have been stressed and exhausted) my paranoia has been under control and my thinking absolutely clear.

Of course, when I have been stressed and exhausted, it has been a bit more unpleasant. Nothing I can’t handle and I believe my dosage is at least for now sufficient. Now that I have been able to rest a bit, I am feeling a bit better.

The big problem still is sleep. Though I have many complaints about Zyprexa, I managed to sleep pretty well with it. It knocked me out and since I have been taking it for ten years, I am still more than used to being knocked out overnight. Since switching, I have been susceptible to waking up in the night, particularly if I am overtired or stressed. It seems like a form of insomnia (sometimes mild, sometimes I am up for hours between 12-3). It does affect me and in particular causes a different sense of being tired than the drowsiness I experienced with Zyprexa.

I am managing it better though. On the whole I think this drug is still better for me, but I am as always unsure about stability. When the stress of the big move happens, it may prove problematic. That means a lot of planning and of course having more than one backup plan.

The tough part is that some of this can be managed by making sure I don’t be my usual workaholic self. That may prove to conflict with my desire for a Ph.D. so I will have to be very careful with it. Hopefully I can manage as I have done so, at least so far.


About Neil

I happen to have paranoid schizophrenia. But that is only a small part of who I am. I define me, not my illness. I always try and choose hope and choose to be a better person, though like all people, I have more than a few failures. Some have been rather spectacular.
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