Can prescription drugs cause psychological side effects?
Answered by Discovery Fit & Health
  • Discovery Fit & Health

    Discovery Fit & Health

  1. A number of prescription medicines have mental side effects, such as mood changes, confusion and even hallucinations. A common example is oxycodone, a medication prescribed for moderate to severe pain relief. Some patients who take the drug report mood changes and hallucinations, along with withdrawal symptoms when they stop the medication [source: National Library of Medicine]. Patients also report a side effect with oxycodone that is common with many narcotics: addiction. It is becoming more common for people to misuse prescription drugs, becoming addicted to painkillers, sedatives or stimulants. People believe that because the drugs are prescribed by doctors, it is OK to continue using them, even though they are not being used as intended [source: NIDA].

    The drugs pramipexole and mefloquine have been known to cause visual or auditory hallucinations. Pramipexole is used to treat symptoms of Parkinson's disease, and mefloquine is a malaria treatment. According to Tamas Bartfai and Graham V. Lees, authors of Drug Discovery: From Bedside to Wall Street, users of pramipexole reported frightening hallucinations. Doctors affirm, however, that these side effects are less severe than the symptoms of Parkinson's itself. Mefloquine was once regularly used by the U.S. Army to treat and prevent malaria. Patients who took the drug reported hallucinations and violent psychotic behaviors [source: CBS News]. Drugs such as these should be taken under strict medical supervision.

    Mefloquine's packaging lists suicide as a possible side effect. The U.S. Army stopped giving the drug to soldiers after reports of several suicides and murders of soldiers' wives [source: CBS News]. Users of paroxetine, a medicine prescribed to treat a wide range of mental disorders, also reported having suicidal thoughts after use of the medication. The use of varenicline, which people take to try to quit smoking, also may lead to suicidal tendencies.

    Finally, the many dangers of long-term use of anabolic steroids have been revealed: high blood pressure, cholesterol problems, jaundice and liver disease, kidney cancer and others. Steroids also can cause negative psychological effects in people who abuse them, such as extreme mood swings and aggression [source: Parents: The Antidrug]. Some mental effects also are observed in patients who take prescription steroids, such as prednisone. Patients always should consult with their physicians and report unusual symptoms -- physical and mental.

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