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Mental illness has become big business. Right now, 20% of Americans are on some kind of mental health medication. And with each new edition of the Diagnostic Manual, pharmaceutical companies are quick to develop drugs to treat them.
You may be asking, why is that a problem? Well for one thing, research has found that one third of people with a diagnosed mental illness get better on their own. Going on drugs as a first step isn’t necessary!
What might the impact be of going on these meds when we don’t really need them? Will we start to feel as if we can’t live without them? Will we start taking bigger doses as the effectiveness wears off, or change our medications and the numbers of different meds we ‘need’ to feel ‘normal’? Will drugs become our go-to instead of making lifestyle changes or talking with caring loved ones or therapists?
There was a famous study done years ago where normal students presented to different hospitals with mock psychiatric symptoms. They were all admitted and given vastly different diagnoses and drugs despite presenting with the same issues. No one on the psych wards knew they were faking it except other real patients. Doesn’t bode well for professionals making diagnoses does it?
There is an alarming trend of medications being encouraged for a variety of disorders that were previously un-medicated and uncommon. One alarming example is the use of medications for kids. Many children are being given meds for ADHD. I’m not trying to suggest that no child needs them. There are some that do. But the rates of kids being diagnosed with ADHD has skyrocketed. Many believe that if a child has ADHD, they have to be on medication.
The problem is this. We also know that even a child without ADHD will concentrate better with medication. It’s become a big black market drug for university students. But what could the impact be on a developing brain when the medication isn’t actually necessary? Are meds also being used to control kids in large classrooms or to help over-burdened caregivers? Do the drugs make things easier for adults or is it really just to help the kids?
I would encourage anyone facing some concerns in their lives to try to do things to make things better. Go meet with a therapist. Work on making some lifestyle changes or incorporating some tools into your day-to-day life. Leave the diagnosis and the drugs unless they’re really needed. You’ll feel much better for it.