Posted by Viridis on August 3, 2003, at 1:43:26
In reply to Re: Straterra approval., posted by Shel Swartz on August 2, 2003, at 18:48:07
There's still a tremendous amount to learn about how the brain works, so psychiatrists are pretty much stuck with trial and error (combined with intuition) when it comes to meds. Eventually, most people find the right one, or combination, but it's really not so different from the stage that cancer treatment is at. Things keep improving, diagnoses become more reliable, and more targeted approaches are being developed. We just don't have the "magic treatment" yet.
It's great that you can get past ADD without meds, but like a lot of problems, there are varying degrees of severity. If I get a headache, it's usually mild and goes away on its own. But for some people I know, a migraine can be serious enough to shut them down for a day or more. They need drugs for this; my headaches are mild enough that drugs (beyond the occasional aspirin) aren't necessary. ADD and other mental disorders probably follow a similar pattern, and not everyone can just wish their way out of them.
I doubt that most mental problems are anything new; in the old days, people just suffered with them, had miserable lives, and often didn't reach their potential. Now there are ways around that, with medications -- just like with diabetes. If you were a diabetic in the 1920s you probably didn't live that long; now people can live a long time with that and many other chronic illnesses. Medical treatment isn't all a scam, and this applies to psychiatry as well.
I don't think it's realistic to criticize the entire medical establishment just because there isn't a cure for everything. Viruses (like the common cold example you cite) are especially tricky, and it will take a lot of work to find ways to subdue them. But how many people do you see these days with polio, smallpox, tetanus, etc, compared to 50 or 100 years ago? And, before antibiotics, a simple infection could be fatal.
Things are improving on many fronts, but it's a bit much to expect perfection, then criticize all medical professionals because perfection hasn't been achieved.