One True Friend

One True Friend
One True Friend

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Mental Illness and Prescription Drugs

    Since May is Mental Health Awareness Month, I'd thought I give a little insight into the subject of prescription drugs and mental health through my family's own experience.

      You can't turn on your TV today without seeing some sort of prescription drug being advertised.  Ask your doctor about this drug or that drug, they tell you.  All the side effects that go on and on.  Even death!  It's no wonder we can feel overwhelmed when we have to face the choice of taking medicine.  Especially when you have a mental illness.

      Many times I see posts on facebook criticizing the use of drugs to help people with mental illness.  Or memes declaring how big drug companies are trying to brainwash us all.  That somehow doctors are forcing patients to take drugs they don't need.  Sure, there may be cases where a greedy doctor may be prescribing drugs they shouldn't to patients.  Whenever there is money involved, corruption will follow.  What I have learned as a parent of children with mental illness is that you must do your own research on drugs and be your own health advocate.   Also, find a doctor you trust--they are out there.  He/she may not be the first psychiatrist you meet, however.   Do your research and meet several doctors until you find the right fit.  If the doctor just wants to give you drugs immediately without much information about you, RUN.  Get recommendations from your family doctor.  Go to websites that rate doctors.  Having a great doctor is key to getting healthy.

      I think the real problem may be that so many people see mental health totally different than they see physical health.  A line is drawn between the two, which is quite wrong.  Many mental illnesses are believed to be caused by an imbalance in chemicals in the brain.  This can affect the body and the brain.  When would we tell a cancer patient not to use the drugs available to help them get better?  Why do so many assume that taking meds for mental illness is wrong?  Each case is different and drugs aren't always the right answer.  But for some, it is the only answer.


                                                 The Path of Kindness~Juli Cady Ryan

     My daughter and sons could not get well without medication.  I make no apologies about that.  Ashley would never have been able to work or go to college without meds.   Heck, she would not even be alive  today without it.  My sons were suffering unnecessarily without meds.  They all have went to therapy on and off.

      We must not forget about therapy in this conversation. Therapy is also a key component to getting well.  Some types of depression get better just with talk therapy.  Others need medication to get better along with therapy.  It all depends on how severe it is.  Again, mental illness is not the same across the board for everyone.  Drugs may be necessary and life-saving for some,  unnecessary for others.

      Dialectical Behavior Therapy Dialectical (DBT) is a specific type of cognitive-behavioral psychotherapy developed in the late 1980s by psychologist Marsha M. Linehan to help better treat borderline personality disorder.  Since its development, it has also been used for the treatment of other kinds of mental health disorders.   This therapy was very helpful with my daughter.  Not all psychologists specialize in this type of therapy, so I would ask when finding a doctor.  I would recommend it, especially for Borderline.

      Medications do have serious side affects.  Caution needs to be taken whenever taking any medicine.  Make the effort to get educated before you make any decisions about taking medication for anything, mental or physical.  You are in charge of your own health and can work with your doctor to find what is right for you.  You decide when and if to take a certain medication.   Do your homework and be prepared when talking to a doctor.  The more you know about your own illness, the better.

      I welcome any constructive feedback or knowledge from those experiencing mental illness or have someone close to them in recovery.

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