November 10, 2016

Australian doctors too quick to prescribe drugs, rather than addressing the causes of anxiety and volatile behaviour

A leading dementia expert is warning Australian doctors about the over-use of anti-psychotic medications.

ABC News reports that Dr Al Power, the clinical associate professor of medicine at the University of Rochester, said doctors are "over-using medication because of outdated medical training regimes, and busy workloads."

"Anti-psychotics are what I would call the restraints of the 20th century"

"These [doctors] are basically good people," he said.

"[But] you have professional carers or family members who … are having trouble coping, and they call you for a solution.

"And all you know how to do is give the pill, because that's why they're calling you in the first place — they expect the pill, and that's all you've been taught to do."

Dr Power said doctors were too quick to prescribe drugs, rather than addressing the causes of anxiety and volatile behaviour and that "the worst part about anti-psychotics is taking away the human right to be heard and understood."

"I think anti-psychotics are what I would call the restraints of the 20th century", he said.

'Need to look at the causes of behaviour first'

ABC News includes comments from Suzy O'Sullivan who was diagnosed with early onset dementia earlier this year. While she has not been prescribed the drugs, she said she agreed with Dr Power's point of view.

"When people with dementia have what are termed behaviour problems, or they lash out, many times their behaviours come from pain that they can't communicate about," she said.

"So when they're touched and someone tries to undress them or to shower them, they can be in a great deal of pain.

"That needs to be looked at first, rather than just assume their behaviours have to be treated with anti-psychotic drugs."

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