Have questions on Mental Health? You can ask them in this forum, share personal experiences, or suggest how to help people living with mental health conditions to navigate their way to recovery.
Is it safe to take medication to manage my 'symptoms'?
lynnchan last edited by
I’ve been hearing different things about taking medication to help with my ‘symptoms’. What are your thoughts on medication?
At a basic level, all drugs are "harmful" in that they seek to do something to your body that is not natural. In that sense, it is poisonous. But that doesn't make drugs bad. They clearly can be very helpful in making us better. A better question to ask is if taking the drug is risky, or if the pros of taking the drug outweigh the cons. In a general sense, all medication dispensed in Singapore is strictly regulated with that in mind. Drugs are only approved for use in the treatment of medical conditions if there is sufficient scientific evidence to demonstrate they are reasonably effective with manageable side-effects. A drug is "safe" in that the pros of taking the drug to treat a condition outnumber possible cons in the form of side-effects. That said, patients typically experience varying degrees of side-effects. This is particularly the case for psychiatric medication. Some experience none, others experience many, and the list of side-effects can be very long.
To someone who experiences many side-effects which makes taking the drug unbearable, the drug may therefore seem "unsafe" if experiencing side-effects in the long-run is harmful. For example, prolonged weight problems, or insomnia, which some psychiatric medication can cause as a side-effect is probably harmful in the long run. Taking the drug might therefore not be a good idea as the risk of harm caused by side-effects could outweigh any positive benefit.
There is also some concern that taking medication is unsafe as it could be addictive in the long-run. This is tricky to understand as the term "addiction" is often used interchangeably with "dependence". The difference between the two is an addiction involves craving the drug, whereas dependence doesn't. Psychiatric drugs are not addictive in the sense you will not crave them, like nicotine in cigarettes. There, however, are more studies now showing they can lead to dependence in the sense that your body will indeed get used to having them and suddenly stopping or dropping a dose could result in discomfort. This is called "discontinuation syndrome." It is difficult to anticipate who might experience this - some can stop taking psychiatric medication with no side-effects, whereas others will suffer from a whole host of side-effects with even the slightest drop. As such, the general advice to avoid this is to see your doctor regularly if you're taking psychiatric medication and to not change doses or stop taking it suddenly.
A related question is whether psychiatric medication is effective. This is difficult to answer conclusively. There are many psychiatric conditions, many more psychiatric drugs, and even more types of patients. Unlike treating a broken bone, where what should be done is well established, treating mental health conditions involves a degree of trial and error unfortunately. My experience could be instructive. I suffer from depression, and I've gone through a long list of antidepressants. None of them really worked for me. That's not to say they didn't work for others. For every person who claimed an antidepressant did not work, you can find another who said it worked wonders for them. Anecdotes aside, scientific studies also do not offer more clarity. There are studies which show antidepressants work, and others which show they do not.
I've personally concluded that drugs do not work for me. BUT this comes after many years of trying different medication and giving each a fair shake. The best one can do is to really listen to your body and make your own decision based on your own personal experience. What's important is you try to get better and not given up hope, recognising there are many ways to tackle a mental health challenge. The use of medication is only of several possible options to get better. For me, medication did very little for me, therapy helped a little, but regular exercise helped a lot more (in terms of immediate relief).
yanlingpinko last edited by
@lynnchan Hi Lynn! Great question! For people that have already gone onto medication, I always recommend them to try out alternative therapies instead of just sticking to the usual psychotherapy as it does not help everyone. As for those who have yet to start on medication, I HEAVILY RECOMMEND NEVER to start on it. Why? Because when your body gets used to it and you start to depend on medication, the moment you want to stop it is almost impossible to. Most people NEVER stop taking medication because if they do, side effects like sudden suicidal tendencies and sleep deprivation as well as loss of control on thoughts and emotions all come about.
My HIGHEST RECOMMENDATION that most people do not know of is to HEAL NATURALLY. It means to feel your emotions to the depths, experience, hold and love and accept your thoughts to the very core. And you cannot do it alone at the very start. We all need some guidance to self care and self healing. I highly recommend that you explore books like The Power Of Now by Eckhart Tolle, Heal Your Life by Louise Hay and many other books to help you understand why you go through the things you do. And it would really help if you gave natural therapy a try. Things like breathwork, meditation, chakra balancing, movement therapy and art therapy as well as finding a holistic coach/guide/therapist/healer/counsellor to help out etc.
However with ALL things, ALWAYS LISTEN TO YOUR GUT. Not the skeptical mind. If something seems off, in terms of feeling... not thinking. Don't trust them. Your feelings are accurate. It is instinctual. These are just some recommendations and opinions of mine as the traditional path of therapy DID NOT HELP ME at all. N hence was forced to look for alternative ways to help myself and it is best decision ever. To be able to have so much self awareness and self love & acceptance, empathy and compassion for myself and others. To know so much more about the universe and who I am... it is freaking amazing. And I am so darn thankful I went through the depths of depression because my entire family has transformed and I actually have a support system now. Compared to back when I was in a psych ward and NO freakin psychologist or counsellor could EVER influence or convince my family to help them understand how I feel and think and why I was the way I was. The understanding that singapore has on psychology is so darn limited. Because everything is too focused on science and on results and on suppression.
When we break free of this mould, not a lot of people will understand. However if we continue on the path of self healing, you will realize how much life changes and how much influence you truly helping yourself can be on others around you. There's lots of trauma processing and conditioned beliefs as well as stuck emotions in the body that needs to be felt deeply and released and the normal route of psychotherapy cannot touch those depths. Do explore your options. All the best for you Take Care of Yourself⚘
thetapestryproject.sg last edited by
It's important to know that everyone's experience with their own mental wellness and mental health is very different! The same goes for medication - everyone's body reacts to different medication in different ways. Some people have had positive experiences with medication, they feel like with medication, it really helps them to manage their moods and greatly improves their ability to carry out day to day activities. Some people try out medication, but dislike the side effects of the medication on their body, so they decide to stop. The general thought that our team has about medication is that if you feel like you need medication, or if your medical professional recommends it, there's no harm in trying it. However, do note that if it makes you feel uncomfortable, don't be afraid to sound out your concerns to your doctor or psychologist. It's your body, and you have every right to decide what you want in your body and what you don't.