Combining therapy and medication can be an effective way to manage mental disorders, but it can also be confusing to figure out how they should work together. Here, we’ll explain why both therapies and medications can be useful, the pros and cons of combining them, and tips for making the most of your treatment plan.
Understand the Roles of Therapy and Medication.
Therapy and medication both have valuable roles to play in mental health treatment. For many people, talking through their struggles with a therapist can provide invaluable insight into the causes of their symptoms and help them find effective strategies for managing them. Meanwhile, medications may be helpful in providing relief from symptoms while therapy works to address their underlying cause.
Look for Complementary Therapists.
When considering a combination of therapy and medication, it’s important to find a therapist who is comfortable discussing the role of medication. Consider looking for one that has experience in both fields, such as a psychologist or psychiatrist who provides talk therapy as well as medication management. Having someone who understands both aspects of treatment can be invaluable as you work to develop a comprehensive plan for managing your mental health.
Treatment for mental health challenges such as depression, anxiety disorders, substance use disorders, eating disorders, schizophrenia or bipolar disorder typically involves a combination of psychotherapy and medication.
Cognitive-behavioral therapy, interpersonal psychotherapy and antidepressants are commonly used to treat depression, while cognitive-behavioral therapy and other environment-based therapies are useful for treating anxiety disorders.
For substance abuse problems, cognitive-behavioral therapy is though to be most effective combined with participation in a 12-step support programs. Eating disorder treatment may require medical management to maintain physical safety and may involve psychotherapy in combination with antidepressant medications.
Antipsychotic medications or mood stabilizers are usually prescribed to treat schizophrenia or bipolar disorder but research suggest the addition of cognitive-behavioral or family psychotherapy can help improve functional outcomes.
Psychotherapy is typically recommended to help with parenting difficulties, marriage issues or adjustment concerns. Therapy can help build skills and respond better to stressors.
Find Ways to Monitor Your Progress with Both Options.
The tricky part of combining therapy and medication is finding the right balance between them. Both approaches have their own efficacy and it’s important to find ways to monitor your progress with both. For example, you can track any changes in feelings or behaviors through regular logs or journaling and check-in with your care team regularly to discuss these progress notes. This will help them better understand what’s working, what isn’t, and how they can support your mental health goals.
Discuss Any and All Side Effects with Your Medical Professional.
Combining therapy and medications can result in many side-effects, including physical symptoms like headaches, nausea, or trouble sleeping. It’s important to talk to your medical professional about any side effects you experience so that they can adjust the dosage or approach if necessary. Alternatively, if the side effects are severe enough to interfere with daily functioning then medication may not be suitable, and it might be advisable to consider other non-medicinal treatments instead.
Dedicate Time to Continue Improving Yourself and your Mental Health.
Before you begin to combine therapy and medication, it is important to understand that progress doesn’t happen overnight. Dedicate the time each day to improve your mental health. This could include activities such as journaling, exercise, yoga, or mindfulness practices. Additionally, it is key to remember that keeping a close relationship with your therapist and doctor can help ensure that you are getting the best care possible.