Cert SM

psychotherapy vs prescription drugs

It would seem that somewhere between 50% and 75% of all visits to a doctor tend to be for stress related conditions. Given this rather startling statistic, it is a little worrying that traditional medicine doesn’t seem to be quite as good at the treatment of long-term emotional complaints as it is at treating more acute conditions such as pneumonia, appendicitis or bone fractures.

In 2012, a MIND survey found that doctors, more often than not, prescribed antidepressants on a patient’s very first consultation for depression. Emotional conditions are in fact generally treated in this cursury way – that is purely with prescriptions for one or other of the modern psychotropic medications. These drugs can be quite useful in certain cases, and they of course do have their place in medicine. However, the benefits often quickly stop after treatment is discontinued, and a huge number of patients end up relapsing. Neither anti-anxiety nor anti-depressant medication will ‘cure’ a condition in the same way that an antibiotic might be expected to cure an infection.

There are of course often also side effects to contend with, and later the process of eventually coming off the medication can produce its own set of problems. These may come in the form of unpleasant withdrawal symptoms that, it would seem, are frequently not recognised for what they are. They are instead often interpreted as an indication that underlying depression or anxiety still exists in the patient and that there is a need for the person concerned to go back to taking the drug.

Still, millions of Britons now use antidepressants each year. In England, prescriptions have increased more than fourfold since the mid 1990s (to a staggering 46.7 million in 2011). Perhaps this is as a result of a combination of the stringent time pressure placed on busy NHS doctors and the heavy-handed marketing of the powerful pharmaceutical industry. (Firms in the sector, it should be noted, spend literally billions of pounds annually promoting a fallacy, which would have us believe that depression is a purely biological illness that can only be effectively treated by the use of their mind-altering products.)

There is, however, an alternative to taking psychotropic medication. Psychotherapy can also significantly change the way your brain works, but in a way that is safe and without the risk of side effects and withdrawal issues. It can establish and work with with the actual root cause of a problem, and the skills it teaches can be used for the rest of your life (making relapse less of an issue). So why not try hypnotherapy first?

It is important to look at all the facts before deciding whether or not to take mind altering substances – prescription or otherwise. But you are an adult and the choice here is entirely yours. Either way, I will be pleased to see you - although it is generally better for me to work with a client that is ‘clean’ than one using drugs.

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The only way you can sustain a permanent change is to create a new way of thinking, acting, and being.

Jennifer Hudson, I Got This: How I Changed My Ways and Lost What Weighed Me Down, 2012