Friday, 17 October 2008

The lithium cosh of the deadly psychiatrist

I may have mentioned before that I have recently signed on to a Google group. It's an array of people who suffer from Bipolar disorder. I guess that I'm some kind of reluctant voyeur as I don't personally have the condition but know someone who has. Reading their extraordinary stories make me shiver. The men and women who subscribe to the group mostly appear to live in the USA but the resemblance to what happens here and elsewhere in the world is tangible. How they manage to survive is beyond me. What I simply don't understand is the medication culture.

Is there any other illness where doctors regularly play around with the dosages of various toxic medications in such an arbitrary and irresponsible manner? I read of the case of one woman who was prescribed such an array of anti-psychotics that she was bedridden for three years. The amount of pills, tablets, you name it, were given out in such enormous quantities that it is surprising that she ever managed to move her head from a pillow. This being the case, the psychiatrist refused - yes, refused - to reduce the dosage. Surely this is far and beyond what constitutes 'care'?

I do believe that medication, when it works properly, is the only way to manage Bipolar disorder. I don't believe in talking therapies or CBT or acupuncture or omega-3 or neurolinguistic if they are not used in tandem with medications that work. However, for a doctor to prescribe any kind of medicine in the quantities that they do in ever increasing cases, is criminal. I remember the time that 'Zach' was shackled to the rusty bed in Athens and when I demanded why, the answer was 'because we've given him so much medication, he might collapse if he gets out of bed...! My exclaimation point. The other instance was Ecuador. He couldn't even stand up to go to the bathroom.

So why is it that mental health patients are given the chemical cosh? Lazy doctors, arrogant psychiatrists, reluctant health authorities? It's a disgrace and one that, in all likelihood, is liable to never change - wherever you are.

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