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Quit Playing Around with Your Meds!

The title, of course, is meant in the most light-hearted way. I say this specifically because I was inspired to write this article because I have a tendency to play my own doctor from time to time. Please don’t tell anyone at my job 😉 I am a social worker and work with many different types of clinicians. Many of my clients have multiple health issues besides mental health. Everything ranging from epilepsy, neuropathy, cancer, heart problems and yes; IBS. We actually have LOTS of stomach problems where I work. The one thing that we, as liaisons for our doctors, try to reinforce is the importance of NOT playing your own doctor. This does not mean that you have no say in what medication you do or do not take. This does not mean also that you cannot be a part of the dialogue about changes in medication or stopping a medication. It is about using medication responsibly.

My personal experience

I would like to share something that happened to me recently pertaining to my medication. I tend to talk a lot about the mental health aspects of dealing with IBS and other disorders. In this case, I was taking a medication for my anxiety and depression (a mood stabilizer) and had been taking it for some time (four years). I decided one day, when I was feeling particularly downtrodden, that I did not really know what this medicine was doing for me. I decided that it wasn’t really helping and that I was going to stop taking it. Sad thing is, part of my decision was because I didn’t want to pay for something that I wasn’t sure was helping me. Long story short, my depression worsened to the point that I couldn’t function. The change to my body from the withdrawal of the medication also caused an incredibly bad IBS flare up. Very, very bad. So…there I was, clinically depressed and all tore up because I had IBS working me over at the same time.

The crazy thing was once I stopped taking the medicine that I was so convinced didn’t work, it became so obvious why they had prescribed it in the first place. It took me back four years to when I started taking it and I knew I needed to speak to my doctor. I told him about the changes I made. He chastised me and we decided to get back on at a low dose. Low and behold, within about a week, my depression had subsided and my guts returned to their usual disrupted, but stable state 🙂

In my work, I see so many people just stopping medication or trying to titrate themselves up or down depending on their mood. We are not doctors. Let them help us. I will close by saying I am a very strong advocate of having the right to say yes or no to your doctor depending on what you are comfortable with. But have the conversation and make your decision. Going rogue with medication can be a dangerous thing.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.