The negative effects of self-medication
One of the consequences of the current rhythm of life and of the high demands to which we are constantly exposed is the increase of chronic stress, as well as episodes of depression and anxiety in population of all age ranges.
Associated with these variables of social type, we also have other personal types that exacerbate these states, such as low tolerance to frustration or negative emotions, or a bad approach to personal experiences or complex feelings that affect us during the day a day. In today's society, One of the most common resources to deal with psychological distress in the face of many of these pressures is self-medication with psychotropic drugs , being able to reach an abuse of it and become an added problem.
But: are psychopharmaceuticals necessary?
On many occasions they are . Psychiatric medication can be of great help in managing a psychological or behavioral problem at a specific and specific moment in the person's life. Recall that this type of substances have as their main function to regulate the action of certain neurotransmitters, improving some of the symptoms suffered by the affected.
In addition, in severe mental disorders in which there is a high mismatch, we know that medication is strictly necessary and that it has a crucial function for patient adaptation, although the psychological and family intervention that usually accompanies this type can not be ignored. of cases.
The psychological effects of self-medication with psychotropic drugs
However, in many other cases, the use of drugs is being excessive and poorly channeled as the solution to a psychological malaise that arises from everyday problems or symptoms that do not justify its use. The prescription of psychotropic drugs should be prescribed by a doctor and be accompanied by additional psychological treatment if they want to maintain long-term improvements. We know a lot about the side effects at the physiological level of the use of these drugs, but it is also important to highlight the psychological side effects that remain in the person at the level of self-efficacy or perception of resolution of the problems.
Most of the problems that create suffering in patients who ask for help are of psychosocial origin, not of biochemical origin, so that If the true cause and origin of the problem is not found, it will be difficult to reach a solution , and neither can the drug be withdrawn (whose purpose is the transient stabilization of the symptom, and not the chronic medication as a sustained solution).
Consume drugs without professional control: an authentic Russian roulette
The real problem of self-medication is the use of medicines on your own initiative , without there being any medical prescription, control or professional diagnosis associated with such drug. It is a practice that we have very standardized as a way to cover symptoms with some immediacy, how many of us have taken a pill for a headache, back pain or to sleep at some point in our life? In these cases in which we treat a cold, a specific discomfort, we would be talking about a responsible self-medication and limited in time.
The problems begin when the self-medication is prolonged in excess or established as a resource to control a symptom annoying, but without treating the origin of it. It is frequent in such a case that the person believes that he needs such medication to manage his day to day or face his problems. Specifically, and especially, we refer to antidepressant, anxiolytic and hypnotic psychopharmaceuticals whose consumption is normalizing in the medium and long term when the indications of the drug itself have temporary limits of use.
Effects (physical and psychological) of the bad habit of self-medication
Apart from the typical effects at the physical level when a chemical is consumed, we will point out the tolerance, abstinence Y dependence resulting when some of these drugs are taken without control for long periods of time.
However, as the most important effect we want to highlight is at the psychological level, due to the lack of control or responsibility for improvement. The consumption of drugs for the resolution of psychological problems facilitates the development of what is known as external locus of control by diverting the improvement to an external and independent resource of the person. A patient with symptoms of depression or anxiety can learn that he needs medication to be better and act on his condition, not learn that he is able to act on his condition to improve. Sometimes this effect can hinder the patient's progress by not acquiring the necessary resources to resolve a specific situation by itself .
Examples and possible solutions
Let's take an example, a person with a certain degree of social anxiety who experiences great discomfort in certain situations ends up developing a work facing the public in which a lot of anxiety happens, affecting its execution. The solution pathways require leaving work (which is not an option because it needs economic support), actively seeking another job, resorting to medication for anxiety, which you will have to keep taking as long as you maintain that job or learn to cope with the social situations of another way, with a treatment plan that includes working on anxiety, social skills and self-esteem among other things.
In cases like this, what we try to reflect is that The flight or taking drugs are methods of avoiding the real problem , that will not contribute anything to growth or personal learning through experience. Medication yes, but always with supervision and for cases that require it.