During an initial consultation for therapy, I will ask you if you’re on any medication and if that includes antidepressants or anti-anxiety medications. Please don’t be embarrassed to say so. Part of being a therapist means I take a non-judgemental stance. But I actually also have no objection at all to anxiety treatment with medication and here is why!
Why I don’t object to anxiety treatment with medication
When I talk to (potential) clients, their range of experience with medication is vast. Often people come and see me who have been on this type of medication for years or who have just started.
Sometimes they’d like to stop taking it, which should only be done under the guidance of your GP or medical practitioner. Occasionally people consider taking medication whilst having therapy with me, or they just don’t want to take it at all.
It may surprise you to know that I support all of these decisions. And, most importantly, I don’t think one of them is better than another. I strongly believe that you are the expert of you and you must do what’s right for you.
There has also been some negative press recently about anti-depressants and some controversial opinions, so I thought it only right to explain my point of view on this.
Here are some of the reasons why I feel that depression and anxiety treatment with medication is not ‘the enemy’ and can provide valuable support alongside any type of talking therapy.
1. They help with chemical imbalance
All the talking therapy in the world may not help if you naturally have lower levels of serotonin and dopamine. Being solution-focused means, we’re not going to analyse why this occurs and it can be for a variety of physiological reasons (I might save that for another blog).
However, consider this: If you were ill in any other way, you would not hesitate to take medication. For example, I’ll take a decongestant hot lemon drink that contains paracetamol (you know the one) at the first sign of a sniffle. So why wouldn’t we use medication when our neurotransmitters are imbalanced?
Admittedly the signs that there is a chemical imbalance are subtle at first and there is no specific test you can do for that. But we need to look at these types of medications without the stigma that surrounds them.
2. Your GP advises it
Please trust your medical professional. Take your GP’s advice seriously and if you’re reluctant to take medication, please discuss that with them. GP’s do not prescribe medication lightly; they know the side effects and risks of prescribing, so you must have presented with enough symptoms for them to consider this route for you.
Try to have a collaborative conversation with your GP about what is best for you. They will allay any fears for you and will monitor you, too.
Keep your regular appointments with your GP if you are on antidepressants and only reduce them under the GP’s guidance. Do not do this on your own as there can be some negative side-effects when you’re coming off them too quickly.
3. They give you a break in your symptoms
Yes, you know you need to tackle your symptoms in a more sustainable way. But when you are overwhelmed with depressive or anxious feelings you just don’t know where to begin, do you?
Medication can give you that break that you need in your thoughts to gather them and come up with a strategy that will work better for you. They are designed for short to mid-term relief, providing you with enough ‘headspace’ to come up with something that is more sustainable.
And this really is the key to this type of medication. When people are on antidepressants for a long time, they begin to feel that they have lost their ‘effectiveness’. This is often because they have not worked towards finding other healthy coping mechanisms.
So, take the medication but please take some ownership of your own mental wellbeing by trying to create a healthy lifestyle. All medications require you to take some precautions and this is the one to consider with anti-depressants and anti-anxiety medications.
4. They can aid therapy
Keeping the most important for last: This is probably my main reason for not objecting to medication.
When your stress bucket is overflowing you will have lost rational control. At this juncture, my job can prove quite difficult because you are so consumed by the primitive brain that you cannot engage with the sessions rationally.
Medication provides that little bit of breathing space for you to engage with me and to engage back into life in general. With support from Solution Focused Therapy, you will begin to feel better and may find, with your GP’s support, that you can come off the medication as well, and don’t need to rely on it alone.
I really appreciate that there are opposing points of view. The discussion still remains and there are many different perspectives.
This is not aimed at either promoting or disparaging medication for anxiety and depression. Merely provide a point of view from my experience in working with clients every day to empty their stress buckets.
In this blog, I want to reassure anyone who is on this type of medication that it is nothing to be ashamed of and it will be helping.