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serenityNOW's avatar

My mother has three maladies and three meds to take, but she won't... why?

Asked by serenityNOW (3641points) September 7th, 2014

And yes, I’ve asked her why…

Anyway, she’s in chronic pain and has Tylenol with codeine. Won’t take it. Depression, and she has Remeron. Anxiety and she has Xanax. Won’t take those two, either. I’m not asking to find a way to convince her to take them. I’m really trying to cultivate an attitude that she’s a grown-up (and so am I!) and that grown-ups have to make their own decisions. However, her reluctance to use these medicines in confounding. She’s scared of side-effects, and that’s rational. But if she just took one damn dose of Xanax, I know for a fact she’d feel so much better.

So, Jellies out there: why don’t some people take their medicine? Do you know someone in the same boat, or perhaps you yourself is resistant. I just don’t understand.

Sorry, if this came out of as more of a rant than a question, so I’ll toss it in social. I really want to hear some input and feedback.

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20 Answers

SecondHandStoke's avatar

Depression and anxiety:

Since depression leads people to think “what’s the point” they will sometimes apply that thinking to their medication. Counter intuitive I know. But those of us with depression think and do things that might not make sense to normal people.

Anxiety can cause a person to feel or think irrational things even if they understand the mechanism of their disorder. When one is caught in the throes of an anxious moment or day knowing what is wrong can be of little or no comfort.

Anxious people can be anxious about making decisions, then depression causes one to feel there is no point to committing to a decision anyway. This can include the decision to take the drugs themselves.

Drugs can be the victim of their own success:

People with all manner of problems will take a medication for a problem, then feel so normal as a result that they forget that the drug is responsible and they will then stop taking the drug. Sometimes users will not start taking the drug again until they’ve started feeling pretty rotten again.

Side effects:

These are a legitimate concerns regarding any drug. However if the anxiety and depression drugs have proven to work (something that can be hard to achieve) the benefits greatly outweigh the risks. It’s entirely likely that anxiety itself can be causing her to overthink the undesired effects of medication.

Depressed and anxious people can have greater sensitivity to physical pain. Some believe that physical pain is partly the manifestation of emotional pain.

The best thing you can do for her is to understand the mechanisms of anxiety and depression the best you can. This will make it easier for you to understand her state and actions from moment to moment. She likely feels one way at one time and then differently just minutes later. Being able to tell her why she feels the way she does can help you with her argument against taking the meds.

canidmajor's avatar

It may well be a question of anxiety and depression with your mother, but to answer your secondary, more general question: “why don’t some people take their medicine?” The answer isn’t that difficult.
Sometimes the meds are overkill, and unnecessary, but physicians will often prescribe without considering alternatives.
Sometimes the meds simply don’t work. I am someone for whom the narcotic and/or more sophisticated pain meds do not work.. OTC NSAIDS are more effective pain killers than opiates.
And sometimes there is simply a lack of trust in a medical system that has shown that it is often untrustworthy. Western medicine is stunning in a crisis, but often at the mercy of insurers and big pharma when it comes to non-catastrophic circumstances.

kritiper's avatar

Sounds like she’s ready for the “Grim Reaper’s” visit.

ZEPHYRA's avatar

@SecondHandStoke put it brilliantly. Out of experience I can tell you that it may be a rebellious reaction, a fed-up approach. I’ve been told by a sick relative – ” I am tired of pumping my sick body with useless chemicals that make me even worse. If I’m going to go it may as well be without all this shit.” Sometimes it’s a matter of being too tired to fight back.

LuckyGuy's avatar

I can tell you why a person might not want to take Tylenol with codeine. Some people feel sleepy or “out of it” when taking only one Tyl #3. The next day or two they will suffer from constipation. If they are borderline incontinent they might find themselves wet unless they force themselves to go frequently throughout the day.
Some people like feeling “out of it” and enjoy the strange sleep. Others do not.

I can’t tell you about the other two.meds.

JLeslie's avatar

She might be reluctant to take any and all drugs. She might be reluctant to take drugs known to be very addictive. She might be afraid of side effects she has heard of. She might think she is able to handle her problems without the drugs. She might want to believe that things will get better soon and she doesn’t need the drugs.

kevbo's avatar

I spent a couple of decades resisting taking a thyroid pill. That culminated in me not taking it for a few months accompanied by prayers-of-a-sort to be healed. Much of the rationale was that I didn’t understand what my life meant if I had to take a pill to keep it going.

When I started to look like shit and my hands and feet began to swell from edema, my sister cajoled me into going to urgent care. Only after that incident did I give up resisting, because I realized I wasn’t committed enough to go the whole way.

This wasn’t a bad thing. It lead to nothing less than a spiritual awakening. Somehow, I realized in the end that I’m not my body, so it mattered less whether my body needed a pill or not to function, the I/me that came before the body didn’t need a pill. I also got a sense that something other than me was driving the bus. Before it was about the woe and meaning of my life and after it was a question about what was really in charge. That opened the door for the path that I’m on now, which is more peaceful and “with the flow” than I’ve ever experienced.

These days, karma explains everything (to me). By karma, I mean a spirit level fascination for an experience. I would suggest on a spirit level, your mom is fascinated with this experience of suffering. She’s attached to it, and her choices are to fight it or acquiesce not on her own terms. At the very end of that fight is a door to spiritual awareness. If she manages to stay with it and really bottom out without dying, she may be much better off a year or two from now. To dabble, though, is to enjoy the suffering as much as any experience of life by the one living it is enjoyed.

hug_of_war's avatar

I’ve always resisted taking anti-depressants as I find the side effects really frightening. I’d rather be suicidal than not able to feel anything. If my weight is a big component of my depression, how is gaining 20 pounds due to side effects going to help me? If sexual feelings are one of the few enjoyable things why would I want that taken away? Sometimes the side effects go away when you stop taking anti-depressants but sometimes they don’t and I’m unwilling to risk that. The cons are too high.

JLeslie's avatar

@hug_of_war I’m fairly negative about the way antidepressants are prescribed likecandy now, but I do want to mention that a girlfriend of mine lost 80 pounds on prozac and said she felt the most normal she had in 15 years. A lot of people don’t do well on Prozak, makes them too anxious, but for some people it is a great drug.

I hear more about antianxiety medication associated with weight gain, which makes perfect sense to me, but antidepressants I don’t hear weght gain so much from my friends.

Adagio's avatar

I concur with @LuckyGuy about codeine and know from personal experience that it does indeed cause constipation, oh yes.

JLeslie's avatar

Narcotics in general are notorious for constipation.

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

Tylenol is a bad long-term solution to pain. It can cause liver damage in some people in regular doses. It will cause liver damage in anyone in large doses. Codeine is addictive and so is xanex. Side effects from depression meds can be quite traumatic as well and there is no guarantee they will even work. Genetically some people cannot really benefit from many of them because of the blood-brain barrier they have. Regular doctors often don’t get the dosages correct either. I completely understand why she would not want to take those drugs. That cocktail seems like a recipie for disaster.

JLeslie's avatar

@ARE_you_kidding_me That cocktail sounds very common to me. Except for the Tylenol with codeine, I’m surprised that was the pain reliever chosen, but it just would have been some other pain reliever.

@serenityNOW Where is her pain? Back? joints? Muscular?

janbb's avatar

I think @serenityNOW has stated elsewhere that his mother is terminally ill so I would think she shouldn’t worry about addiction. I’m all in favor of medication that alleviates pain. Maybe her doctor or a therapist could convince her to try some of them.

serenityNOW's avatar

@janbb – Not terminally ill as diagnosed by a doctor. But it’s a matter of time – sooner rather then later, I suspect – that she will pass on; sooner than she should. I guess I should look at my situation: I was diagnosed as clinically depressed when I was 16. It almost took 10 years for me to relent and take meds, as it turned out I was Bipolar, and in a tremendous mania. Now I am very pro-medication, as long as it’s the right ones. I’m not enthralled with the idea of her starting with the anti-depressant, but I wish she would at least try the Xanax. Her anxiety is through the roof and it would be so nice to see her mellow out a bit. As for the Tylenol with Codeine, is a 5 day supply she was precsribed months ago, and it’s just gathering dust. I know that painkillers aren’t always a panacea, but if she’d just try it…

Thanks everyone for the well thought out responses. Thank you for the perspectives…

janbb's avatar

It really does sound like some family therapy would be very helpful for all these situations you are dealing with with your parents. If she has a trusted MD, maybe he or she could help some.

SecondHandStoke's avatar

Let me see… Constipation or anxiety so overwhelming that I can’t navigate a flight of stairs.


Shut_Yo_Mouth's avatar

it is the only course of action not planned out for her. She has little to no input so this act of self volition is all she has. I have reservations about other answers, a little knowledge is a dangerous thing. All but the most sincere just follow the party line. If I injected any of you with the smallest dose of Clozaril (not a threat) you would show more charity.

edit: have you done any research with a proper text? You see the medical community doesn’t often lie unless they panic. Each bit of info is being spoonfed to you so you can come to but one conclusion that would be the doctors motives and judgement. Sins of ommission, half-truths if you will

Shut_Yo_Mouth's avatar

they don’t believe you Sir

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

Is there an update for us?

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