People throughout the world suffer from the chemical imbalance of Bipolar Disorder. It is an illness that can, and does, destroy lives if untreated. The treatment for such an illness often includes very powerful medications, which can lead to the same devastating consequences if not properly administered. Many systematic problems exist surrounding the diagnoses and treatment of Bipolar Disorder and within the context of out Westernized medicine, thee problems are increasing not only with older generations but with youth being medicated at very early ages. Dr. Laurel L. Williams recounts a story in which a mother, who had only recently regained custody of her 10-year-old son, came to her for the first time asking for refills for her sons eight medications. His previous doctor for Bipolar Disorder had treated him with a variation of anti-depressants, mood-stabilizers, antipsychotic medications, and a medication to curb the side effects of the other prescriptions. Taken back by this, she recommended alternate routes of treatment to which the mother rejected, asserting that the Doctor had discriminated against her for being of a lower socioeconomic class. She admits that this is not an uncommon scenario and that in order for a better system to be in place, doctors and consumers must work together to build better relationships and create better diagnosis.
The articles states that in recent years, Bipolar Disorder as a diagnoses has increased tremendously. This can possibly be attributed to a few issues. One reason may be that although science and medicine has progressed very much, it remains a mystery of the brain that does not seem to have any preventative treatment, only reactionary treatment. This, paired with the marketing of pharmaceutical drugs to consumers, puts pressure on Doctors to aid patients with the “cure” to their ailments. Within the relationship of Doctor/Insurance company lies more complex troubles with the need to tend to more housekeeping chores in order to treat patients. These phone calls, stacks of paperwork and time spent dancing with insurance companies has left Doctors with less time to assess their patients true needs, at the devastation of the patient.Due to the added complications of mental illness in children, this is time that is crucial to properly treating a consumer.
Williams suggests a collective effort in mending this pressing matter. First, time with the family, the patient, and the institutions that the young person is involved with is crucial. Next, she suggests that Doctors themselves must stand up to companies pushing drugs, insisting that they do not take the promotions offered to them for peddling various prescriptions. She suggests that as a society, we must require better systems of health care in which these incidents cannot occur, and finally it requires consumers to take charge of their health and while recognizing that medication can be a life-saving tool, it is not magic and must be thoroughly understood before simply swallowing.
She ends by admitting that treating young people can be very difficult. As a consumer who was diagnosed at twelve with early-onset Bipolar Disorder, nothing rings more true. In my experience, the time needed to treat such an illness cannot be taken in the fifteen minute appointments allotted by many psychiatrists today. Even when managed this isn’t enough time to maintain stability in a person’s mental health. The increasingly lack of attention and lack of caring physicians is clearly a problem, and dealing with these medications as a consumer with no guidance is not an option. The responsibility, as Williams expresses, does not fall in one place but in many and needs to be addressed sooner rather than later.
Laurel, Williams L. "A Prescription for Failure." Los Angeles TImes [Los Angeles] 14 Dec. 2008, A-33 ed.