The last straw came last week, when two headlines appeared on my Twitter feed: “One in five US teenage boys diagnosed ADHD” and “’GERD’ label for infant fussiness leads to unnecessary treatment.”
Since the pharmaceutical industry wants to convince you that there’s something wrong with you that its overpriced snake-oil can fix, and since your family doctor is willing to write a prescription to shut you up, I guess it’s up to Dr. Brett to diagnose and treat the ills of American culture.
(Caveat: I believe that a small percentage of human beings have chronic mental and physical illnesses that require medical treatment. If you’re one of them — and you’re probably not — ignore me.)
Diagnosis 1: Your boy does not have ADHD. He’s a kid. He has trouble focusing in school because he’d rather be riding a dirt bike. That’s a good thing, because it means his brain is active, but since growing up requires focus, he’ll need to put off the dirt bike, listen to his teacher, and read a book or two. He’ll be just fine, if you don’t dope him up on Ritalin or Adderall.
Diagnosis 2: Your baby does not have GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease) — and you probably don’t either. The baby is just a normal baby, and you are probably eating poorly, drinking and smoking too much, or not exercising.
Diagnosis 3: You are not depressed — at least in the clinical sense that requires Wellbutrin, Prozac, Celexa, Zoloft, Paxil or Lexapro. You have what used to be known as “the blues.” Everybody gets it from time to time. Everybody always has, and most didn’t need drugs to cope. The treatment is a dose of good music, sitting on the porch in the sunshine, and maybe a drink or two. And smile. That endorphin business is really true.
Diagnosis 4: You do not suffer from anxiety. You are probably an introvert who has trouble functioning in a world of extroverts. You do not need Xanax, Klonopin, Valium or Ativan. You need to take deep breaths and get plenty of alone time, and plenty of time with people who love and accept you.
Diagnosis 5: You do not have a hormonal imbalance. You’re just getting older and don’t feel as good as you used to. Treatment: Face the facts.
Diagnosis 6 (none of the above — or below): In all likelihood, you do not have low T, Asperger’s, chronic fatigue, shift work disorder, multiple chemical sensitivity, sleep apnea, oppositional defiant disorder, Lyme disease, mold allergy, fibromyalgia, gluten intolerance or bipolar disorder. You are not a psycopath or sociopath. If your strep test was negative, you probably don’t need antibiotics, so quit badgering your doctor about it. If you have high cholesterol, high blood pressure, or early diabetes, you may be able to fix it by changing your lifestyle.
The vast majority of humans who have ever walked the earth have gotten along just fine without anti-depressants, depressants, anti-anxiety meds, synthetic testosterone, corticosteroids, antibiotics, stimulants, anesthetics, tranquilizers, benzodiazepines, antiolytics, or selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors. You don’t need them either.
The most common illness in 21st century America is hypochondria. The cure for that is to look in the mirror and repeat after me: “I am going to die someday, just like everyone else. It may be today, and it may involve horrible pain and suffering. But for now, I’ve got it pretty good, so I’m going to live life to the fullest while I can.”
If that doesn’t work, take two aspirin and call me in the morning.
Brett Larson is not a real doctor. Follow him at twitter.com/elmerbond.