Are you thinking about taking prescription drugs but are unsure if it is the right choice for you? If so you’re not alone. Deciding on whether to take or not take prescription drugs is a dilemma that many people face. To help understand the advantages and disadvantages of prescription drugs, I have interviewed psychiatrist and psychotherapist Tracey Marks, MD.
Tell me a little bit about yourself.
“I’m a psychiatrist and psychotherapist in Atlanta, GA with a special interest in total body health and lifestyle management. As a psychiatrist, I prescribe medication, but I also do a lot of therapy without medication. I also have a heavy emphasis on helping busy moms prevent burnout and manage other stress-related issues.”
What are the advantages and disadvantages of prescription drugs?
“Prescription medications can be very advantageous in treating someone’s symptoms quickly. There are some disorders that only respond to medication and it is not recommended to avoid medication in lieu of behavioral interventions (such as diet and exercise).”
“Prescription drugs are usually more effective than non-prescription drugs depending on the condition. An example of this would be a prescription sleeping pill such as Ambien being much more effective for sleep than Tylenol PM.”
“As for disadvantages, all drugs have side effects whether they are prescription or non-prescription. Anything we put in our mouth can cause a negative reaction. Some medications don’t mix well with others you may be taking, so once you start taking medications you always have to be diligent to keep track of possible interactions.”
Does anyone with a physical and / or mental issue really need prescription drugs?
“It depends on the severity of the problems. Some people do and some don’t. For example, some people with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) have trouble focusing, listening to others and may be forgetful. But they still function albeit inefficiently, and manage their day to day affairs.”
“There are others with ADHD who lose jobs, fail classes, and have failed marriages (due to horrible communication) because they can’t use their own internal resources to compensate for their deficiencies. Yes, they may be able to survive in the world without medication, but medication makes a tremendous difference in the quality of life for them.”
What are some alternatives to prescription drugs?
“There are herbal remedies, which are still drugs. If it is a psychoactive compound (meaning it has an effect on the mind and/or body), it’s a drug. Some of these agents can be very effective for anxiety and depression. However, since they are not subject to FDA regulations, the manufacturers don’t have to list all of the ingredients. There are some herbal remedies that have other compounds in them that can have negative side effects or interfere with other medications and you wouldn’t know because the additives are not listed on the bottle.”
“I’m a firm believer that exercise, a healthy diet, sleep and meditation all having a positive effect on one’s mental and physical well-being. Just as someone in a pre-diabetic state can avoid medication by losing weight and changing their diet, the same could be said for someone in a pre-depression or pre-anxiety state. Fine-tuning and in some cases completely overhauling these areas of our lives can go a long way in preventing or treating psychological disorders.”
What advice would you like to give to someone who is considering prescription drugs?
“Seek professional help. You won’t be able to tell on your own whether or not you need medication for a particular condition. If it’s a mental issue, see a psychiatrist. Research the psychiatrist to get an idea of their approach to prescribing medication. Does he/she provide any treatment without medication? Be careful not to spend too much time online researching what you think you have. There are a lot of nuances to the science of medicine that isn’t always accounted for when someone in a forum is giving you their experience taking a certain medication. There may be a lot of missing facts from their story that the psychiatrist assessing you would take in to account when forming his/her opinion.”
Thank you Dr. Marks for doing the interview on the advantages and disadvantages of prescription drugs. For more information about Dr. Marks you can check out her website on http://beyondburnoutblog.com.
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