Wednesday, 22 March 2017

The Real Cost of Medication

BLOG 10                                                                               13/02/2017            

Not so long ago I was rather alarmed by the number of young people being diagnosed with ADHD, (an attention deficit disorder with hyperactivity): and the taking of medication at such an early age. Medication whose long- term effects are unknown.  The potential difficulties of withdrawing from such are probably unknown. If the medication makes permanent changes to brain/personality is also an unknown.

It appears today there is almost an epidemic of what is termed “mental illness” in teenagers. This is followed by a natural reaction of “getting help”.

After a lifetime of experience of services offered for the diagnosed “mentally ill”: I have not just become skeptical I have become hostile. I had hoped the “care” had improved. But now when the younger potentially are being added to “the system” I feel obliged to divulge my experience and what I know.

Many people are convinced that once there is a diagnosis, an understanding emerges, a specific peg to hang all that has gone wrong on, a tailored treatment - and a great improvement. This may well be the case for many. For many years, intermittently, I too believed this was the case.

I also believed that “mental illness” had some scientific basis. This is insofar as, as is stated, is a “disease”. At this juncture, I need to admit I have been, potentially still are, “a patient” and I also worked as a Development worker and Vice Chair for a local branch of MIND in the 70’s and 80’s.

Over the decades, I have been aware that researchers have re-iterated there has been some link with physique and psychosis then scientists were almost to discover a physical brain abnormality. It was then linked to a chemical imbalance almost specifically identified, now some difference within genes is almost identified as the base for mental illness.

 The “chemical imbalance” gave rise to a “revolution” in the array of new drugs available. Now, the genes base is being explored for a new array of psychotropic drugs.

Only as my observation as “patient” and experience of such did I witness others on a cocktail of coloured assortments. Perhaps a side effect or another undesirable part of the “illness” would manifest itself. Another pill was added to the mix. One lady, I recall: had 12 in her cocktail.

One was also aware that specific illness (apart from basic anti-psychotics and lithium for mood disorder) did not necessarily merit specific medication. In fact, it was known by “patients” it was very much trial and error. Therefore, having specific diagnosis was not particularly helpful: when it came to treatment.

There used to be a magazine called MINDOUT, it included research into treatment/care. I recall reading that in different Centres within the Country the same diagnosis inspired intervention of different areas of the brain.

ECT remains “a treatment” although I have heard recently from a psychiatric nurse that they have come on from that. The basis for ECT has no scientific basis for its use whatsoever. Furthermore in 1978 a survey into the apparatus found some out of date and faulty.

Returning to “diagnosis”, recently I learnt about its evolvement. Not only is there no scientific base – the myriad diagnoses are from machinations of a group of eminent psychiatrists who meet every few years and usually add to an already extremely hefty manual the DSM. (the diagnostic statistical manual of mental disorders).  The number of disorders is said to have grown around 10 times since 1952. This (there is also an equivalent in Britain) gives the American Psychiatric Association $10 million annually.     

My little experience with MIND showed people treated as part of the human race - showed improvement in general well-being. Healthy life-style for all, the mind as part of the body, appears to be catching on with GP’s. They and they alone have aided an escape from medication I now know made me appear mentally ill.

Furthermore I was more likely to be ill with it rather than without. Many of those working in Statutory service were unable to define which were drug effects and which was illness. Most tended to follow Psychiatrist diagnosis which help exclude people from society, rob them of their rights, take their accountability away-…worse than a life sentence. Mine is …

I hope care for people who may suffer emotionally now takes a new turn. All thankfully have not had the devastating experience I have.

My husband and I travelling by train met a Minister for Health from Indonesia. He confirmed the view that all of us experiencing trauma will suffer emotional distress. The level of tolerance only: is different.

H. Bolton


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