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On Meds: a Therapist's Point of View

To take meds, or not to take meds. That is the question.

I recently came across a comment on my facebook that "therapists believe meds are the solution for most problems."

I wish I could say I'm surprised by this perception, but I cannot. So many times I've had a new client tell me in the first session that they are not into taking medications. They say it like they're throwing down the gauntlet - all the while unaware that I'm glad to hear their determination to work on the real issue and not use artificial band-aids.

Pro: medication has a purpose. It can be extremely helpful for people with schizophrenia and severe bipolar (TRUE bipolar - this is a very misunderstood and overdiagnosed condition). For people overwhelmed by their trauma/ anxiety/ depression, it can be a useful crutch, giving them a "leg-up" while they work on healing the core issue.

Con: medication is not a fix. In most cases it is a crutch. That is not a bad thing. We may use a crutch to help a broken foot heal, but no doctor prescribes a crutch for life. In the same way, I believe an ethical psychiatrist will heavily endorse doing the work to heal so the crutch is not needed. Research supports the usefulness of therapy for long term healing for depression, for example, but show meds only to be helpful as long as they are in use. Many people use meds to manage symptoms so they don't have to face the real problem.

I believe the decision of whether to use medication is a very personal one, and should be done with information on both sides of the medication debate: those who advocate use and those who do not.

The bottom line for me is this: whether a client chooses to use medication or not, my sole interest is treating the core problem so as to render meds unnecessary.

Healing is possible.

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