Ignoring Prescription Medication – at What Price?


At first glance, taking medication for a chronic or temporary condition seems logical. A medical professional recognizes certain symptoms they feel would benefit from a controlled substance and writes a prescription. Condition cured or managed, right?

Not always the case. It’s been reported that, on average, almost half of Canadians don’t follow their prescriptions as written or even take the medication at all. The pill bottle sits neglected, unfinished or unfilled.

Reasons for this include the biggest elephant in the room: fear. As humans. We don’t like to feel vulnerable, and having something wrong with us creates a feeling of being at risk. Fear of the unknown, fear of being judged by others and fear of not having control over our bodies (or minds) is a scary prospect. This can be especially true when it comes to depression and anxiety – two of the most common mental health conditions experienced by Canadians today.

Depression and anxiety are tricky conditions to treat. Not all drugs work for all people, and adjustments in medication are often necessary before the right product and dosage is found. When relief is not quick or uncomfortable side effects happen, it’s easy to become discouraged and disinclined to take prescribed medication.

There is also much debate on whether or not medication is the right course to follow when treating these conditions. One school of thought says therapy – exploring the underlying causes of the condition – is the answer. Another says the chemicals of our bodies are to blame and that imbalances can be corrected through drugs. A third, supported by extensive research, suggests that in most (but not all) cases a combination of these two is the most effective.

The bottom line is that there is no easy answer. The cost of ignoring prescribed medication can mean a prolonged journey deeper into the dark places travelled when depression is our guide. A sensible approach and certainly one that increases our understanding of this condition, is to speak with a professional counsellor in conjunction with any medical interventions. The tricky part is actions that seem logical and sensible when we feel fine are not always easy to see when we’re affected by depression. This is the time to reach out and speak to someone qualified to help us get back on track and lesson the confusion about treatment options.

We’re worth it.

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