Thursday, October 27, 2016

Mental Health and Medications

We are all aware that we live in the age of prescription drugs, and although there are many benefits to these new medications, there are also an abundance of drawbacks.  Of course some of the negatives to prescriptions are dependency, addiction, lots of side effects, and abuse issues, the point I want to share today is different from the obvious ones.  What are the medications actually doing to improve our condition and situation?

There are 'miracle' drugs that are helping people cope with numerous mental health disorders such as depression, anxiety, and mood disorders to name a few, but are they doing any more than helping us cope with the symptoms?  After being prescribed these medications for over 20 years, I can offer my opinion that they only help us cope with symptoms, they do not fix the problem.  I am not saying that they cannot be quite helpful in fixing the underlying issue, but without proper direction during use, they do nothing to solve the problems that created the symptoms in the first place.

What I learned once I quit taking prescription medications a few years back was that all of the symptoms that the pills we helping with rushed back in a wave once I no longer took them on a daily basis.  I quickly learned that I was using them to suppress and hide the issues but was never shown how to work on those problems while I was in a better state of mind.  I was constantly told by several doctors that I required the medications and likely would need them for the rest of my life, and I would like have had some sort of liver failure or something by now. (this was a listed side effect on many of the medications I was taking)

To get to my point, I see both the benefits of properly administered prescription drugs, but also the downside to taking them without any counseling to go along with them.  These pills, in my opinion, are not meant for long term use.  And if they are used long term, we only grow a tolerance to them anyhow, and then there is a need to switch to different ones.  If you have ever taken an SSRI (selective seratonin reuptake inhibitor)  for many months and then have to switch to another, you know that it can be a very harrowing experience, causing a barrage of negative symptoms during the switch-over process.

If you are taking these pills or are thinking about it, be smart about why you are taking them  Yes, they will help you ease your symptoms and improve functionality, but you must remind yourself that the underlying cause of the symptoms has not gone away.  You are supposed to use the time while you are in a better state of mind to deal with the underlying issue.  I could be wrong but I will state that most of the time the underlying issue is a mental health issue or inner conflict.

If you are taking medications for depression and they are helping you to feel better, I think that is wonderful because you deserve some relief.  Use this time to understand why you are depressed.  See a counselor or a therapist who can help you get to the root of the problem so that if you eventually want to be medication free, you will be in a better mental state to do so.  If you are suffering from anxiety issue and are using a benzodiazepene to ease your discomfort, use the 'good' times to better understand why you are suffering from the anxious feelings in the first place.

I am not advocating for either side of prescription drug discussion, I am simply suggesting that you be smart and educated about how they are helping and hurting you, so that you can take better care of yourself.  I have my own opinions on this but they are irrelevant.  If your doctor or health care provider thinks you should be taking these types of pills, by all means do so, but do it in the means to get you better.  Understand that the symptoms they ease are the cause of something else, and that you still need to repair that 'something else' while you are in a better state of mind and at ease.

If you are looking to help yourself, do a little research on self reflection and learn how to begin sorting out the things in your past and in your mind that are causing you the suffering.  Self reflection is much more helpful when you are in a positive state of mind though.  If you are trapped in negative thinking you may be better off seeking help from someone who is professionally trained to help you safely through the process.

Wishing better mental health for all!
Be well

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