Psychiatric Medications: Good Medicine or Quackery and Profit Motive at Work?

The philosophy presented in the link below, it has been reported, represents the basis on which some recovery programs deny any use of psychiatric medications, often coupled with a religious view that dismisses God’s participation in medical science’s advances. While psychiatry and medical science may not yet be so sophisticated as to accurately and immediately diagnose and treat every behavioral problem that arises, in part, due to bio-diverse physiological differences and changes in neurological elements, there have been significant advancements in treating a number of mental health conditions with medications.  I myself have been the beneficiary of the use of a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI), specifically Prozac, since the age of 43, when an extended undiagnosed depression progressed and became a permanent change in the neurotransmitter system of my brain. That is not an uncommon phenomenon in the driven, stress-filled culture in which we live today and for those of us who are goal-oriented Type A personalities.  Our human bodies are amazingly adaptive under stress, created wonderfully and mysteriously by God.  But they, too, are subject to the brokenness under which all the world labors until the day when God will restore all of creation to its original glory. Unfortunately, all of the changes that occur under stressful circumstances are not healthy if they continue long term and become permanent patterns imprinted in our circuitry. In much the same way that chemical substance abuse can “hijack” one’s neurocircuitry and become addiction, long term stress that is not recognized, understood, and addressed can “hijack” one’s neurocircuitry, too, due to the “flooding” of the brain and body with various natural hormones and other neurotransmitters.  When the stress is long term and profound and one does not get the support and counseling to cope effectively with the circumstances and relieve the stress, some adaptive changes occur that are hard to undo.  The results can be impaired affective function that can lead to impaired behavioral function and impaired cognitive function. My personal opinion, and that of medical and mental health professionals in our community with whom I have talked, is that ignoring or dismissing or even demeaning the medical diagnostic and therapeutic progress that has been achieved in alleviating suffering because it is not as precise and perfect as one would desire to assure everyone is “cured” by it in a timely manner, is, at the very least, questionable.  If it results in harm to others, it begins to move into the realm of unethical, irresponsible, religiously abusive, and quite possibly illegal. It would truly be a shame if it took a tragedy to get men and women access to the mental health services that are available and can often help them work through their circumstances.

Added reflection:   Similarly, banning or selectively allowing the use of psychiatric medications: good recovery practice or quackery and profit motive at work? Who holds the power to decide? Is the individual making such decisions qualified? What is the rationale for such decisions and are the decisions justifiable in a court of law when it comes down to it? Is there liability insurance in place in the event of a tragic consequence? In ethical considerations for a counseling professsional, such questions have to be asked.