Medication or Psychotherapy? Why Not Both?

Although collectively many sources believe that the most effective way to treat a mental health condition is to use both medication and psychotherapy, a comparison of the argument of which is better shows a slight preference for psychotherapy over medication.

Those who support psychotherapy as treatment for a mental health condition suggest that the strengths of psychotherapy lie in its long-lasting results and variety of different treatments based off of the brain. Psychotherapy is able to have long-lasting effects on a person as he or she is regularly being taught coping skills that can be utilized outside of therapy sessions to help treat his or her mental conditions (Andersson). By teaching these coping skills, the person is learning how to identify the problem causing discomfort in his or her life and can take positive action in fixing those problems, replacing negative thoughts and influences in the process. This can also help in the case of a mental health condition getting better, but then worsening in the future, as the person will already have the knowledge and skill in improving their mental health to help solve the issue again (Andersson).

As well, another specific strength supports of psychotherapy suggest is that of variety. As psychotherapy focuses on different aspects of the brain that can be utilized to dig out problems and resolve them, it is suggested that psychotherapy therefore has more options and potential in solving mental health issues (American Psychiatric Association). What is suggested here is that people can save time from treatments that are ineffective with psychotherapy as their differing brain states can be more specifically tailored in s psychotherapy treatment than a medical treatment (American Psychiatric Association).

Supporters of psychotherapy are also quick to point out the many downsides to use medication as treatment for mental conditions. Psychotherapy is not considered to have any negative side effects and is not considered to be addictive, however many medications are (Andersson). In fact, many people fear taking medication as a solution to their mental condition due to a fear of reliance on the drug that the drug may change some aspect of their personality or identity (American Psychiatric Association). In a study where researchers did a meta–analysis of rates of treatment refusal and rates of drop out for psychotherapy and medication, the researchers found that out of the eight percent that refused treatment and the twenty-two percent that dropped out of treatment, the majority of those people were using medication and not psychotherapy (American Psychiatric Association).

However, this does not mean that medication as treatment for mental health conditions does not also have support. Many supporters of medication over psychotherapy suggest that the strengths of medication lie in its quicker, short term resolution of the problem and its tendency to cost less than psychotherapy. In regards to medication being a quicker and more short-term resolution to mental health conditions, this can be seen as a positive as some conditions may have severe symptoms that need to be dealt with immediately to ensure the safety of the person (Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies).

Similarly, medication that is often prescribed as treatment for mental health conditions is seen as less expensive. Not only is the medication prescribed once, meaning a person pays once instead of multiple times, such as for sessions in psychotherapy, but often times a person’s insurance will cover the cost of the medication while a person’s insurance may only cover a limited amount or none of psychotherapy (“Psychotherapy or Medication”). If the treatment is more affordable, this may affect the person’s willingness to stay with the treatment and how he or she perceives the treatment is going.

As for the reliability for these sources, I would say that they are fairly reliable as the Center for Treatment of Anxiety and Mood Disorders, the American Psychiatric Association, the World Psychiatric Association, and the Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies are all official psychological organizations. The most reliable source can be considered the source from the World Psychiatric Association as that journal was included in the U.S. National Library of Medicine and was the only source that included their randomized sample, measurement process, and experimental process and design in order to ensure that the information they said could be generalized and reliable.

Yet, this is not to say that my opinions on medication and psychotherapy have changed. Although a comparison of support for psychotherapy and a support for medication shows that psychotherapy has slightly more support due to the downsides of medication, I still believe that the use of both is most effective in improving mental health conditions. Each mental health condition is unique; therefore some situations may cause for temporary medication to be used in order to effective act out psychotherapy, or vice versa. All options should be kept open, as long as the overall mental health conditions of individuals in the world are improving.

 

References:

American Psychiatric Association. “Treating Depression – Psychotherapy or Medication?” American Psychiatric Association, American Psychiatric Association, 17 Apr. 2017, http://www.psychiatry.org/news-room/apa-blogs/apa-blog/2017/04/treating-depression-psychotherapy-or-medication.

Andersson, Gerhard, Beekman, Aartjan T., Cuijpers, Pim, Koole, Sander L., Reynold, Charles F., Sijbrandij, Marit. “The Efficacy of Psychotherapy and Pharmacotherapy in Treating Depressive and Anxiety Disorders: a Meta-Analysis of Direct Comparisons.” U.S. National Library of Medicine, Blackwell Publishing Ltd, 4 June 2013, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3683266/.

Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies. “Treament Opitions: CBT Or Medication?” Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies, Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies, http://www.abct.org/Help/?m=mFindHelp&fa=CBT_Or_Medication.

“Psychotherapy or Medication – Which Should You Choose?” The Center for Treatment of Anxiety and Mood Disorders, The Center for Treatment of Anxiety and Mood Disorders, 6 Apr. 2017, http://www.centerforanxietydisorders.com/choose-psychotherapy-medication/.

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