Let’s face it: lifestyle changes are difficult (specifically if you’re not using our health promotion model, that is!), and some of your clients may find the idea of medication as a quick fix much more appealing than going through the series of challenges that build healthy habits.
But there’s a catch that you need to share with them, and it’s a big one. Over and above the temporary headaches or heartburn that the typical medication inserts warn us about, not to mention their financial costs, medications often come with the chance of much deeper and more harmful consequences.
For example, a recent health bulletin from the Harvard Medical School warns us that one undesirable side effect of many drugs is reduced balance caused by lightheadedness, vision changes, dizziness, drowsiness, or reduced alertness. Reduced balance can increase our chances of falling and breaking bones, a big setback to wellness efforts.
Many common drugs also have mental side effects including anxiety, aggression, and apathy. Other side effects can include insomnia and weight gain. As if we needed more reasons to gain weight!
More Bad News
It gets worse, since even some of the side effects can have extended consequences. Not only can some medications increase the risk of depression, but broken limbs, weight gain, or insomnia can also contribute. Depression is associated with greater chances of dementia later in life, as reported in a recent NPR report.
“No problem,” some people (doctors) might say. “I’ll just get (prescribe) an anti-depressant too. That should take care of the mood swings.” Except that research recently summarized by Kas Thomas indicates that anti-depressants increase the risk of diabetes.
A recent Scientific American article lists some of the most commonly prescribed drugs in America. Look through it to see if there aren’t unintended consequences for the drugs you or your clients use. On this list, you’ll see the three most common cholesterol-reducing drugs. More red flags have been raised in that department: statin drugs may reduce the benefits of exercise. Yikes!
What can we do about it?
As my husband sometimes reminds me, “Anything worthwhile requires effort.” While there’s a strong temptation to have it easy, I’d like to leave you with two thoughts:
- In many cases, the treatment is the same as the prevention, says Julia Hanfling, RD, Certified Diabetes Educator of TransformingDiabetes.com, so why not decide to take action before we become unwell? Doing so would save us the costly prescriptions and all their unintended consequences.
- While quick fixes are easy, they usually aren’t very satisfying. What if happiness comes from facing what’s difficult, as Jeremy McCarthy describes in Are you afraid of the pain?