Saturday, January 30, 2010

Is It Ethical for the Layperson to Give Advice on Medication?

I read an article about a woman in Australia who was getting psychological advise from an intense self-help seminar called The Turning Point. The leaders had no training in mental health issues.She jumped off a skyscraper to her death. Many times people are advised to buy someone's books or attend a seminar and against taking medication.

It should be illegal to advise someone to either take or discontinue prescription medication. The only permissible advice should be “Talk to your doctor”. This reminds me of a situation when my daughter was in third grade. She daydreamed and refused to do the simplest assignments. The school district psychiatrist wanted her to transfer to a special school. The counselor asked if we ever considered ADD. I took her to a neurologist who asked a lot of questions and said that my little girl was a classic case. Unfortunately, upon the advice of her school counselor, she refused to take the medication. She received counseling from him for two years and it did nothing to help her. The last week of high school, she focused enough to complete some assignments and her teachers passed her. She took the entrance test for community college and almost passed it. It broke her heart that she would have to take remedial classes before starting the normal course work. That’s when she decided that she wanted to succeed in school. She asked me to get her an appointment with a psychiatrist, who diagnosed her with ADD and OCD. He prescribed medications which initially caused side effects, but the dosage was continually adjusted until it was something she could live with. She is a college senior, now, majoring in accounting. She has to work harder than other students but she is successful. A combination of therapy and medication is working for her.

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