Friday, February 24, 2012

Talk about it

Available therapy
One of the advantages of living in the US (and I assume parts of Europe) is access to psychotherapy and personal professional counseling of all kinds.  I don't think one could easily find a psychologist in Nigeria or Africa.  (I just tried a web search...)  This is unfortunate as there is some pent-up demand for general counseling - stress from school/work or family/relationships for instance. 

You could phone a friend/family, google or ask a Dear Abby question, or meet up with your "pastor" - I guess that's what Nigerians do, but sometimes these options are not satisfactory.  Yes, some people go to the psychiatric hospitals, but that approach is best saved for actual medical issues. 

Quick advice
When you do meet a counselor who is licensed and qualified to offer you medicine and he/she does so, don't take such medicine without a supporting second opinion from another doctor.  It is sad but true that doctors often recommend unnecessary psychoactive drugs. 
Even if I am not an expert on psychology, I advise being very conservative about starting such medicine because of the real risk of: 
1) misdiagnosis - there is a difference between stress symptoms and real pathology.  Some doctors don't seem to know this.  I now have examples in which psychoactive medicine was prescribed for work stress (symptoms: pimples and nervous twitching and pulling hair), for a non-psychological root-cause (it was blood pressure not a hyperactivity disorder), and even for somewhat extreme personality.
2) over-medication - never mind the risk of addiction, one could even fault recommended dosage of many medicines. 
3) side-effects of medicine at any dose. 

At least get a second opinion before taking any medicine from any hack. 
Remember: medication isn't the only form of therapy. 
What?! (a painting)
Anyway, I wish there were more psychologists around.  Anyone have hints on how to score one?  (Comments)

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