Written by: Dr. Kimberly Gambino, DNP, APRN, FNP B-C, PMHNP B-C
One of the main questions asked by those seeing treatment for their mental illness is whether they must take medications or will therapy alone be sufficient. In some cases, therapy may be the only treatment needed but there are circumstances in which medication may be required. There are different kinds of problems and each will respond differently to various treatments. Medications, psychotherapy and their combination have been highly effective in helping people with emotional or behavioral problems.
The best evidence shows that depression can be treated with psychotherapy and antidepressant medications with the combination proven to be most helpful. Some examples include SSRI and SNRI medications such as Zoloft, Celexa, Lexapro, Paxil, Wellbutrin, Cymbalta, Prozac, Trintellix, Viibryd, etc.
Anxiety disorder can also be treated with both therapy and medications, but psychotherapy has proven to be superior and adding medication does not significantly improve outcomes from psychotherapy alone. This disorder can mainly be treated with SSRI’s or SSNI’s, but moderate to severe cases may require other medications like benzodiazepines.
Alcohol and drug use disorders require cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), as well as support programs, like 12-step, which have shown to be very helpful. People with severe substance abuse problems may benefit from the addition of medications.
Schizophrenia or bipolar disorders will require treatment with anti-psychotics or mood-stabilizing medications with the addition of psychotherapy which can improve functional outcomes.
The prescribing of psychiatric medications in addition to therapy is a very acceptable and common practice. It is best practice to have collaboration between psychiatric mental health providers and psychotherapist to formulate specific patient plan of care and discuss best treatment options. Treatment options should always be based on the best evidence-based practice and research available and one’s own willingness to try and stick with them.
ALWAYS FEEL FREE TO DISCUSS OPTIONS WITH YOUR CLINIC’S MENTAL HEALTH PROVIDER.