Using psychiatric medicines

Even as I wrote the first paragraph of my last post I realized there was room for disagreement.

Firstly, not everybody believes that mental illnesses like schizophrenia have a scientific basis. Not everybody believes in allopathic medicines either. For people who haven’t had much to do with science, believing in psychiatry may be a stretch. So, when I wrote the blogpost about side effects of medicines used in psychiatry, I was only addressing the concerns of people using them.

Some patients believe that medicines are only for physical illness. They look completely unconvinced when you tell them their odd symptoms (hearing threatening voices, fear that someone’s tapping their phone, etc.) can be controlled by these little pills, tablets that aren’t even the substantial size of a Crocin or the awe-inspiring size of Brufen 400!

There seem to be all sorts of remedies available – herbal, ayurvedic and homeopathic. I find that a lot of patients and, more often caregivers of people with severe mental illnesses like schizophrenia, reach out for help on sites that offer alternatives to allopathic medicines. Their main concerns:

  • How long do I have to take the medicine? I want to stop.
  • Is there a treatment that doesn’t give me side effects?

These medicines need to be seen as making up for a tiny but important part of the brain not working. It’s not very different from getting diabetes because one tiny but important part of the pancreas is not working. Isn’t treatment for diabetes lifelong?

Virtually everything that goes into your body has ‘side effects’. Like the coffee you drink as a beverage, and the food you eat for nourishment. Spinach has the good ‘side effect’ of giving you fibre along with nutrients, while fried chicken has the ‘side effect’ of raising your cholesterol.

Nobody has a perfect life. Everybody has some cross to bear, and sometimes it is a heavy one. Having to swallow a couple of pills every night before going to bed is yours. Thanks to those pills you can live a fairly normal life with a few ‘side effects’ that are better – much better – than what the illness was doing to you.

I also need to add that there are many, many patients who have their medicines regularly, come for a review every three months, and have practically no side effects because they are on optimum doses of their medicines. Occasionally I find one of them responding to a post discussing alternative medicines, earnestly telling people how they have benefitted from allopathic medicines. I do feel glad when this happens.

 

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