Tuesday, May 1, 2007

NPR - Being Normal

This is a rant with the DSM-IV-TR. If you don't know what it is, it's the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), published by the American Psychiatric Association, and is the standard classification of mental disorders used by mental health professionals in the United States. Why am I angry at it? Because, as someone suggested, if it were really applied, everyone would be suffering from some condition listed in it.

To some extent it's a fraud because many of the "conditions" aren't "abnormal", but simply expressions of human beings being normal. It's an exercise of morality over a population. I'm not against some of the conditions listed because they are extreme in people when expressed at its extreme condition. But in far too many cases, the "diagnosis' is simply to put a label on someone or provide some medical cure through drugs or therapy.

I'm angry because of my "diagnosis" with Dysthymia. While I agree it's a mental condition, it's not abnormal and doesn't make me abnormal. It's who I am. I'm not crazy nor mentally ill. And while the diagnosis is interesting, it's doesn't do anything to help except get my health insurance company to cover drugs and/or therapy, except that the drugs don't work or have serious side effects and the therapy they'll pay for requires a plan to a cure but won't cure me.

You see, genetic Dysthymia isn't curable, and barely controllable with drugs and therapy. But if you do go down that road, it's the endless cycle of waiting for the drugs to work, hoping they'll work, adjust the dosage as they work, and then finding new ones when the effects dissipate in 2-3 years. And therapy is the endless search for the right therapist. And while I have a life coach, it's not with a therapist recognized by the health insurance, but then we don't have to subscribe to a plan or timetable.

As for drugs, there's an interesting article in Harper's Weekly about the depression business, and the collusion between the medical profession and the pharmacy business. It's manufactured to some extent to sell more drugs. I have to agree. There is a plethora of ads on TV and in magazines about if something is "wrong" with you, there's a drug to "cure" you. The reality is that it won't, and will just add to your drug bill while you cope with the effects and side-effects. And drugs for depression are good examples of this.

While there are many which are beneficial for people with short-term depression and some are beneficial for some people with Dysthymia, the general success rate is about 50% and all are short-lived, for 2-3 years before you have change dosage or find a new drug. This works well for short-term depression but for Dysthymia, it's the lifetime continuous cycle of waiting for the effect to kick in, adjusting the dosage to work and inhibit the side effects, and when the drug's effectiveness dissipates to search for a new one.

So the result? Well, the only one thing I know is that what I think and feel is me, consciously thinking and feeling without the detriments or benefits of drugs. It guarrantees I won't always think or feel well, but I see this an advantage sometimes because there are times it helps me think through the issues and situations in life. Sometimes in the darkness, it's easier to see the light.

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