It’s amazing how the world around us is in constant change, from a cultural point of view to an environmental perspective. It’s even more interesting how mankind reacts to its surroundings in different ways, each time with gradually increasing mental and physical consequences including diseases to all kinds of stress-related affections. What I am talking about is psychosomatic conditions that may look completely normal, but upon further review cannot be treated with pills or conventional medicine.
When this happens, it is often difficult to find the right doctor to heal your illness, especially when it is not meant to be resolved or treated by medication in the first place. It seems as though doctors are on prescription overload and are writing prescriptions left and right without bothering to thoroughly examine the patient.
In fact, doctors aren’t even listening to what the patient is telling them; they are simply too busy these days to give individual care. Quick exams will suggest there is nothing wrong with the patient, and yet the patient continues to feel the same symptoms and does not know why or how this is possible.
Diagnosing Mental Illness
Hereby, the terms of “mental illness” and “mental fitness” play a very important role.
Questions arise such as: Why is it hard to understand what happens to us? Why, even when you think you are mentally fit, does it become so hard to fall asleep? You lay there and think of all the things on your to-do list and your mind just keeps on spinning. There is not a start and stop point in the day; everything starts running together. These are common issues mankind eternally faces.
In most cases, considering the hectic world we live in, people no longer have time for themselves other than business or money-related matters. Therefore over the years, the cost of ignoring our mental well-being, which is often disguised as a physical problem requiring pills and prescriptions, is that we are not paying attention to the actual cause. Often times, illness starts in the mind and travels and manifests itself in physical ways, producing an outwardly ill individual. The symptoms are treated rather than the causes.
Nowadays people are not only traveling overseas for medical care, they are traveling more and more for physical and mental well-being, and simply to relax. They are, in essence, enjoying life for a moment, out of their predictable routine.
In 1926, Ernest Holmes wrote “The Science of Mind”; the title speaks for itself, and the author’s philosophy was that we create our own reality. Several other authors have based their writings on the paradigm of the mind; the enigma behind our subconscious mind, including the importance of thoughts and the power of suggestion. Once someone feels acts and thinks sick, this tends to exacerbate their condition.
As we delve deeper in these waters we realize it is more complex than it seems and the hidden, the repressed, the “forgotten”, comes to affect our daily lives. As time goes by, a chain of events occur related let’s say to a depression that has been chronic and unsuccessfully treated.
This depression can be treated with drugs, but after some time, the pills are not doing this individual any good; in fact they are just helping him go through life, confused and in pain, but at least going through the motions. This is a very common clinical case often treated with the same medicine, no matter how different the cases may be. The truth is, no matter how similar depression may present itself in different people, each and every case is unique with different causes and different solutions.
Individuals Require Individual Care
One case in particular involved an individual with a Major Depressive Disorder, with a markedly diminished interest in life in general, a serious loss of energy, insomnia, feelings of worthlessness with inappropriate guilt, and almost all of the symptoms provided by the American Psychiatric Association for the DSM-IV.
Her previous treatments were always related to anti-depressives and drugs, and never treated from a psychological point of view. Besides that, there was no parallel treatment focused on therapy, decoding the past of this person or attempting to identify the root of these symptoms.
After seven local psychiatrists medicated her with very similar medicines, her depression was actually getting worse over time. She decided to start a different therapy, and after approximately 10 sessions, after it was discovered that the root cause was something she had experienced when she was less than five.
She had been sexually abused, and the details are difficult to hear. As is the case with many sexually abused children, she lived in fear and had never told anyone about this. More than likely, she felt shame and guilt and had repressed the memories herself. Upon discovering this was the cause, she was treated with therapy sessions, and her doctor slowly weaned her off the medication until she was completely medication free.
The main point is that it can be difficult to pair up with the right doctor these days. Plus, we live in constant change, and the medical practices around the world are so innovative now, that it is common for one technique to get replaced by a quicker and more effective procedure.
Therefore, as the medical tourism industry grows, so does the health tourism industry, gaining in popularity as preventative medicine is embraced by doctors and individuals alike. More and more, people are achieving mental fitness and mental well-being, through alternative therapies.
The Cure of the Future
It is interesting to look forward and think of all that is going to be different. Perhaps the future holds a very different outcome in medical tourism than we even imagine, but one thing is for sure: it is necessary to understand that times are desperately demanding a change in conscience.
The healthcare crisis that begs for a relief that medical tourism may be able to provide. How many people have had life-saving experiences through medical tourism? How many people have received the medical treatment they needed for a fraction of the price? And with a nice vacation in a tropical country alongside their medical treatments or procedures, it is easy to argue the value of medical tourism.
Exigent circumstances demand urgent and positive solutions, and with the global economic recession we have faced, increasing number of people are finding their answers abroad, having exhausted possibilities in their own country.
They have decided to look elsewhere due to the weak economic reality of several countries and their own economic difficulties, including termination of health insurance, loss of jobs and inability to pay for individual health insurance. These people are joining the ranks of others called medical tourists and are happy to go abroad for medical treatment.
Also, another similar yet different concept has developed, called health tourism, as mentioned earlier in the article. Cosmetic surgery, anti-aging surgery and general health and wellness procedures comprise this industry, among others.
As more companies start to develop their international profile and gain more exposure, we will also witness people leaving home for psychological therapy, counseling, yoga and spa retreats. In fact, they are being termed destination vacations and tend to be complete with a spa package, including food, drink, room and spa treatments.
About the Author
Lic. Michael Quiros is Director of Membership for Latin America and operates out of the San Jose, Costa Rica Office of the Medical Tourism Association. Michael holds a bachelor’s degree in Clinical Psychology and his role in the MTA includes recruitment, coordination and retention support for members in the Latin America Region. Michael may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org