I often hear the fear that once begun, one will have to remain on the given medication indefinitely. While people with certain diagnoses, such as bipolar and psychotic disorders, are proven to fare much better if continually medicated, others may have a different course. For example, some individuals, particularly those with presenting symptoms of anxiety, adjustment disorders and mild depression, may initially need a little extra pharmaceutical help in alleviating the severity of their symptoms in order to be able to make the necessary changes in their lives. However, once these folks are able to make and maintain certain behavioral, cognitive and even affective changes, they may be able to lower the dose of their medication or even discontinue its use, advisably, with the consent of the prescribing medical doctor.
As mentioned above, in addition to treating the primary symptoms of depression, anti-depressant medications are often used to help manage symptoms of anxiety as well, and are often prescribed for people who experience frequent panic attacks, persistent worry and nervousness, as well as obsessive thoughts. While these medications do not cure the underlying anxiety, they can certainly alleviate some of the bothersome symptoms and can help patients be calm enough to effectively work thought their worries.
It is important to keep in mind that there are a number of highly effective and non-invasive options to treat symptoms of depression, adjustment and anxiety that have nothing to do with pharmaceutical intervention. For example, while exercise certainly has not received as much press and endorsements as psychopharmacological treatments for depression and anxiety, studies show that regular exercise may be a viable medicine against certain psychological problems. Likewise, regular meditation, yoga and mindfulness approaches may be extremely helpful in reducing symptoms of anxiety and depression. Finally, while talk therapy can sometimes be a difficult and time-intensive process, it often results in lasting, sustainable change that rarely has the kinds of side effects that are unfortunately all too common with pharmaceutical interventions.