Will Therapy Help Me Even If I'm Already on A Psychiatric Medication?
Many people are prescribed anti-depressants and anti-anxiety medications by their family physicians. Often, these prescriptions may help them feel better – less restless, more focused, calmer or not as sad. So why see a therapist if you’re taking medication?
It’s not uncommon that psychiatric medications are sought and prescribed after a significant life event. It may be something as big a divorce or a death in the family or something that, on the surface, seems minor or insignificant, such as a promotion, a new job or a child starting school. While medications may reduce the symptoms triggered by certain events, more conventional talk therapies help one better understand the force and importance of such events in causing distress. And by putting thoughts and feelings into words with a skilled therapist, people feel better, less alone, and understood.
Sometimes, the symptoms that are helped by medication might best be thought of as something that prevents us from thinking carefully about ourselves and the people around us. Much like a house fire, we can’t determine what has caused it until the flames are extinguished. It is only then that the cause of the fire can be discovered and remedied. Without a good investigation, the fire is likely to ignite again. Similarly, without learning more about ourselves once the “heat” of anxiety and depression has diminished with medication, it is likely to “ignite” again. Often, people find that as they learn more about what has led to the circumstances for which they sought medication, they may no longer need it to manage their moods.
One other note on this matter: while many family physicians and internists are trusted and very good at diagnosing depression and anxiety, we strongly urge patients to have a careful psychiatric evaluation if they are considering medications. A well-trained psychiatrist is much more familiar with the range of medications available as well as being able to identify the sorts of problems treatable both by medication and/or talk therapy.