Is medication the right choice for you?

 There are ways to cope with the stresses of life  that don’t involve medication, Jonathan Alpert says. Credit: Stockbyte
There are ways to cope with the stresses of life
that don’t involve medication, Jonathan Alpert says.
Credit: Stockbyte

I’m often asked by friends, family and media why so many people are taking medications for stress, anxiety and depression. “Are people really that sick?” they wonder. “Are people more depressed now than they were a decade ago?” “Is life tougher?” The answer: No. People are not sicker or more depressed, and life isn’t tougher. Truth be told, our society and culture are changing and we’re bearing witness to an unhealthy phenomenon: the over-prescribing and misuse of medications. This trend is driven by clever pharmaceutical company advertising, incompetent practitioners and a desire for a quick, albeit temporary, fix. Patients are too quick to ask for medications, and doctors are too quick to prescribe them.
Every week I see new patients who are loaded up on meds thanks to their previous provider prescribing for the equivalent of a psychological sniffle. Next time you’re offered mind-altering drugs as if they‘re Halloween candy, here’s what to ask your doctor: If you didn’t have a prescription pad, how would you treat the problem? What would happen if I didn’t take medication?
Antidepressants should be used for major depression with severe and persistent symptoms, not when one is simply stressed or feeling down. There are specific symptoms that need to be present to properly diagnose major depression. If this is accurately done, then medication should be a consideration for a treatment option. However, know that they are not a panacea and not nearly as effective as medication combined with psychotherapy.
Be a good consumer and remain aware of medication’s side effects, which can sometimes be as bad as or worse than the symptoms being treated. For example, a diminished sex drive and weight gain are common side effects to antidepressants. Be open to alternative treatment options and know that medications are not the be-all, end-all.
Life can be really tough. Know, however, that long before medications, people found ways to cope. Medication provides a temporary relief, lasting only as long as you continue to take it, and it doesn’t provide insight or teach you skills or new ways to deal. By contrast, a good therapist will teach you how to change your thinking, balance work, life and relationships, and to be fearless rather than fearful. To learn more ways to be fearless and not rely so heavily on medications, check out my book, “BE FEARLESS: Change Your Life in 28 Days.

– Jonathan Alpert is a licensed psychotherapist. His book,  “Be Fearless: Change Your Life in 28 Days,” is available now. E-mail him your questions at jonathan@jonathanalpert.com

Metro does not endorse  the opinions of the author.



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
News

NY judge throws out lawsuit by Empire State…

A New York state judge has thrown out a lawsuit in which longtime investors in the Empire State Building claimed they were shortchanged out of hundreds of millions of dollars…

Local

Mysterious white flags appear over Brooklyn Bridge

Two white flags mysteriously appeared over the towers of the Brooklyn Bridge yesterday in place of the American flags that are a traditional fixture.

National

Judge sets January start for murder trial of…

By Elizabeth BarberBOSTON (Reuters) - Former New England Patriots player Aaron Hernandez will be tried in January for the murder of semi-professional football player Odin…

National

Donut capers stymie police in Oregon

For more than a month, mysterious vandals have been smearing pastries on cars, depositing donuts in lawns and leaving cakes strewn about the streets.

Arts

Don't miss 'Charles James: Beyond Fashion' at the…

Have you been meaning to see "Charles James: Beyond Fashion"? There are only two weeks left to get to the Met and catch this amazing American fashion designer's collection.

Television

Zac Posen talks 'Project Runway' and what it…

We talked to Zac Posen, judge and designer extraordinaire, about the new season of "Project Runway" and what keeps him coming back after three seasons.

Television

'Face Off' contestant David 'DOC' O'Connell sounds off…

David "DOC" O'Connell tells us about getting cast on Season 7 of Syfy's "Face Off," premiering tonight at 9.

Arts

PHOTO: Wildlife photographer Marc Mol captures amazing aerial…

This aerial image was taken by photographer Marc Mol who spotted the animals during an air safari in Zambia.

NFL

David Tyree hiring has gay rights advocates angry

Former Giants Super Bowl hero David Tyree will re-join the franchise as its new director of player development.

NFL

Ben McAdoo's new offense has Giants excited to…

Even Tom Coughlin feels he has a lot to learn about offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo’s new offense, which makes the veteran coach very excited.

MLB

MLB Power Rankings: A's, Angels, Dodgers, Brewers lead…

MLB Power Rankings: A's, Angels, Dodgers, Brewers lead pack

NFL

2014 NFL season betting odds: Which team will…

2014 NFL season betting odds: Which team will win Super Bowl?

Tech

Learn Braille with these gloves

U.S. scientists have designed high-tech gloves to help users understand Braille in a matter of minutes.

Home

5 New Ikea products that will change your…

We round-up the latest must-have products.

Food

Recipe: Wolfgang Puck's Buttermilk French Toast

We recently spent some time chatting with restauranteur/celebrity chef Wolfgang Puck at his Wolfgang Puck American Grille in the Borgata in Atlantic City. Puck wanted…

Style

Go retro with your sneakers

The best of wacky new sneakers.