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Every since the human race existed, there
has been numerous psychiatric disorders in different civilizations. These have
been studied as time has passed and linked to different problems and causes. In
the book names Anatomy of an Epidemic,
Robert Whitaker takes focus on different psychiatric illnesses, and talks about
different ways and therapies to treat these. It is very unfortunate that many
of these diseases have been discovered and studied recently in the past 100
years, because psychology is a growing diagnosis field, particularly in the present
era. Medications for many of these diseases have been arising as days go by,
therefore increasing treatment for particular people suffering from the
diseases. In particular, medications for disorders have been introduced since
the year of 1953. From this year forward, the concept of a medication to treat
these particular group of diseases has been introduced. The Anatomy of an
Epidemic is a book that discusses stories about people who are and who are not
taking medications for psychiatric illnesses. The focus of this book review and
reaction paper is to support and criticize Whitaker’s stories with themes and topics
covered in Psychopharmacology course.

            Robert
Whitaker interviews numerous persons, in particular those who suffer some type
of mental illness. In particular, Robert takes a great focus on bipolar
disorder. An example is Jessica Smith, who suffered from bipolar disorder ever
since she was four years old. She was medicated, and ever since then her
psychiatric disorder symptoms have been reduced. In particular, she mentions
that she is more relaxed and when things happen to her, she manages her
emotions in a more passive way. She manages to escape her negative emotions and
thoughts by doing extracurricular activities. In my opinion, Robert Whitaker
mentions this case because this is a common disorder that affects many Americans.
He manages to explain the case very clearly and it’s cure with grace. The
secret on treating bipolar disorder is to keep the mind off of negative thought
by doing other activities, just like Jessica. Unfortunately, many people that
suffer from this type of disease do not follow this type of routines. An
example of this is the case of Nathan Oates. Nathan suffered from bipolar
disease and also depression. He was also medicated, but unlike Jessica, he did
not mix medication with extracurricular activities. His symptoms after being
medicated included being very anxious and temperamental, and these emotions
made him hate going to school. After returning to an appointment with his
psychologist, his medication dosage was increased. Unfortunately, this only
made Nathan feel worse. In particular, he became isolated in school, home, and
everywhere we went. In my opinion, Whitaker should have widened his discussion
of Nathan to the depression disorder instead of focusing on bipolar disorder.
Maybe if his psychiatrist investigated on the case, he could have discovered
that depression was taking a big part of Nathan’s life. To broaden the topic,
Whitaker could have introduced another case of depression in comparison to both
Jessica and Nathan, and how the depression psychiatric disorder can be treated.
In conclusion, Both Jessica’s and Nathan’s case were very different. Nathan
could have improved his bipolar and depression symptoms by following Jessica’s
example of incorporating extracurricular activities as part of the treatment
for psychiatric disorders. They both were medicated, but Jessica was better
compatible with the dose and treatment, and Nathan relied solely on the
medication, which unfortunately, did not do a good job on the treatment.

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            The
most common treatment for bipolar disorder is lithium. Lithium is made from a
alkali metal salt extraction. In Anatomy of an Epidemic, Whitaker takes focus
as lithium as not being the proper treatment for bipolar disorder. He mentions
that this medication is rather helping the diagnosis and symptoms of bipolar
disorder. A recent survey of members of the Depressive and manic-depressive
association discovered that 60 percent of people that have bipolar disorder
diagnosis reported that they returned to being bipolar after being exposed to
an antidepressant drug. These findings and Whitaker’s analysis makes me
question if lithium is the proper drug to treat disorders such as bipolar
disease. Why is lithium being administered and given to people if there has been
circumstantial evidence that has been proven that it makes people likely to
relapse when taking the medication? Whitaker presents controversial topics and
cases up front, that I was very interested in. In Jessica’s case, was the most
important factor to treating her bipolar disorder the medication or was the
best treatment doing extracurricular activities? If we compare her to Nathan,
the answer is that the medication had the minimal effect. In my opinion. The rise
of the medicine in treating mental disorders is not solving any type of
problems in the mental health system.

            To
supplement the findings and critiques mentioned earlier, we can add the topics
presented by Whitaker of the problems that prescribing psychiatric drugs to
children and young adolescents has. It is a recent phenomenon and epidemic that
is affecting children in the long term. If we compare today with the situation
of the 1980s, we can conclude that the prescription of drugs has increased
dramatically. The drugs that have been proven to be effective in adults have
been now introduced in children. In my opinion, this was very shocking and
disturbing for me because I am a person that likes to delegate and fight for
children and the upcoming generations. Treating children should be more than
just administering medications. It should be about therapy, and activities that
help the mind. Prior to the years following 1980, bipolar disease was not known
to be a case in children. These children if exposed to antidepressants can get
worse, and develop long term outcomes that supplement the worsening of the
disorder. Whitaker takes focus on these cases but should focus on the way that
they should be treated. He does an excellent job in bringing forward these disturbing
facts, and in my opinion should add more statistical analysis to support his
arguments. Example of these statistics include that one percent of all American
youth are being diagnosed with bipolar disease with treatment with an
antidepressant. Are antidepressants supposed to improve the patient’s mental
health? Statistics like these do not support this.

            The
section presented by Robert Whitaker in Anatomy of an Epidemic was very
disturbing to read. I am shocked on how society is being transformed. My immediate
reactions after reading such words were sadness; It makes me angry that
children are being prescribed medications to “treat” and “battle” diagnosis
done by irresponsible doctors. Childhood and Adolescence are both life events
that are characterized by a rise in emotions, problems, and experience. The key
on battling events that can be traumatizing is not going to a psychiatrist, it
relies on keeping the mind off of negative emotions that can further worsen a
person. Many of these children that begin medication to treat disorders will
not be able to support themselves after developing worst symptoms. These
examples can be defined with two words: Unnecessary diagnosis. Many countries
have battled such illnesses with other routes and ways. Where has the concept
of therapy gone? We have to implement such important programs in the United
States and decrease the amount of people taking medications.

            One
example that were presented by the author of the book and I found to be
interesting were those like Monica Briggs. Monica had a very interesting
experience, she was on medication for a depression, and interestingly, she
developed bipolar disorder after taking desipramine. At first, her spirit began
to be more positive and bright, but after several months she fell into a
bipolar battle. The symptoms just got worse to the point that Monica swallowed sleeping
pills to kill herself.  The doctors,
instead of giving her advice on how to keep the mind busy on other thoughts,
kept prescribing her medications until they found the one that worked. It was
very upsetting to read such events. How in the world will doctors keep
prescribing medications to a patient that develops another disease right after
being treated with an antidepressant? If that is the case, why keep adding
medications to her daily life if she seems to have a correlation between
worsening and taking medications? In my opinion Whitaker does an excellent job
narrating this particular story. With stories like Monica’s we can see the
problem between pill-taking in the current day we live in. We solve every
disease with a pill instead of therapy.

            The
problems and cases presented on the book Anatomy of an Epidemic by Robert
Whitaker were very beneficial to me as a psychology student. The book was very
interesting to read and can be interpreted in very different ways, depending on
who reads it. The main theme presented in the book is that we are a society
that depends on a pill rather than therapy. Every case in the book is very
different and without a doubt, many of the cases presented beneficial effects
after being treated with antidepressants. However, in my opinion, the perfect
way to treat a psychiatric disorder is to combine antidepressants with some
sort of activity that can decrease the number of depressive, suicidal, and
negative thoughts on a person. Interestingly, several centuries ago half of the
diseases that we have treatment on did not exist, and we had many different
ways on approaching a person that was mentally unhealthy. This brings us to
question the true reliability of medication for treatment of many mental
diseases, such as the focus on my reflection: bipolar disease. Is it better to
not have any medication administered to a person suffering from such disease?
Every case presented by Whitaker is different, and is subject to a variety of
different perspectives and opinions.

            In
my opinion, Whitaker in his book presents cases that can be very hard to read. As
he mentions by the title of his book, it is a true “epidemic.” When we think of
an epidemic we think of some type of disease, but it is ironic that the true
disease relies on the amount of prescriptions and wrongful diagnoses made. If medications
to treat psychiatric disorders are not prescribed exceedingly, then the rate in
which people are treated would not be that excessive. A very important aspect
on treating mental disorders and psychiatric problems relies on therapy. A drug
is a very powerful agent and a double edged knife; it can cure numerous
psychiatric disorders, but also can also worsen symptoms.

            

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