Should I Take Meds?

By Kristina Randle, Ph.D., LCSW

Q. I am confused as to what I should do. I have been in therapy for 4 months now. I was diagnosed with depression and PTSD. In therapy I finally disclosed sexual abuse that happened when I was younger, from the ages of 5 to 10, by three different people. All of this began to well up when I was taking a psychology class and I felt the need to begin to talk about it as it has been affecting my relationships. I have yet to be intimate with a man.

It is something that I had never talked about and have yet to tell my therapist much of it. I have shared a couple things in the form of journaling. I just find it extremely difficult to talk about and even have recently had a memory surface out of nowhere while going about my everyday routine. I can remember it like it was yesterday.

Anyways, I have not taken meds as I don’t feel comfortable doing so. My therapist has never pushed it. However, I saw my College counselor a couple times and she really thinks that it will help the therapy process and really wants me to take them. My last psychology teacher also suggested I consider taking meds.

I have heard so many bad things about side affects of SSRI’s and have even done a lot of research on my own about the FDA and pharmaceutical companies and was shocked at that whole process, and how little time it takes before these drugs are placed in the market. I think the whole process is somewhat sketchy, even up to the point of doctors being praised with paid vacations and gifts for prescribing these meds.

I have been considering them but worry about the effects as I am a fulltime nursing student and don’t want to risk doing worse. I was a 4.0 student before this this semester and that has gone down since being diagnosed with depression. I still managed to accomplish everything this semester; it just took a lot more time and effort on my part. I am just wondering how helpful they really are, or whether or not I can wing it longer and see if this doesn’t just pass with a little more time. Is the latter possible?

A. There are side effects that accompany almost all of the psychiatric medications. Each person will experience them differently. Generally, psychiatric medications are safe but some people experience more side effects or risks than others.

Some people can tolerate the side effects. Some are barely bothered by them. Some people do not mind side effects because they feel the side effects are “worth it” because the drugs have helped so much. And some people credit medications with saving their life.

I have talked with people who feel that medications do not work at all and instead make them feel numb. They say the medication inhibits their ability to feel. The risk here is that the medication acts as a temporary “band aid” and the true source of the problem is never really examined or acknowledged.

Each person is different. Medication may work for you but the only way to know may be to try it.

There are many people who attend therapy as their only form of treatment and never feel the need to take medication. If a person is lucky enough to find a good therapist, a therapist who truly and deeply understands the nature of their psychological problems, then he or she may never need to try medications.

I would suggest that you try therapy again but this time, make the effort to find a truly good therapist. You can do this by calling around and talking to therapists over the phone to see who you click with or asking friends or family for referrals. It may take you interviewing ten or more therapists before you find one you really like. Once you have done the work to find a therapist, try attending a few sessions and discussing with him or her whether or not you need medication. I hope this helps.

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 19 May 2008

APA Reference
Randle, K. (2008). Should I Take Meds?. Psych Central. Retrieved on December 19, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2008/05/19/should-i-take-meds/

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