Where to Start: Medication Management or Therapy?



Seeking mental health treatment for the first time can often be intimidating. Even questioning if your current treatment plan is enough can be overwhelming. If either of these describe you – know that you are not alone, and that there are resources available for help!


Many people think of talk therapy when thinking of mental health care. Talk therapy consists of you speaking with a licensed professional counselor or social worker about your concerns, usually for hour-long sessions, held approximately anywhere from once a week to once a month. Talk therapists will utilize different techniques within appointments and educate you on ways to keep progress going outside of appointments.


While therapy is a great tool to use and is often necessary in mental health treatment, fewer people know about or recognize the benefit of psychiatric medication management. That phrase can sound more complex than it is – at its core, medication management is just the process of looking at your brain chemistry and assisting in reducing your symptoms through psychiatric medications. These medications can be useful for a variety of symptoms, such as anxiety, depression, attention issues stemming from ADHD, and/or mood instability. Your usual medication management appointments will be shorter than your usual therapy appointments, but they should still be long enough that your provider can comprehensively talk to you about your history and present concerns.


Looking at medication management can be new, but also exciting! Think about what it would be like to see your symptoms subside and your life start to come back to you. Medication is not a “fix all” for every problem you’ll ever experience, but it can help reduce symptoms that have ripple effects in our lives, as well as the personal mental health patterns you may see for yourself. While there is often still a stigma regarding starting mental health medication, there can be immense help for you in your everyday life.


If you’re just starting your mental health journey, you may be wondering which step is right for you. When deciding between a medication management specialist and therapist, it’s usually best to start with the medication management specialist. They can act as a "quarterback" to your mental health team and can not only explain the science behind any potential diagnoses, but also treatment options which may include continued medication management or targeted talk therapy. Having an assessment by a medication management specialist will also ensure a more appropriate therapy referral, as some therapy styles are better for certain types of diagnoses.


If you’re already in therapy, medications can still be of significant benefit to you! Medication management can chemically target your brain’s neurological responses (including your serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine receptors) to alleviate symptoms, thereby supplementing your existing coping skills and therapeutic techniques. Medications can even help you feel more like yourself so that you can more fully pursue and utilize these skills, putting them to practice in your daily life. Things that we often overlook, like diet, sleep, and exercise, can also all be talked through in medication management sessions as they often overlap and impact each other. Quality medication management will look at your overall wellness to see what medications are best to use for your specific lifestyle, chemical needs, and general well-being.


When looking at medication management, it is important to think through your treatment goals to be able to discuss them with your provider and find a practice who aligns with your values. At iTrust Wellness Group, our mental health specialists place high priority on analyzing each person’s needs given the full scope of their concerns, looking at both neurological and physiological symptoms, and tailoring treatment plans to the individual. Our providers are all thoroughly trained in both overall wellness and medication management, with each provider even having a certification in psychopharmacology (which means psychiatric medications, neurotransmitters, and more!).


If you feel that medication management could be the right step for you, give us a call or text whenever you’re ready at 864-520-2020.


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