Do you suffer from anxiety, panic attacks or depression? Have you tried seeking other forms of treatment with little success? Maybe you have been taking antidepressant medications for years, hoping they would resolve your symptoms, only to find that they continue.
Symptoms can be debilitating and severely limit functioning. Cognitive behaviour therapy is an effective treatment for anxiety, depression and many other conditions and can be used on its own, but also with medication. Research suggests that a combination of CBT and medication might be the most effective way to treat many mental health issues.
Medication and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a highly effective way to treat mental health symptoms and issues. CBT is a form of talk therapy that is used to address and change the way you think and act to help you change the way you feel. Originally developed in the 1960s to treat depression, it has since become the foremost, non-medication treatment available and has a very wide range of applications.
CBT is typically a short-term form of treatment, usually lasting between 16 and 20, one-hour sessions. Sessions usually occur every week, especially at the start of treatment, when your therapist will work to teach you some core skills, like learning how to identify problematic thought patterns and the sometimes subtle forms of avoidance behaviour that maintain anxiety and fear. Sessions can be spaced further apart once you show you are mastering the skills.
What Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Can Do for You
Cognitive behaviour therapy is a skills-based treatment, which means that it offers specific tools you can use to manage symptoms even long after the end of formal meetings with your therapist. Years of research support show that CBT is a highly-effective treatment that:
- Reduces anxiety
- Reduces symptoms of depression
- Helps with recovery from trauma
- Can reduce substance use and other behaviour problems
- Can help to improve confidence and self esteem
Medication to Manage Symptoms
Many medications are currently available to help you manage the symptoms of mental and emotional issues. While it is still not clear exactly how medications like antidepressants and anxiolytics work, they have been found to help many people feel better and improve their functioning.
Unlike antibiotics, which can completely resolve problem symptoms by killing the bacteria that cause them, antidepressants, sedatives and anxiolytics do not offer long-term solutions to mental or emotional symptoms. They can often begin to reduce symptoms within a few weeks, but once a person stops taking them, then symptoms can return, especially if nothing in that person’s life or way of viewing stressors has changed in the meantime.
For that reason, a combination of medication and CBT is usually the most effective option: Medications reduce symptoms in the short-term, paving the way for people to learn and practice the cognitive behaviour therapy skills that will prevent symptoms from returning more permanently.
Can Psychologists Help With Medication?
Only physicians and psychiatrists can prescribe medications for your symptoms. As psychologists, we can work with you and your medical professional to recommend and help evaluate the best course of treatment for your particular issues and needs.