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Chicago Psychiatrists Discuss Medication

Should I Take Medication?

Medication information provided by Sandra Sheinen, MD, psychiatric consultant for Lakeview Center for Psychotherapy

At Lakeview Center for Psychotherapy, we view medication as an important adjunct to therapy and other healing interventions, not as a "cure" in itself. Medication can provide relief from overwhelming symptoms and may allow clients to use therapy more effectively.

Medications can often help to reduce the frequency, intensity and duration of depressive symptoms. Common medications for depression include selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), such as Prozac, Zoloft, Luvox, Paxil and Celexa. SSRIs can also be helpful in managing irritability, anxiety and mood swings that often accompany depression. Other non-SSRI antidepressant medications such as Wellbutrin, Effexor, Serzone and Remeron may also help individuals suffering from depression.

People with bipolar disorder experience mood changes that alternate between depression and mania or hypomania, a state characterized by irritability, impulsivity, distractibility, and excessive energy. Mood stabilizers can play a crucial role in the treatment of bipolar disorder.

Anxiety can take many different forms. Anxiety disorders include panic disorder, social phobia, obsessive compulsive disorder, generalized anxiety disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder. Many of the antidepressant medications discussed above are also helpful for reducing anxiety symptoms. Other common antianxiety medications include the benzodiazepines, such as Valium, Klonopin, Ativan and Xanax and Buspar, a nonbenzodiazepine. Benzodiazepines may be helpful on a short-term basis to help people cope with stressful periods or situations but must be closely monitored because they may be habit forming.

Obsessive compulsive symptoms have been found to respond well to SSRIs in particular and may require higher dosages than that prescribed for other forms of depression or anxiety.

SSRIs have also proven useful for eating disorders. In some studies, SSRIs in higher dosages have helped to diminish the anxiety provoking thoughts and behaviors of eating disorders as well as decrease relapse rates.

At Lakeview Center for Psychotherapy, we view the decision to take medication as a personal choice. We are happy to work with you in therapy whether or not you choose to use medication to help reduce your symptoms. For more advice on whether to make medication a part of your healing process, Elio Frattaroli, author of Healing the Soul in the Age of the Brain answers medication questions thoughtfully on his website.

If you have any questions about medication or wish to schedule a medication evaluation, please contact Dr. Robert McCarthy at
773-525-3322, Ext 57.

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