What about therapy versus medication?

Have you ever wondered about the benefits of therapy versus medication? Many people wonder the same thing when trying to figure out how to best cope. A number of studies have been done to try to provide simple answers to this question. Yet the answer is as complex as the condition(s) you may be dealing with.

The popularity of psychiatric drugs has increased exponentially in the past 20 years, including increased use among children, adolescents, and adults. This parallels an expansion in research and development of drugs, and an increase in advertisement for the products of the drug industry. Consequently, medications are also more accessible. This may explain why many more people now try medication as a first step in addressing their mental health concerns. Many psych medications are easily prescribed by primary care physicians.

It’s important to understand that psych drugs are made to address the symptoms of a certain condition. Some drugs target only the most acute symptoms. For some people, this has been a life saver–literally–while others might complain that even after several medication trials, their symptoms persist.Cartoon Over time, the effectiveness of a certain drug may change, and an adjustment may then be necessary. In such cases, it might be useful to think about medication as a chemically-stable substance that attempts to apply its effects on the brain, an ever-changing organ.

The brain’s plasticity is one of the most hopeful aspects of human potential, and a key element in the effectiveness of psychotherapy. It is precisely because of the brain’s capacity to change that psychotherapy is an effective means of addressing mental health issues.

Psychotherapy is one of the best ways of producing lasting effects in reducing the symptoms of mental illness by addressing the root causes of the illness. The right kind of psychotherapy can be the most direct way of creating lasting change in a person’s psychological makeup. A combination of medication and psychotherapy is sometimes useful for the proper management of certain conditions. In some cases, medication may be difficult to avoid. In all cases, the potential for healing exists, since it is inherent in the human condition.

I have witnessed, both personally and with many of my clients, the ability of the human psyche to bring forth healing without the use of medication. There is no clear answer to the question of therapy versus medication. I recommend that people seek guidance in this process. The greatest healing comes with great interest in and dedication to the healing process, including work with a well-trained psychotherapist who understands the complexities of the human psyche.