Restless legs, irritable bowel syndrome, menopause. Are the pharmaceuticals inventing diseases?

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  • Gasman

    Some suffer more from a particular ‘afliction’ than another person might. What properly belongs on the list of manufactured diagnoses is debatable. Yet the growing list of diagnoses that describe the human condition does suggest the clinicalization of variations from the norm.

    The diagnosis of childhood behavioral disorders is driven by the need of society to make kids conform to a greater degree than they were asked to conform in previous generations. It also gets them special consideration on school acomodations and college entrance exams, so there is a real gain from acquiring the label that did not exist in the past. There are overpriveleged districts out east where more than a third of the kids have some learning disability label; several times greater than their fully insured but blue collar counterparts.

    People have been typing for generations. I’m only 41, but began on manual typewriters that required some real mechanical effort to use. Yet only more recently has ‘repetetive stress injury’ been invented to deal with people who suffer from what anyone knows as a simple overuse problem. Do anything too much and it hurts; if it hurts stop doing it so much. People found that acquiring the label RSI netted benefits by getting out of boring or dead end jobs without having to go to the effort of working or studying. They take the label and file for workers compensation or sue their employers for their permananet and disabling injury.

    Bowel problems, largely inconvenient by nature of how we have created stressful lives that don’t let us answer natures call so naturally. Mood problems, yeah well deal with it. It is absurd to think that a third of our suburban kids need psychoactive drugs at some point in their primary and secondary schooling.

    Even in health food stores, and naturopathic outlets most remedies are provided in the form of a pill. Americans want simple fixes to all maladies. Major pharmaceutical companies recognize this and are happy to meet the ‘need’. If there is not a need then they get Bob Dole to announce that when they run it up the flag pole he doesn’t salute.

  • Anonymous

    great comment, Gasman!

  • Anonymous

    I have restless legs when I am stressed out and not running. When I am training for a marathon (and have not massively overdone it) my legs and I sleep like a baby.

  • dr john

    Gasman:
    Your sneering quotation marks around “afliction”(sic) betray your ignorance of RLS, which has a true pathological basis. Brains of the “aflicted” at autopsy reveal an iron deficiency in an isolated part of the brain, causing a secondary dopamine deficiency. This dopamine deficiency causes painful writhing movements as the patient tires in the evening, and often greatly distubs sleep throughout the night. Routine sleeping pills don’t help.
    Many patients tell their doctors that they’ve suffered with this for years, and they’re grateful that the disease has been defined and that a treatment is now offered.
    There has been great – legitimate – research on RLS at Johns Hopkins with results published in NEJM.
    I wouldn’t wish it on anyone, even a blowhard like you.

  • Anonymous

    Yeah, and let’s take menopause off the list of imagined disease states. If you ain’t been through a tough ten years of menopause, you have NO IDEA.

  • Anonymous

    10:31, Yes, but when their wives turn 50, and become sybil, they will change their views about menopause being imagined.

  • Anonymous

    I think the point was that menopause is not a disease but a normal, natural process in the female body. “Disease” implies a condition other than health. Are we going to next label “puberty syndrome” a disease and put every twelve year old in the country on hormonal therapy to ease the pain and discomfort of adolescence?

    Menopause is challenging and uncomfortable, no doubt, but by and large it is a not a disease.

  • Anonymous

    I love the pubertal syndrome. Lets also add aging syndrome, ugly syndrome, and farting syndrome

  • Anonymous

    Most men actually do have a “syndrome” that is more disgusting than any menopausal woman. It causes them to spend way too many evening hours, in a prone position on the sofa, drinking beer, belching, eating, farting and picking their noses. Is there a name for this?

  • Gasman

    Quite the snit Dr. John.

    If you actually read my post you’ll observe that I make no reference to the condition upon which you personally are highly focused. I made some general opening remarks then discussed opinions not related to your specific disease.

    Really no need for you to get so bent out of shape.

  • Anonymous

    “I think the point was that menopause is not a disease but a normal, natural process in the female body.”

    Childbirth and death are also normal, natural processes. Just because they’re ‘normal’ doesn’t mean they are easy and a little medication isn’t appropriate. Disease = dis + ease = not at ease = suffering.

  • Anonymous

    Childbirth and death are also either potentially or absolutely dangerous. Menopause is not. Obviously plenty of discomforts habe medications associated with them, from headaches to acne, but this does not make them diseases either.

  • Anonymous

    I’m only 19 and I have RLS. It’s very painful when I try to sleep, or even when I’m relaxing, and winding down from my day at work. I heard it strings from anemia, which I do have, as well as it’s genetic. Many people in my family have it. It’s a creepy crawly, pulling, tugging feeling and i have the urge to move. I take iron pills every night, but it doesn’t seem to be helping my RLS. The other way to relieve the pain for myself is walking, running, stretching and everything like that.I can not take medication for it, because it makes me sick. Alot of people have these symptoms so how can it be invented? Please take RLS off this list, for it really should not be there.

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