Let’s dismiss some myths about the use of Psychiatric Medications

Myth # 1           “Doctor, if you say I need medications, this surely means that I must be Crazy!”

                        The truth of the matter is that when I recommend the use of a Psychiatric Medication, then I am usually convinced that your condition has a strong biological component, i.e., you have a chemical imbalance. Diabetes, asthma, hypertension, high cholesterol levels are chemical imbalances and which also respond to medications. As for the label “crazy”, its use is strictly forbidden in our facilities. We have never met a “crazy person.”

Myth # 2            “I don’t want to take medications because they’re addictive.”

Firstly, addiction is a behavior and is not always tied in to medications. We routinely treat shopping, gambling, and sexual addictions and usually these patients do no get “turned on” by pills. In true addictions, one must first pass through a process of physical and psychological tolerance. This means that one needs more and more of what one is addicted to in order to get the same response. Secondly, one must then develop a dependency state which means that without the substance, store, jackpot machine, etc., one literally feels sick, empty or just plain unfunctionable. Lastly, addiction occurs when one crosses several ethical, medical, legal, moral and financial lines. For example, the crack addict will steal, sell their body, use their grocery money, use in spite of declining health, and go into debt to help satisfy their addiction. The truth of the matter is that the majority of the medications we prescribe are not addictive. We usually find most patients to be medication avoidant, not drug seeking and, unfortunately, it is not unusual for patients to discontinue their medication one or two months after their illness is stabilized.

Myth # 3            “Medications are going to change my personality.”

A large percentage of the clinical conditions we see are not biological but due to a combination of horrible childhoods, poor parenting, dysfunctional marriages, job stress, financial problems, spiritual or moral conflicts, etc. Since these issues are not primarily biological, we will usually recommend you see a Therapist for counseling and we may defer the use of medication all together. Furthermore, one’s personality is a complex combination of genetics, nurturing, life experiences, etc. Alas, our understanding of Personality Development is primitive at best and the probability that a medication will override or undo the above mentioned variables is poor at best.

Myth # 4            “Medications will turn me into a Zombie…”

The word “Zombie” usually implies a person whose spirit, personality or inner soul has been removed from their body leaving behind a corporal shell. People communicate via a combination of verbal and nonverbal cues (such as hand gestures, facial expressions, shoulder nudges, etc.) and usually both verbal and nonverbal language is negatively affected by the primary psychiatric illness I am treating. Moreover, a person who is usually very jovial and expressive (such as the actor Jim Carrey) will be almost unrecognizable if he should fall into a deep state of depression, anxiety, or schizophrenia because in these conditions one generally looses one’s ability to use nonverbal language or cues.

Myth # 5            “Medications are dangerous”

All medical treatment involves an inherent risk. Likewise, treatment is usually recommended because it may provide a needed benefit. The choice of whether or not to accept a particular treatment is always the patient’s choice! We will gladly help you in evaluating the risks and benefits of the use of medication with you. Of note, all medical doctors take an oath: “Above all, do no harm…”. Which means that we may not be able to cure you and we may not even be able to help you, but never will we recommend a treatment to you that we feel will harm you more that it will help you!