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Can Meds Save Your Mental Health?

Shalom Feinberg, M.D. & Dov Finkelstein, LCSW

Not sure whether to consider taking an antidepressant? Don’t know how to proceed after your date reveals he’s seeing a psychiatrist? Discover the answers to pressing questions about psychiatric medication.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Mindy, a 23-year-old Bais Yaakov graduate, was excitedly anticipating the birth of her first child. After having the baby however, she became paralyzed by a sense of doubt and was constantly getting stuck on trivialities. Everything she did needed to feel perfect for her to be able to move on. She found herself doing the same things over and over again, like washing the baby’s bottles repeatedly until she felt confident they were clean. Making small decisions such as what the baby should wear became overwhelming — it would take half the morning.

It had become difficult for her to get out of the house.

Despite help at home, Mindy still wasn’t functioning. She was clearly in the throes of deep emotional pain. She began seeing a therapist who diagnosed postpartum obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD). Although the therapist tried to talk to Mindy about treatment, her anxiety was so high that she was unable to focus. The therapist suggested meeting with a psychiatrist to evaluate whether medication might diminish her anxiety so psychotherapy would be more useful.

At first Mindy and her family were very resistant to the idea of psychiatric medications, afraid they might be addictive or that, once started, she’d have to take them for the rest of her life. The therapist encouraged her to bring up these topics when she saw the psychiatrist.

The psychiatrist recommended beginning on a low dose of medication to reduce her concerns. Fortunately, Mindy experienced no problematic side effects, so the psychiatrist then raised the dose to an effective therapeutic level that was beneficial in reducing her nonstop doubting.

With her anxiety lowered, Mindy was able to focus on understanding cognitive-behavioral therapy and implementing skills for overcoming her anxiety. As Mindy progressed, she was able to better care for herself and her baby. With time, motivation, and hard work, she was finally able to function freely again. After a number of months, Mindy and her psychiatrist discussed the pros and cons of tapering off the medicine. They decided to slowly lower her dose until she was totally off the medication.

 

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