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Monday, 14 October 2013

How Medications Can Destroy Your Marriage

One of many things a doctor will probably never bother to explain to you are the side-effects from your prescription medications. Not only will they not bother to tell you there might be side-effects, but they won't tell you that some of those side-effects are going to have an impact on your relationships. Part of the reason doctors don't explain these things to their patients, is because they never bothered to learn about it themselves. They blithely accept the pretty brochures handed out by pharmaceutical sales reps, and don't take the time to look into it a little more deeply.

For one thing, they haven't really got the time these days. Doctors are bogged down with paperwork of every kind, making phone calls they didn't have to make twenty years ago, or being forced to see a patient in order to get paid when before they could just handle the issue over the phone. Another reason doctors don't read the full literature or investigate the drugs is because it's not exactly their job to do so. The majority of people look to doctors as their sole healthcare provider, when the reality is that they are only a portion of the system. Doctors should know what the drug is supposed to be prescribed for, certainly, but the real responsibility falls on the shoulders of your pharmacist.

Pharmacists (or chemists or druggists as they're known in other countries), are widely discounted as a minor cog, when they're really one of the biggest pieces of the medical machine. They study nothing but drugs, chemistry, interactions and anything related to pharmacology, and they study those things for years. Doctors study anatomy and the mechanics of diseases. A portion of their study goes to pharmacology, but very little of it in comparison with a pharmacist.

You're probably wondering how this relates to your marriage, partnership or other relationships. Well, here it is. Drugs can cause massive reactions in people. They're supposed to affect your body, because there's no point in taking them if they don't, and when you affect one part of the body you're going to affect others. Every part of you is connected to something else, and in the end every part is connected to everything else in your body. If you take pain relievers for an ankle injury, your body distributes that pain reliever everywhere. It has no idea that it's meant only for your ankle. Some pain relievers work a different way, focusing on the pain centers of your brain, basically allowing it to tune out your pain.

As much of a bad rap as pain relievers get because of their tendency to give people a high, there are many drugs out there that have a much more dangerous impact. There are two families of drugs that are notoriously bad for this - anti-depressants and benzodiazapenes. Anti-depressants are designed specifically to mess around with your brain chemistry, because they're suppose to try to re-balance an imbalance there. Brains are a very dangerous area to play in. After all, our brains are like a central computer system. They control every single aspect of our living bodies. Complete inactivity in the brain means you don't breathe and your heart doesn't beat. The brain sends out electrical signals to make sure those things get done.

Benzodiazapenes are given for their sedative effects for a variety of issues, from insomnia to anxiety. They can have paradoxical effects, however, meaning they can cause aggression and disinhibition. In other words, you might not only be ticked off for no reason, but also lack the inhibitions that would stop you from acting upon your angry urges.

A third type of drug that isn't given a great deal of notice by the medical community is steroids. This has nothing to do with the anabolic steroids taken by body builders, though a similar effect can be achieved. Drugs like prednisone fall under this category. It's a corticosteroid, and despite being considered safe for general use it's really not a drug to mess around with. For one thing it has a pretty big impact on your organs. For another, and this one is important, it will spike your blood sugar and can potentially lead to an unwanted diagnosis of diabetes. High blood sugar has a big effect on mood all by itself, but prednisone has another dangerous level to it. Two of its major side-effects are mania and psychosis. Anabolic steroid user will occasionally exhibit something called 'roid rage, in which they lose all semblance of self-control and passivity. The manic and psychotic side-effects experienced by those on prednisone are remarkably similar.

In legal circles there is something called 'The Prozac Defense' which is when a lawyer defends his client by showing they were on anti-depressant medication at the time they committed the acts they were charged with. Now, as difficult as that might be to swallow, there is a very big element of truth to this defense. There have been many cases where those who have been medicated with certain kinds of drugs have gone off the rails, and a large portion of gun-toting, mass-murderers have been shown to have legally-prescribed, pharmaceutical drugs in their systems at the time they went on their bloody rampages.

So, try to imagine living with someone who is on any one of these drugs. Not everyone experiences these side-effects, of course, but it happens often enough that people need to be aware of it and watch for signs that someone might be out of control. Before you even take your first dose of a new medication make sure you discuss side-effects with your pharmacist, and then make sure you read the entire information sheet that comes with the drug. Even better, check out the drug online. New information becomes available all the time. Once the drug is being taken, watch yourself or your partner for signs of these side-effects. Be aware of them before they're severe enough to be dangerous.

Under certain circumstances a person will not be able to stop taking their medication - either right away or at all. Some medications can't be stopped suddenly because of the dangers of sudden withdrawal. Some can't be stopped at all because they're vital to the patient. Occasionally the side-effects and their risks have to be weighed against the benefits the drugs provide. Maybe it doesn't seem like a big deal at first, and you and your partner feel you can get through it. Sometimes the side-effects ease up after the patient becomes accustomed to the drug being in their system, but then other times they just get worse.

The fact is, marriage is difficult all by itself. When you add the potential for mania, anger, psychosis, sleeplessness, disinhibition, dissociative behaviour, and any other number of possibilities, the toll it will take on your relationship will be unbelievable. If you're aware of it beforehand you might be able to fight your way through it. If you're not, however, and something like this catches you off-guard, you're probably going to assume that the person is just being a jerk for no reason. Suddenly they're screaming at you, or calling you names, which is behaviour that gets old very quickly. As much as we might want to make marriage work, there is only so much strain a relationship can take. Particularly if we don't know that there may be a medical reason for it.

What it all comes down to is knowledge and preparation. If you arm yourself with knowledge every time a new drug enters your life or your body, you're less likely to misinterpret the reason for your sudden problems. Learn, watch, and be ready to take action if something seems off.