October 24, 2018
Are psychiatric medications really necessary?
If you research this question, you will find many different responses. There is some truth in most of them, but what is true for you?
After years of working with patients to improve their physical health, I observed a real need for helping people understand their mental health. Does Lexapro cure IBS, migraines or fibromyalgia? I have seen anti-depressants relieve the symptoms of all three! When we are anxious, we communicate tension in our bodies resulting in many physical ailments. There is no pill for every problem, but there is a real need to properly evaluate and treat our response to stress.
Let’s talk about the misconceptions of “behavioral health,” a newer, gentler term for mental health. When I tell people that I work at an outpatient psychiatry clinic, I love the variety of responses. It is hard for me to believe that in today’s world, some people still think that means we have a waiting room full of patients talking to the wall. We serve all kinds of people with anxiety, depression, ADHD, mood disorders and personality disorders. Most of them are just brave enough to admit they need help coping with life and have taken a positive step toward better health. Most of them are neighbors, friends and family. I do believe that medication is often a “band-aid” for deep-rooted emotional scars that are only truly resolved through therapy, but that is not always the case. Some people really just need a little shift in their brain chemistry to perceive the world as a happier place. We won’t start talking about neurotransmitters and brain cell function in this blog, but I do often discuss it with my patients. Understanding the process is part of relieving the anxiety; anxiety that I see most often rooted in opinions of others.
So, back to the original question. If you suffer from panic attacks every time you have to drive over a bridge and your only route to work includes that bridge, would you think taking a medication to relieve the anxiety makes sense? Does it make sense to drive an additional thirty miles each way every day to avoid the bridge? If you have been fired from your last three jobs because, in spite of your best efforts, you cannot remember your boss’s instructions and a medication can resolve that problem, wouldn’t you want to take that step before beginning a new job?
There are lots of questions and a variety of answers. This complex topic is what led me to psychiatric medicine. I see my job as a psychiatric nurse practitioner as helping each individual take this journey toward their personal solutions. Using an understanding of the physical complexities to see the whole person is like putting together a puzzle. I believe that God has a great sense of humor. He made every brain like a snowflake, so we have to look at every person as an individual and come up with a custom-made approach to wellness for that one person.
If you suffer from incapacitating anxiety, you have probably already reached out for help. But, if you are not so sure what is causing those problems that keep resurfacing in multiple areas of your life, maybe an evaluation of your mental and emotional responses could make a major difference. That mask that we all wear may be hiding you from yourself. Shining a light on our personal feelings can be very intimidating, but the relief and healing that can occur when we discover that we really are OK, is well worth the journey.
If you would like to take the next step in pursuing your mental health journey, we at The Well Clinic are here for you. This is a safe environment for you to explore your path to hope, wellness, and life. Please reach out to us today!