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Why Medication Alone Doesn’t Work

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When you have a headache, it’s easy to take a pill that makes the pain go away. Yet, if you have a mental illness, such as depression or anxiety, it’s a little different. Medication alone is not a thorough treatment plan. Medication is not a cure.

If you experience anxiety or depression or even the swing of moods between mania and depression, which is characteristic of Bipolar Disorder, medication alone will simply help manage your psychological symptoms.

Underneath those symptoms are the underlying issues that led to the anxiety or depression or mood swings in the first place. This is where therapy and other forms of psychological and emotional support are necessary in order to begin to make the necessary lifestyle changes that will bring long lasting health.

Research indicates that the combination of both medication and therapy yields the best results. This can be particularly true for adolescents. Psychotherapy can be the venue for explaining why medication or other forms of treatment are necessary as well as provide a clear explanation a teen’s diagnosis. Most teenagers are opposed to medication, and some don’t want to participate in other forms of treatment, such as group therapy or rehabilitative services. A therapist can assist in outlining the benefits of treatment and facilitate an ongoing open dialogue about these topics. Learn more about how different treatments along with medication can result in a healthy recovery by following this link.

With the right medication combined with therapy, a teen’s mood can stabilize and he or she can return to a healthy level of functioning at school, home, and work. Below are forms of psychotropic medication often used with adolescents. Others are anti-anxiety and anti-psychotic medication.

 

Antidepressants

During a depressive episode, or to prevent one, you might be prescribed with an antidepressant. They can be taken alone or in combination with other drugs, such as with mood stabilizers discussed below. Although antidepressants are incredibly effective, they do come with risks. For teens in particular, it is essential to know that anti-depressants can cause suicidal thoughts and even attempts at suicide. This doesn’t mean to dismiss antidepressants as a treatment modality, but to keep this risk in mind when in a conversation with your teen’s psychiatrist.

Mood Stabilizers

Mood stabilizers are a common treatment medication for Bipolar Disorder and can help prevent the swing from depression to mania or hypomania. However, not all mood stabilizers will equally manage the depression or mania. For instance, lithium more effectively works to treat the depression versus the manic episodes, while the medication commonly referred to as Depakote works well in treating mania. In fact, Depakote seems to be more effective in treating adolescents who have four or more mood episodes per year (known as rapid cycling). Finding the right medication, or a combination of medications, given the unique circumstances of your teenager is a necessary discussion to have with a psychiatrist. Additionally, as you might expect, lithium, Depakote, and other mood stabilizers come with side effects that are worthy of exploration before your teen begins any medication.

Along with these medications, forms of therapy such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT), Rational Emotive Behavioral Therapy (REBT), and others are commonly used for depression, anxiety, and teen bipolar disorders. (See other articles in this blog for a deeper explanation of these forms of therapy.) When medication is combined with therapy, there is a greater chance of arriving at and maintaining mental health.

Paradigm Malibu is an adolescent mental health and drug treatment center dedicated to identifying, understanding and properly treating the core issues that impact teens and their families.

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