Saturday, May 05, 2007

I Don't Really Need It

"I don't really need it," is a comment often expressed by people taking medication of any kind. It's a form of denial. Doctors will tell you that noncompliance with a prescribed treatment of medication is one of the biggest frustrations that they face. This is not limited to patients who have been diagnosed with a form of mental illness.

In support group meetings, I have often heard someone say that they have not followed their doctor's advice. The reason is usually the feeling that if they are not taking medication, then they are not truly ill. They are denying the reality of their health issue, and consequently, they deny themselves the surest way of stabilizing their health.

Another reason why patients don't comply with their course of treatment is that they have become discouraged. According to the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance, more than 50 per cent of individuals who took antidepressants needed to try two or more drugs before finding one that was effective. Ten per cent of patients had to try five or more drugs before finding one that was effective. In my case, I have tried a dozen medications and have still not found one that will successfully control my depression. Fortunately, I'm just stubborn enough not to give up.

Family members of depressives often try all kinds of methods to change the attitude of their loved one toward medication. Most often their efforts fail. As someone who has had Bipolar Disorder (BPD) for over 4 decades, I believe I know what is most likely to work and what isn't.

What depressives really need to hear are persuasive statements. The biggest mistake that family members or friends make is to be overly proactive toward their loved one. Whatever is said to the patient, it must be seasoned with wisdom and gentleness. My advice follows.

DO NOT nag-be persuasive
DO NOT shame-be persuasive
DO NOT command-be persuasive
DO NOT manipulate-be persuasive
DO NOT control-be persuasive

I believe that most people are open to persuasion, but they will rebel against any of the above attempts to get them to take their medication. What it takes to persuade one person may be ineffective with another. Maybe getting the advice of a counselor who works with depressives would be a good place to begin. They would have the most experience in dealing with noncompliance issues.

This much I know. Those of us who struggle with mental health issues are in desperate need of love, acceptance, understanding, support and persuasive advice. A failure to receive these things will nearly always result in noncompliance and hopelessness. In some cases, suicide.

"Pleasant words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones (Proverbs 16:24)."

["I'm so low, I could do a ten minute free-fall off the edge of a dime."]

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