There are many differing points of view on psychotropic medication (aka prescriptions for mental health). You could spend hours, probably days, reading all of the different perspectives and case studies on the effectiveness, side effects, alternatives, etc. I myself have spent a lot of time exploring these different perspectives and seeking understanding. Here are a few things I propose you consider while thinking about the time and place for medicinal interventions.
Mental health can be affected by biology.
This is not always the case, but there are times where it is a neurological or chemical imbalance that is triggering a mental health response. If that is the case, then it could make sense that a biological or chemical intervention is necessary to create balance in the body.
Coping skills are important to develop.
There are some instances where a mental health struggle can be addressed through non-medicinal avenues. At times, basic lifestyle changes such as increasing exercise habits, establishing good sleep patterns, implementing a healthy diet, etc can make a huge difference in mental wellness. Additionally, learning ways to manage emotions and move toward health will be necessary even in the presence of medication. In some circumstances, it is better to try to establish some of these coping skills first to determine if medication ends up being necessary.
Talk therapy and other interventions can be effected by certain mental health experiences.
For example, if an individual is struggling with deep depression or severe anxiety their body, brain and emotions may not be able to regulate to a place that a counseling session can be effective. In this case, and many others, a medicinal intervention can help regulate the person to the point that other therapies become more helpful and serve their purpose.
General practitioners are not heavily trained in psychotropic drugs.
Your general practitioner does have the ability to prescribe psychotropic medications if you mention struggling with balancing your mental health. However, an MD is not always explicitly trained in psychotherapy to determine the nuances of what you’re experiencing. As a result, many people can receive medications that are not a good fit for them or be over-prescribed for a medicinal intervention that may not be necessary. If you think that you or someone close to you may need a psychotropic drug, talk to your counselor about a psychiatrist referral.
Identifying a good medicine often takes some work.
Even with a psychiatrist who is specifically trained in psychotropic drugs, there are many nuances to consider. What works for one person may not work for another. Additionally, one medication may have unwanted side effects. This does not mean that no medication will work, but that maybe the dosage or specific medication may need to be adjusted. An experience with negative side effects can leave a bad taste in your mouth, which requires some exploration and bravery to navigate. It takes work from both the psychiatrist and the client to discern what the client’s unique needs are and how to meet those goals.
Certain mental health disorders sometimes require medication to create stability and safety.
Depending on the particular struggle or battle one is facing, medication may be the tool that offers a semblance of normalcy and functioning. In these cases, medication can be a true gift to a person and those they love. Not all mental health struggles can be barreled through with gritted teeth. Interventions are sometimes good and necessary.
At the end of the day, I think I’ve come to believe that medication has a time and place. For some individuals, it is the best way forward. For others, it’s not. And to make matters even more grey- there may be an in between for some where medicine is needed for a season and then no longer.
The best practice you can choose is to find a team of mental health professionals who can navigate these waters with you. A therapist and psychiatrist can work to look at your unique experience and seek health alongside you. There is hope friends.
We’d love to be a part of your mental health team. Our experienced staff of clinical counselors are here to walk with you through your journey. Contact us to share your questions and journey.