Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Drug Side Effects: A Top-10 List

"Top 10 Weirdest Prescription Drug Side Effects"
Shanna Freeman, Medications, Medicine, Guides, Discovery Health

"Most of us take prescription drugs -- drugs that, by law, must be prescribed by a doctor -- at some point in our lives. If all goes well, the drug works for you as it's supposed to. But there's no 'magic bullet,' or drug that works the same for everyone without any risks or side effects. A side effect is basically an unintended occurrence that results from taking a drug. Side effects can be good or bad, depending on how you use the drug. For example, antihistamines, used to help with allergy symptoms like itchy eyes and sneezing, have the side effect of making you feel very sleepy. If you're having trouble sleeping, this side effect is great. If you need to deal with your allergies as well as drive your car or function at your job, however, it's bad...."

Don't let the long paragraphs scare you away. There's some interesting stuff here: from "Weird Side Effect 10: Amnesia" through "Weird Side Effect 7: Colored Urine" and "Weird Side Effect 6: Hallucinations," to "Weird Side Effect 1: Birth Defects." Remember thalidomide?

The Lemming thinks that some of the "weird" side effects are not so much weird as destructive. Like "Weird Side Effect 2: Suicidal Ideation" and "Weird Side Effect 3: Compulsive Behavior."

Which is not to say that these are "bad" drugs. Sometimes a there's a medical condition that's worse than the possible side effect - in which case the patient and doctor should do a benefit/risk assessment and make a decision. An informed decision.

Only Persons of Inferior Breeding Need Drugs?

The Lemming wasn't at all sure about claims that some drugs could induce compulsive behavior or 'make someone commit suicide.'

Until I started reading up on the matter.

We think with our brain: a few pounds of neurons and glial cells, blood vessels and support structures. It's a complicated mass of bio-electrical circuitry that depends on a rather fine-tuned set of chemicals.

When the chemical mix isn't quite right - the circuits don't work quite right.
The Lemming Gets Personal
We're able to work around malfunctioning or damaged circuits - but it takes effort. It helps if we're aware that it's a problem in the circuits.

I haven't experienced drug-induced compulsive behavior, but I do take the chemical component of human behavior seriously: for fairly personal reasons.

Several years ago I discovered that I had major depression. My guess is that I've been dealing with it ever since I hit my teens. Working with a psychiatrist, I'm taking a set of drugs that keeps the chemical balance in my brain closer to spec than its been in decades.

I could deal with that reality in several ways, including:
  1. Thumping my manly chest and saying that I don't need no help
    • No how
    • No way
  2. Rolling my eyes up and saying that I'll rely on no man's aid
    • And 'trusting God'
  3. Taking my medicine
All things considered, option #3 seemed like the most sensible. It's not that I don't 'trust God:' but I figure I've got some responsibility for maintaining my health. (A Catholic Citizen in America (February 25, 2010)
Don't Need Drugs? Great!
The use of medications came up in an online community the Lemming's in. One of the folks there stated that he didn't need some crutch to stay mentally fit and all that. He's probably right. Good for him.

Not everybody is like that. Given a choice, I wouldn't have spent most of my adult life dragging myself through most days, chugging a dozen cups of strong coffee to stay moderately alert.

I'm glad that there are folks who don't need 'crutches.' But, for those who do: I'm glad that there are ways to deal with the ills we experience.

The Lemming is not going to accuse someone with a physical malady of having insufficient moral virtue. And that's another topic.

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