The Role of Medication in Mental Health Treatment

There may be different schools of thought when it comes to using medication to treat certain illnesses. Some may be resistant to taking medication because they fear side effects and potential issues that could arise. In general though, medication can be a very helpful tool in allowing people to manage their mental health problems.

Some of the most common medications that are used in mental health treatment are antidepressants, anti-anxiety, mood-stabilizing and antipsychotic medications. For very severe disorders, the use of these medications can actually be critical and life-saving especially if they are potentially a danger to themselves or others. Combinations of these different medications may be used depending on the individual’s diagnosis.

Antidepressants are used to adjust neurotransmitters, usually serotonin or dopamine, to help balance the mood. People with symptoms of depression often have low levels of serotonin and this medication helps increase levels so that they feel better over time. Antidepressants can be useful for many different kinds of diagnoses where symptoms of depression play a role in their illness.

Anti-anxiety medications are typically used as short-term solutions for anxiety attacks and are used “as-needed” rather than taken regularly. The body can quickly develop a tolerance for these drugs so it is important for patients to focus on talk therapy as their long term solution for anxiety. Mood-stabilizing medications are often used for people with bipolar disorder to help minimize some of their mood swings and they may be combined with antidepressants or other medications.

The use of antipsychotics can be critical for people who have symptoms of hallucinations and paranoia. Long-term treatment of illnesses like schizophrenia will most often include antipsychotic medication.

Less severe illnesses may not require medication but for many people with serious mental health problems their treatment will need to include either short term or long term prescriptions for their well-being.