Prescribed an Antidepressant by a Doctor? Go See a Therapist.

by Lindsey Webster Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Long before I chose counseling as my profession, I dealt with my own personal mental disorder; social anxiety. The disorder had taken over my life when I was in high school. It got so bad that I missed several days of school due to anxiety attacks; including the first day of my senior year. After many years of suffering, my mother took me to our family physician to discuss the issue. My doctor asked me a few questions about my anxious feelings and wrote me a prescription for a relatively new drug called Fluoxetine (a.k.a. Prozac). 

After a few months on the drug, I noticed that my anxious feelings had changed, but not necessarily for the better. I had lost my fear of social situations, but I had not lost the anxiety. It was almost like living two lives at once. I now enjoyed going out with friends and meeting new people, but I still had excessive sweating, heart palpitations, racing thoughts and shaky hands. The drug was masking my fear but not addressing the reasons behind my anxiety. 

When I went to college, I was told about the student clinic that offered free counseling. Over time, I had become more knowledgeable about my disorder and realized that I needed to see a therapist, so I booked and appointment. What ensued was an amazing transformation in my outlook on life. 

Seeing a therapist to supplement the medication was the best decision I could have ever made. Before, I was taking a pill every day and ignoring all the anxious thoughts that still went through my mind. For three months I went to see the school therapist once a week. We would discuss the reasoning behind my anxiety and different ways to look at things. During these sessions, I learned a great deal about myself and about other people. I learned that everyone experienced anxiety every now and then and that most people were too worried about themselves to notice me (my biggest fear was that other people were staring at me). 

Talking through and accepting these simple truths was what eventually brought me out of my fear of social situations. By the end of my college years, I add successfully weaned off the medication. It took me years, but I finally felt comfortable in my own skin. I don't think this would have been possible had I not paired medication with counseling. 

Due to my own personal experience, I firmly believe that anyone who has been prescribed an antidepressant or other mental illness medication should seek counseling from a therapist. Yes, medical doctors can diagnose patients with mental disorders and prescribe the appropriate medications, but using a medication without taking part in therapy is like trying to lose weight through diet only and no exercise; they supplement one another and increase your chances of success.

Lindsey Webster has been a rehabilitation counselor for 15 years and also owns the site Masters in Counseling. She likes to write about different topics related to counseling and careers.

Photo Credit: Steve Snodgrass Flickr

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Treatment Modalities

Therapy Feels Bad, What Do I Do?

by Shelley Quinones Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Sad MumbyTherapy is a special place. A relationship is created in order to help you feel better, or at least that's the hope. When you start therapy you have all these feelings swirling around that control your life and you want the therapist to fix it. That is understandable. However, it is a false expectation. First of all, a therapist has no magic wand to make all the pain go away in an instant. We would if we could. It is a process of small changes and insights that build to create a better, calmer, more fulfilling life. 

As you build the relationship with the therapist and start trusting (oooh bad word) them, you start revealing deeper more painful things. These things often seem scary, embarrassing, and they can hurt. The irony is the more you hold onto these feelings and negative thoughts (that are hurting you) the more you are scared to face them. When you start revealing those tender, inner parts to a trusted professional, it does seem to hurt a little more for a while. However, you find out you are strong and courageous by facing those inner struggles and the emotions start to decrease. You win. You become more confident and able to make choices that benefit you and help you reach your full potential. 

Therapy is a place to be vulnerable and take risks. Speak up. Say what you need to say. Trust yourself. You will be better off in the end for finding your voice. What a precious gift to have a place to share the depths of who you are with someone you know cares for you no matter what.

Shelley Quinones

 

Shelley Quinones is a Licensed Therapist in San Dimas, California. She has been in the field in various roles for over 20 years. She is trained in EMDR which helps process minor daily traumas that accumulate, or major traumas that influence daily choices, or even allows for performance enhancement. She is a Christian and believes faith plays an important part in healing. Her website is www.shelleyqmft.com.

Tags:

Therapeutic Relationship

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