Correct, for about 6-7 years I worked at the VA Medical center in west la VA, I was the medical director of the post-deployment clinic which provided psychiatric care to our returning combat veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan.I see a lot of adults, younger adults, struggling with a variety of psychiatric disorders such as anxiety, worrying obsessing ruminating, having panic attacks feeling depressed or low energy.I’m afraid to say “the only option” because there’s always other options, but certainly if someone’s experiencing psychosis: psychotic symptoms, hearing things, seeing things, feeling people are after them or following them, we usually diagnosis those as schizophrenia.For those individuals medications can be life-saving, because if we don’t treat them they’re susceptible to acting on those thoughts and they may tell them to harm themselves or others.I’ve been very involved with teaching our trainees, medical students and residents and until about a year ago I was an associate professor of psychiatry at UCLA.
The medication is a treatment modality in addition to other types of treatment modalities such as psychotherapy – but I do jump to medications when there’s an urgent issue, for instance they’re having severe psychiatric illness such as they can’t sleep, they’re seeing things and hearing things such as hallucinating or they’re feeling manic or out of control.
We don’t really try to force you to try to do something you’re uncomfortable with be cause you’re unlikely to follow up or be compliant with the treatment. We’re on the same page: we want to get you feeling better. As you mention, most medications if not all of them have side effects. When we start we go over the risks: the pros, cons, benefits, and talk about the common side-effects.
I tell them look if you’re experiencing any medication side-effects, don’t wait until your next appointment. And we can certainly talk about what you’re experiencing and if there’s an easy remedy for it or if we can alleviate it.
If the problems persists and they’re too uncomfortable, we talk about other things – such as maybe trying a diff class of medication or a diff medication within the same class.
Or even stopping meds altogether and trying something different.
We make sure the don’t have any medical condition that may manifest or mimic psychiatric symptoms.