At times, the symptoms of depression, anxiety or panic disorders, eating disorders, or trauma, among other concerns, might become severe enough to interfere with activities of daily living for an extended period of time.

For example, perhaps you experience panic attacks or overwhelming anxiety, are unable to sleep or sleep too much, lose your appetite, or are unable to concentrate or motivate yourself to do your school work, or have sad and hopeless, even suicidal thoughts. When one has suffered for a significant amount of time and other interventions have not helped, medication might be an appropriate option to consider.

Your therapist can help you make this decision and refer you to a psychiatrist or another medical doctor for a consultation to see if medication could be a useful adjunct to your treatment. If the psychiatrist or physician recommends medication, it is generally recommended that you use medication as an adjunct to your work with a therapist.

Medication may be helpful in alleviating some of the symptoms that interfere with daily functioning and facilitate your ability to work constructively in therapy to change your behavior, your patterns of thinking or expressing emotion, or helping you to cope constructively with the concerns that brought you to counseling.

People taking medication for symptoms of emotional distress should be monitored by a physician (psychiatrist, family physician, etc.) familiar with mental health concerns and the medications used to treat them as well as their side effects. Some medications offer symptom relief relatively rapidly. Others, including those prescribed for depression may take 2-6 weeks before offering noticeable improvement in functioning or mood. Please talk to your counselor for more information.

In general, medication for symptoms of depression, anxiety, and other emotional distress should never be stopped abruptly, nor should you attempt to adjust your dosage without a doctor's supervision. Because some medications may have interactive effects with others, or with substances including alcohol, you should always let the psychiatrist or physician know what other medications you are on, or how often and how much you drink. You should also speak to him or her as soon as possible if you are experiencing unpleasant or undesirable side effects.