Newest Review: ... attack and I lived in constant fear of it. Finally, after about 7 years of various therapies the psychiatrist prescribed anti-depressan... more
What works for one, doesn't work for another
Treatment options for psychological disorders
Member Name: kiss_me_now9
Treatment options for psychological disorders
Advantages: Who wants to live a life depressed?
Disadvantages: Side effects, may not work, time consuming and often distressing
Unfortunately I've had the 'pleasure' of sampling some of the different methods of treating psychological illnesses (namely depression) - both medication and therapy wise - so I felt that this would be a useful topic for me to write on. As with my other reviews on similar topics, I'll be frank but I will try and avoid 'triggering' comments so please read with caution if you feel you may be affected.
Firstly, I must stress that if you're experiencing any symptoms of mental unwellness, please go to your doctor as soon as possible or tell someone you trust. Don't suffer in silence. It doesn't matter if your dogs sisters cousin down the road had a terrible experience with treatment, that means nothing really. Why? Because depression and other mental illnesses are incredibly individual and as the title says, what works for one doesn't work for another. Secondly, if you're on a medication that you don't think is working, talk to your doctor before you stop taking it. Rapid and unsupervised withdrawal can cause more problems in itself.
Personally I have never got along with anti-depressant drugs to date; I've tried two types of SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors - the most common type of anti-depressant prescribed) and one SNRI (Serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors - a much stronger type of anti-depressant) and to be frank I never want to go near medication again. There is a wealth of anti depressant drugs out there; SSRIs, SNRIs, MAOIs, tricyclics, tetracyclics... some preferred by GPs and psychiatrists and some old fashioned that aren't really used any more. In the last 30 years medication treatments have improved greatly and generally the side effects now go within two to four weeks but they can still be devastating for the initial period. The most common side effects with SSRIs are nausea, 'foggy' head, weight gain or loss and in younger patients, increased risk of harmful/suicidal behaviour. Yes, I'm not quite sure how GPs can readily hand out pills to a suicidal person that may increase their likelihood of attempting suicide but there we go...
I don't want to name the drugs I've been on because it may cloud someone's judgement if they're offered them, but the two classes of SSRI that I've been on have been useless. The first one made me acutely suicidal and sick all the time; I ended up in A+E twice having tried to take my life when I was on it. After the first attempt I asked my doctor if it could be the drug and she said no... Despite me having only just turned 19 (the 'danger' zone for increased suicide risk is often thought to be only under 18s with anti-depressants, but brains don't read a manual and I strongly suspect that this arbitrarily assigned figure is wrong and dangerously so). The second one I tried turned me into a zombie for two weeks and I nearly got kicked out of university because I had a lot of work due in that I just could not manage to do. I remember clearly the third morning of taking it - when my boyfriend was staying over and he had to walk me to the kitchen to get breakfast because I couldn't make my body move and when he got back three hours later, I was still sitting in exactly the same place holding my now very cold mug full of tea because time just went. It was like being awake whilst being asleep... horrible. The SNRI was fine until my best friend burst into tears after I shouted and bitched at her for stepping in my path when we were walking along. It was then I realised that my personality had changed totally; I'm normally very passive and don't get upset about things easily but on it I was rude, quick to judge and arrogant. I'm not sure how that works but there we go... Within in two days of stopping it I was back to normal.
Onto alternative forms of treatment; one of the most common for many mental illnesses is talking therapies. Like with anti-depressant drugs, there are many different forms of talking therapies, such as cognitive behaviour therapy, counselling and mindfullness. Cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) focuses on changing the negative thought processes to positive ones and works to turn people from being aggressive or passive thinkers and actors to being assertive. It has very rich roots and works best when combined with medication, like other therapies. Personally I've only used CBT very sparsely but I have friends who seem to swear by it; I think it depends on the person. Counselling tends to try and identify the cause of disordered thinking and prevent it happening again by understanding what makes you think that way. I hate counselling as it seems every time I go I leave feeling more upset but for the first time, I've stuck to a course and have my last session in a few weeks time. I don't think it's done much to help - talking therapies work best when the person is receptive, right now I'm simply not open to it. There are lots of different methods of therapy so if you want to go this route I'd suggest talking to your doctor or mental health care official and asking them what's available in your area and what waiting times etc. are like. Typically most GPs will give medication solely as it's quick to work, there's no wait and for most people, it's effective if you get the right dose and medication type. I've heard waiting lists for therapies being up to 2 years long!
To slam or recommend a medication or therapy on here is dangerous in my eyes as different people and different circumstances call for different treatments. I strongly believe my depression is the result of a chemical imbalance which is why I should get over my medication fears and why talking therapies and 'normal' anti-depressants don't really work for me but I could be wrong. Other people may have a definite cause to their depression that can be eased by CBT or counselling. However the first and foremost treatment you should seek is from your doctor.
Summary: Say what you want about medication and therapy; at least they have improved in the last 100 years!