Today I read a very good article by another PsychCentral blog author, Rick Nauert, Ph.D., that touched on a topic I believe is critical in the treatment of mental health problems. In fact, it got me so fired up that I wanted to expand on it, thus the topic of today’s blog. The title of the post was Antidepressants for a Bad Marriage?
Dr. Nauert brought to attention the fact that medication is often prescribed for people experiencing marital difficulties or the unhappiness that results from these difficulties. The bottom line is that medication does not cure the underlying cause of the unhappiness. It’s not that easy.
Further, the medication may have the side effect of numbing the pain to the point that the problems don’t get addressed at all. Things just remain at status quo.
I would like to take this a step further and add 10 other things that also cannot be cured with medication but that create day to day suffering for thousands. These problems often do get medicated as well in a doctor’s attempt to alleviate their patient’s distress.
- Disorganization that creates overwhelm.
- A lack of set boundaries that protect you in life and particularly in relationships
- Lack of sense of purpose and direction-nothing to look forward to
- Bad coping strategies such as eating too much, drinking too much, shopping too much.
- A bad fitting job
- Out of control children
- Dysfunctional families that interfere with your life
- Financial problems
These are the most common problems I see walking through my door and all of them can be corrected without the use of medications. In fact, medication can slow your progress while working on these areas.
Medication certainly has its place in the treatment of mental illness and I am not advocating that you change your medication regime based on this article. Instead I am asking you to evaluate what you believe you are medicating and then discuss it honestly with your doctor. Often when a doctor hears “depression” or “anxiety” they go to their toolbox and offer a prescription that may alleviate your immediate symptoms. What they normally don’t have time to do is sit and listen to what may be the roots of your problems.
So how do you cure or manage the above problems?
First, become determined to correct the things that are causing you distress. You really don’t want to be miserable forever, it’s no fun. It may take a bit of time but for the most part, any steps you take to improve your position will make you feel better immediately. Just having a plan and taking control makes you feel good about you.
Second, don’t get discouraged if the first thing you try doesn’t work. Sometimes it takes a couple of experiments to find what is right for you. Just like it may take a doctor a while to get the right concoction for you, it may take you a bit to find the right answers to fixing your problems.
Third, realize that the steps you take and corrections you implement will last you for life. You may need a bit of tweaking here and there as new life circumstances arise but for the most part you will be armed to handle your life. Once you learned to get dressed you didn’t need to relearn it unless a more complicated piece of clothing entered your wardrobe. Look at it like that.
Fourth, make a plan that encompasses all your problem areas. It may seem huge but it is not and this makes it easier. Start with the problem that is causing you the most least pain. Fixing a smaller problem often gives you the incentive to tackle a bigger one. The skill base needed for the small problem is also often related to your bigger ones. Look at it like any school curriculum. It doesn’t get accomplished in a day but it doesn’t take a lifetime either.
Here are the most common and effective ways to address the above difficulties:
- Therapy with a licensed professional that specializes in your problem area. You may need help identifying the underlying causes of your problems.
- Self help books or programs having to do with the topic areas. Set goals of completing one or more in a set time frame and utilizing the information immediately.
- How to or instructional books on the topic areas-many things just need to be learned, such as managing finances. They are only problems due to a lack of knowledge in the area and the awareness that you have that lack of knowledge.
- Webinars or online courses having to do with the topics are a convenient way to learn.
- Career coaching or counseling.
- Parenting classes or books.
I am in the process of building a new and updated website that will include a resource section with the books, classes, and other tools that I feel are the best out there. Please visit Psychskills.com in about two weeks for specific information and recommendations.
Feel Good For Life!
Photo by plasticrevolver