True or False: What You Really Need to Know About Psychiatric Medications
There is wide debate regarding the use of psychiatric medications, and most people hold preconceived notions about them before ever having a personal experience. Thankfully, the stigma surrounding medication for mental health has decreased over the years, but judgment and mistrust still exist. All too often, people who may greatly benefit from the use of psychiatric medications are dismayed by the myths and misconceptions that still exist today. In this article, will explore common beliefs to shed light on the reality of medication use, and how you may benefit from them and better understand those around you who benefit from them, as well.
Why Seek Support From Psychiatric Medications?
There are many different uses for psychiatric medications, and it’s important to work with a physician or psychiatrist to determine the best medication for you. Some common categories of medications include:
Antipsychotics - Used to treat psychosis symptoms typically seen in schizophrenia, including delusions and hallucinations
Antidepressants - There are many different kinds, and the most common category that you will see is SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor). Antidepressants are used in the treatment of depressive symptoms, such as fatigue, lethargy, lack of motivation, negative thoughts, loss of pleasure in activities previously enjoyed, and thoughts of suicide. Some antidepressants can also provide relief from symptoms of anxiety and obsessive compulsive disorder.
Anti-anxiety medications - Used to treat both acute and chronic anxiety - These medications can be addictive, so if there is any concern or history of addiction, consult your doctor before beginning use. Some anti-anxiety medications are taken routinely, while others are PRN, or only to be used as needed.
Stimulants - Used to treat symptoms of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), can aid in ability to focus and regulate thought process and behaviors - These medications can be addictive.
Mood Stabilizers - These medications are used to treat frequent and drastic shifts in mood, often seen in bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and borderline personality disorder.
Common Myths About Psychiatric Medications:
Myth: Medication use is a crutch - If you have to use them, you aren’t working hard enough to challenge your problems.
Fact: It takes an incredible amount of courage to confront your problems and commit to working through them. Medication is only part of the solution, and when combined with therapy, sustainable coping skills, and a solid support network, it can greatly improve quality of life. Sometimes, symptoms of depression or anxiety are so intense, that just functioning day to day while coping is incredibly exhausting. Medication can help you to get to a baseline of functioning, so that you can use your energy to master coping skills, engage in valued activities, challenge negative thoughts, and lead a life worth living.
Myth: Taking medication will change my personality, and I don’t want to lose myself to a mind-altering substance.
Medications do not interfere with your personality. Your interests, ideas, and insight are still there within you, you just may have a better time accessing them if symptoms of anxiety, depression, or other mental illness are kept at bay. Medication can aid in controlling significant distress, which provides you with the ability to seek help, and become even more of yourself.
Myth: If I start taking medication, I will need to be on medication forever. There’s no turning back, and I might be making the wrong decision.
Fact: The length of medication use greatly varies depending on the specifics of the diagnosis and symptoms addressed. Certain diagnoses, such as bipolar disorder and schizophrenia, will require long-term treatment. Symptoms of depression, anxiety, or difficulty sleeping may require brief or short-term use, depending on severity of symptoms.
Myth: All psychiatric medications are highly addictive.
Fact: With the exception of anti-anxiety, sedative-hypnotics, and stimulants, most psychiatric medications are not addictive. Psychiatric medications do not result in cravings associated with addiction, and your body can adjust to a dose without needing to increase the dose higher and higher to achieve the desired effect.
If addiction is of concern, speak with your doctor about non-addictive medications that may work for your symptoms. Do not refrain from taking your medication without creating a plan with your doctor.
Medication can be an instrumental part of your mental health treatment, but it’s not a one size fits all solution, and it’s not for everyone. Like you, your mental health treatment should be unique and tailored to your needs. If you think you may benefit from medication, or just would like to brainstorm the possibility with support, consult your therapist for more support and guidance.