I lurk on a site of mental health professionals. Sometimes the conversation steers towards psychiatric medications (for example medication that assists with depression, anxiety or delusions among other symptoms.)
While most therapists seem to take situations on a case to case basis, the discussion of the use of medications often brings out a polarity in a few therapists. A few will say medication is never ok and some seem to believe that medication is the answer to all that ails you.
My personal belief is that everyone should be individually assessed to see if medication is appropriate. I do believe that psychiatric medication is overused in the United States. Sometimes you just might be sad or angry. Sometimes you might be going through a rough time. Humans are emotional beings and it is ok to have emotions without necessarily needing medication. Part of being human is sometimes feeling bad or frustrated or even a little out of control of situations sometimes.
Conversely, I firmly believe there are situations where psychiatric medication makes the difference from living a life of unmanageable anxiety, fear, or depression to having a manageable, content life.
It seems like it would beneficial to think carefully about taking psychiatric medication. Don’t dismiss the idea out of hand but don’t believe it will be the answer to all your problems either.
Many people obtain psychiatric prescriptions from their primary care doctor. If you are thinking of starting a psychiatric medication I would strongly urge you, at least initially, to have a medication evaluation with a psychiatrist – especially if you aren’t in therapy. A psychiatrist is specifically trained in psychiatric medications and may know more up to date studies and have more experience with side effects etc. of the medicine because it is all they do all day long.
Questions to ask yourself and your doctor
• What are my goals with this medication? What am I thinking will be the results? Have I tried other interventions? (For example – therapy, meditation, yoga, support groups, spiritual group, educational programs etc.)
• Are my symptoms unmanageable without medication? (For example if you have hallucinations or depression where you aren’t leaving your house or have suicidal ideation.)
• If you are considering giving your child psychiatric medication ask yourself – what am I hoping will happen? What will be the benefits for my child? Is this medication being given to assist the adults in his or her life or to benefit the child? Have I really tried alternate interventions?
• What are the side effects? Do the side effects dissipate over time?
• How long until I feel any different?
• What kind of physical changes might I feel?
• Will the medication interact with any of my other medications or affect any of my other medical conditions?
• How is this medication monitored? Some medications require periodic labs to measure the level of medication in your system?
• How long will I be on this medication? Is this a medication I will be taking forever?
There are many other questions you might consider. It is ok to speak up for yourself and take responsibility for making the best informed decision for you. Talk to your physician or mental health professional about what is best for you.