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Posts Tagged ‘psychiatry’

Many people today are infatuated with the biological determinants of things. They find compelling the idea that moods, tastes, preferences, and behaviors can be explained by genes, or by natural selection, or by brain amines (even though these explanations are almost always circular: if we do x, it must be because we have been selected to do x). People like to be able to say, I’m just an organism, and my depression is just a chemical thing, so, of the three ways of considering my condition, I choose the biological. People do say this. The question to ask them is, Who is the “I” that is making this choice? Is that your biology talking, too?” The New Yorker, March 1, 2010: HEAD CASE: Can psychiatry be a science? by Louis Menand

I seem to have been in a downward spiral for the past few months. Thus the lack of postings. Miss me?

I can blame it on a lot of things. The weather. The news. The economy. Dick Cheney. The fact that I am forced to deal with bad brain chemistry without the aid of medication.

But whatever the cause, my depression, and the cause du jour, is not a CHOICE.

Yes, the pharmaceutical companies have gone astray and led their Mercedes Benz—home in the Hamptons—trips to Paris aspiring doctors along with them.

I don’t have a problem with people taking Paxil for shyness, Xanax for anxiety, or Wellbutrin for weight loss. But I do have a problem with people assuming that whatever it is that I take (used to take, actually) is a cop-out.

The decision to handle mental conditions biologically is as moral a decision as any other. It is a time-honored one, too. Human beings have always tried to cure psychological disorders through the body. In the Hippocratic tradition, melancholics were advised to drink white wine, in order to counteract the black bile. (This remains an option.) Some people feel an instinctive aversion to treating psychological states with pills, but no one would think it inappropriate to advise a depressed or anxious person to try exercise or meditation.”

For the record, there are those of us who are treatment resistant. But even if you’re not, why would anyone assume that you would choose to take a prescription medication if you didn’t have to?

Yes, we have entered the age of pharmaceutical advertising (TV, magazines, billboards) in which even the most obscure diseases and disorders are woven into our subconscious minds. Come to think of it, my legs do tingle from time to time—maybe I should be taking something for restless leg syndrome. I’ve also noticed I’ve been a little gassy lately—I’ll just bet I’ve got me a mild case of GERD. And even though I’ve no idea what Fibromyalgia or COPD are, according to recent commercials I have a number of symptoms for both, so…yeah, I’m going to self-diagnose (since that’s what those advertisements seem to be about anyway, and it doesn’t seem all that risky when you consider that “…psychiatrists reached the same diagnosis only twenty per cent of the time…”) and demand my doctor prescribe an assortment of pills and caplets for me to ingest that may or may not work, but that will certainly cause dizziness, nausea, constipation, tremors, dry mouth, blurred vision, weight gain, diminished libido (which in all fairness, may be attributable to the weight gain) and suicidal thoughts. Yeah, give me some of that.

Exercise? Diet? Meditation? All good options. IF you can drag your sorry ass out of bed.

We seem to be living in a very strange time (but then, when haven’t we?). Scientists discovered (in many cases, accidentally) that some drugs had a positive effect, on certain psychological disorders, in a few people, under certain circumstances. And, this being America, land of opportunity and quick fixes, we of course decided to take it one step further. Why feel good when you can feel great? My girlfriend just dumped me—give me a pill. My stock portfolio is in the toilet—better take a capsule. My favorite sitcom just got canceled—better up my dosage.

You know what, that’s what cocaine is for, not Prozac. And quite frankly, cocaine (the few times I consumed it years ago) did more for me than Abilify, Prozac, Zoloft and all of the others combined. WITHOUT impinging on my libido.

For those of you who are suffering from symptoms that are far more profound and harder to treat, and find any kind of relief at all in pharmaceuticals, I am truly happy for you. Whatever relieves you from some of the horrible effects and consequences of depression or bipolar disorder, ADHD or OCD, go for it. And I promise you, even though it’s not for me, I won’t be one of those people standing on the side-lines accusing you of copping out.

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Once over the line, we can’t go back.  We “have” depression.  We can recover from episodes, we can modify our lifestyles to prevent or moderate future episodes, but we “have” depression.”Undoing Depression; What Therapy Doesn’t Teach You and Medication Can’t Give You,” by Richard O’Connor, Ph.D. 


Mayo Clinic

“Bipolar disorder is a long-term condition that requires lifelong treatment, even during periods when you feel better. Treatments and drugs” by Mayo Clinic staff. 


After several web pages that define what bipolar is, that it “requires lifelong treatment,” the Mayo Clinic staff writers go on to say that “Recovery from bipolar disorder can take time,” if you “stay focused on your goals.”  How exactly does one recover from a lifelong illness?  They seem to be contradicting themselves here. 

The most disconcerting thing about their website is their attempt to address the issue of alternative medicine: Under the title, Alternative Medicine, the Mayo Clinic staff writes:

Some people with bipolar disorder turn to complementary…treatments to help manage symptoms, improve mood and reduce stress. These treatments may include prayer or spiritual healing, meditation, and vitamin and herbal supplements.”  

That is all they have to say on the matter.  They are almost dismissive in their insinuation that there might be alternative therapies to drugs.  While others may not have been “cured” of their disorder, there are certainly numerous enough cases out there of people who have tried yoga, acupuncture, SAMe and other holistic products and exercises, either separately or in conjunction with each other, and found some degree of success. 

I believe it is this blatant disregard for all things non-pharmaceutical, from clinics, from therapists, from traditional media, that keeps us both trapped and stigmatized. 

I would venture a guess that more money is spent by Coca-Cola and Banana Republic trying to figure out what motivates us psychologically to spend money on their sugar water and chinos, than is spent by all of the corporations and all of the labs combined searching for ways in which we can shift our thinking and alter our lifestyles so that the effects of mania and depression are, if not eliminated, significantly diminished.  

Our brightest minds should not be sentencing us to a life of pharmaceuticals (antidepressants mixed with antipsychotics, alternated with anti-seizure pills and mood stabilizers.)  For too many of us, pills don’t work.  And we only find this out through trial and error (each trial taking anywhere from one to three months) all the while suffering from the terrible side effects of each, and in some cases (my own included) suicidal thoughts. 

Read the blogs.  Do a search for bipolar/depression/suicide/mental health.  For every person typing away with glee that the latest in a series of medications has finally begun to give them some relief, there are ten or twenty others who can’t get out of bed, who are cutting themselves, who are quitting school, ending marriages, contemplating suicide.  For too long psychiatrists, psychopharmacologists, and pharmaceutical companies have held out false hope, and we bought it. 

What else have you got????

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