I have been back in school, slowly chipping away at my prerequisits for a nursing program. My bad luck is that the credits from my degree are not accepted as too much time has passed. I’ve found this policy the standard these days- I’m sure it’s a great way for colleges to make more money.
Regardless, I was dreading taking psychology again, as I’ve taken 300 level courses on the subject. I knew it would be boring, yet I was hoping I might have a fun instructor. It was boring, and my instructor unfortunately fit the stereotype of being a little crazy. It was a moderately torturous class, but I managed. (The broken leg got me out of the last week of class, so there’s another silver lining). :)
So back to my subject. A couple of interesting items came up in class which were “new” information. First was the Diagnostic and Statistics Manual for Mental Disorders. This gigantic book was developed in the format we now know during the 1980′s. It was designed for psychiatrists to issue a diagnosis for “anything” and often times nothing! It provides a code in which they may bill insurance, and with that diagnosis provides a suggested course of treatment. There are many, many categories for simply “NOS”- NOT OTHERWISE SPECIFIED. Now how in the world could NOS be a diagnosis. Again, a way to place a label on someone, possible prescribe something, and of course- the way the psychiatrist gets paid from insurance.
If your speculations are like mine, you might be thinking to yourself what a scam this is. I agree with you.
I understand the need for a streamlined method of psychiatrists to bill to the ever-impossible insurance companies here in the U.S., however, it seems we are headed down a slippery slope. People lose their children over these casually diagnosed labels, their employers can judge them for it, not to mention the problems with medications (which we will touch on in a minute). The good news is, my instructor implied that many, many psychiatrists take it with a grain of salt and many even shun this gigantic book. If you glance through one, you might be able to diagnose yourself with any of these mental disorders on any given day, depending on the mood your in!
The same time this “bible of psychiatry” was being developed into the current format, psychiatrists were desprately seeking ways to “treat” their patients with medications. They were doctors, and wanted more options to “treat,” and “cure.” Then came the wave of modern psychiatric drugs. You probably have heard of them: prozac, wellbutrin, etc.
According to the Citizens Commission on Human Rights,
“Prescribed for everything from learning and behavioral problems, to bedwetting, aggression, juvenile delinquency, criminality, drug addiction and smoking, to handling the fears and problems of our elderly, from the cradle to the grave, we are bombarded with information pushing us towards this type of chemical “fix.”” (http://www.cchr.org/cchr-reports/psychiatry/introduction.html, 1).
Here’s that slippery slope.
Many of these medications are being pushed through the FDA very quickly. Then what happens? We are, after all, experimenting with people’s brains. Let’s investigate.
I hate to quote heavily in any writing that I do, but again, this piece by the Citizens Commission on Human Rights lays out my point clearly:
Little surprise then that worldwide statistics show that a rapidly increasing percentage of every age group, from children to the elderly, rely heavily and routinely on these drugs in their daily lives. Global sales of antidepressants, stimulants, antianxiety and antipsychotic drugs have reached more than $76 billion a year—more than double the annual US government budget spent on the war against drugs.
Authors Richard Hughes and Robert Brewin, in their book, The Tranquilizing of America,warned that although psychotropic drugs may appear “to ‘take the edge off’ anxiety, pain, and stress, they also take the edge off life itself…these pills not only numb the pain but numb the whole mind.” In fact, close study reveals that none of them can cure, all have horrific side effects, and due to their addictive and psychotropic (mind-altering) properties, all are capable of ruining a person’s life.
Consider also the fact that terrorists have used psychotropic drugs to brainwash young men to become suicide bombers. At least 250,000 children worldwide, some as young as seven, are being used for terrorist and revolutionary activities and given amphetamines and tranquilizers to go on “murderous binges” for days. Yet these are the same drugs that psychiatrists are prescribing children for “learning” or “behavioral” problems.
Understanding society’s skyrocketing psychiatric drug usage is now even more critical than ever. Internationally, 54 million people are taking antidepressants known to cause addiction, violent and homicidal behavior.
If that isn’t worrisome enough, the National Mental Health Institute claims (http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/ publications/mental-health-medications/complete-index.shtml, 2):
In 2005, the FDA decided to adopt a “black box” warning label—the most serious type of warning—on all antidepressant medications. The warning says there is an increased risk of suicidal thinking or attempts in children and adolescents taking antidepressants. In 2007, the FDA proposed that makers of all antidepressant medications extend the warning to include young adults up through age 24.
The warning also says that patients of all ages taking antidepressants should be watched closely, especially during the first few weeks of treatment. Possible side effects to look for are depression that gets worse, suicidal thinking or behavior, or any unusual changes in behavior such as trouble sleeping, agitation, or withdrawal from normal social situations. Families and caregivers should report any changes to the doctor. To find the latest information visit theFDA website.
I don’t want to be alarmist or a conspiracy theorist, but these are some issues that might need to be reexamined. Should we be experimenting with people’s brains in this manner? Yes, there are some who find enormous relief in their debilitating symptoms from these medications, but what about those who’s lives are ruined? What about the new trend in diagnosing infants with bipolar disorder?
Call me simple minded, or even stupid, but I can’t help but wonder if a slower paced life, some rest, less stress, and a quality diet might go a long way for a lot of people. As for those who have real issues with depression or other disorders- they deserve the right to medical treatment that is thoroughly researched with side effects known and anticipated with care.
My disclaimer: PLEASE do not substitute my blog opinion for your own. If you have questions or concerns- contact your physician. THIS IS MY OPINION ONLY.
Citizens Commission on Human Rights, http://www.cchr.org/cchr-reports/psychiatry/introduction.html, 1
National Mental Health Institute, http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/ publications/mental-health-medications/complete-index.shtml, 2