Medication vs Holistic Approaches Part I

The most common question that comes to mind when studying and researching mental illness is “Should medication be used to treat mental illness?”.

Professionally, my answer would be that it differs from person to person based on the severity of their symptoms as well as their mindset. For some medication can be useful in treating severe mental illness, while holistic approaches to mental illness can be beneficial in assisting less severe mental health problems like depression, stress, and anxiety.

This is the first of two articles discussing the benefits (and side effects) of both medication and holistic approaches for treating mental illnesses.

This article will delve into how medication can help most people suffering from severe mental illnesses.

Mental illnesses such as bipolar, schizophrenia, depression, and anxiety are caused by the imbalance of chemicals in the brain. Some chemicals you may have heard of before including serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine. It’s when these chemicals are out of balance that symptoms such as confusion, feeling down, tiredness, withdrawal, and sometimes delusions can occur.

According to research placebo-controlled trials have demonstrated that medications for mental health disorders reduce or eliminate these symptoms.

For example, antidepressant medications containing selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) consistently reduce symptoms of depression by 30-60% overall and lead to complete remission in a significant proportion of patients.

There are many types of medications that can help treat mental illness such as:

  • Antipsychotics- assist in stopping delusions and unwanted voices.
  • Antidepressants- assist in reducing feelings of sadness, depressed mood, and anxiety, as well as suicidal thoughts. 
  • Mood stabilisers- help reduce or eliminate extremes of high and low moods and related symptoms.
  • Sleeping pills- can reduce anxiety and insomnia and help you feel more relaxed. 
  • Stimulants- can have a calming effect and help improve concentration and attention span in both children and adults.

But what about the side effects?

  • Antipsychotics- drowsiness, nausea, increased appetite and weight gain, blurred vision, constipation, dry mouth, dizziness, low blood pressure, and restlessness.
  • Antidepressants- drowsiness or insomnia, constipation, weight gain, sexual problems, tremors, and dry mouth.
  • Mood stabilisers- nausea, drowsiness, weight gain, dizziness, shaking, blurred vision, lack of coordination or confusion.
  • Sleeping pills- dependency and possible addiction.
  • Stimulants- trouble falling asleep, decreased appetite, and weight loss. 

All in all, there’s no easy fix for mental illness, the good comes with the bad. If you’re considering medication to treat mental illness discuss it thoroughly with your doctor/therapist and find a treatment plan that works for you. What might work for one person, may not work for another, never take advice or recommendations from someone other than your therapist.

What are your thoughts on medication? Have they worked for you? Get in touch and leave a comment.


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