Did you know that in 2010 antidepressants were the second most widely prescribed class of medication in the United States? Their use continues to grow. It’s hard to miss all the television ads for antidepressants. The ad begins with a statement like “Are you taking medication but still suffering from depression?” The next part promises relief by taking the advertised antidepressant. There is no mention of receiving counseling if you are still depressed. Medication is often the first thing that patients and their physicians think of when dealing with depression or anxiety. People have mixed feelings about psychiatric medication. Some are afraid and unwilling to take it, while others just want to take a pill to quickly “fix” their depression so they do not have to deal with it.

So which group is right? It depends. A psychologist can evaluate and make recommendations about the best treatment for each individual. For some people, counseling is the best course of action. For others, a combination of counseling and medication is the best treatment. For a third group, medication alone may be the best option. The third group includes people who have already been through therapy and worked through the core issues that created their depression or anxiety. Many people in this group have a chemical imbalance and need to take a low dose of medication for maintenance.

Unfortunately, many people skip the counseling part and go straight for medication. The problem with this approach is that there is no magic pill that can fix all the emotions, thoughts, and life situations that lead to depression. When people develop depression or anxiety, a psychologist works to find out why. During counseling, psychologists work with people to overcome the deeper issues that created their emotional pain and fears. Many people do not need to take any psychiatric medication after they complete counseling.

If you are considering getting mental health treatment, talk to a psychologist first. Most psychologists complete a thorough 45-60 minute evaluation on each new person they see. After this evaluation is complete, your psychologist can make recommendations for treatment and answer any questions that you have.