On Prescribing Mind Drugs

St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO), February 6, 1995 | Go to article overview
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On Prescribing Mind Drugs


Dear Open Mind: In your opinion, do you think medical doctors should be able to prescribe psychotropic or any mind-altering drugs?

Counselors, therapists and psychologists are not allowed by law to prescribe psychotropic or mind-altering drugs. Medical doctors, such as primary care physicians, treat patients early in their illness before complications have developed and so they are well suited to treat the depression and anxiety disorders which remain under-treated in the general population.

Only one in four individuals with these conditions are getting the help and treatment they need and deserve and depression in the over-65s is particularly undertreated.

Medical doctor specialists can treat patients who are reluctant to be referred to a psychiatrist because of stigma and the newer psychotropic drugs are easier to prescribe than before.

Through better education of both the public and the medical profession, the stigma of seeing a psychiatrist will become less and psychiatrists will be able to see patients with the more complicated and severe symptoms. John Waite, M.D. Board Certified Psychiatrist Medical Director, County Mental Health Services

Should "mind-altering drugs" be prescribed at all, and by which kind of physician? "Mind-altering drugs" implies a put-down. All psychiatric medications have a component that would be interpreted as mind altering, but then again cardiac drugs are heart altering and lung medicines will alter one's breathing capacity.

If one doesn't take it as a put-down sensation, then any drug we use in psychiatry can have a mind-altering effect, but we tend to think of those as beneficial, especially if it alleviates distress and discomfort.

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