Taking medication vs. seeing a psychologist: what’s the answer?
A mental health journey to wellness and balance can be a long, winding and sometimes confusing one. Getting on top of our mental health is no mean feat – and can be equally as complex as the issues themselves, so it’s always best to approach this journey with care and consideration, so we come away from it feeling empowered and capable.
What’s the first step to achieving wellness? Seeking the help we need, which doesn’t particularly mean jumping straight into booking an appointment with a psychologist for the very first time (however, if you feel ready to take that leap, here’s what you can expect). A first step can look like asking for help from our family, friends, or partners. Or it can look like simply identifying our problems and admitting to ourselves that it might be time to seek support.
A really great first avenue to gain the support we need is to see our GP. This is a good way to ease into the idea of next steps – being less specified, it can feel less formal – especially if we have a regular or family GP. GP’s can talk through how we’re feeling and may give us a test or checklist depending on what we’re experiencing. The test for anxiety and depression typically used is called a K10 checklist, which we can actually do by ourselves via Beyond Blue.
Moving forward can involve getting a referral to a psychologist, a script for medication, or both. It can be a bit of an overwhelming process, especially if it is not something we’ve experienced before.
Then, some of us are left wondering whether we need medications or psychotherapy.
2 things to keep in mind
Treatment is not one size fits all
This may not be the most satisfying reality – but as we have said, the journey to wellness is not as straightforward as we might like. Some people find therapy alone is beneficial enough for them, some will need additional help that medication can provide, and some will find that they like the idea of therapy but that they don’t connect with their first therapist (if this is the case – we always encourage you to address it with your psychologist, or seek help to find another!).
While medication can be really effective, it’s vital not to consider it a “fix all”. Many say therapy and medication work best when hand in hand – where therapy can educate us with the tools and knowledge to overcome our issues, medication can give us the extra support to moderate our emotions and physical symptoms.
Different issue = different treatment
There is a lot of evidence and research surrounding both the different types of therapy available to us and the effectiveness of different medications to treat various mental health conditions. For example; if we’re suffering from depression, cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) can be effective and can be teamed with antidepressant medication.
If you’re considering medication, it’s really important to discuss your symptoms and the potential side effects with your GP to identify the best type of medication for you. Becoming “dependent” on medication or the idea that progress will be “unauthentic” is also a common fear. Discuss your worries and concerns with your doctor so you can work through them or be reassured.
There are a lot of options out there – for both evidence-based therapies and medications – and it is always going to serve you better if you can get your head around the way everything works, so don’t be afraid to ask questions.
How can we measure the success of our treatments?
Whatever we discuss and decide to start with, it’s best to stick with the treatment plan for a period of time (at least 4-6 weeks) so we can determine if it’s for us before adding anything else into the mix. As we all know, life changes all the time —as do we — so even once we’ve found something that works, we should still make time for regular check-ins with both our psychologist and/or our GP to determine if we need to switch things up.
The best way to measure the success of our treatments is to determine and define some initial goals and a timeline, which we can choose to share with our GP and psychologist too. Having our own plan and identifying our priorities is important and will serve us really well down the track. Our plan may evolve, grow and change but it will help us stay aware of where we’re at on our journey.
Do you feel ready to start your journey to life balance and emotional wellness? Reach out to our team of expert psychologists and we can start getting you on track.Back to all Posts