Psychiatry is NOT for Looney Tunes

Psychiatry is not for Looney TunesAn archaic stigma has hung over our culture since the Dark Ages that perpetrates the myth that anyone who sees a psychiatrist belongs in an ‘asylum.’ However, not only is asylum an extinct concept, but so is the idea that only the insane need a psychiatrist.

As a culture, we need to band together to dispel this outdated view. And while mental illness is a very real condition for many in our society today, advances in research and pharmacology are coming up with treatments that empower the mentally ill individual to live a normal … and productive … life.

Mental illness isn’t a curse, but rather an illness that’s … well, mental. We don’t run from the idea of pancreatic illness, or diabetes specifically. We recognize it as a legitimate form of illness that requires a specialist, as well as careful diet and daily medication. And with those efforts toward healthcare for this malady, the sufferer is able to live an almost normal life.

The same is true of cardiac disease, vascular disease, or thyroid disease.

So why do we in our culture make diseases of the mind out to be shameful, humiliating, or illegitimate?

When a student passes out in a classroom from hypoglycemia, everyone jumps to her aid to provide her with orange juice, and to stay with her till she is stable again, because they know she’s diabetic. And if she took her insulin too soon this kind of thing can happen.

However, if a bipolar teen has a manic or mixed episode in class, he’s suspended for bad behavior.

Now let’s take it a step farther.

There’s a large segment of our population who are not wrestling with mental illness, but rather are experiencing disorders or malfunctions in their brain and have anxiety, or depression following the loss of a loved one, divorce, or loss of a job.

While a person in crisis may need to be monitored and possibly treated for for these difficulties, they will in time recover, adjust to their lives, and move forward with a healthy outlook.

Because just as the thyroid can under or over produce and need attention and possibly intervention, the same is true of the brains, minds and emotions of otherwise healthy people. When that happens, the doctor best trained and prepared to treat these individuals is a psychiatrist.

But because of the stigma attached to psychiatric illness, and the resulting affect on many insurance plans, psychiatry is not available so it’s left to an internist to treat.

Dental health was not considered a normal part of healthcare until the last third of the 20th century. Before that, it was typically relied upon for emergency bridges and crowns, and tooth decay and extractions. Dental cleaning every six months was unheard of.

But we as a culture learned that regular dental care prolonged the life of an individual’s teeth, we are hopefully learning that psychiatric care is also a part of general healthcare for the mainstream of individuals.

We need a culture that recognizes one’s psychiatrist with the same appreciation as his endocrinologist or internist or cardiologist.  We do seem to recognize that we’re spirit, mind, and body.  We are ok with seeing a pastor or shaman for our spiritual needs, and doctors for our physical needs…and we need to grow up and embrace the help of our mental specialists also.

Hug a psychiatrist today.  He has only your best health and wellbeing at heart.

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