March 5, 2019

So You’re Thinking About Taking Medication: Part Two

Mental Health & Wellbeing

During my last blog, we focused on the different treatment approaches that impact a providers view on prescribing medications.  Today, I’d like to spend some time focusing on the emotional struggles you may be facing that might lead providers to a recommendation for prescribing medications.

When Medication Might Be Helpful

When I meet with someone for the first time in the counseling session, often a person’s goal is to decrease the emotions and thoughts that are overwhelming them.  It’s helpful for us to talk about what has aided them with these thoughts and feelings. Sometimes, someone may share that they’ve tried taking medication before. While I am not licensed to prescribe medication, it’s helpful to know if they’ve taken it in the past and what effect it had on them.

I have found that taking the right medication can be helpful in reducing the frequency or intensity of distressing feelings.  There are a few emotional struggles particularly that researchers recommend with counseling.

“When You’re Down and Troubled”

Many of us experience low mood and sadness in our lives.  It may last for a day or two and with the support of family or friends we look back to see that this sadness was momentary.  For others, this sadness can be more troubling. Maybe you’re experiencing intense feelings of hopelessness and low motivation that impacts your relationships, responsibilities, and self-care.  When showering, brushing your teeth, or picking out what clothes to wear becomes a challenge, it may be a sign that sadness has crept in. What once brought you joy, makes you feel empty inside.  There’s a “weightness” or “cloud” that has covered you and you’re finding it hard to remember a time when things felt “normal.” If this is you, you may be struggling with depression.

Depression can occur for a variety of reasons.  Maybe you are a mom and you are experiencing intense feelings due to postpartum.  You recall what you felt like before this all began and you are longing to feel like your old self again.  You may feel down due to a number of losses. Different than grieving, feelings of depression are described as a constant or continued cloud of heaviness.  Moments of relief or joyfulness are absent. For others, you may not know where these feelings are coming from. All you know is that on top of feeling heavy you are often critical of yourself, struggle with low-self esteem, guilt, or shame, and may have thought about taking your own life.  Because depression can stop us in our tracks, providers often will suggest medication in hopes of decreasing the intensity and enabling individuals to manage the stressors of life with more energy and hope.

“Help, I need somebody”

The other struggle in which medications are recommended is when it’s difficult to tell the difference between what is real and what is fake.  When you start to wonder if the things you are hearing, seeing, and physically feeling are present that no one else is experiencing you should contact your doctor.  In addition, if you are fearful that others are against you or that the TV or radio are communicating directly to you, it may be time to reach out for help.

These experiences can make you feel confused, scared, or even embarrassed.  You may ask “what is happening to me?” This type of experience is gradual and can especially affect those in their early 20s. You know how you felt and saw the world before these feelings started to happen. Because these feelings can often cause you to discern reality from fiction, if left untreated, it has the potential to progress and impact one’s ability to function.  This is why medication is prescribed.

Types of Medications

The medications that are often used to assist individuals with feelings of depression or feeling out of touch with reality are antidepressants and antipsychotic medications. Antidepressants can possibly impact low mood, appetite, problems with sleep, low energy, and difficulty concentrating.  Antipsychotic medications can help reduce hearing things, seeing things that no one else sees, struggling with false beliefs, and jumbled thoughts and actions. Dr. John Preston, Psy.D., created a Quick Reference to Psychiatric Medications that may be good to bring to a physician or pharmacist.

Again, I absolutely recommend speaking with your physician about different medications.  It is true, that studies have been done to help providers prescribe the most effective medication; however, each person is different. Truly you are the greatest expert in how the feelings and medication is impacting you.  So ask questions, bring someone along with you to the appointment, and explore what your personal beliefs are about taking medication. Please know I am available and willing to explore this process with you! Call today.

Note: It’s important to mention these aren’t the only diagnoses that may need treatment via medication. These are purely examples for a basic understanding of why some people look to medication for help! I am in no way trying to diagnose you based on if you have felt/are feeling as  I have described above, just giving examples. Based on how you’re feeling, discuss this treatment option with your doctor. 

Written by therapist Pamela Larkin


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