Is Medication really the only answer to treating Mental Health?

By Grace Farrar

Many individuals that experience mental health issues during their lifetime may have considered (or been advised) to take some form of medication. Certain research suggests that certain prescribed medications related to mental health work by increasing levels of chemicals in the brain called neurotransmitters which are linked to our mood, such as serotonin.

According to data released by NHS Digital, in 2018 it was recorded that 70.9 million prescriptions for antidepressants were given out compared with 36 million in 2008. This could be for numerous reasons such as increased research on the use of the medication to treat mental health issues, an increase in peoples’ ability to confide in their GP about their mental health. Either way, the data evidently shows that the UK population is struggling with mental health now more than ever.

Johann Hari in his book “Lost Connections’ makes reference to antidepressants as being doctors “one menu option”. For this statement, some have heavily criticised Hari claiming he is being dismissive of the process in which trained professionals take when treating patients yet others have offered some additional insight into his perspective. In 2016, Dr David Healy, a psychology professor, stated that the medications are prescribed too easily to some patients and it is failing individuals who would benefit from alternative treatment. However, alternative research suggested that GP’s are increasingly cautious when it comes to prescribing such serious medication and only do so if deemed entirely appropriate.

Like any form of treatment, each individual needs to find what works best for them and their mind. Various individuals have commented on the remarkable impact specific medications have had on their lives, ensuring they feel able to do the thing they want without feeling plagued by their mental health. Whilst others have found that by taking medication, it developed numerous side effects that they felt discredited the advantages in their mindset. The National Institute of Mental Health makes it very clear as part of their ethos that antidepressant medication may not be for everyone and not one treatment fits all, referencing numerous non-medical treatment such as talking therapies and CBT.

If you, or someone you know is struggling with their mental health, the first step is to talk about it. Although at this start this can feel increasingly daunting, once you open up about what is going on in your mind, it can aid in creating an action plan of what to do next and Unmasked Hubs are available every week to act as that support. For some, they may require seeking medical attention, but for others there are alternative treatment options out there to help you make sense of what is going on in your mind.

For more information please look at our App, Hubs and Counselling on our website. 

Grace Farrar

Unmasked Coordinator

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