Are Medications The Best Thing For Your Mental Health?

By: Meagan St. Amour

Currently, there are many pharmaceutical medications to treat individuals suffering from mental health illnesses. According to the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, less people are being evaluated by mental health counsellors and more individuals are visiting their general physicians for a prescription to treat their mental health [1].

Recent studies have shown an increase in the prescription of psychotropic drugs [1]. The prescription of these drugs have increased from 44% to 57% between 1998 and 2007 [2]. Additionally, figures report that as many as 57% of individuals suffering from mental health problems are only being treated with prescription medications and no other forms of non-medicinal therapy [2].

Prescribing of medications for mental health illnesses may not be the safest and most effective method for treatment [2]. Drug treatments for depression are associated with an increased risk of subsequent relapse [2]. Prescribing drugs at the onset of a mental health problem perpetuates a mode of thinking that may lead many sufferers to believe their recovery is now out of their hands and in the hands of only medical experts and medications [2]. This leads to “labelling” and possible stigma, which can have very significant negative effects on the sufferers ability to self-regulate and self-help [2].

Furthermore, prescription medications are not able to help people to change the way they think or change the socioeconomic environments that might be a primary cause of their mental health illness [2]. Helping an individual with mental health problems to rise above difficult socioeconomic conditions is challenging, but multidisciplinary teams of mental health professionals are increasingly able to help clients with a broader range of psychological and socioeconomic problems [2].  It is believed that a more effective treatment would be to combine medications with other therapy alternatives, such as talking with a counsellor, exercise methods, and non-medicinal homeopathic alternatives.

For example, a highly interaction application for a cell phone or tablet is available that is called Thriving Mindset. It consists of 10 minute daily videos for the user to watch that are designed to teach them how to change their perceptions and emotional behaviour to create and nurture a “thriving mindset” [3]. Each day, the user is introduced to a new concept about how they can develop and sustain a positive outlook on life [3]. St John’s wort and Rhodiola rosea are proven to be effective in treating mood disorders [4]. Further, omega-3 fatty acids are useful in pregnant women with major depression, and have no adverse effects on the fetus [4]. Homeopathic therapies have the potential to improve symptoms of depression, although larger controlled trials are needed [4].

It is very important to consider treating mental health illnesses with medications accompanied by psychological health and support, and perhaps suggesting homeopathic alternatives instead of relying on medication as a one way solution. There are certainly attempts being made to increase access to psychological therapies for those who need them, However mental health is still viewed primarily as a medical problem within health care [1].

[1] Smith, B.L. (2012). Inappropriate Prescribing. American Psychological Association, 43(6), 36. Retrieved from

[2] Davey, G.C. (2014). Overprescribing Drugs to Treat Mental Health Problems. Psychology, today, 1, 1. Retrieved from

[3] Mental Health America. (2016). Complementary & Alternative Medicine for Mental Health. CAM and Mental Health, 1, 1-272. Retrieved from

[4] Qureshi, N.A., Al-Bedah, A.M. (2013). Mood Disorders and Complementary and Alternative Medicine: A Literature Review. NCBI, 9, 639-658. Retrieved from

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