Thoughts by Emily

To Medicate or Not To Medicate

To medicate or not to medicate – that is quite the question isn’t it? This can be a sensitive topic and really can cover a lot of different areas, but felt the desire to bring it up tonight. I have noticed quite a bit lately that the topic of medication has often come up, and whether or not one should medicate themselves, or their children. When I say medicate, this could be in reference to anti-depressants, adhd, immunizations, tylenol, ibuprofen, and the list goes on. I realize when getting into this that talking about medication or medicating, can be kind of taboo. Why is it that we so often feel like we need to hide so many things from everyone else around us? So many topics have become taboo, and not okay to talk about in public, or with others, for fear of starting confrontation, or for fear of being judged. I think this is kind of sad. I’m not saying everyone needs to air their dirty laundry, by any means, but sometimes I think that by discussing some of these sensitive topics, we may be able to help one another out – or help one another not feel so alone in their decisions.

By now you are likely wondering what I am talking about, or what brought this all on. I will dive into it a bit with you. Let me first say that I do not expect anyone to agree or disagree with me. I feel we are all entitled to our own opinions, and are big enough to make our own decisions. I think a big thing in deciding whether or not to medicate or not to medicate is to become informed. How is one able to become informed if we don’t talk to one another – right?

First I would like to address immunizations. This can be such a hot topic, and I don’t want to bring any heat to it necessarily. With the start of the new school year, talk of immunizations and updated shot records, becomes a topic between parents and schools. Without stating my stance on whether or not one should immunize their children (a personal decision for everyone), my biggest beef is that everyone is made to feel like they HAVE to immunize. I do not believe it is right for the medical community, schools, or Joe Blow down the street, to make one feel like they don’t have the choice as to what they put or do not put in their child’s body. When you deliver a baby, hospitals immediately push papers before the exhausted mother, to get that baby’s shots done right away. They hardly even ask if you are okay with it. The choice is almost taken away from you, but you DO in fact have a choice. When I delivered my first baby, I honestly didn’t know I could choose. It was so automatic for the hospital, that I thought everyone had to do it. It wasn’t until I matured a little and did a little research, that I found out we could wait, or not do it at all. Then there are doctors who won’t even take you on as a patient if you aren’t up to date with your shots. Denying health care because one hasn’t done everything just the way you want them to? That doesn’t quite sit well with me. Mind you, I haven’t said that I don’t immunize my kids – I am just talking about the fact that I don’t feel like we as a society are given the proper information to make an informed decision. So much of medicine is pushed onto people. Then there is the first day of school. I don’t know about your schools, but with ours – if you didn’t know better, you would think that your child CANNOT go to public school if they are not up to date with their shots. I have had parents recently tell me that they truly didn’t know they had a choice. Let me tell you right now – you do! I can’t really speak for every school, but if you are concerned about it, just ask. All it took was for me to question the school, and I was informed. At least around here, they cannot keep your child out of public school, just because you haven’t immunized them right on schedule. You may have to sign a document stating that you are electing not to immunize, but it’s pretty simple.

The next taboo topic I wanted to bring up is depression, and the use of anti-depressants. Boy is that a taboo topic! I think depression is becoming easier for people to talk about, but the use of meds for it is still a little sensitive. If depression isn’t something you have dealt with your whole life, or isn’t part of your genetic makeup, it can be quite difficult to decide what to do. It can be regardless. I am married to a man whom I believe the whole depression/anxiety thing is part of his genetic makeup. It is part of who he is, and really always has been. I believe there may be some family history, which to me says that this is something that he may have to battle his whole life. Then again, he may not. Either way, I feel it is our responsibility to be armed with tools to figure out how to battle this, whether it be coping mechanisms, meds, counseling, or other strategies. After years and years of a very rough marriage, and a stressed out hubby, it took lots of counseling (and the right counselor), coping strategies and meds to help our home life to be more balanced. As much as the hubs hates having to be on meds, we had to come to terms with the fact that it really seemed to make for a better family life. So for us, it was worth it. I didn’t grow up with depression in my home (that I am aware of), and marrying my husband was quite the adjustment for me. I am a problem solver though, and was determined to find some way for us to make things work. We didn’t turn to meds right off the bat either. I will likely talk about this in more depth later. The fact of the matter is that in this instance, as much as I hated the idea of my husband on meds, it worked for us. The big question is that why is it that now when I find myself struggling with some depression for the first time ever, (aside from a little grieving after Gianna died), I can’t stand the thought of going on meds? Why is it okay for hubby, and not for me? The decision to medicate or not to medicate is so tough! What is right ? Who knows! I do know that I think the majority of us are probably too hard on ourselves, or worry too much about what others will think. I am no doctor, so I don’t really know anything about anything, but I do know that we, as a people, just need to do what we feel is best for us. No judgments! Nobody else is in our exact shoes. I am probably preaching to myself more than anyone else right now, but we need to take care of ourselves – however that may be. We know what our typical self is like, and when we are feeling a little “off”. I don’t, however, like that we can walk into a doctor’s office and tell them we might be slightly depressed, and they immediately write out a drug prescription. Where is the counseling or advice in that? While drugs may help give one a boost, there are no tools in them, to help us learn to cope with life. It’s a tough call…

All I want to say is that you shouldn’t let people make you feel like you don’t have a choice in something – especially when it comes to medication. If you don’t feel right about any particular medication, it is okay to hold off, and do your research. Then go back to the doctor, more informed, and make your decision then. I also realize that sometimes time is of the essence, and we just need to trust our doctors. Sometimes that happens too. You just gotta do what you gotta do for you!

About the author

Emily Buys

9 Comments

  • I think in some cases, medications are absolutely necessary and are not a matter of choice but simply a matter of science. Often what might be a simple case of depression may be something much bigger, such as a personality disorder. You do not want to deal with a person with bipolar or borderline personality disorder who has not properly been treated.

    These personality disorders run in my family and I must keep a close eye on them myself. But if you find yourself feeling an inkling of depression, I’d suggest going to a behavioral health clinic and discussing it with a counselor. I do think way too many people are improperly medicated by their primary care physicians. You can always start with therapy and go from there.

    I also disagree about vaccinations. There are some concentrations of populations where kids were not vaccinated, and illnesses that were previously eradicated by vaccines sprung up again. I suggest watching the Frontline special “The Vaccine War” for some solid information. You can watch it for free online at http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/vaccines/

  • Thank you for your take on it all! I love that we all have different information to bring to the table! I agree that primary care physicians often improperly medicate. I think it takes more than a 5 minute chat to properly diagnose a personality disorder. I also would like to add that I don’t disagree with immunzations. I have a difference stance on it than some though. I think we need to be smart about our decisions and aware of what is around us.

  • I loved you post. It really was a good read. I think there are some situations that require meds but I do agree with you that doctors push too many of them. My mom is on more meds than I can count but also has a slew of medical issues. Could she do without some of them? Probably. Will she? No. As for the depression/anxiety. I have dealt ith both for a long time. I do not take meds for them for the simple reason that we are self employed and have no medical insurance. I wish I could get medication though because I believe I really need it. I think it would help me and make my family life better. Somedaysit just takes over and it can be hard to break out of it.

  • I am bi polar, with a side of major depressive disorder and social anxiety disorder, just off Paxil. Maybe its just that particular drug, but I feel better than I have in years. Happy, smiling, laughing. Genuine laughing…something I havent done in a long time.
    I do plan on going back on medications at some point, but for now am enjoying the happiness.
    I think the choice to take or not take meds is very personal. Do your research..talk to a therapist. That may be better than taking drugs.
    I think what you are going through and feeling is pretty normal, and will resolve itself. People jump to medications way to fast without checking out the short term and long term side effects..which can be horrific.
    Awesome post!

  • It’s funny that you’re writing about this now. I was a fully independent 45 year-old woman, working, taking care of my 9 year-old and my husband, etc., and on July 2nd I was in a head on motor vehicle accident that was not my fault. I suffered life threatening injuries and nearly died before having extensive surgeries to first save my life and then the rest to put my bones back together. After 23 days in ICU, I am now confined to a bed or wheel chair in a rehab facility for the next who knows how long until I can heal and begin walking again. I have been battling depression for the past few weeks I think and have decided to try medication to help me get through. It was a tough choice to have to admit I needed help, but I realize that I will not be able to get through this on just my will to get better. I thank God that I have no spinal or brain damage, but the injuries I do have will take months to recover from with a lot of rehab and I know I will get through, but it’s nice to be able to have some help to get through this terrible time.

  • I dealt with extreme anxiety and depression my whole life @ the age of 34 after I was done having children I went on medication for both and let me just say I feel Soo much better it’s like a fog has been lifted my mind is so much clearer. Everyone has their own opinions but I am so happy I went on them. I am on very low does so I still experience both but not aS intense as before. I hope someone will read thiS and this will help them

  • Emily and anyone else suffering from depression who reads this post… please research thoroughly and consider alternative medicine if clinical drugs are not for you. There are so many herbal options such as 5-HTP mood enhancer, SAM-e, and St. Johns Wort to name a few, also light therapy or even acupuncture might be effective and less invasive treatments.
    I personally take the 5-HTP 100 mg per day (half the recommended dose) on a short-term basis when I notice depression coming on. For me, it helps me feel normal, if taken in the morning it doesn’t effect my sleep, it doesn’t give me a false sense of happiness, energy, or cause me to feel mentally numb like prescription anti-depressants have in the past.
    Also, I was diagnosed with PCOD (polycystic ovaries) more than 10 years ago. As a teenager and young adult, for years, I trusted my gyno when he said high-hormone birth control pills were my only option for treatment to regulate my period and reduce pain and other effects of the disease. After trying just about every oral BC out there I can tell you I’d much rather suffer the full effects of the disease and I did just that for about 2 1/2 years. The pills caused horrible mood swings and after I dropped out of college (largely due to my depression) I actually had to stay on anti-depressants in order to take the BC. My hair fell out, i suffered loss of appetite, but still gained weight due to my extreme lethargy.
    I was told that if I ever wanted to conceive children I would have to go off BC and suffer all the effects.
    It wasn’t until 6 months ago that I became pro-active and thoroughly researched my condition on my own. I found that there are prescription medicines (like glucophage a.k.a. mephormin) that not only promote fertility in women with PCOD but they also treat the disease.
    I also found that there are about 2 dozen different herbal supplements or combinations of supplements that help naturally regulate a woman’s cycle and help with other effects of many reproductive diseases. I currently take 2 of these herbal medicines which my body responded to my first menstrual cycle, and have continued to work!
    Anyone considering herbal alternatives please research them thoroughly, and check with your physician, especially if you take any prescription medicines.

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