Why Don’t Doctors Prescribe Exercise and Healthy Eating?

The following is an opinion piece submitted by Kathy Walters. Her work has appeared in several other publications.

I have been diagnosed with panic disorer, anxiety disorder, post traumatic-stress disorder, personality defective disorder. There is essentially a categorized disorder for every ailment we experience in the U.S. There is a disorder for everything. We even have to call being fat, obesity as if not to place the blame on anyone. Not any one person is to blame and so it feels impossible to lay the blame on anyone, but there are industries, and large vile coorperations to blame. McDonald’s, Burger King, Wal-Mart are just a few to name. The stuggle with poverty and obesity is astounding and that’s another story, but unhealthy, saturated food is cheap, and fast. Healthy organic, wholesome food is overpriced. That is why we are obese, America! Wake-up and smell the Sausage Egg McMuffin with Cheese!

Practitioners have created a disorder for everything that ails Americans, and there are more disorders “discovered” and added to the long list every day. Every minute, a person in America is put on a new medication. Every day a new drug is being created and introduced to the drug market. How sick is this country? So sick that we need all of these new medications? How many more medications are going to be approved by the FDA today? How many more people are going to die in the US due to medication related side-effects? How many more ER visits will be calculated this year from medication related allergic reactions, side-effects, and death? How many drugs will stay on the market despite fatalities, and despite reports of horrid side-effects?

I have been in the ER several times for panic attacks this year alone due to side-effects from the medications I’ve been prescribed to HELP ME with panic. I am prescribed new medication all the time, as my panic appears to be worsening. Every drug I take results in more panic as I experience a variety of frightening side-effects associated with each drug. For instance, I’m prescribed Toprol XL for heart palpitations due to anxiety. The Toprol XL results in a feeling of chest tightness, shortness of breath, tingling in my chest and insomnia, which results in more panic. I’m prescribed Xanax to take for my panic from the Toprol XL which results in more panic as the Xanax makes me feel woozy, dizzy, out-of-control, groggy, the feeling like I’m sinking on top of taking Toprol which slows my heart rate. Then, I’m prescribed Ambien, a sleep-aid which will help me sleep on top of all of these side-effects and the Ambien makes me go into panic as it raises my sleep threashold while my body is suffering from panic, dizziness, shortness of breath, headache from heavy breathing, and tremors. How should I live? I’m told I have to be medicated because I have panic disorder. What is panic disorder? Did anybody bother to explain to me why I might be experiencing this so-called “disorder” that must be urgently medicated?

Did anybody bother to ask me what I thought? No, I think not. When I visit the doctor, he sees me for 15 minutes. During that time, his only questions to me revolve around, what medications I think I should be on? “Do you want to be on something daily for your anxiety? Lexapro, Zoloft, Wellbutrin, Prozac?…Do you want to take something when you feel the anxiety? Xanax, Ativan…” and my answer that I can’t quite make out to the doctor, is, “No, sir…I don’t want to be medicated, I want to learn how to resolve the roots of my anxiety.” At no moment during the sessions with my family physician does he ask me what I feel might be causing my anxiety. At no point does he suggest to me that I should try to get more excercise or to eat healthier foods or try to go to bed earlier and get more rest.

So, after being on all of these medications, I had to be intelligent enough to realize that none of those were going to resolve my anxiety issues. I decided that I needed to become my own health-care provider and provide myself with the care and nutrition and wellness that I deserve. My anxiety began when I wasn’t getting enough sleep as I was going to bed after 1 a.m. every night, and I was eating poorly because I felt like I couldn’t afford healthier foods. I was shopping at Save-A-Lot and eating a lot of frozen pizzas, and cheap microwave dinners saturated with sodium and fat. I was also not getting enough excercise as I work an office job and I come home and go on the internet or watch the t.v.

Then I realized that my unhealthy living pattern is the pattern of so many many Americans, the ones who are on all of these medications to combat obesity, heart problems, anxiety, depression, etc. etc. Where are the doctors who are prescribing the self-cure of eating right, getting enough sleep, getting enough excercise, taking time out of each day to relax, drinking enough water. We’re human beings. Nothing is wrong with us. We’re constantly being told that we have “symptoms” of disease. We are mindwashed into believing that we are ill and that we must take medications to make us better and that if we don’t take them we will become worse in our condition. These are lies that we must obligate ourselves to deny.

I’ve taken myself off all the medications. I’ve embared on a lifestyle change. I eat healthy. I keep my apartment clean and clutter-free to keep my mind clean and clutter-free too. I go for a walk around my neighborhood everyday. I relax and read for at least 30 minutes each day. I go to bed on time. I practice yoga in my spare time for at least 1 hr a week to assist in my relaxation. I drink as much water as I can during the day every day and I avoid caffeine…

My debilitating anxiety is vanishing. I feel better. I look better. I am better and it wasn’t what the doctor prescribed.