Psychotherapy or Medication – Which Should You Choose?

In today’s world, if you turn on a television, play a game on an electronic device, read a magazine, or listen to the radio, the chances are high that you’ll see or hear an ad for psychotropic medications. Prescriptions for anxiety medication and depression medication are pitched to people so often that the majority of us have at least heard of this option for treating mental illnesses.

As a society, we all want an easy fix to our problems. Ads for psychotropic medications make them sound as if they are an effortless method for treating anxiety, depression, and other mental illnesses. After all, why spend time on psychotherapy when you can pop a pill and get relief instantly? However, like everything in life, there are compelling reasons to choose one or the other.

Benefits of Psychotherapy

For many people, treatment programs like Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Psycho-dynamic Psychotherapy, or In-vivo Therapy, have proven to have more lasting results than psychotropic medications. The reason is that these therapies teach you coping skills. They help you identify inaccurate or negative thinking and then give you the necessary tools to challenge and replace these beliefs.

When someone goes through psychotherapy, they learn what triggers their reactions to specific fears, places, or situations. Cognitive therapy and other “talk therapies” help people overcome these triggers so they can have a better quality of life. Moreover, these methods teach skills that are lifelong. This allows the person to not only feel better, but gives them something to fall back on if their stressors return at some point in the future.

Unlike with the potential of some psychotropic medications, psychotherapy is not addictive. Furthermore, some studies have shown that Cognitive Behavioral Therapy can be more effective at relieving anxiety and depression than medication.

Benefits of Psychotropic Medications

Depression medications and anxiety medications are among the most prescribed drugs worldwide. Advertisements have taught us to recognize drug names and to request them from our medical professionals. These drugs are seen as a “magic bullet” for mental illnesses. Indeed, the benefit of psychotropic medications is that some people may see a quicker, short term improvement in their symptoms, especially if their case is severe. Medications are generally cheaper than psychotherapy and are often covered under insurance, while therapy is sometimes limited or may not be covered at all.

That being said, there are drawbacks to psychotropic medications. Some of these drugs have very adverse side effects – a fact many people ignore when they see the list of them scrolling rapidly through an advertisement. These medications are often prescribed on a trial-and-error basis, wherein the drugs are changed if the person is not getting the symptom relief they are hoping for. Also, many individuals fear taking anxiety medication or depression medication because of the worry over becoming addicted to them or the fear that their personality may be altered. Additionally, they are concerned that they will never be able to get off the medication in the future because their depression or anxiety will return if they do.

What About a Combination of Therapy and Medication?

Current research has shown that, in many cases, a combination of psychotropic medications and psychotherapy gives patients the best result. Medications can help alleviate the symptoms of depression and anxiety more quickly, thus giving the person a chance to improve their symptoms while undergoing psychotherapy at the same time.

Combining these treatments programs can provide improvement in symptoms, teach the skills that will allow you to cope with or change your symptoms, and help you feel better. Furthermore, psychotherapy gives you the tools to cope if symptoms arise again.

Do You Have Questions About Psychotherapy or Psychotropic Medications?

Questions about whether you’ll benefit the most from medication, therapy, or a combination of the two, are best answered by working with a mental health professional. The therapists at The Center for Treatment of Anxiety and Mood Disorders in Delray Beach, Florida are there to help. For more information, contact us or call us today at 561-496-1094.

 

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