Monday, February 12, 2007

Just say no to (prescription) drugs.

You know you are seriously messing with brain chemistry when they say that the drug you are taking takes several weeks...several weeks... to take effect. That should make us take a step back to really reconsider what this drug is doing to our brains. There are some drugs that have immediate effects - like opiates or painkillers - that inhibit pain reception; you take the drug, it binds to specific receptor that interrupts the painful signal. The biology is pretty straightforward here.

However, there are some drugs that we don't know how they work... I've taken a statement directly from the package insert of an antidepressant...

Although the exact mechanisms of the antidepressant and central pain inhibitory action of xxxxxxxx in humans are unknown, the antidepressant and pain inhibitory actions are believed to be related to its potentiation of serotonergic and noradrenergic activity in the CNS.

This in itself isn't bad, (although using the word "believe" in scientific speak always sets my teeth on edge) I just find this kind of scary. Mind you, we didn't know how aspirin worked for decades and we still used it to GREAT benefit. Now that we know how it works, we have tweaked it so that it doesn't cause other adverse effects (like ulcers).

Here is my BIG disclaimer, for conditions that are really debilitating, like depression you really should do whatever you need to, to take care of your well-being. I still think that you should carefully consider what is going on with your brain while you are on the drugs.

I think where I take the most offense however, is at the ads on TV that suggest that if you have this or that (sometimes unheard of) condition, you should talk to your doctor about {outrageously expensive but very effective} drug for {your unusual condition}.

Now I don't personally have restless legs, so I don't know how debilitating this syndrome is but apparently if you take a new class of drugs designed to treat this condition, you could turn into a pathologic gambler. This drug apparently interacts with the dopaminergic system (read: reward pathways, Parkinson’s disease). Big brain areas.

I'm just saying...


Christopher said...

I agree with you that prescription drugs are indeed necessary for debilitating diseases (i.e., depression). This is especially true for individuals who suffer from bipolar disorder, as the suicide rate for untreated people with this disorder is one out of four. Further, untreated bipolars are prone to mania which typically results in self-medication (i.e., alcohol and recreational drugs) and participation in high-risk activities (e.g., unprotected sex). As to considering what is going on in a bipolar brain on a drug (or typically a cocktail of drugs), individuals with bipolar disorder must find a psychiatrist who they can trust. Knowledge of the side-effects of medications for bipolar disorder is, of course, very useful information. However, for the layperson (i.e., a non-scientist), understanding the molecular mechanisms in the brain underlying their treatment is a bit too much to ask.

cindy Mulvey said...

I with what have seen less problems with chemicals in our food and persription Drugs.
The medical and psycologic brought me to where I am today, so yes there is a place for it.
I know of a few things that mat help;

Mary said...

You don't really address what the issue is with drugs taking a few weeks to kick in . . . I'd be curious.

also, your Discover link goes to a credit card, not Discover Magazine.

Unknown said...
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