Medications are sometimes necessary, but if used recklessly they can also cause a lot of harm.
First of all, they should be prescribed cautiously by a qualified doctor in that field, reviewed regularly and reduced or stopped where possible. You should be in contact with both your doctor and pharmacist to ensure that this is done. Be careful who you accept medication from. Just as a Psychiatrist should not be prescribing heart medication, Cardiologists should not be prescribing psychiatric medication. GPs are able to prescribe all medications but will seek specialist advice when they are not sure. Be careful because medications don't always make things better!
Secondly, please, no matter what Dr Google says, NEVER self-medicate, take medication against your doctor's advice or alter doses on your own. If you think you are on too much medication talk to your doctor and get specialist advice as needed. People these days think that the internet is the answer to everything (and free too!) but this is simply not true. There is a reason why we doctors need to study pharmacology for years and years and why only a doctor can prescribe. I cannot tell you how many patients I have had who have made their illness worse by taking matters into their own hands.
Thirdly, choose your pharmacist wisely and seek advice from them and not your friend who is playing doctor. Even if you are going for over the counter (OTC) drugs, remember they can cause harm too and can interact with other medications you are taking. For e.g some people take St. John's wort for depression which is a 'natural' antidepressant. However did you know that it interacts with the contraceptive pill? So women of child-bearing age run the risk of becoming pregnant thanks to this so-called harmless natural medicine. That is only one example of many. Lastly, strict pharmacists are not trying to make your life more difficult. They just take their work seriously and understand how dangerous medication can be and so will not give you medication if they think it will harm you, or without a prescription. This is the type of pharmacist you should go to!
Dr James Bratt, Lead Consultant at Age Caribbean and Geriatric Psychicatrist.