Questions & Answers on Psychiatric Medications
Tadao Ogura, M.D.
This article was written mainly for my patients in order to try to clarify some of the more common misunderstandings regarding so-called “Psychiatric Medications.” In doing so, I hope also to dispel what I can only call a prejudice against a valid form of psychiatric treatment.
Although I have no intention of creating a demand for medication where there is no need, I have seen too many patients who come to my office with a whole host of prejudices and misunderstandings about psychiatric conditions and psychiatric medications. Obviously, most people are misinformed, or simply uninformed, regarding psychiatric conditions and their treatment, which can be very detrimental to their recovery.
This is not necessarily the fault of the lay public. There are certainly many extremists who have managed to create unwarranted fear and distrust of psychiatric medications. To make the matter worse, there are a lot of so-called “quacks” out there, who further confuse the public with misleading claims. In addition, there is a nonsensical trend that values everything “natural” and denounces all that is “artificial.”
That is not to say that the use of medication is the only treatment modality available in Psychiatry. There are many treatment options and choices in modern Psychiatry. Unfortunately, when it comes to our “minds,” much remains unknown and much more is yet to be discovered. This also creates room for more unwarranted claims and more fear and prejudice, all of which always seem to be instantly taken up and further sensationalized by some in the mass media.
It should also be mentioned here that the use of medication is as much an Art as it is a Science, and requires some talent and experience on the part of the psychiatrist. The use of medication in treatment also requires constant monitoring, dosage adjustments and, most importantly, good communication between the doctor and the patient to be effective at all.
The first step, therefore, is for you to gain a better understanding of what psychiatric medications are all about and how they might play a part in your treatment and recovery. Furthermore, as your understanding about psychiatric medications grows, you will most likely have less "resistance" against them and, consequently, you will become more in tune with your body’s “natural wisdom” – a critical step in determining the right course of treatment for your condition. By the time you finish reading this brochure, you should have some idea what this means, and why this should be true.
This article has been organized into a “Question and Answer” format in an attempt to make it easier to read, and to encourage you to read it in its entirety. It was not meant to be a reference manual, so there is no index, but the headings (the “Questions”) were selected to be the most common issues and misconceptions that have come up in my many years in both public and private practice.
I hope you will take time to read all the “Questions and Answers” so that you will be better informed about the various aspects of psychiatric medications. You may end up with more questions, but as long as you have fewer misconceptions, it will be the right start.