Our expert says:
I think I understand your concerns, and the issues are complex. One aspect which even doctors often get muddled about, is that medicine rather rarely CURES things. Its nice when we can. But more often medicine helps someone to live longer and more functional lives WITH an incurable condition than they would otherwise do. We can't cure diabetes, for instance. But with medication, a diabetic can live a full life, instead of dying in their teens or 20s in an unpleasant way.
And drugs may not always cure, but can enable the body's natural defences to function more effectively than otherwise. Generally, drugs, including psychiatric drugs, do not cause significant brain damage, more than the illnesses themselves do ( not all changes that occur while we are taking drugs are caused by the drugs ). In schizophrenia, for instance, there is increasing evidence as new methods have developed for taking accurate images of brain structures, of changes in some brain structures occurring long before symptoms were noticed and before meds were used.
Yes, drugs often contain or limit the symptoms, and isn't that better than having the symptoms uncontained or unlimited ? Analgesics only reduce pain, they don't in any way remove its causes --- but would we rather suffer unrelieved pain because they can't cure the condition ?
I think it is unwise in most conditions to see drugs as the ONLY aspect of dealing with any problem, but they are often a very useful part of a plan for dealing with significant problems.
There isn't s single tiny shred of evidence that ANY aspect of mental illness is caused entirely by psychological events or factors WITHOUT these causing, in turn, chemical changes in our brain. Our brains are electro-chemical devices, much more powerful than any known computer, but eerything that goes wrong or right with them, involve chemical activities.
I understand your sense of frustration that medications are helpful but far less helpful than you would want them to be. I think any sensible doctor share your sense of frustration. But what else should we do, except the best job possible at this specific time ? One of the advantages to having been around a long time, as I have, is that you get more of a historical sense of perspective. And when I feel frustrated at how much more we'd like to know and achieve now, than is currently possible, I can also look back 10 or 20 years, and see how far we have come. Progress continues. As we gain a better understanding of the details of how the brain functions and malfunctions, treatments can focus more specifically on trying to currect anomalies, and the results improve.
And as jcat wisely says, be cautious about uncritically adopting the highly unrealistic views of CCHR and Scientology --- remember, when they rail about the multimillion dollar drug industry, they're kvetching as competitors, selling a different ( and totally unproven ) product --- they want those dollars themselves.
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