May | 2015

22nd

Friday

How to Avoid the Mistake of Trusting your Memory to Determine if your Medication is Really Helping you or Not

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Share this Blog with anyone you know who takes medication for any medical or emotional/behavioral condition.

Studies of populations around the world clearly indicate that large segments of people take medication for various reasons.   Moreover, statistics suggest that anywhere from 10-40% of children or adults will take medication to address a medical, emotional or behavioral condition at some point in their lives.

And yet, when I ask the parent – or the child – why they’re taking a particular medication, my most common experiences I get are a blank stare or vague or ambivalent answers like “to help me feel better”.  It is truly staggering how many people give me the “deer in the headlights” look even though this is a foreign substance they are putting in their body.

But, it’s no wonder!  You and everyone else you know naïvely trusts your memory to try and determine whether the medication is helping, and more importantly, to what degree it’s helping.

In many cases, you absolutely cannot trust your memory to determine if medication is helping or not!  Especially if you’re taking it over a longer period of time.  From thousands of studies on human memory, with over half a century of human science data on the fallibility of memory, here’s one thing we know for sure:  you cannot reliably trust human memory – even for recent events in some cases.

If you don’t trust me, it’s okay to play devil’s advocate is I always do as a clinical scientist, go ahead and look up the research on the validity of eyewitness accounts taken from witnesses who then testify in court.  Yes, it’s true…the human memory can be quite fallible.

And since with medication you need to offer precise data to the person prescribing it, you need to have a numerical way to track the intensity or frequency of the symptoms the medication is supposed to address.  You cannot hold all that information in your memory reliably.

Secondly, because there been so many studies acknowledging the power of the “placebo effect” (where people take sugar pills and suddenly report feeling better because they attribute improvement simply to the fact they are taking “a pill”), it is especially important to systematically and precisely monitor particular characteristics the medication is supposed to improve to determine THE LEVEL of effectiveness.

The great news is precisely tracking effectiveness is very easy to do.  Please see the attached form you can use, and tweak to your heart’s desire.

Medication_Sheet_05_22_15

Please understand that you should use this form under the guidance of the prescribing practitioner you are working with.  I am not suggesting you use this form as it currently stands, you must tweak this form by working with your practitioner team.

Any of you who work with professionals who have prescribed medication, should forward this form to them as well, as it is staggering to me how many professionals who prescribe medication do not have their patients use a tracking form like this one.  This is especially important since many times people must try more than one medication in order to find the correct medication and the correct dosage level, that helps them the most.  Without a form like this, finding the exact medication that will be helpful is much more difficult.  But it doesn’t have to be!!!!!!


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