The expanded role of medical doctors


Humans are physical, emotional, psychological, social and spiritual beings.

Although doctors are responsible for caring for physical health, the emergence of bio-psychology has created a crossover that requires them to address the emotional and psychological well-being of patients.

Over the last three to four decades, doctors have been called to take the role that once reserved for the profession of psychology. People who battled issues like anxiety and depression were directed to seek help through therapeutic psychology.

The work of neuroscience regarding the role of brain chemistry contributed to the production of medicinal aids for addressing emotional and psychological needs. Now medicines for depression and anxiety are the most prescribed drugs by doctors – and it’s a multibillion-dollar industry.

I know people who have benefitted greatly from some of the medicines available for depression and anxiety. On the other hand, the escalation of the number of people requesting medications for these challenges has alarmed some sociologists.

Studies reveal that treatment of depression and anxiety in outpatient services increased 300% by the end of the 20th century. Antidepressant medications are the most significant selling prescription drugs in America. Spending increased 600% from 1990-2000 to more than seven billion dollars annually. Estimates now indicate that major depression afflicts more than 12% of Americans.

Doctors at risk

Behind the scenes, the convergence of big business (pharmacology, the insurance industry, and lawyers) with the medical profession has produced a tricky alliance for doctors that sometimes hurts the patient. Sometimes government requirements also make matters worse for doctors by loading them with “paperwork” that hinders their ability to put the patient first.

Both time and professional constraints, along with the understood role of medicine in addressing matters like anxiety and depression, family practitioners are at risk of approaching patients one-dimensionally. Since people are more than bodies and brain chemistries with physical needs, medicinal aids for emotional and psychological problems must never be one-dimensional.

Doctors are wise to be cautious about prescribing medicines for moods or behaviors without confidence that those receiving them are pursuing some form of counseling and have a support system of caring people (see: Caring for the whole person).

The overlooked dimension

The one dimension that cannot be addressed by doctors is spiritual. In fact, doctors often look with suspicion and skepticism on this dimension because religious leaders are too often guilty of reducing humans to spiritual beings with needs related to God.

When spiritual leaders lack respect for the multi-dimensional way God created humans (physical, emotional, psychological, social and spiritual beings), they’re guilty of the reductionism they oppose in the medical community. If we don’t want doctors to reduce people to bodies and brain chemistries, Spiritual leaders must not make the same error in the other direction.

Steve Cornell

See also: The anatomy of normal sadness

About Wisdomforlife

Just another worker in God's field.
This entry was posted in ADHD, Anxiety, Biopsychology, Christian Counselor, Counseling, Depression, Despair, Doctor, Holistic ministry, Medicine, Neuroscience, Psychology, Social work, sociology, Wisdom and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to The expanded role of medical doctors

  1. Reblogged this on Wisdomforlife and commented:

    Behind the scenes, the convergence of big business (pharmacology, the insurance industry and lawyers) with the medical profession has produce a tricky alliance for doctors that sometimes hurts the patient.


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