Most people have very strong views about medication for anxiety and depression. Many believe that they are less of a person for taking medication that will affect their brain — the part of the body that is responsible for everything that forms their personality.
I understand this mindset. I used to believe that meds were ineffective and stupid. They were the suckers way out, prescribed by over-worked doctors looking for an easy fix to your symptoms. This mindset is causing people to try any other treatment before resorting to meds. In some people, this can work. In others, though, it make recovery so much harder.
It’s about the chemicals — not mental strength.
Your brain is like any other part of your body. It releases chemicals and hormones in response to stimuli. These include how your body responds to stress. When your brain perceives a threat, your brain will release the chemicals responsible for the flight or fight reflex. This response happens before your brain can register what is going on.
If you experience this reaction regularly, you are at a disadvantage. Your brain is constantly in the firing line. All your energy is going to the managing the stressful situation. You have none of the useful chemicals left for other brain processes. This is why you sometimes feel sluggish and like your brain isn’t working.
This is an incredibly simplified version of what goes on. Margaret Wehrenberg explained it a lot better as part of the book The 10 Best-Ever Anxiety Management Techniques: Understanding How Your Brain Makes You Anxious and What You Can Do to Change It.
Medication restores the balance of chemicals
Medication can help some parts of your brain get in balance. This not only helps with the symptoms but it can help give you more mental energy. This is the real benefit. Anxiety is a bitch to treat. It requires a lot of effort to retrain your brain. I found that I couldn’t focus well enough on therapy until my meds calmed my brain down. It was fantastic. I’d already learned so much through my CBT and was able to apply a lot of these skills quickly. I believe that my meds gave me my life — and brain — back.
Sometimes, you need to find the right meds
It took three tries to find a type of medication that worked for me. The first two brands did nothing. The second actually had my anxiety worse. I would wait a year before trying again to find the right meds. In retrospect, I regret this. Imagine how much better I would be if I had found effexor sooner?
This is why I advocate letting your doctor help you find the right brand of meds for you. It can be difficult to find out why your brain isn’t working the way it should. Different types of antidepressants target different areas of the brain.
The process of finding the right kind for you can be terrifying. Trust me, I know. I never knew how they would effect me. I didn’t know what part of myself I was risking. I’ve also had to think heavily about the balance between potential side effects and benefits of the medication. Some medication will have side effects that really suck. Mine include weight gain and loss of libido. It is important to find a doctor you really trust
Meds wont solve everything
Some people think of medication as a magical pill that will make all their symptoms disappear. Effexor has muted my anxious reactions to a large degree, but I still get pretty crook. I still have insomnia, migraines and panic attacks. Meds will help you recover. In most cases, it will still involve a lot of work