Every doctor comes into contact with patients or problems that are somehow related to stress. We have seen that 40% of outpatients do not need any medicine. There are many people who are taking so many different kinds of medicine that it would take quite some time to count all the medicine on their list. It would take even longer to write the names of the medicine. And if you try to calculate the amount of money they are spending on their drugs, you too will be stressed. What is the reason for this?
The reason is what we often call disease is really a type of stress or anxiety. In other words, illness or disease is the result of lack of a sound mental state. The Bangla for illness is oshukh, or o-shukh, which means lack of happiness. So illness is the lack of happiness or contentment.
If we accept this definition of illness as lack of happiness, we will find that the treatment process cannot be limited to the doctor and patient only. If we analyze the patient's family and environment, we will find that we can help many people recover from their illnesses without having to resort to drugs.
If–right now–you start thinking about whether you have any pain in your head or body, I can assure you many of you will start having a headache. If you think, “It is risky to go out now, what if I need to go to the bathroom?” then exactly that will happen. The urge is first created in the mind.
The thing is, the mind is much more powerful than the body. I have noticed that foolish people suffer less, because they don't think so much. Think about the crazy people on the streets. They might not have an arm, but they are wandering about perfectly happy. Some are walking, some laughing, some singing. Because they don't have the ability to think a lot, they are free from worries. And because they are free from worries, they can do whatever they want.
Again, consider your thoughts or worries–which are things you cannot see or touch. Yet these intangible things can produce something that can be seen, tasted and investigated in a laboratory. That something is tears, which are a result of mental pain. Recently, we have learnt that, like thoughts, determination or conviction induces a chemical reaction in the body, which results in the creation of a substance that strengthens our immune system, and even helps us recover from illnesses. If mental suffering can generate a chemical substance in the form of tears then it is quite possible that other mental states can generate other chemicals.
The truth is many of the problems we try to solve with medicine or other treatments can be solved by boosting the patient’s confidence and helping him attain mental peace.
A few days ago, a senior officer came to see me. He had insomnia, digestive problems, headaches, and pain in his arms and legs. In the last seven or eight months he had seen 4 or 5 physicians, who had prescribed almost 50 different kinds of sleeping pills, digestives, tonics, vitamins, injections, etc. after numerous tests. But he found no relief. I asked the gentleman to write in detail about his personal history and his present circumstances, and leave this with my associate. He did so in the next few days. When he came to see me the next week, I told him he did not any medicine. His symptoms were the result of not being able to agree with his office superior despite trying his best. Medicine wouldn't help. He needed to adapt to the situation: accept the rather unfortunate circumstances and take satisfaction in the fact that he was working with honesty and dedication.
Another time, a senior government official brought his father to see me. According to him, his father had had insomnia for two years. They had prescriptions from a dozen physicians, prescribing tonics, sleeping pills, injections on every alternate day, etc. They said everything worked in the first few weeks but then stopped. After listening to him, I found out he sleeps for an hour after lunch everyday and then sleeps from 11:00 pm to 3:30 am at night. I calculated that he was sleeping between five to five and a half hours everyday, which was enough for his age. Then why did he have complaints? When he woke up at 3:30, it was dark and everybody else was still asleep. He felt lonely. I explained to him he was getting enough sleep for his age. He accepted the fact happily. I learnt later that he had given up all his medicine and was fine.
The examples above show that in our country, countless people become the victims of senseless prescriptions and are harmed physically, mentally and financially. We must address this issue at the national policy level to relieve patients of their problems, not multiply them. We have to accept that we don't need to hand out a prescription to every patient. Neither do we need medicine for every illness.