There is no doubt that medication can help with symptoms of depression and anxiety. In fact, taking medications can prove helpful in the most severe cases of anxiety and depression where a person is immobilized by their condition. The most severe cases can make it terrifying to leave the home. Also, there can be such an extreme lack of motivation, that a person may find it difficult to get the energy to leave their house. When this occurs, medications can help a person get energy enough to do some of the things that they want to do. They can also help a person deal with feelings of panic enough to allow them to leave their homes and go into situations that they might otherwise avoid.
When a person is dealing with problems that are less severe, these medications can give them the motivation to begin to make changes in their lives. This is where I often see a problem however. Many times people stop after obtaining medications, but the truth is that this can be merely symptom management. Due to managed care payments, many times psychiatrists are not allowed to spend the time that they would like to with their patients, and so they are left only managing the medication part of their treatment. Clients often would further benefit from uncovering and working through the actual problems that are causing the symptoms. If a person is dealing with problems such as being pessimistic, feeling regularly keyed up, coping with grief, dealing with loss, or being perfectionistic, they could also benefit from counseling to help with these issues. Counseling helps a client look at the problem they are facing, the thinking that leads to these problems, and helps them to make changes in their lives to overcome these issues. Without counseling, many people feel better than they did before, but do not realize that there is potential to take this to another level. Also, because they simply “feel better” they do not realize that the level of anxiety and/or depression is still not at a healthy level. Without ever having experienced life without these symptoms, it is easy to overlook a problem that continues to persist, because it is on a lesser scale than before.
The idea of taking medication without counseling is a tempting proposition. It is understandable that we look for only medication when coping with depression and anxiety. People live busy lives and the time that it takes to participate in counseling can seem hard-to-find. The time is usually there, however, it is just finding the motivation to do this. One of the concerns that prevents people from seeking out counseling is that they think that it will be overly extensive, yet this is often untrue. Many counselors nowadays are trained in more brief approaches to treatment. Ethical counselors, who have an open relationship with their clients, will discuss time concerns with clients, and openly discuss what kind of progress could be made in that time if everything goes as planned. Also, in this working relationship, a client will be notified of progress and barriers throughout treatment. Counseling is a collaborative effort, and with open communication, chances for successful intervention of problems increases.
Most research suggests a combination of counseling and drug therapy is the best approach to treatment for emotional and mental health problems. Although medications can help with symptoms, they rarely can help a person overcome the cause. Although the proposition of participating in counseling can seem like a time-consuming affair, it is not likely to be as extensive as often thought. Therefore, if you are thinking of medication therapy for a problem with anxiety or depression, or if you are currently taking medications for these problems, you might also consider consulting with a counselor in your area about your problems to see how they might be able to help