My medication philosophy
Note: The following is presented for informational purposes only. Assessment and treatment should always be directed through one-on-one consultation with a trained professional.
When do I recommend medications?
Medications can be extremely useful for anxiety disorders and depression. However, medications also have potential side effects, so they require careful consideration.
Generically speaking, the combination of medications and therapy is more effective than either treatment alone. Also generically speaking, medications usually work faster, but the benefits of therapy usually last longer. I usually recommend that patients with mild symptoms try therapy alone, since cognitive behavioral therapy is just as effective as medications but has longer lasting benefits. For patient who have moderate to severe symptoms or for patients who want the most effective treatment right off the bat, I generally recommend starting with both therapy and medications.
How long do I advise patients to stay on medications?
We do not know exactly how long patients should stay
on medications, so the process is generally one of
trial-and-error. In general, once patients are feeling
better, I usually recommend that they stay on medication for 6-12 months. Then, I gradually taper them off of their medication to see if they still need it. Many patients find that the experience of feeling better for several months (and getting their life on track) is enough to keep them well even after they have gone off of medications.
Additionally, the chance of no longer needed medication is even greater if they have used therapy at the same time.