Why I don’t date doctors
Sunday mornings are usually a fairly quiet affair in my apartment until around 11am when my swollen bladder, thumping headache and noisy neighbours force me from the safety of my bed.
Last Sunday however was special as I managed the truly Olympic effort of making it downstairs to the couch by the crack of 10am. However seconds after collapsing victoriously onto the couch to enjoy this small victory I was assailed by suggestions for ‘fun things to do’ from my ever perky med-student ‘houseguest’.
Ms Gen Y was absolutely bursting with energy after her 3 hours of sleep, I on the other hand felt like Amy Winehouses’ liver, so I politely declined her invitation. She insisted. I more forcefully declined. She begged. I told her to leave me alone and flee the country - and that’s when she told me I had SCTD.
Now my first instinct was to strangle her, then run to the doctors and have a blood test thinking there’d been a prophylactic blow out, but ever effervescent Ms Gen Y simply picked up my laptop, Googled a term I didn’t recognise and then handed it to me.
I quickly learned that SCTD was short for ‘sluggish cognitive tempo disorder’, and after reading a little further I discovered that in layman’s terms I was lazy.
I started to complain about the validity of this supposed new malady only to be told that I was now also showing signs that I may also be suffering from NPD - negativistic personality disorder.
This was becoming too much for me to handle so I reacted in as responsible a manner as my beleaguered condition allowed - I threw a tantrum! And bugger me if within seconds of commencing my foot stomping frenzy did she go and point out that this was a sure sign of IED - intermittent explosive disorder.
This is why I no longer date doctors, nurses or med-students.
But as funny as this conversation was, the truly scary thing about the supposed maladies listed above is that they all turn out to be genuine ‘conditions’ under consideration for inclusion in the latest edition of the psychiatrists’ ‘bible’ - Diagnostics and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.
Feeling sluggish? You’ve got SCTD! Feeling overly toey? You’re hypersexual! Couldn’t be buggered? You’ve got ‘sexual arousal disorder’. Where does it end?
Are we so scared of feeling the ebbs and flows of everyday life that we need to turn to the latest pill or potion the minute we feel less than ecstatic? And when are we going to realise that our knee jerk reaction of popping pills is for the most part unnecessary, but also at times incredibly dangerous?
Charles Barber, author of ‘Comfortably Numb’ argues that Americans are being vastly overmedicated for often relatively minor mental health concerns. He believes this over-reliance on quick-fix medication is numbing America and dulling people’s awareness of real and pressing social issues.
And it looks like we’re trending the same way down under.
The Australian reported this week that shows children with ADHD who use prescription drugs to manage their condition were 10 times more likely to perform poorly at school than ADHD kids who avoided medication.
Professor Landau, co-author of the research, said the world-first study into the long-term effects of stimulant medication on children with ADHD showed “drugs over the long term don’t have an impact on improving performance”.
The study also found stimulant drugs such as Ritalin and dexamphetamine made no significant difference to the level of depression, self-perception and social functioning of a 14-year-old with ADHD.
“They don’t improve outcomes for those with ADHD, they make no difference to levels of depression, social functioning and self-perception, and for those on medication it is 10 times as likely that classroom performance will be below average,” he said.
So if this is the case, why are we still cramming this crap down our kids’ throats?
Personal responsibility has to kick in here at some point. I’m not for a moment suggesting that we all have to take the Tom Cruise approach and denounce all pharmaceutical products en-masse, but as responsible adults we should take the time to research and reconsider the stuff we’re ingesting or forcing others to ingest.
Even with big pharmaceutical companies running compellingly persuasive marketing campaigns and medical professionals passionately (and profitably) prescribing the latest designer drugs, we still have the individual right to say no, or at least not now.
Sure, we’d all like the big pharmaceutical companies to be more responsible in their marketing, and yes we’d benefit from doctors being more open about their personal interests in prescribing certain meds. But this doesn’t stop you or I from saying no.
Professor Richard Bental of Bangor University says ‘most of the new diagnoses, such as SCTD, are meaningless and have no basis in science’. He argues that these ‘disorders’ are simply a marketing opportunity for physicians, claiming ‘the more disorders there are, the more private business psychiatrists get.’
However the American Psychological Association says these new disorders simply reflect changes in our society and Darrel Reiger, a member of the taskforce working on the updated manual, denies that the revisions were influenced by drugs being developed by pharmaceutical companies.
Well I’m all for societal change that improves quality of life, prolongs it and brings relief to those suffering if that’s what pharmaceutical companies intentions are. But when you consider that over 33 million Americans (11% of the population) took a psychiatric drug last year then I’m genuinely dubious if it’s our interest and quality of life they are protecting.
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