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From: ellie ( -
Subject: here is (roughly) my decision tree
Date: December 16, 2009 at 11:20 am PST

In Reply to: posted by NancyT on December 10, 2009 at 5:36 pm:

I feel the way you do. I hate the idea of using anything developed through the kind of cruelty that does go on in labs, especially the fact that they use shelter pets, often sold by "bunchers" who steal pets and then launder them through far-away pounds, because the pets are most docile when pain is inflicted on them.

But, there is no question: some of us are only alive because of modern drugs. I know I wouldn't have made it past infancy but for antibiotics and asthma drugs.

So, what to do? Here are the questions I ask myself:

Do I need to correct this condition of mine in order to function effectively, survive illness, keep my job? I don't need to treat my allergy sniffles. I can bear those and just use a lot of kleenex and nettle tea. I don't treat "vanity" disorders like acne flareups. I am not going to "treat" menopause, which is not a disease - epecially not with Premarin! I have a rescued mare from a Premarin factory.

But - With psychological/psychiatric symptoms, there is a line to be drawn. Easy for me to say, I'll use meditation, yoga, self-help, whatnot to treat my blues/negative self-talk/worrying. Bona fide mental disorders, like severe clinical depression and OCD, however, can be crippling. Which brings me to question 2:
Have I tried another way to treat it, without (sufficient) success?
My doctor wanted to put me on statins, for NO other reason except my age. Nonsense. I do not even have high cholesterol, and if I did, the first line of treatment would be to exercise more. Same with mental disorders - there is more to mental health than just drugs. But there are limitations:

Many people just don't have access to psychotherapy, but they can get drugs - a pitiful commentary on our health system - but that is a fact, and you may have to use what you can get. If I am able to keep depression and anxiety in check with therapy, and do without meds, and function reasonably well, then that's what I do, end of decision.

But, if therapy (and please note, I mean real honest-to-gosh Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy, not merely "counseling", not howling at the moon, not running in the woods, not regressing to imaginary past lives, not communicating with my inner elf)is not available OR has not solved the problem enough to let me manage my life, then drugs may be necessary. I am no use to animals or to anyone else if I end up on a locked ward somewhere.

Then there is the "alternative" treatment option. There are non-pharmacological and non-talk therapies such as herbs, massage, etc, and some of them have proven at least some effectiveness. I'd take acupuncture for chronic pain instead of a narcotic any time. I can manage mild occasional insomnia with valerian and meditation. When I lived in the north, I was really about to jump off a bridge until I got a full-spectrum lamp and some st.john's wort for seasonal affective disorder. Bear in mind that in each case, the type of disorder was known - SAD is different from just plain global depression, the insomnia was mild and clearly traceable to life circumstances, not a brain-based sleep problem, etc.

Sleep is healing, and sleep troubles cause a lot of other ancillary problems. I might be inclined to try other options for treatment of sleep disorders, such as valerian, melatonin, sleep routines, meditation, etc.altough I'd be VERY cautious and tell my doctor before mixing any herbs or OTCs with prescription drugs! If no success, insurance willing, I might try to get referred for a sleep study. Apnea, breathing issues, RLS, reflux, arthritis, muscle spasms or simply a lousy mattress could be the problem. But sleep studies are expensive, and I know, if you don't have insurance, that's not an option.

If I am stuck with a medication, then I'm stuck with it, at least for a while. Then, I might keep plugging away at managing my life so that, with any luck, I may in time be able to reduce or stop the meds without a relapse. If the illness is a serious or chronic one, then, you can't help that. A type I diabetic is always going to need insulin, a person with schizophrenia is always going to need an antipsychotic and probably a mood stabilizer to boot. Someday, we'll learn to develop the medications people need without torturing animals to do it.

Good luck! be well, and remember, you can only do the best you can do.

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