A few words about meds and when you might consider taking them and what you should expect.

There is still a huge stigma about taking drugs for mental balance.  Lots of us think that taking a pill, or receiving a diagnosis, is one more big failure. I think differently.

One huge thing to consider is that the symptoms of depression or anxiety, place enormous stress on the body.  Stress can cause illness and sometimes lead to fatal consequences. So, if you think not taking a drug is a testament to your sanity or your moral superiority, or your best defense against getting sick, think again.

Many of us are ” front loaded.” As soon as we are conceived, we share DNA with our parents, and their parents, etc.  We begin life, in other words, “loaded” with characteristics, including emotional and mood tendencies and learning disabilities and personality weirdnesses that we had nothing to do with. We are, in this way, just who we are!

Medication is accepted and used by most people in one form or another, many times over.  Even vitamins, natural supplements, if they do something to “cure” or “prevent” are medicines,  in my opinion. But strangely, when the suggestion of medication for an emotional or “mental” difficulty arises, the walls go up and it’s almost like someone said a four letter word.

I don’t understand this. There are lots of issues about taking any med at all, but why the intense drama around psychotropic meds? People don’t like to admit even to themselves that they need help from outside their own 4 walls. They prefer to delude themselves into believing that they are all powerful and can change anything as long as they try hard enough.  Yes, you can fix your hypertension, your diabetes, your obesity, your fear of public speaking, — but with help. Often, with formulated, FDA approved, remedies. If you make no changes, so your afflictions never change.

This is what I have observed about the way these drugs work and who might be a good candidate.  First, because meds are prescribed very differently from years ago,  adjustments and side effects are very often minimal or none.  The dosages are started at such teeny levels for the purpose of monitoring how someone is reacting to them and for clarification that the drug is doing what it was intended to do.  In that way, differences from person to person are given careful attention. There are drugs that address one category,mood stabilization  ie/ antidepressant, antianxiety, etc. but have slightly different formulations making one better for certain types of depression and one better for certain kinds of anxiety ie/ panic, general, social, etc.

There are drugs for more severe occurrences and crises.  All of these are capable of modification  and recommended by careful evaluation from a licensed MD, psychiatrist. Many family practitioners have been known to hand out samples of drugs to patients without having the specific, up to the minute, research available to them. You wouldn’t go to a psychiatrist for a cold, why would you go to your physician for mental or emotional help. The best help from them would be to offer a referral to  a specialist.

As a therapist, I listen to my clients worries and sadness and over time get a sense as to whether these are discreet episodes or lifelong problems.  Meds are appropriate for both. What I’d really like to address here are the meds that help those of us plagued with mild depression for our whole lives, “blue” moods, is the old name.  Also,  there are medications for those who used to be called “wallflowers,” those who are so socially shy they may never meet a friend, or a lover, or may be just terribly challenged in daily living.

The medications helpful for these conditions do modify and “change” personalities. Some find that disturbing. Patients however have told me they feel ” more like themselves than ever before.” Strange. I think they mean that their deepest understanding of who they have been is not who they thought they could be. (if only).  The medicine permits them to, for instance, sidestep their anxiety and try something new. Sometimes it keeps them just far enough away from tumbling down the rabbit hole of depression to allow them to wake up with new found energy in the morning. It can be dramatic change and it can also be subtle.  But the change would not, again in my opinion, if properly prescribed, be possible with just sheer grit. Imagine.

Yes there can be side effects. Sexual problems have been noted including orgasm delay (good for guys, less good for the girls), diminished drive, etc. My opinion is that when someone is depressed they tend not to enjoy the sex they have, and if their anxiety is great their performance is –not.  With time and acceptance of the positive benefits of meds, the sexual side effects often disappear.  It’s not a reason to refuse to address the emotional havoc caused by biological imperfection, shall we say.

Another thing to consider with these meds is that they can always be stopped. Sometimes people change their minds and/or just don’t like their new selves and prefer to fly solo.

So before you refuse to even consider the possibilities of taking medication, at least take it to a professional for his/her opinion.  You never have to fill the prescription, but your options are open and your education is greater.

This entry was posted in Just Thinking. Bookmark the permalink.

Comments are closed.