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Medication

Strategies for depression, anxiety, stress or anger
Medication can be a useful tool in the fight against depression, anxiety, anger or stress.

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.

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9 comments

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  1. A. McKernan

    An interesting read. Good to have a practical blog like this around!
    Someone very close to me has been on a powerful anti-depressant for 12 years now. He is very happy with it, it seems. But if he accidentally misses taking it, it can make him extremely ill.
    It is difficult for me to be patient and to understand why someone believes that being on medication for that amount of time, superficially treating symptoms and happy to continue to ignore the cause and never really get better, is the best thing to do.
    I believe 100% in what you mentioned on your welcome page, face your problems head on. But people in our society are afraid of suffering, not realising how much more fulfilling everything that comes after is.

    1. admin

      Thanks for the read and your perspective.

      That is an interesting point that you made about people in society being afraid of suffering. I wonder if much of it has to do with our societal notion that shooting for the quick fix is generally thought of as the best way to go.

      I also do advocate that meds can play a very vital role in treatment. Sometimes, your symptoms are so severe that progress in talk therapy, or any progress for that matter, cannot happen. The crucial point here is how vital it is to not assume you are “cured” once the meds start working, rather it should be viewed as a vehicle to further your progress.

  2. Josh

    A very interesting prospective and view on Meds. Looking forward to reading more from you.

    Best,

    Josh…

    1. admin

      Thanks for the kind words Josh. I hope to have the next article up today.

  3. aealmon

    I’ve been struggling with my medications. It isn’t about whether or not I want to take them, it’s the fact that they are only a management tool. Luckily I’m one of those fortunate people with a “great” psychiatrist. The difficulty I have with medication is getting over my expectation of a cure.

    1. admin

      Good to hear you’ve managed to find a psychiatrist that works for you. That alone can be quite a challenge.

      You bring up a great point about the difficulty you have with getting over your expectation of a cure. One of the challenges a person will face when getting help is setting realistic expectations and coming to terms with it. You’re absolutely right, there is no “cure” that will suddenly make a person “normal”. It takes time, patience and something I like to call “redefining success” which means that client and therapist work together to change the initial expectation of a cure to something else such as: being able to have a job, talk to friends, have the energy to do work around the house and take care of the kids. It can be demoralizing for some, but others actually find relief because there is now something tangible to work towards and not just some abstract idea on what it means to be “normal”. In fact, I would challenge anyone who says they are “normal”. What is “normal” anyway? Everyone faces challenges and eventually has some form of mental health issue that manifests itself like depression, anxiety, grief, stress, anger, etc.

      Great post and thank you!

  4. Peter L

    Thanks for putting some light on this topic. I used to really hate medication until I saw how it helped my Dad. It’s made such a difference in both of our lives that we can now have a relationship again as Father and Son. Thanks for your work!

    1. David Dich

      Great to hear Peter and thank you for the nice feedback!

  5. Kirsty

    Hi, great blog. I have been on medications and therapy for more than 15 years. Every time I come off them (slowly) I gradually get seriously depressed. It runs in my family although I have it the worst. I am so sick of reading negative media about mental health medications. It makes me feel like a fraud and lazy. My drugs help me to be a functional happy mother and wife. If I did not have these drugs I would probably be self medicating on illegal substances or alcohol. Why would anyone want that for our society? Mental health medications protect children and families from violence and neglect.

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