Maybe this is a question you’ve asked yourself. Perhaps you have concerns about side effects, becoming dependent on medication, or wonder if this option is for you. My response to this question is always the same: It’s a personal decision. Each person has to decide what is best for their body depending on their own symptoms. Some of my clients are able to tolerate medication with little side effects while others try several different medications and react negatively to all of them. Some want to try counseling first before starting medication. I respect and honor each individual’s decision.
When children are learning to ride a bike, we often start them off with training wheels in order to have them focus just on pedaling and steering. Riding a bicycle requires a certain amount of balance as well. Instead of asking children to pedal, steer, and balance all at the same time, we give them a little boost to start out with. Sometimes, this is a literal push from the parent to get them on their way with pedaling. This is what I believe medication does. Medication will not ride the bike for you or completely fix your anxiety or OCD. However, medication can push you in the right direction, making it a little bit easier on you as you are learning new skills to manage anxiety and OCD.
This is where counseling comes in. Counseling is the support and coaching needed to help you balance, pedal, and steer all at the same time. New skills such as mindfulness can be learned in order to tolerate emotional distress and uncomfortable body sensations. Learning to make positive mind and body connections will help you feel more relaxed. By gaining an outsider’s perspective on your life, you are able to receive empathy and be more compassionate towards yourself. Counseling also provides an opportunity to dig in a little deeper to past wounding experiences that may be connected to your anxiety and OCD.
Medication is always an option.
I often encourage clients to keep medication as an option. Meaning, we can always work together in counseling, but if they aren’t making much progress in 3-6 months, it’s usually a good time to reconsider medication as an option. There’s no shame in utilizing medication for mental health issues just as there is no shame in taking medication for diabetes, hypertension, or other chronic health conditions.
I encourage clients to address any questions and concerns they have about medication to their medical provider. Many times, the anxiety about taking medication can be worse than actually taking the medication. If you have not had general blood work done to check for thyroid malfunction or vitamin deficiencies, this is an important step as well.
Whether you decide to take medication, go to counseling, or do both, the important thing is to take steps towards better mental health. If you are in Tennessee and struggling with anxiety or OCD, I would love to see you. Find out more here.