On Mental Illness: Medication Isn't the Holy Grail

By Jack Bragen
Tuesday April 05, 2011 - 09:58:00 PM

Medicating the brain is a serious matter; it should not be considered with an off-hand approach. It seems there are some psychiatrists who prescribe during a fifteen-minute session, with as much contemplation as someone shooting down fake ducks in a shooting gallery. Especially, when you are medicating a child, other avenues of accomplishing the same objective (whatever the objective is) ought to be investigated. 

I don’t like to publicly criticize psychiatrists since I use one and would not like to get all of them angry. Most of them with whom I have come into contact are highly conscientious, caring and good at what they do. The one I have now is like the character in the television show, “House,” not in how he acts toward people, but in regard to his detective-like approach to assessing people.
When you medicate the brain, it is likely that it will undergo structural changes as a result. Once on a medication, it may at some point become untenable to take the person off of that medication, without at least introducing another medication to compensate for its absence. 

I object to the current advertising campaign of the drug companies that promotes medications for children diagnosed with attention deficit. When I grew up, attention deficit either had not been given a name, or possibly did not exist. Video games did not come into the hands of kids until I was well into high school, high fructose corn syrup had not come into existence, and it was television that rotted people’s minds, not smart phones. 

The structures in the brain are also affected by a person’s environment. If a person is made to exercise their mental capacities via a parent’s insistence, (such as making the child read or do homework) environment is improved, and the brain improves structurally.
You’re reading words written by someone who advocates medication to treat severe mental illnesses in adults. I take medication and plenty of it. There is the correct use of medication, and there is the excessive and wrong use of it, which serves to fatten the wallets of the stockholders who own the drug companies, and do the same for treatment professionals in the mental health treatment system.
I am medicated in order to treat a severe case of Schizophrenia, Paranoid-type. Without medication, I cannot live in society and follow the basic rules that “normal” people are expected to adhere to. If there were a way for me to exist without these mind-numbing medications, I would be the first in line to make use of it. 

A person who reads my column has suggested I cover the subject of combating mild depression without resorting to using medication. If someone’s depression is not unbearable, and if it does not massively interfere with day-to-day functioning, I believe methods of treating it without medication should be examined. 

The following is a list of methods that can be tried in order to get oneself out of a bout of mild depression:

  • Clean out the cobwebs with an “all-nighter.” Staying up all night, if not done repeatedly, is known to raise serotonin levels and boost the mood.
  • Have fun. Doing an activity that makes you happy is fun. If you let yourself have a little fun, you might forget about the fact that you are depressed.
  • Be Lazy. Cutting back on excessive mundane activities, at least for a couple days, could make you feel better.
  • Identify and retire negative thoughts. This is done one thought at a time, and can be done in written form, if you like. You can get this to happen on automatic if you do it often enough.
  • Do something about your problems. If a situation repeatedly bothers you, even taking a first step toward solving it can be a boost.
  • Physical exercise in moderation sometimes is helpful, if you do not approach it in a self-punishing manner. If you do not like the idea of exercise because you feel too depressed to move, you can skip this one.
  • Have a goal. If you do not know why you’re here and have not chosen a life purpose, it is an invitation for something negative to fill this vacuum. You can fix this by choosing your purpose in life in a deliberate manner, rather than trying to “discover what you’re meant to do.”