We’re Now Entering No Man’s Land

I’m going to take you on a brief journey into no man’s land. Perhaps I might have chosen a better description to provide you a primer to viewing psychiatric care today. Traditional medical approaches for psychiatric treatment lean heavily on medication. The pharmaceutical companies have inundated us through multi-media the message that medicine is what you need to remedy your psychiatric disturbance.

A market expense beyond your imagination inculcates us to believe this is the best design for treatment. Ergo, countless numbers of people have bought into this belief. People, especially in these United States, flock in droves to their primary care physician or psychiatrist begging for relief from a whole array of symptoms. Generally, three categories, with some variation on the theme, depression, anxiety and psychosis comprise the pathology doctors look for in determining a proper course of treatment. We’ll hold our horses here for a pause.

Schools of psychology and counseling have conducted their own brand of research to reveal treatment approaches that fit the bill. Over time, the two camps join forces to market a new and even better approach for psychiatric care. Drum roll, please. Combining both medication and a thoroughly researched counseling treatment approach effectively became the cat’s meow. Do one alone you’ll possibly be okay. Do both as a joint venture, you’ve struck gold. Symptom management by the physician supplemented by good talk therapy in a structured style will substantially reduce your symptoms and quell your disturbance. Sounds good, right?

Now I step foot into no man’s land. Professional journal articles are slowly shifting their once entrenched beliefs. Some practitioners have been questioning the reliability of the aforementioned tried and true held psychiatric beliefs. Queries are being asked about medications and side-effects that render patients ill and confuse which symptoms are original disturbances and which are a likely result of medication utilization. Confusing? Medications are supposed to, by design, abate not create debilitating psychiatric symptoms. Now, this is not an endorsement of an abrupt hold to medications. Doing so is dangerous. I repeat – dangerous. Those who choose the traditional medication approach need, I emphasize, to open up lines of pharmaceutical companies, only trial and error will factor into the reliability and benefit. You and your physician need to be in partnership for your mental health. He/she wants you to get better, be relieved of your symptoms so noted and be a more active member of society. Don’t be frightened or intimidated. Advocating for one’s best health interest supplemented by family/friend support is meaningful and needs your full attention. Medication alone is not a good healthy choice to abating your disturbance.

Oh yeah … the counseling treatment folks, too, are in the throes of a treatment approach shift. Noting how many clients don’t favorably respond to traditional approaches has given rise to a generous exploration of spirituality. Adding it to the equation has opened up psyches once closed, locked and sealed. We must open ourselves to the many growing approaches such as vitamin supplements, massage homeopathy and naturopathy. Speak to your pharmacist about these. Getting education about your psychiatric disturbance in partnership with practitioners, family, friends and other healthcare professionals may unlock what’s been keeping your from enjoyment of life. Be careful. Be patient, please, and keep the lines of communication open with your healthcare professionals. Best of health.

Marshall Greenstein holds a master’s degree in marriage and family counseling and is a licensed marriage and family counselor and a licensed mental health counselor in New York state. He has regular office hours at Hutton and Greenstein Counseling Services, 501 E. Third St., Suite 2B, Jamestown, 484-7756. For more information or to suggest topics, email editorial@post-journal.com.