Cycle of Symptoms

September 3rd, 2010

By Carolyn Dean MD, ND: I’ve observed a disturbing trend among some clients who consult with me. I’ve even heard similar stories from cab drivers and customer-service people who are being treated for heart disease with no relief. I call it “domino drug therapy.” Here’s the scenario:

1. You experience a tremendously stressful event or series of events in your life. Here’s a partial list: surgery, a death in the family, divorce, job loss, sickness of a child, foreclosure, hospitalization or even running a marathon!

2. As a result, you experience headaches, insomnia, achiness in your body and exhaustion.

3. You visit your doctor for reassurance that you don’t have something wrong. But you’re nervous on top of your stress so your blood pressure is elevated. It’s called “the white coat syndrome.”

4. Your HMO doctor is an hour behind schedule and doesn’t have time to ask about your stress levels or find out that you haven’t slept well or eaten a decent meal in three weeks.

5. Instead he/she tells you that your blood pressure is elevated but a prescription for a diuretic will take care of everything.

6. There is no time for questions or to talk about a diet or an exercise program for your 20-pound weight gain. You rationalize that your doctor would have told you about these things if he felt they would work, so you fill the prescription.

7. A month later you come back, feeling even worse, and in spite of the medication, your blood pressure is higher. Your doctor remarks that he must have caught your blood pressure just in time and prescribes a calcium channel-blocking drug.

8. Now you’re getting really worried but your doctor tells you this is the best treatment for your condition.

9. Two months later you come back for blood tests to check your liver (in case of drug side effects) and you’re shocked when your doctor tells you that now your cholesterol is elevated and your blood sugar is high.

10. Suddenly you are on two more medications. A statin drug for cholesterol and a drug for diabetes.

11. Another three months and your muscles are aching, your libido is non-existent, and you still have the original symptoms you came to the doctor with: headaches, insomnia, achiness in your body and exhaustion.

This pattern is repeated over and over in the average doctor’s office. Not all people will respond this way, but far too many do.

What’s wrong with this picture? Nothing, according to the standard practice of medicine. Even though the American Medical Association (AMA) says stress-related illness and symptoms account for 60 to 90 percent of doctor visits most symptoms are still treated with drugs. [1,2] Even though the former head of the CDC, Dr. Julie Gerberding, in a 2004 JAMA paper showed that tobacco and lifestyle are the major causes of disease, it seems few doctors are listening… [3]


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