Patient Outline Mental Illness Treatments Medication Benefit

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WESLACO – Experts said treatments for mental health illnesses are tailored to each individual patient.

They said the different treatments boil down to how each person’s brain reacts to medication.

Ginger Castro, who lives with mental illnesses, said she knows the impact treatments drugs have on her life.

Castro suffers from depression and schizophrenia, among other mental illnesses. She said voices and false ideas fill her thoughts daily.

“One of the things that sucks about mental illness is that it’s not a physical or physically evident. People that aren’t mentally ill just can’t seem to understand it,” she said.

Castro said she didn’t understand what her mental illnesses meant at first either.

“I didn’t always feel this way, but when I was 24 – after I had broken up with my ex-boyfriend – maybe one or two months later I started hallucinating,” she said.

She said she started educating herself after her diagnosis to understand what she was going through.

Psychiatric mental health clinical nurse specialist Hilda Solis explained the misconception related to mental illnesses.

“People don’t realize they go through life feeling depressed, anxious, and psychotic even. I’ve had patients who’ve been psychotic since they were children and they never told anybody,” she said. “They were afraid to tell anybody and if they told anybody they just said, ‘Oh, it’s make-believe.’”

Solis said the brain should be treated just like any other organ. She said a person should seek a specialist as soon as they notice something off.

Castro’s psychiatric is Dr. Jose Igoa. He said he’s seen the evolution of treatment drugs and the impact they’ve had on his patients during his 30-year career.

“Instead of being placed in a state hospital, now they are a part of the community. They are a part of their family,” he said. “So, I think it’s been remarkable in terms of the newer medication. We’re getting newer and newer medications almost every year.”

Dr. Igoa said treating the brain is tricky. As a physician, he said you’re treating the physical organ but also affecting the person’s intangible thoughts.

He said new technology allows doctors to pinpoint areas within the brain that respond to medical treatments.

“Now we can do an MRI and look at the structure of the brain, but even better. We can have functional scans that actually look at the function of the brain,” he said.

The physician said medication is radioactively infused into the brain. This allows doctors to see exactly which parts of the brain experience a reaction.

“There are chemical changes. Everything, what we see through our eyes is a chemical reaction that translates to a neuronal kind of transmission,” he said. “The same thing (happens) with our thoughts, the same with our feelings. Everything happens in the brain.”

Dr. Igoa said mental illnesses don’t easily go away. He said once they’re developed, patients will most likely continue living with the condition or relapse periodically.

To avoid a relapse, Castro said takes daily medication.

“(It’s) just keeping me sane overall, without all the crazy thoughts that will come into my head,” she said.

Dr. Igoa said new treatments are replacing the pill faster than ever. He said one alternative includes less frequent injections.

“We have not only pills, but we have injectables. (It’s) what we call a long-active injectable that can go anywhere from two weeks to three months,” Dr. Igoa said.

However, he said treatments drugs, including the new injectable medication, can come with side effects. He said those side effects are taken into consideration when treating patients.

Castro said she’s noticed the side effects of a prescribed drug before.

“When I was at the Rio Grande State Center, I was taking the meds. And they do work for your mind, but sometimes they make you feel sluggish,” she said.

Aside from side effects, Castro said the impact the medication has on her life has been overwhelmingly positive. She said she no longer experiences irrational thoughts and credits the treatment she receives.

Treatment drugs are one of the methods used to help patients. The drug helps eliminate symptoms of the mental illness providing stability for those who use them.


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