First of all, I always remind people that I am not a doctor and I didn’t take any medication to recover from OCD and the related anxiety disorders and depression I struggled with. So I’m not an expert on prescribing or taking medication.
When people are making decisions about medication, I encourage them to not frame the question as: “Should I take medication?” but instead as: “What supports are going to empower me to make the healthy changes I need to make to be healthy and happy five years from now?” It helps to make treatment decisions around where you’re going and what you want to build.
Whether somebody takes medication or doesn’t take medication won’t change the fact that they need to make healthy changes in their life if they want to improve their mental health and prevent relapse in the future. If a person takes meds, they still need to make those changes. If a person doesn’t take meds, they still need to make those changes.
Changing your brain is just like changing any other part of your body. For example, let’s say somebody injured their leg while exercising and it became painful to run on it. They’re going to need to rehabilitate that leg if they ever want to run again and that’s going to involve working with a professional to help them change how they move the leg so it’s moving in a way that’s healthy. Going through that rehab process will be painful. They can decide to take medication to relieve that pain or not. In some cases, the medication might help them do more of the exercises, which means they’ll recover faster. In other cases, the side-effects from the medication might interfere with their recovery, or the lack of pain might lead them to exercise the leg in the old way again and cause further injury. But seeking relief from the pain is separate from doing the exercises that are going to ensure long-term health and recovery. Medication can be an enabler that empowers people to make the important changes that need to happen. Many people also make the same changes without medication. It’s those changes that matter.