As society becomes more aware of mental and personality disorders, the rate of use of psychoactive medication in teens has increased by 250%% in a seven year period between 1994 and 2001. Not only are people becoming more aware of the difficulties the afflicted suffer, but they are becoming more accepting of medication as a form of treatment. The problem with this is that the disorders are very difficult to correctly diagnose and each case is different. Personality, environmental, and physical attributes can make not only diagnosing, but treating them incredibly difficult and specific. This has led to an increase in incorrect diagnoses and as psychoactive drugs become less taboo and more of an everyday occurrence, people have begun to discount the dangers that they can cause. In fact, many people who are diagnosed with ADHD are actually not afflicted and the symptoms are caused by dietary problems. In 1991, the government allowed direct-customer information concerning these medications and as they became increasingly common to find on the TV screen, they began to find their way into bathroom medicine cabinets. While this is a beneficial development for those in need of medications, many who would be better off without them are prescribed heavy medications by over-zealous doctors and anxious parents who can’t tell ADHD from a sugar rush and dyslexia from far-sightedness. Some even pretend to have anxiety or depression just so that they can be prescribed medication and as doctors can’t see into the mind to see if there is bipolar disorder lurking as they could with a physical injury, the doctors are taking the patient’s word.
As it becomes popular and socially accepted, patients aren’t weighing the effects. They simply take the doctor’s word and get all doped up on something that could potentially harm them. Though all the commercials have that voice whispering the side effects at hyper-speed, for whatever reason, some people just can’t understand a word they’re saying and don’t realize the dangers of being on medication. No medicine is harmless. Even Tylenol can cause ulcers! Medications used to treat bipolar disorder, depression, anxiety, ADHD, and schizophrenia can cause rapid heartbeat, dizziness, drowsiness, rapid heartbeat, weight gain, dry mouth, memory impairment, rashes, uncontrollable muscle movements, and nausea. But wait, there’s more: the weight gain can lead to high blood pressure, diabetes, stroke, heart attack, bleeding, sudden death, and in a twist of irony, a common side effect of antidepressants is actually depression, complete with suicidal thoughts and actions. At least it’s a step up from the traditional psychoactive treatments such as exorcism, opium, electroshock, and lobotomy!
The harmful aspects of medications aren’t limited to what’s on the side of the box, but even their intended effects can take a bad turn. These medicines don’t just magically make you happier or calmer; they alter the delicate chemical balances of your brain and can change important aspects of yourself. They can make it more difficult to concentrate, they can make you antisocial, or make you say things you otherwise wouldn’t. They alter your personality and take control of your brain.
I have seen both the beneficial and negative sides of these medications. They’re like an abusive boyfriend: they look great on paper, but no amount of concealer is going to cover up that shiner and how empty you feel inside. These medicines will wear you out and rip apart your psyche till you are so dependent on them, you have to take another pill for the OCD and paranoia. I understand that some desperately need these medicines and I wholeheartedly agree that they should have them, but unless someone is at risk for exacting bodily harm on themselves or another, they should be left for the dire cases. Just because Jake broke up with Emily and she no longer has a date for the prom, doesn’t mean she gets to pop a Prozac. Medication should not be the first, but the last resort. Pills don’t solve the problem, they just bury it in a pile of fuzziness and nausea. They, like guns, are extremely dangerous and should be treated with the utmost care. These addictive pills may make you feel like you’re getting better, but unless you work through your issues, you’ll still be crying in your Haagen-Daz when your prescription runs out.
It’s not that we shouldn’t use medications, because they can be extremely beneficial in some cases, but in others, the moment of relief isn’t worth the long term cost. It is too easy to misuse or become dependent on psychoactive drugs, though some think that just because they’re prescription, they can’t hurt them. However, the side effects can range from annoying to deadly and they can shift your personality so that you can hardly recognize yourself. Though they can be extremely effective in treating mental and emotional disabilities, for some the potential risk is a price they are unwilling to pay. For who can choose between sanity and yourself?