What’s the Best Mental Health Treatment – Medication, Therapy, or Both?
Seeking mental health treatment is a big decision that can improve your quality of life. However, your treatment should be personalized – not based on a cookie-cutter approach to a specific group of symptoms. One-size-fits-all treatment plans may work for some medical conditions, but mental health isn’t one of them. Every person’s brain is unique, so saying one treatment option is better than the other for all people doesn’t account for the nuances of our minds and experiences.
Medication management and psychotherapy are two of the most popular treatments for most conditions, from Generalized Anxiety Disorder to Bipolar Disorder. Typically, you’ll see a debate about therapy vs. medication, giving the impression that one is better. But although decades of research show that each is effective on its own, there’s also evidence that they work even better together.
Combining Medication Management and Therapy for Mental Health Treatment
Combining medication management and therapy starts with talking to a clinician about your symptoms. Together, you’ll work with them to determine the specifics of your care plan. But how do these two treatment methods work so well together?
Medication management is where prescription medications are used to manage symptoms of mental health conditions. These medications alter the chemistry of your brain to reduce or alleviate symptoms like mood instability, anxiety, or problems with focus and concentration. Addressing the chemical imbalances in the brain helps to handle your symptoms from the inside out, allowing you to have a clearer and less chaotic mind.
Mental health therapy involves discussing your emotions, behaviors, and thoughts with a therapist and working through past or present challenges. A therapist will help you find what’s causing your symptoms, identify triggers, and develop healthy coping skills. Traditional psychotherapy is beneficial for virtually anything going on in your life, whether it’s adjusting to new life changes or navigating a newly diagnosed condition. More specialized forms of therapy are also useful, such as Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) or Accelerated Resolution Therapy (ART), which are designed to assist with trauma processing. Other examples of therapy include cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT).
Benefits of Using This Approach for Improving Mental Health
When your mental health symptoms impact your ability to work, go to school, be social, or just function in general, it’s difficult to try and learn ways to help. The right medication(s) can “turn down the volume,” reducing the intensity and frequency of symptoms that make it hard to focus on improving. When this happens, therapy becomes more accessible and effective because you can devote more brainpower to learning skills and gaining better insight into why you think and act the way you do. All of these things lead to perhaps the biggest benefit of using a combined approach to treatment: helping you manage your mental health independently outside of check-up appointments. This builds resilience and confidence that your mental improvements will last, reducing the risk of relapse or regression.
Finding the Right Providers
Now that you know why a combined approach is beneficial and how it works, it’s time to find providers offering this treatment style. You’ll want to look for a therapist or counselor and someone qualified to prescribe medications, but this also depends on who’s already on your healthcare team. For example, if you already see a therapist, they might recommend you talk to a psychiatric provider about medication options depending on the severity and frequency of your symptoms. Psychiatric providers also frequently recommend therapy for people already on medication. On the other hand, if you aren’t seeing either type of mental health professional, your primary care doctor might refer you to someone more specialized in psychiatric treatment.
At Balance Psychiatric Services, we frequently work with other mental health professionals to ensure our patients receive the best care possible. Having a healthcare team on your side makes getting the treatment you deserve much easier and less stressful. With our holistic, culturally sensitive, judgment-free, and easily accessible telehealth services, your journey to better mental and physical wellness begins now.