Updated: Aug 23
If you've been prescribed anti-depressants or anti-anxiety medication or have considered it, this is for you. Holistic Therapist and Social Worker Sheena Schuy is a brilliant practitioner and has been kind enough to share her insights with us into some of the pro's and con's of anti-anxiety and anti-depressant medications.
This is what Sheena wants us to know:
"Anti-anxiety and anti-depressant medications are commonly prescribed to manage symptoms of anxiety and depression and while these medications can be effective for some people, they also come with potential side effects that should be considered before starting treatment. Additionally, medication does not always address the root cause of mental health issues.
Firstly, How Do These Medications Work?
Anti-anxiety medications such as benzodiazepines work by slowing down the central nervous system, which can help reduce feelings of anxiety and promote relaxation. Anti-depressants, on the other hand, work by increasing the levels of certain neurotransmitters in the brain, such as serotonin and norepinephrine, which can help regulate mood and reduce symptoms of depression.
Potential Side Effects Of Anti-Anxiety And Anti-Depressant Medications
Drowsiness or fatigue: Many anti-anxiety and anti-depressant medications can cause drowsiness or fatigue, which can make it difficult to concentrate or perform daily tasks.
Nausea and vomiting: Some people experience nausea and vomiting when taking these medications, particularly during the first few weeks of treatment.
Sexual dysfunction: Anti-depressant medications can cause sexual side effects, including decreased libido, difficulty achieving orgasm, and erectile dysfunction.
Weight gain: Some anti-depressant medications can cause weight gain, which can be a concern for people with pre-existing weight issues.
Withdrawal symptoms: When stopping anti-anxiety and anti-depressant medications, some people experience withdrawal symptoms, including irritability, anxiety, and flu-like symptoms.
How Effective Are They.......Really?
While anti-anxiety and anti-depressant medications can be helpful for some individuals, research suggests that they may not be as effective as previously believed. For example, a study published in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry found that up to 50% of patients with depression do not respond to initial treatment with anti-depressants. Another study published in the Journal of Clinical Psychology found that individuals with anxiety who received cognitive-behavioral therapy had greater reductions in anxiety symptoms than those who received medication alone.
Additionally, Kelly Brogan MD, a holistic psychiatrist, argues that medication for mental health issues may actually be harmful in some cases. In her book "A Mind of Your Own," she cites research that suggests anti-depressants may increase the risk of suicide in some individuals and that they can also cause long-term changes in the brain that may worsen mental health symptoms.
Medication Does Not Get to the Root Cause of the Mental Health Issue
One major limitation of medication for anxiety and depression is that it does not address the underlying causes of these conditions. Our thoughts actually create neural pathways in our brain, and negative thought patterns can contribute to symptoms of anxiety and depression. By working with a therapist or other mental health professional, individuals can learn to identify and reframe negative thoughts, which can help create new neural pathways in the brain and lead to long-term relief from symptoms. Also living in a fast-paced, capitalist society that does not value rest, leisure and play compared to productivity and the bottom-line is also problematic, living in social sphere that has this mentality has shown to be a large contributor or anxiety and depression, trained social workers can help clients find ways to create balance in this kind of environment."
Sheena Schuy - BPsych, MCoun, MSW
I love the way that Sheena works with her clients on the root cause of their conditions which is exactly what we focus on in Naturopathy. While medication can certainly be useful for some, it's usually just masking the underlying problem and all medications come with their own unique set of side effects. These include some of the things Sheena talks about here, to depletion of nutrients and increased load on the organs of detoxification.
If you'd like to hear more on this topic you can listen to Sheena's podcast here:
If you'd like to work with Sheena on a one-on-one basis, please mention this blog for a discounted rate on your first session.