Create Your Treatment Plan

Consider All Treatments It is essential that you consider all options, not just medications, before deciding on which treatment, or combination of treatments, is best for you. Educate yourself about what each treatment involves. Although some treatments may appear vague or complicated at first, you may get enormous benefit from them. For example, many people are skeptical when I describe the importance of relaxation techniques in minimizing their anxiety. The techniques sound cumbersome, ineffective, and perhaps even silly. However, people quickly notice that they are able to relax more effectively when they practice these exercises regularly. It is important that you consider alternative treatments with more thanjust a shake of the head.

Compare Treatments Compare the treatments with the benefits that you hope to derive from medication. Although it may seem that taking a pill is the simplest alternative, often this is not so. For example, antidepressants for depression can seem very straightforward. People who jump right into them, pay a couple of hundred dollars a month, and then find their sexual lives severely curtailed begin to re think the usefulness of medication and consider alternatives. Do yourself a favor and make your assessment before you've spent your time and energy on something that isn't going to help.

Don't Rush to Medication Most people are in significant distress when they first show up and go on medication. It can be hard to consider other forms of treatment during the initial visit. However, even if medication is effective for you, keep other treatments in mind. For example, a woman came to see me for long-standing symptoms of depression that had worsened recently when she and her husband discussed separation. She clearly needed medication, which helped her feel somewhat better within a few weeks. However, she felt that her depression was truly better only after she began couples therapy with her husband to address the areas of conflict between them.

You need to take extra precautions if you are considering medication and you are not an adult white male. The next chapter focuses on why.

CHAPTER 4

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Staying Relaxed

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