If you’re resistant to trying medication on your doctor’s suggestion, you’re not alone. Every doctor has a number of patients who are reluctant to begin a “medication trial,” and some for good reason. There are people who have struggled to recover from addiction and alcoholism, and strongly resist taking any sort of pill that would alter their thinking or mood.
Much has changed since the 1960s when the more addictive diazepam (Valium) was the medication of choice. Now we have a host of options that do not result in any sort of development of dependency. In fact, non-addictive medications actually help prevent people from self-medicating.
How do I convince my patients to at least give a try beyond resisting medication?
Education is obviously an important and basic approach to helping another person appreciate the benefits of any recommended treatment. I prefer to talk this through rather than giving the patient an FDA-approved pamphlet. We cannot take short cuts in this regard without risking our patient’s confidence in us.
As doctors, we should be expected to have a very good and up-to-date grasp on the neurological causation of chemical imbalances so that we can correctly match the medication to the specific malfunction in the brain. This is a far cry from “shooting in the dark.” This is an exacting brain science, and we learn by treating one individual daily in minimal amounts.
By carefully listening to patients and getting to know them, we learn how to present our recommendations and rationals. If we have not listened well enough, then all of our brilliant lectures fall on deaf ears.
Sometimes, patients need more “convincing,” even when the medication I’m considering can actually alter their lives. In cases such as these, I order tests that help confirm the diagnosis, and then discuss the results during the patient’s next visit. This helps with reassurance and feeling that every stone has been overturned. Some patients are willing to participate in their own short-term test to confirm my diagnosis through a short trial period. I tell them the timeframe of reasonable results up front, and we keep in touch with each other through this period. If it is effective, I lay out a regimen for just one month. If it is not effective, we now have a much clearer picture of our target, and can hone in even more quickly.
In my three-set series, Healing the Mind and Body, I walk patients and doctors through symptoms, discussion, case studies and prescriptive recommendations, the majority of which are refreshingly not common and non-addictive! I encourage you to invest in the low-priced series as a handy and timeless desk reference.