Over and over I see the same things in the comments on the blogs and forums I visit.
People say that they want to reduce or eliminate their dependence on psychiatric drugs. Yet they are not doing anything to do so.
They complain that they are being enslaved by their reliance on the drugs to keep symptoms under control. But they do not take advantage of the single most effective, proven help that could liberate them.
Americans have been trained for over a century to rely on drugs to cure their ills, from the first marketing of aspirin in 1899 to the latest wonder-drug touted on tv. Have a headache? Take an Advil and it will go away. Depressed? You need Prozac. Bipolar disorder? Abilify for you.
Madison Avenue has helped the pharmaceutical companies imply instant and permanent relief from your problems just by popping a pill. And we have swallowed this advertising hype whole! It has made us the most drug-taking nation in the world today.
Pills have become a silver bullet for Americans seeking relief from their woes. They expect drugs to solve their problems quickly and easily, without any extra effort on their part.
No wonder there are so many bitter and disappointed people who feel enslaved by their psychiatric drugs!
No medication is a silver bullet
Silver bullets are a myth
The unfortunate truth is that no psychiatric drug is a silver bullet. No medication is perfect. And no medication works the same way for everybody.
A drug might eliminate or reduce your symptoms for the time being, but one of the main purposes of psychiatric medications (at least originally) is to give you some relief while you seek a more long-lasting means to cope with and manage your mental illness.
Long-term use of drugs leads to more and stronger drugs
Long-term reliance on drugs alone leads to many medication changes to keep up with increases in the body’s tolerance and its requirements as it ages. Psychiatric drugs often have severe side effects that cause a sufferer of mental illness to suffer even more. Treated with drugs alone, many mental illnesses progress rather than maintain equilibrium, requiring even more drugs to control the new symptoms. All this leads to massive frustration, disappointment and needless pain.
But there is a tried, tested and proven effective means is readily available to help people gain long-term relief from the pain of mental illness, very often without drugs at all. What is it? Simple. Talk therapy.
Talk therapy is a proven alternative to drugs
Therapy reduces or eliminates the need for drugs
Talk therapy with a qualified mental health professional has been proven over and over to be effective in treating many mental illnesses without drugs. And if you do need relief for your symptoms and are using drugs, therapy can reduce the number and strength of the drugs being prescribed. Many people have been able to discontinue medications entirely after a successful course of therapy.
Therapy’s aim is long-term relief from the symptoms of mental illness. Therapy teaches you coping strategies, lifestyle changes and habits of mind that will help you control and manage your mental illness over a lifetime. You work with your therapist to discard old distorted ways of thinking for new, more realistic modes of thought. Your therapist can give you tips for controlling your Anxiety symptoms before they get started, and this advice works the first day and for the rest of your life!
And most therapy doesn’t take a long time. Although some mental illnesses are severe enough to require more treatment, the majority of people can be taught effective control of their disorders in a few months at most. It is common for therapy to last less than six months.
Face it, talk therapy is not as easy as popping a pill
Therapy can be hard work
Frankly, therapy can be hard work. The effectiveness of therapy is directly related to the patient’s willingness to work with the therapist to do the assigned homework and exercises, and to put what is learned in the therapy session into use in daily life.
To change your long-standing habits of mind takes a dedication to getting well and an openness to trying new things that many Americans do not want to undertake. They would rather take a pill and make it go away.
A large part of the success of any therapy lies in the “chemistry” between the therapist and patient. It sometimes takes two or three tries to get a therapist that both suits your needs and personality. Therapists recognize this, and are not offended if you ask for a referral. Even the American Psychological Association states this in their literature.
However, many people give up on therapy if the first choice of therapist does not turn out well. Again, getting the right help takes a dedication to finding relief that many people simply do not have.
Therapy has been devalued by the drug and insurance companies
Insurance companies prefer drugs to therapy
Unfortunately, talk therapy has been devalued by the insurance industry in favor of psychiatric drugs. As a result, therapy reimbursements are not on a parity with treatments for physical health problems in many insurance plans.
Some people, including Medicare patients, find that their copays are higher than for medical visits. This is just another thing that discourages people from seeking therapy!
Many people in the medical health profession are very concerned by the trend to rely on psychiatric drugs for coping with mental illness, rather than the somewhat more expensive, but equally effective, use of therapy. The drug companies have spent billions pushing the use of pills to both doctors and consumers. And insurance companies have encouraged this trend because psychiatric medications are less expensive in the short term than talk therapies.
These concerns are detailed in an article I posted just a couple of weeks ago entitled “Medication Rapidly Replacing Psychotherapy Due to Insurance Reimbursement.”
Combination of therapy and drugs the most effective
The most effective treatment for the majority mental illnesses is a combination of therapy and, if needed, psychiatric medications.
Feeling better, getting better, staying better
Over the years, it has been proven that the people that feel better, get better, and stay better have used therapy as a front-line defense in their battle against mental illness. It teaches people effective lifestyle changes, coping strategies, attitude adjustments, and other long-term solutions rather than a simple reliance on psychiatric medication.
If drugs are enslaving you, then therapy can set you free!
What do you think?
Personally, talk therapy has enabled me to reduce the strength of the drugs I take, and virtually eliminate another. For example, I have Panic Disorder and Agoraphobia, and have had a prescription for Alprazolam (generic Xanax) for many years. It is prescribed to be taken as needed for Anxiety symptoms as I learn to get out in the world. Through therapy, I’m proud to say that I have not taken an Alprazolam in almost a year — I’ve not needed it!
Another example: I used to take massive dosages of heavy-duty psychiatric drugs to control my bipolar disorder. As the result of therapy, those dosages have been reduced considerably, and several changes have been made in my medication to less powerful drugs.
All this has come about due to good therapy. But it took me several tries to find a therapist I felt comfortable with, and who I believed could help me. If I had given up after the first three unsuccessful attempts at therapy, I would not have the enjoyment of a vastly improved quality of life that I have today!
- What is your experience with therapy?
- Have you tried therapy to reduce or eliminate the drugs you are taking?
- What has been your experience with finding a therapist that is right for you?
As always, your comments are welcome!
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