Tuesday 7 December 2021

Balancing Medications, Specialists, and Personal Beliefs

 Image: Pixabay

Mental illness is a real and pervasive problem in the United States, and its effects can be profound for those experiencing it, for the people who love them, and the workplaces and communities in which they live.

Article by Indiana Lee

So prevalent is the issue, in fact, that the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) recently estimated that more than 20% of American adults experienced mental illness in 2019. That means more than 51 million adults contended with depression, anxiety, addiction, or other disorders which could have threatened their overall well-being, functioning, and quality of life.


And yet, despite the ubiquity and the impacts of mental illness, it is by no means always easy for those experiencing it to seek treatment. This is particularly true when mental health care processes seem to contradict one’s own personal values and beliefs. It is possible, however, to formulate a treatment approach that incorporates and respects patients’ spiritual and ideological needs.

A Holistic Approach

Those experiencing mental health challenges may find themselves reluctant to seek care because of misconceptions surrounding both mental illness and its treatment. Stereotypes and stigmatization of mental healthcare, for instance, often both overestimate the role of psychotropic medications in psychiatric care and impugn sich treatments as ding little more than masking the problem, using “happy pills” to artificially elevate the mood of those who aren’t strong enough to grapple with life’s problems on their own.


The reality is that mental illness, whatever the particular diagnosis may be, is a complex and multi-faceted issue. It often derives from a constellation of factors which may include a combination of the biological, experiential, and environmental.


Anxiety, for instance, may derive from a neurochemical imbalance, a physical disease, or some combination of these which a psychiatrist or other medical doctor can diagnosis through a battery of tests, from blood analyses to neuroimaging.


An effective treatment strategy, then, will involve a holistic approach, one that integrates a range of specialists and specialties to define the care strategy that both meets your needs and respects and upholds your values.


If, for example, you are reticent to include medications into your treatment regimen, then you may partner with your psychiatrist to help you find alternative solutions to help regulate the production and circulation of neurotransmitters.


And as your psychiatrist works with you to manage the neurobiological aspects of the illness, a trained psychologist may provide support through talk therapy.


Similarly, a licensed social worker can offer additional, specialized care, extending assistance across a range of domains. Depending on your particular needs, for example, a social worker may assist you in accessing resources for addiction recovery or equip you with the tools you need to secure stable employment and housing while managing your illness.


A social worker can even offer support for daily living. For example, sleep is critical to mental health. If you find yourself feeling exhausted, depressed, and anxious, you may be experiencing sleep disorders, which can be remedied simply through a new sleep routine, specialized pillows, and bedding, or even the use of herbal supplements to promote relaxation. And when you are sleeping better, your overall treatment strategy will be that much more effective.


Thus, as can be seen, the holistic approach to mental health care is by no means simply a matter of “throwing drugs at the problem.” Rather, given the wide variety of specializations, expertise, and resources available, it is not only possible but necessary to design customized treatment strategies that serve both your mental health and your values.

Values-Driven Care

While your personal beliefs may embrace the use of psychotropic therapies for mental health challenges as needed, you may still have misgivings regarding the types of pharmaceuticals you consume.


For example, if you are vegan, you have concerns about not only your medication’s ingredients but also the processes used to manufacture and distribute those medications. In such a case, it’s important to speak openly with your healthcare team about your concerns.


You may, for example, need to educate your care providers on the differences between vegetarianism and veganism. Your team should be both able and willing to ensure that all aspects of your treatment, including your medications, are entirely free of animal products. After all, you should not need to compromise your beliefs to regain your health and quality of life.

The Takeaway

Mental illness can take a devastating toll on those experiencing it, but seeking help should not and does not mean you have to sacrifice your values or compromise your personal beliefs. It is possible to regain the quality of life you deserve by designing a treatment strategy that is both effective and respectful of who you are, what you need, and what you value. It begins with building a multidisciplinary team of specialists to ensure holistic care and it ends with communicating your beliefs to a healthcare team able and willing to honor them.

Posted by Dr. Tim Sandle, Pharmaceutical Microbiology Resources (http://www.pharmamicroresources.com/)

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