I meet with many people each week and one of the most frequently asked questions is about psychiatric medication.
There are many individual opinions that exist on this subject. I hear from many that are completely against psychiatric medicines while there are some who find themselves totally dependent upon these medications for daily survival. I must tread lightly here because I strive to encourage and build up people. I also do not desire to make anyone mad. However, I do want to share my personal perspective on the subject. Feel free to comment with your own but for all intents and purposes this is my viewpoint.
Those who are opposed to psychiatric meds tend to have concerns about side effects and the implications of taking a medication related to mental health. These individuals typically visit my office with horror stories of friends who have been prescribed the wrong medicine or combination of medications leading to these side effects that are far worse than the actual condition that prompted taking the meds.
This is where I see a majority of the problems with medication. People tend to accept what a doctor prescribes and ask few or no questions. Many medications have initial side effects but very few that should hinder your daily life for more than a couple of days. If this occurs then communication with your prescribing doctor is essential. So many individuals suffer with these side effects for months before scheduling another appointment with their doctor or making a call to ask for a change in dosage or type of medicine.
If the medicine doesn’t make you feel better after a month or so, then it is important to communicate that to the doctor as well. The key to successful medication management is communication and being willing to engage in trial and error.
For many of my clients the initial “cocktail” of medication doesn’t turn out to be the right fit for them. I mention cocktail because many individuals are prescribed several medications to find the proper dosage and combination for their specific symptoms. It is important to understand that the medication process may take a few trials and adjustments to find the perfect medication, dosage, and cocktail for the individual situation.
The individuals that I meet who are opposed to medication typically fall into two categories: spiritual aversion to the medication or failure to understand medication as a whole.
The mental health category of medication is viewed quite differently than medications for blood pressure, diabetes, and other physical ailments.
People wrongly assume that if you are on a medication that you are unable to cope. That is a not true. My friend and mentor, Bob Hamp, describes medication as a spare tire. If your tire goes flat, you drive to the side of the road to change it.
Typically most people will put on the spare tire in order to get to a destination and ultimately a tire repair shop. The spare tire is typically designed to be utilized for approximately 100 miles, not for an extended time. This is exactly the case with medicine.
It is a temporary thing, meant to help individuals get to where they are going. It is a mode of transportation from the problem you are in now to the solution that lies ahead. Many individuals opposed to medication find themselves believing that the medication step means a having a permanent need for psychiatric medicine for the rest of their lives. This may be true for some but very rarely for most.
Just like a flat tire there may come a time in our lives where it goes flat again. We just put the spare on, drive to Discount Tire, and are on our merry way. It is so freeing to know that it is only for a season.
I know that God intended us to live free and connected to Him, not dependent upon ourselves or a medication.
I encourage you to leave a comment with your own perspective on this subject. If you agree tell us why. If you disagree tell us why. If you have an additional perspective or something we failed to address feel free to ask.
*Originally appeared on Cassie Reid Counseling. Used with permission.