Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Medication Stigma

This post is dedicated to Dr. Lorente - best.psychology.professor.EVER!

You know, it took me about five years after my therapist first recommended it before I finally agreed to take medication*.

Why did it take so long? Stigma. I had heard so many negative things about medication online and in the media that I assumed taking medication was dangerous and / or a cop out. 

After taking medication for a year and a half now, I have a better understanding of what it does and doesn't do. 

Medication, effectively and correctly administered to the appropriate patient, can turn a life around and in some cases, save a life.

Medication does not give you perma-grin nor does it make you happy-go-lucky all the time. Medication just levels the playing field. It enables you to experience the full range of emotions that a normal person feels. It breaks one out of the negative grip of mental illness - depression and fear - and opens you up to possibility. 

I still get angry, I still feel down and cry sometimes, and I still curse in traffic; but I am also able to move on from these feelings now. Negative feelings no longer cycle around in my head over and over like a broken record.

{I also find it interesting that some of the people I've met who are psycho-active medication opponents also happen to drink alcohol. Nothing psycho-active there...}

I do agree with some of the naysayers, however, in that I personally think that some cases are misdiagnosed. I am not a big fan of a patient walking into a primary care physician's office, telling them they are "depressed", and the PC doctor prescribing something on the spot. I think these cases can lead to over-diagnosis, misdiagnosis, and feed the misunderstanding about treatment. A PC doctor is not the right doctor to diagnose and prescribe. They have about 5 - 10 minutes with a patient and in no way is that enough time to accurately diagnose a mental illness! The PC should instead refer the patient to an expert - a therapist and / or psychiatrist.

That said, I do think there are also many cases of underdiagnosis because patients fear a stigma. I know I did. 

*Note: 'Medication' in this post refers to medication used in the treatment of depression and anxiety.

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