a doctor arrogantly offering a pill to a woman who looks angry and annoyed

An Open Letter to Medical Professionals: Don’t Try to Dictate Insomnia Treatment

I have dealt with insomnia for decades now. During that time, I have also dealt with mental illness. Many times when I was having a mental health crisis, doctors wanted to dictate how I should treat insomnia. They have tried to dictate it regardless of my mental state at times. This is not okay.

After so many years of experience with all of these issues, I know what is helpful and what is harmful. I know this because I have a long list of medications I have taken over the years. I know how some interact, and I know how certain medications designed to help you sleep make me feel. Listen when I try to explain this.

I know what medications do not work for me

While I agree that getting more sleep would be beneficial, I have learned through trial and error that what a doctor thinks is best is not always what is actually best for me. I know what has been problematic in the past, and I know what makes matters worse. Do not try to gloss over my medical history when I am explaining to you my reasoning.

If I tell you that a certain medication or a certain type of medication leaves me groggy and unable to function well, listen to me. If I tell you that a certain medication affects my mental state in an undesirable manner, pay attention. While I understand that you have extensive medical training, you need to understand that I have extensive knowledge of my personal medical history. I know when something makes matters worse and not better. Listen to me.

Medications can have an undesired effect

One of the biggest reasons why I no longer mention my insomnia to doctors is because other doctors have tried to push medication on me that I know does not work. They have insisted that I try a new and different medication despite it being very similar to others I have tried in the past. Do not do that. If I tell you I do not want to try something because of a less-than-pleasant to a bad experience, do not push me.

I have had some medications that made me want to sleep all the time. This worsened my depression. I have had other medications that made me feel intoxicated the majority of the day. How am I supposed to function properly? I cannot, and that worsens my depression. I have had medications that made me spend all of my time in the bathroom throwing my guts up until the offending substance was completely out of my system. Do not ask me to try that medication again.

Everyone reacts differently to medication

No matter how many times you have prescribed a medication to other patients who have had success with it, if I tell you it did not help me or I did not like how it made me feel do not tell me that my experience might be different if I try it again. Listen to my concerns. When you insist I try something, it tells me that you are not taking my complaints seriously and that bothers me.

I walk a fine line when it comes to keeping my mental illness in check. I am very cautious about how things affect my mental health or the medication I take for mental health issues. If I tell you I have concerns about your plan for my treatment, listen to me. Do not try to dictate a treatment plan. This does not help me, and it makes me think you simply do not care.

Listen to our personal experience

Many of us who have had insomnia for a long time have experience with various types of treatment. We may not have found something that works for us, but we know what does not work. If we tell you something is not right for us, just listen.

Has a medical professional tried to press you into starting a medication that you did not want to take? How did you handle it?

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