Now Norway is offering drug-free treatment to people with psychosis

Lucy Proctor and Linda Pressly report for the BBC:

Most people with psychosis take powerful drugs to keep delusions and hallucinations at bay – but the side-effects can be severe. In Norway, a radical approach is now on offer via the national health system for patients who want to live drug-free.

Malin was 21 when her life began to unravel.

She had struggled with severe depression and low self-esteem since she was a teenager.

Then a voice inside her head started telling her she was fat and worthless – and that she should kill herself.

‘He became very angry. He kind of isolated me because he got a lot of power. Eventually I also starting seeing things, like tentacles coming out of the walls,’ she says.

Malin left her small home town near the fjords of northern Norway and went off to university. But it wasn’t long before she had a complete breakdown that left her unable to get out of bed. Her family came to pick her up and soon she was committed to a psychiatric unit where she stayed for a year. It was the first of several long stays in psychiatric hospital wards where powerful anti-psychotic medication was the only treatment on offer.

‘I was so full of drugs, my mind was just a blur. I just sat there passively watching my life go by with no connection to my emotions or feelings.

‘And it’s kind of been the same thing over and over. I’ve sought help and what they can give me is medication. And nothing really got any better.

‘It’s quite devastating. You just really want to get well. And people tell you that now this is your life, you should be content. And I cannot be content with this life.’ …”

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