A Statistical Expert’s Nightmare

Several people have asked what medications Damian has been on in the past that did not work for him.  This is a great time for me to explain one of the reasons why mental illness is so hard to manage.  There is no one pill that addresses Bipolar or other mental illness symptoms.  Even the standard diagnosis of ADHD has over 11 different medications that can be used to treat that disorder’s symptoms.  What works for one child may not work for another, even though their symptoms are the same.

When you attempt to manage symptoms in more debilitating mental health disorders like BiPolar and Schizophrenia the medication options become even more complex.  These disorders require “complimenting” medication regimens.  We call it a “cocktail” because it is a mix of medications used together.

The cocktail generally includes several mood stabilizers (there are about 4 typical and 10 atypical kinds), an antidepressant (generally 3 that can be used with Bipolar), calming meds that reduce aggression (generally 4 types), meds to increase focus (3 approved for Bipolar), and several counter-active drugs (these help negate the side effects of the mood stabilizers-tremors, loss of appetite, decreased kidney function, muscle spasms).

Now the tricky part comes. Each of these medicines need to be tested and combined with the other medications.  The dosage and time given must also be factored in when attempting to perfect the cocktail.  The endless combinations coupled with dosage and time given would make even a statistical expert have nightmares.

This is the main reason why children that experience complex mental health disorders face more depressing statistics than people diagnosed when they are adults.  Our amazing bodies will adapt to a medication and it will become less effective over time.  As they reach adulthood bipolar kids’ bodies have had a lot more time to adapt to medications. This causes them to be medication resistant and the cocktail becomes even harder to mix.

Damian is already medication resistant at the age of 12.

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