First of all, I would love to make it clear: I AM NOT AT ALL AFFILIATED WITH THE DRUG INDUSTRY IN ANY POSSIBLE WAY. second, I am a psychiatrist who uses both pharmacotherapy and psychotherapy with my patients. And after an MD Degree in Psychiatry, I believe I know a thing or two about this field. I have spent several years of practice in different sectors of health care – public, private, university among others. Dealing with a lot of patients over the years had taught me one thing: psychiatric medications do really work. A fact that I validate each time I interview a patient.
Female and male patients; children, young and elderly; all have been benefitted from the medications. They feel it and I can feel it too. Sometimes it is so obvious that I can’t not see it once they come into the office.
Of course it takes time – I usually never believe miraculous recovery within few days of treatment. It even takes time to convince the patient or their family that the medication is both important and useful.
And of course psychiatry drugs are not without side effects, but which medications are without them?! As a Psychiatrist, I try to tackle such adverse effects, prevent them, and – in the worst scenario – deal with them. But I have seen it once and once again “doctor, I can bear the problems the drugs cause, just don’t stop the medication,” or “is there any problem if I keep taking the drugs for life?!” What would make a patient take such a decision?!
In the busy settings of outpatient office -sometimes very so that only 15 minutes are how long I can see a patient if they are lucky enough – psychotherapy becomes a luxury that I cannot afford!! Listening to the complaint, clarifying the other criteria, gathering clues about the mental status, and that’s it. The very few minutes remaining are hardly enough to decide a medication, explain how it should be used, and the goodbyes.
For me, the most important measurement of the short-term benefit from the drugs is functional improvement. That is the real proof that the drugs are working for the patient. That’s something the patient feels really happy to mention. Beside the good rapport and empathy, drugs are to be applauded for. Such a progress encourages the patient to stick to the drugs for as long as needed.
Despite all the talking about whether or not the psychiatric management should include drugs, the day-to-day practice keeps emphasising the role medications play. May be drugs cannot stand alone, that was never the problem. Whatever works should be used for the patients’ good. The point is: Medications should not be dealt with as a necessary evil, but as a tool that can help. Physicians and patients alike should never be intimidated by the drugs. If they are needed, then let it be. And in the hands of the qualified Psychiatrist, they will do more good than harm.
Another important matter to consider is that managing a psychiatric disorder is more like a process rather than a one-shot scene. A lot of water will run under the bridge before things settle down. So, the frequent follow up visits and discussions between the patient and the psychiatrist are more than essential. That’s how drugs – regarding names, dosages and regimen – could be finely tailored to suit the patients’ needs and desires.
My sincere wishes for everyone to enjoy mental health and wellness.