Medicine: The Last Resort. Medicine should not be used often; rather, therapy should be used.

Essay by boingyzainCollege, UndergraduateA, June 2003

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A patient visits a doctor complaining about marked changes in mood between extreme elation or happiness and severe depression. What should the doctor prescribe? Perhaps the doctor should dismiss the symptoms as stress and suggest that the patient goes on a vacation. Perhaps the doctor should recommend the patient to another department of the hospital. Perhaps the doctor should consider prescribing some strong medication to the patient to relieve his or her symptoms. Alternatively, perhaps, the doctor should consider the possibility of a mental disorder and treat it not as a disease but more as an imbalance.

Too often, doctors seek to treat psychological problems with new medicines and technology rather than with the more effective way of psychotherapy. Prescription drugs always have side effects; this fact makes them ideal only as a last resort, especially in mental cases. Psychotherapy eliminates risks caused by medicines and targets the true problem: the mind.

By reducing the number of prescriptions and increasing the number of therapy recommendations, it is possible to improve the condition of the patient not only physically but also mentally.

The cold remedy makes one sleepy. The hepatitis panacea gives one a headache. The sinus decongestant makes one hungry. The antidepressant makes one dead. Side effects such as these are very common in drugs and can be very dangerous. In fact, Nancy Schimelpfening suggests that every drug created has one or more unwanted results ("Antidepressant Side Effects"). Even Mr. Stern agrees, "Drugs, especially psychiatric drugs, ALL have negative and harmful side-effects." (53) The side effects can range from common and predictable to rare and seldom seen, from mere annoyances to serious problems. It is up to the prescribing doctor to make the decision and assess the risk of side effects versus benefits of a medication; however, doctors can make...