Is medication the be all and end all of mental health treatment? Are doctors too quick to whip out that prescription pad? The overwhelming answer seems to be yes and I find myself agreeing with this statement.
I have written about the anti-medication movement and I do believe that the ease with which people can get a prescription for an antidepressant from their GP is to blame for this line of thinking. I don’t think that medication, which is predominantly used for mental health issues should be prescribed, at least initially, without the input of a psychiatrist or therapy to accompany it.
Medication is not the answer to long term management of depression and anxiety in my opinion, at least not on its own. It does not magically fix the issues which drove you to the point of asking for help. It doesn’t magically fix the irrational thinking which can cause a panic attack and eventually the medication might stop working.
In my experience, medication gives me the boost I need to be able to participate in therapy. It doesn’t have me bouncing around like I am on cloud 9 but, as I often say to my psychologist it takes me from meh to blah. It’s not a miracle maker.
Sometimes you are lucky, you have a GP who has an understanding of mental illness and the medications that are used to treat it. However this can be a bit of hit and miss, often the GP will write you a prescription and you’d be on your way. No follow up, no referrals to someone who can help you deal with your depression or anxiety and no time to delve into those issues too deeply.
Many people are unaware of how to access treatment with a psychologist, (I’ll be covering that in future posts) or they believe that they aren’t ‘sick’ enough to visit a psychologist. I believe that everyone can benefit from a few sessions with a psychologist, even if it’s to check in with how you are doing.
A psychologist can help you to learn how to deal with your issues in a more healthy way, and in some cases this means that long term treatment with medication isn’t needed. It can also mean that instead of entering into a band aid approach to treatment, you may be able to move on to a mentally healthier place sooner.
Medication isn’t for everyone, in fact many people are unable to take it due to unbearable side effects and I think that the importance of talk therapy isn’t talked about enough. I absolutely think that medication shouldn’t be easy to obtain, it shouldn’t be handed out without a clear plan for treatment in place and it definitely shouldn’t be handed out without ensuring that other avenues of treatment have been tried.
Do you believe that it’s too easy for people to access antidepressant medication?