Years ago I used to be very anti-meds. I felt that there were far too many people out there that were over-prescribed and over-medicated. I had a low opinion of Psychiatrists and saw them as someone who had no interest in having clients actually tell them their problems. They just wanted to get a quick rundown to see what diagnosis they could pin on them and then toss some medications at the problem. I thought that the only people who needed medication were those with severe to profound mental health issues.
Over time, I learned that isn’t always the case. There are certainly still MD’s out there who will do exactly what I stated. However, there are some good ones out there who actually do want to understand their client’s issues and take more than ten minutes to help them. Personally, I would recommend first going through my articles and following their advice. After you’ve turned my advice into a plan, work on that for a month or two. When the month, or two, is over evaluate how you’re doing and if you need further help. If you are completely unable to do anything and the feelings are so intense that it interferes
with your work, family, relationships, or wellbeing, then please go see a psychiatrist first. Use the meds and make sure to create an open dialogue with your shrink. Whatever he’s prescribing, you need to go home and read everything you can about what you’re taking. Ask questions and try to understand the “how’s” and “why’s” of his thought process. Remember, it’s very important to understand exactly what you’re putting into your body. In addition, most medications have some form of side effects. You need to weigh the pro’s and con’s and decide for yourself if it’s worth it. Remember too, that you can decide to stop the medication at any time. However, please make sure to give it a good try, at least a month, and NEVER stop your medication suddenly or without talking first with your doctor.
Some types of medication can cause substance abuse. Check out A-Z list of prescription drugs to find out more about them.
If you’re suffering from anxiety, depression, anger or stress, there’s a good chance he’s going to prescribe an SSRI for you. These class of drugs are not fully understood, but meta-analysis of the available research points to its overall effectiveness. However, there are some basic rules of thought when taking this medication:
1. Understand if your expectations are realistic. There are no magic pills.
2. Know that it’s going to take a full month to gauge whether the medication is doing anything. Many times, the Psychiatrist will start you out with a small to moderate dosage that might not be enough right away. Each dosage level takes about a full month to evaluate.
3. There will be side effects so, be prepared. With SSRI’s, the most common side effect is a numbing of your ability to achieve orgasm and the ability to feel full sexual stimulation. This is one of the biggest reasons people choose to stop their med’s. Make sure to talk to your doctor as there are alternative medications, such as Wellbutrin, that won’t hurt your sex life as much.
4. Always make sure to weigh the pro’s and con’s of taking the medication and whether it’s worth it for you.
5. Know that medications will affect everyone differently. Just because your friend may have tried SSRI’s once and thought they’re a scam, doesn’t mean they won’t work on you.
If the medication is working, you’ll notice a general sense that things don’t really seem to bother you all that much. It’s not that you stopped thinking of things, but rather you won’t have the strong reactions you’re used to. This can be both good and bad. Good in that you’ll find it much easier to deal with your symptoms, but bad in that your ability to “feel” might be diminished. Now, I’m not talking that you’ll be a doped-up zombie incapable of feeling anything. Not at all, you’ll just notice that things just don’t bother you as much as they used to. Your lows won’t be as low and your highs won’t be as high.
For those that are feeling like their symptoms of depression, anxiety, anger or stress are just completely out of control, it could be a huge relief to go from horrible to just plain ok. Merely being “ok” could be all the motivation you need to start managing your symptoms and finally make some progress in talk therapy.
One last thing, just because you start to feel a little better with medication, don’t assume that this means you’re “cured”. Many people who start to feel better take that to mean they don’t need their medication anymore. A sudden stoppage in medication can cause a rebound effect in your symptoms and create a life threatening situation. For example, if you were moderately depressed before, suddenly stopping your meds can throw you into a major depressive episode where hurting yourself might become an accepted alternative. The rule here is DO NOT stop taking your medication when you notice an improvement in your symptoms. What this means is that it is now even more imperative that you get the help you need and make a concerted effort to manage your depression, anxiety, stress or anger.