--Original published at Jenna'sPSY105blog
When first diagnosed with a mental illness, people typically have two options for their plan of treatment: psychotherapy or medication. Each option has their own benefits and drawbacks, but it is important for each person to weight their options before making their choice.
An article on Forbes titled “A Few Things That Therapy May Do Better Than Medication, According to Science” argued that psychotherapy is more effective in the long run. Eventually people stop taking medication are taken off of it when they are “better,” but studies show that people who suffer with depression and take antidepressants are more likely to relapse later in life when they are no longer taking them. They also mentioned the benefits vs. risk ratio, which essentially refers to the fact that there are so many risks and side effects when you take medication, but there aren’t when you are simply talking to a therapist. I think that this article is a pretty reliable source, mostly because the writer interviewed a psychologist and author named Shannon Kolakowski and used a lot of quotes from her stating that this route is the best one to take.
Another article I found that supports psychotherapy over medication is on Huffington Post titled “4 Ways Everyone Can Benefit From Therapy.” A lot of people who are depressed or have a mental illness have a hard time talking to people about what they’re dealing with and choose to keep their feelings bottled up and stored away. This is about the unhealthiest thing you can do to yourself when you are struggling with any kind of issue, especially when you have a mental illness. The article says that studies show that talking to someone out loud about how you feel has a significant therapeutic effect on your mental state. You will feel so much better when you verbalize your feelings to a trained professional and can get your problems, no matter how small you feel they are, off your chest. I feel that this article is pretty trustworthy because the author cites different studies done on the topic and she quotes many health professionals and psychologists to back up her stance on the subject.
On the other hand, an article in Behavioral Health Evolution titled “Medications Play a Key Role in Treatment is pro medication for treatment of mental disorders. Although it is not a cure, according to the article antidepressants are effective in treating symptoms by up to 60 percent and show a significant decrease in most clients. They can also help minimize cravings and help people struggling with substance abuse resist the urge of using, and they help with preventing relapses. While some disorders can be treated with simple talk therapy, some are too severe to not have patients on some kind of medicine to reduce bad symptoms and keep people from being a danger to themselves as much as possible. I would say that this article is pretty accurate and reliable because the website itself specializes in providing expertise, resources, and advice on treating substance use, mental health, and co-occuring disorders.
On a site called Good Therapy, I found another article titled “Psychotropic Medications” that speaks pretty highly about medication to help with treating mental illnesses. For example, medication can give you a boost when you’re so depressed you can’t even find the motivation to get out of bed. When you have anxiety, medication can ease your mind and make you less worrisome about the small things. If you are schizophrenia, medication can be the thing that helps you gain the stability and control you are lacking. While medication isn’t necessarily going to completely cure the mental illness, it can definitely contribute to the difficult symptoms to subside. Also, psychotropic medications can alleviate some of the fears of everyday life and can possibly lead to the patients coming out of their shell and becoming more extraverted and social. I think that this article is useful and reliable because the author backs up their information by providing research studies that prove that it is accurate and trustworthy information.
While all of this information is useful to know when choosing which type of therapy would best suit your needs, I think that psychotherapy would be the route I would go, at least at the beginning. I already take a lot of medications as it is, and adding more to my morning routine is not something I would want to do. Plus, with medications comes side effects, which are not fun to deal with while trying to better your mental health. Also, I think that everyone can benefit from talking about your problems, because no matter how insignificant you think they are, they could be negatively effecting your mental state. I know that I am guilty of bottling up my emotions and I think that meeting with a professional who would keep me accountable for saying how I feel would definitely lift a huge weight off of my shoulders and put me in such a better headspace. Plus, I would become more in tune with my emotions and get to know myself better and why I am the way that I am, which is a very important, eye-opening thing that could definitely help in the long run.
Article #1: https://www.forbes.com/sites/alicegwalton/2016/05/06/a-few-things-that-therapy-may-do-better-than-medication-according-to-science/#3a6528d14243
Article #2: https://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/08/07/benefits-of-therapy-and-life-coaches_n_5635389.html
Article #3: http://www.bhevolution.org/public/index.page
Article #4: https://www.goodtherapy.org/drugs/psychotropic-medication.html