Often with many illnesses the benefits of medication have to be weighed against the side effects; and the patient must make the decision as to pursue a medication management program or not. True, many of the anti-psychotics are tough on the body; however, the decision to have a life of psychosis versus one free from psychosis with possible organ damage is a decision for the patient. This is when the benefits of psychotropic medications must be considered. The success rate of being treated with many of these medications for mental illness is quite high. It is often 70% effective even with the first antidepressant tried (based on my clinical experience and common knowledge among my peers). Sometimes, people have untoward side effects initially that would be too bothersome to continue on the particular antidepressant. At that time, the medication is switched but the benefits of medication always have to be balanced against the consequences of not taking the medication.
The Benefits of SSRIs and Psychotropic Medications – Antidepressants
It may be necessary for one to be treated with the antidepressants long-term. These illnesses are usually chronic in nature lasting many years and some research is showing us that these illnesses left untreated can be deleterious or detrimental to the brain. Those who aren’t treated for depression actually have lower brain volumes than those who are due to their high number of circulating stress hormones (glucocorticoids). These substances cause cell damage and death, whereas, the antidepressant medications have a neuro-protectant effect preventing this cell death and damage, the SSRIs act as a catalyst and assist the body in neuro-genesis. This is where the SSRIs aid in transforming stem cells in the brain into mature brain cells which replace the damaged cells in the hippocampus region of the brain. Read about SSRIs and the hippocampus. Since depression and anxiety are so closely linked, one can extrapolate the findings that there would be cell damage also with anxiety disorders that are left untreated. Some doctors have a philosophy which entails avoiding the use of medicines. I on the other hand, having years of experience in psychiatry have seen the wonders and life changing effects of many of the antidepressants and other psychotropic drugs and will usually favor a medication management program. We also must bear in mind that every scientific study will never yield conclusive results and we have to go with our judgement, experience, and what we believe is best for the patient. Additionally the overall immune system suffers thus making someone who is not being treated for depression more susceptible to other illnesses. These are just a few of the benefits of medication.
SSRIs and newer psychotropic drugs are very effective as first line treatments
The good news about the benefits of medication is that we have many very effective medications to treat the many types of depression, anxiety disorders, bipolar disorder, OCD, ADHD, and schizophrenia. Often once a patient begins a medication, the symptoms resolve and they get back to their usual state of functioning. In cases of generalized anxiety disorder, often the best way to avoid a relapse is to stay on the medications for at least a full 12 months. This is often the case with other disorders as well. Many of the psychotropic drugs need to reach a therapeutic level before any benefit is experienced. The same hold true for the time element, medications don’t gradually treat the illness, rather they won’t have any effect until a certain threshold in time and dosing is reached. This is why staying with the prescribed dose and time frame is critical. This is an issue and many patients don’t take the prescribed dose, and never get the therapeutic benefits of the medicine, and the relapse that occurs is worse than the initial episode.