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Medication Begets Medication: What Are We Overlooking?

Posted Jan 07 2009 3:05pm

Medication… Medication… Medication… Oh how you frustrate me! You promise great and wonderful things, yet I am very skeptical about the unrealistic expectations you imply. From ads on television to magazine pages — I can’t help but wonder your intentions.

Knowing conditions like depression, and bipolar disorder are largely biologically based, I understand the necessity for using medication. While I don’t reach for medication (first) to treat ADHD, I do know that there are some people who swear by it. Fair enough! But it really burns me up when I see advertisements suggesting “if your current medication isn’t helping, then maybe you need more medication!”

So let me get this right… We take something that isn’t helping, we know it isn’t helping, and then we should consider taking more medication? Take more medication on top of medication?

Please know I am being a bit over dramatic on purpose here. I know certain medications work, whereas others don’t. I know that some medications are more effective for certain types of conditions, and various spinoffs of said condition. But it just fires me up that we would suggest these things - implied or other - without taking a look at the underlying issues.

Take depression - again, biologically based. Medication is absolutely one of the most important methods of treatment to start with. There are many benefits, but you don’t necessarily have to be on medication your whole life. At least not everyone needs to be…

But here’s the problem I see:

  1. Medication works by “covering” up the symptoms.
  2. Medication has become a catch all to provide simple solutions to complex problems.

The effect is that by “covering” up the symptoms, we start to feel better.  Great, right?  But with the symptoms covered up, some people will take this for granted and NEVER address the behaviors or habits that have been formed.  We are overlooking the underlying problems or root cause behaviors.  Eventually, people who feel better stop taking medication, and ultimately will fall back on their bad habits.

Shouldn’t we be addressing that?  Shouldn’t we insist upon providing people with the support and information that is vital to reaching health and wellness?  Trust me, I understand “therapy” claims to do that, but I’ve got my doubts…  Especially as a former therapist.

I’m NOT suggesting there is a silver bullet out there.  But I am a firm believer that we really need to take a really hard look at what is going on - and address that with as much devotion as we do with thinking medications are the answers.

What Do You Think?

We’d love to hear from you. Go ahead and give us your thoughts in the comments below.

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