While I help many people who suffer from depression and anxiety, sometimes counselling alone is not enough. I do not prescribe medications, but I recognize the benefits and fears that my clients often have around taking medication. As such, I wanted to share some insights from a recent article “Fear of Taking Psychiatric Medication” on healthyplace.com
If you have received a diagnosis of depression, anxiety or any other mental health issue, your health care provider may have prescribed medications to ease the symptoms you are experiencing. In fact, many people who live with mental health conditions realize that they may need to take prescription drugs over the course of a lifetime.
Does the prospect of taking medications scare you? If so, you are certainly not alone. There are many reasons that people worry about taking psychoactive drugs – the kind of drugs that change the way the brain works, thereby changing our perceptions, moods, thinking and behavior.
You may already have many bottles of pills in your medicine cabinet. Maybe some have worked for you; others have not. The search for the right medication takes time, and while you and your psychiatrist are working to find the best solution for you, doubts may creep in. Are medications really the answer?
The right approach, of course, is different for every person. But let’s take time to look at a few of the fears that might be swirling in your mind right now. This way, you can view your treatment options more objectively.
FEAR #1: TERRIBLE SIDE EFFECTS
Most of us have heard stories about drugs that solved one problem, only to create two or three others. Thanks to the internet, we can research every possible medication we are offered – and uncover countless warnings, precautions and woeful tales from those who have suffered negative side effects of drugs that were meant to help them.
One thing to keep in mind: the fact that someone else has experienced a certain side effect does not guarantee that it will happen to you. For example, many people are afraid that antidepressants will cause them to gain great amounts of weight. And while this does happen for some, there are many others who don’t gain a single pound.
The only way to know if you will tolerate a drug well is to be willing to take it and see if it relieves your symptoms. Listen to your mind and your body. You may find the drug tremendously helpful – and discover that the side effects you feared never actually materialize, or if they do, they are actually easy to live with.
FEAR #2: LOSING A PART OF YOURSELF
Another reason that taking psychiatric medication can be scary is that we fear we will lose touch with our own personalities. This is a reasonable fear because the medication can initially make our mood a little flat. However, once our bodies are used to the drug, this often levels off, leaving us feeling calmer and more stable.
Many people fear that taking psychoactive meds will rob them of their creativity. Will they be able to paint, write or compose music as they did before? While each person’s reaction to these drugs is different, many people discover that they can actually do more creative work when their moods and energy levels are even.
FEAR #3: EFFECTS ON THE REST OF THE BODY
You may have heard that psychiatric medicines can harm the liver and other organs. This, too, is a very real fear. It’s wonderful to see your mood improve, but what if you feel a twinge of fear every time you take a dose, wondering if you’re damaging other aspects of your health?
Depending on the medication you are taking, your health care team will run blood tests every few months, looking for signs of any issues. But aside from this precaution, it’s good to know that people with mental health conditions can live long, healthy lives when they take good care of themselves. Untreated mental health issues, on the other hand, can lead to habits that actually do threaten our health – such as poor diet, lack of exercise and self-medicating with alcohol or street drugs.
If you choose to take psychiatric medications, and your blood tests come back normal, you can stop and breathe, realizing that you are fine. You have made a choice to add medications to the toolkit of resources you are using to recover and live in wellness. For many of us, this is a wise and effective decision.
ENJOYING A LIFETIME OF GOOD MENTAL HEALTH
As an experienced therapist working in the Edmonton area, I have helped hundreds of people find effective ways to overcome the effects of depression, anxiety, mood disorders and more. Therapy, often combined with medications or other forms of self-care, can provide the support you need to live your best life. If you are looking for a counsellor who can provide you with thoughtful, personalized care, please reach out to me today.