Record Breaking Year for Prescription Drugs – A Sign of the Times
Last year was a record-breaking year for Americans using prescription drugs, a disturbing trend that says a lot about modern day health treatments and the methodologies we are turning to in order to soothe our aches, pains, and emotional discomfort. To the degree and extent prescription drugs should be used, especially as it applies to mental health, is certainly debatable — especially as it pertains to side-, interaction-, and withdrawal-effects. But let’s assume for a moment that prescription drugs used to treat depression, anxiety, OCD, ADHD, and all other mental disorders were completely devoid of any of these negative effects – the bigger question still surrounds efficacy (or the actual success rate using the drug).
While we would all like to think that all our stress and problems will simply “vanish away” with a prescription medication, the reality is it’s just not that easy. In fact, when we stop and think logically about “magic bullets,” we know that our minds are far more complex and intricate than any one pill can “fix.” Still, millions of Americans go to their doctors each day and ask directly to be “put on ______” because they saw a commercial for the drug claiming to be able to help.
As one of only 2 countries in the world that allows pharmaceutical companies to directly television market to the public, it should be of no surprise that increasingly more Americans are signing up for prescription medications (after all, we are essentially coaxed to do so by the cleverly crafted commercials that tell us they have a cure for our stress, poor decisions, and inadequate coping skills). In fact, more doctors than ever before are acquiescing to their patients requests for meds, as they know that their patients today actually expect to be put on something (and, consequently, would feel short-changed if they were instead given advice like to eat better, join a support group, and start exercising – all things that really help mental health).
A few quick things to think about:
- No medication can “fix” your problems. If you are in a trying marriage, suffering from financial debt, or experiencing any other serious life problem, a prescription medication isn’t going to fix those things. The important point to remember is that behaviors will likely need to change in response to your troubles, and medicine alone won’t teach you better communication skills, financial management, or how to more effectively deal with your daily stress. Instead, we need to exercise caution and logical thinking and remember that making positive, healthy life changes require much more than taking a prescription medication.
- The reality is that we need to develop better resiliency to the problems we face, and use effective coping skills to deal with stress. Fortunately, these are skills we can learn and benefit from — and the best part is no side effects!
- Often medications only exacerbate problems, yet more times than not when this occurs patients erroneously attribute the problems to their disorder, and not the medication (in other words, they blame the depression and not the prescription medication).
- Keep in mind medications are not able to precisely target the problem(s) you are experiencing and not interfere with other cognitive and emotional functioning. Putting your child on an ADHD medication might slow down his daily reckless behaviors, but it might also diminish his healthy spontaneity and creativity, too.
- If you go to your doctor and he immediately wants to write you a prescription for the depression or anxiety you are experiencing, stop and have a conversation with him! Why are you being put on something so quickly? Has the doctor thoroughly explained the potential side effects (or has he mentioned them at all??). Are you also being told about the importance of counseling – or other positive life experiences that can help your condition (like exercise)? The point here is not to encourage you to fight and argue with your doctor, but to instead have a logical, objective discussion about all the choices you have that might help you better deal with the issues you are experiencing.
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Dr. Chris Stankovich is a Professional Athletic Counselor and Sport Performance Scientist and studies the psychosocial variables impacting human performance and success. He is the author of 5 books and has had his work featured in numerous national media outlets, including USA Today and ABC World News. Dr. Stankovich is known as "The Sports Doc" for his regular television feature on Ohio News Network and NBC 4 Columbus (OH). For more information on peak performance products, speaking engagements, training seminars, and free education downloads, please visit http://www.drstankovich.com.