ON MENTAL ILLNESS: Cholesterol Meds in Combination with Psychiatric Medications; Is There a Risk?

Jack Bragen
Friday September 02, 2016 - 10:12:00 AM

Remember please that this is an opinion column only, and I am not here to give expert advice.

FYI: Statins such as Lipitor to treat high cholesterol could be harmful to mental sharpness when taken over a period of months or years. Research ought to be done concerning the combination of statins with psychiatric medications, and it is possible that such research hasn't been done.  

It is my opinion that it will be huge when there arises a legal precedent for lawsuits against the manufacturers of Lipitor and other statins, based upon wrecking "normal" people's minds. We're talking about multiple billions of dollars. Statins such as Lipitor have been widely prescribed for two decades or more, and there will be very big money involved if people can prove damages.  

Perhaps there isn't funding or an incentive to do research concerning damage of statins to those who take psychiatric medications. Maybe there is an underlying assumption that mentally ill people don't really need their minds. Sure, you can make someone's heart continue working for a longer time, but you might well be ruining a person's quality of life. 

My experience with taking Lipitor was that it gave me an awful ringing in the ears, and it was detrimental to my mind, to the extent that I had several months of not writing as well. I took Lipitor for a few months, and realized that my mind wasn't as good. Upon going off this medication, it has taken a number of months for the ringing in my ears to lessen, and more months to get back my mental acuity. This is subjective, yet there has been some amount of research indicating that Lipitor and similar medications may adversely affect "normal" people's minds.  

There are other ways of lowering cholesterol. Psyllium fiber, the ingredient in popular fiber pills sold at drugstores, can lower cholesterol. Fish oil is a blood thinner that, according to studies, has a good effect on brain structure. My personal experience with fish oil is it has surprised me, in a good way.  

In the U.S., it seems as though the biggest epidemic we're up against is that of drug companies peddling more and more pharmaceuticals. Of course, certain medicines are essential, such as Synthroid for treating hypothyroidism, Penicillin and other antibiotics for treating numerous types of infections (including but not limited to Syphilis), vaccines for Polio and for numerous other infectious diseases, and the list goes on. However, we need to distinguish between which medications are necessary and which ones we can and should do without.  

A revision to the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act, requiring drug companies to disclose side effects of drugs in their television ads, and prohibiting misleading advertisements for drugs, is a good law. It has done a lot to make me aware that the current generation of new pharmaceuticals could be doing people a lot of harm. Prescription drugs seem to be ruining a lot of people's lives, if not simply killing people. When you see television ads for the latest mental health drugs, you ought not dismiss the list of possible harmful side effects disclosed in those ads; you should take these disclosures seriously.  

This is where educating oneself is helpful. For years I have been advocating compliance with taking medication for mental illness. However, it is my policy not to take medications that haven't been around for at least ten years. At the ten-year point, we have gained much more knowledge about what medications will do to a person in the long term.  

Concerning statins, one opinion expressed on a medical website is that they could be worse for someone who is already mentally compromised in some way. Thus, if you do not have a psychiatric illness, it could be less of a risk to take statins.  

Again, these are only opinions, and I suggest to the reader that you do your own research and make your own informed decisions. Doctors will inevitably dispense better treatment if you ask questions and if you read up on what you are dealing with.