For weeks, I have been wanting to write on this topic and just have been so busy, that I didn’t have a chance. Psychotropic medication is a very controversial topic that carries A LOT of stigma. As many Americans that are on some form of mental health meds, you would think it would not be looked at the way it still is today. I have heard some look down on the use of psychotropic medication and use the term “chemical crutch” as a reason why they would not take medication. To me that means that they feel these people are overly dependent on medication and therefore lazy when it comes to working on their issues. This is soooooooo NOT the case. People that take psychotropic medication realize that they need something outside of talk therapy to gain mental wellness. They are in fact, being proactive about their mental health by taking this step. Additionally, it has been found that talk therapy and the use of psychotropic medication yields better outcomes when it comes to clinical conditions than either option alone.
Being on psychotropic medication does not mean you are weak.
Just because you have decided to go on medication for your mental illness, does not make you weak. I came from that philosophy since my background is Caribbean and, in that culture, we believe in ‘natural remedies’ to heal the sick. I grew up taking lots of vitamins and when I would get physically sick, my mom would make concoctions to help me get well rather than resort to medication. So, when I grew up to become a therapist, I always felt that medication for mental health was not needed. I of course never imposed this on my clients, but I was always encouraging other methods to deal with mental illness such as coping strategies and techniques such as exercising, deep breathing, connecting to natural supports, etc. I never suggested medication as an option because I was against it. I’m sure that some of my younger clients may have benefited from some medication to help with their symptoms of ADHD and other mental health issues but I felt it was ill-advised because of them being children. I still believe that children are resilient, and that medication should be a last resort but adults who have been dealing with mental illness from a child and have tried all types of talk therapy, can benefit from the use of medication. Especially if they are not progressing the way they would like or feeling as good as they expected to after years of therapy. There is nothing wrong with deciding to try something else so that you can feel better and can function in your everyday life.
Psychiatrists should be your go-to for mental health medication.
If you are considering medication, I would recommend you see a psychiatrist over a general practitioner. Psychiatrists are specialists in psychotropics and can give you adequate education on what meds to take. A general practitioner is more so playing a guessing game with you because this is not their wheelhouse. They didn’t go to school for mental health meds specifically; psychiatrists did. Your medical insurance should be able to point you in the direction of a psychiatrist that you can see locally. If this doesn’t work, your medical practitioner can also refer you to a psychiatrist. The only thing with this is to make sure that they are in network with your insurance. Psychiatrists can be expensive, even with insurance.
Don’t adjust your medication on your own, if it’s not working.
I can’t stress this enough. I see so many people who decide, without a doctor or psychiatrist’s input, to adjust their meds because they are no longer working the way they used to or stop taking medication altogether. It is very important that you do not take it upon yourself to change how your medication is prescribed or to stop taking your medication because you don’t feel it’s working. They are adverse side effects that come with this such as you accidentally overdose because your adjustment is too high, or you start feeling suicidal because you stop cold turkey. There is a science to adjusting your meds so PLEASE leave it in the hands of the doctors.
Don’t feel guilty about taking medication.
Remember you requesting medication is the first step to you taking better care of your mental health. I would rather my clients seek out medication than do something to hurt themselves because they are suffering mentally. Keep in mind that just as you are taking medication to take care of your mental health, someone else is taking medication for physical health issues. Society tends to be more accepting of people taking medication for physical ailments, even encouraging it. However, mental health still does not receive the same level of value from the healthcare system and so psychotropics remain with this stigma.
Keep in mind that taking medication for mental health may only be temporary until your mental health condition improves. But it could also be for the rest of your life. Either way, it should not be something you feel guilty about or that someone makes you feel guilty about. You come with your own unique body chemistry. If your condition is chemical such as your body not producing enough serotonin causing you to be clinically depressed, then don’t hesitate to take an anti-depressant or SSRI. Don’t compare yourself to others or think that you should be doing what they are doing. Everyone is different and what works for one does not mean it will work for the next. If you don’t hear me say anything else hear this: It is OK to seek medication as an option to feel better. Your mental health is a journey of your choosing and try not to let other people’s opinions affect the decisions you make.
I hope you find this post to be helpful and give you the validation you seek. If you have any other questions about when to make medication considerations; feel free to direct message me. I am here to support you in whatever decision you want to make. Your body, your choice.
Love and light,