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Medication and Stigma

by Jessica B. October 4th, 2012 | Mental Health
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Rarely does anyone suggest that you would be better off treating your Type I diabetes with all organic foods rather than using insulin, many people find it realistic to suggest alternative medicines to the strong medications that people suffering from mental illness are required to take. Many of these people are even health professionals.

Last year, a close friend of mine, and long-time sufferer of bipolar disorder, was told by her chiropractor that she needed to stop taking such poison and focus on alignment and raw foods. My friend was feeling good at that point and took the advice. Six months later, she was back in the hospital adjusting to new dosages of medicine. I wish I could say this is an anomaly, but I have heard similar stories time and time again.

I do not doubt that the chiropractor in question was coming from a good place. The side effects of many of the medications used to treat mental illness can be very uncomfortable. But the options available to those suffering are improving, and there is a lot available with fewer side effects than before.

But people who do not suffer from mental illness, who haven’t stood by and watched a loved one struggle, or who don’t have a background in psychiatry should not get involved with medical recommendations.

Do I belong to the club of people who feel medications are overprescribed in the US and illness is often overtreated to the point of putting our future health at risk? Yes. But taking someone who is suffering from mental illness off of their medication can be the same thing as taking someone with Type I diabetes off insulin, and telling them with a little positive thinking and better living habits, they will live a great long life. It just is not true.

Many mental illness sufferers do feel better when on medication. Hearing from a medical professional or alternative health coach that there are other options can be very appealing. No one wants to be on strong medication for the rest of his or her lives. When the suggestion is offered, by a respected professional, it can be even harder to say no.

As a society we need to support those suffering from mental illness and acknowledge that they are fighting disease, not an imbalance of the body due to an unhealthy lifestyle. All too often, mental illness sufferers self medicate with alcohol, drugs, or other unhealthy habits. Once they reach a successful path on medication they are able to live with, we should do everything in our power to cheer them on, not to make them feel bad about their choices.

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All health and medical information is provided for educational purposes and is not meant to replace the medical advice or treatment of your healthcare professional.