As a psychologist, I do not prescribe medication, nor do I help you make decisions on when to take medications. Only psychiatrists are qualified to give the final say on medications. I also believe that therapy alone is often enough to help person through their issues and that medication is often not necessary.
But there are times when medication may be useful, and that I consider referring someone to a psychiatrist on Long Island for evaluation.
How to Tell if Medications May Help
Medications are not cures. They will not permanently eliminate any mental health condition. Rather, they simply numb it so that it doesn’t affect you as much.
Thus, therapy is always going to be the long term solution to the problem. Therapy is what will help make sure you are not stuck taking a medication forever. Yet there are situations when it may make sense to consider some type of medication. For example:
- Severe Life Interference – When I feel that the symptoms of the mental health disorder are severely affecting day to day functioning, thus making it hard to even go through therapy, that may be a sign that it is worth referring the patient to a psychiatrist.
- Measurable Suffering – Similarly, while even severe mental health challenges can be helped with therapy, the process to get there can be long. If I feel as though someone’s suffering is too great to last until therapy is completed, I may consider referring out for medication.
- Tried and Failed – Those that have undergone therapy and have not been successful because the condition itself interfered with treatment may benefit from a combination of medication and therapy. It is safer and healthier to use therapy alone, but there is reason to believe that the combination of the two can be quite effective.
Although I believe that medication is often not necessary, I do not believe it should be demonized. For the right patients, it is a tool not unlike medications you take for a cold or flu. It won’t change your personality (that is a myth) nor will it have as many side effects as people believe in most situations. It is simply another tool for recovery for those that are the right candidates.
It is better not to jump straight to medication, or rely on it for treatment without therapy. If medication can be avoided, it should be, as therapy alone is often enough. But it is still important to view medication in a positive light should it be necessary, and as long as you use it in conjunction with therapy, it can be beneficial.