Medication Compliance and Depression

Medication Compliance and DepressionIt is critical that depressed patients diligently follow their doctors’ medical and counseling treatment prescriptions. The symptoms of this serious psychological disorder can often be effectively managed with the proper medication and therapy, but depressed individuals often fail to comply with their doctors’ orders. The results can be catastrophic.

Medical Treatment of Depression

There are a wide range of medications designed to treat depression. Most of these prescription drugs are benzodiazepines and are effective at slowing neurological activity in the brain and calming patients suffering from anxiety disorders or panic attacks. In conjunction with therapy and emotional support, prescription anti-depressants have proven to be very helpful for severely depressed individuals if they engage in their full treatment regimen.

Quitting benzodiazepines suddenly can be extremely dangerous depending on the dosage amount and how long the person has been using the drugs. Symptoms of antidepressant withdrawal include the following:

  • Tremors
  • Seizures
  • Nightmares
  • Sleeplessness
  • Lethargy
  • Excessive sleep
  • Panic attacks
  • Palpitations
  • Suicidal thoughts or actions

The safest way to get off of benzodiazepines is to quit gradually with close medical attention. When patients decide to quit their medications on their own, they put themselves at risk for serious physical and psychological withdrawal consequences.

Non-Medical Depression Treatment Options

Group and individual counseling is another important component of most depression treatment plans. The process of exploring thoughts, emotions and behavioral patterns can lead to significant breakthroughs as depressed individuals learn to actively manage their emotional health. The process can be slow, and to a depressed person, it may feel pointless. However, millions have found real and lasting relief from their symptoms once they fully engaged in the counseling process.

Unfortunately, the capacity to engage in the counseling process is often undermined by depression. The inclination to cancel counseling appointments or to skip group meetings may be driven by the following effects of depression:

  • A feeling that success is impossible and nothing will work
  • Insecurity about being stigmatized by the need for counseling
  • Personal pride that makes seeking or accepting help a challenge

Another dangerous and common pattern is depressed patients starting medical treatment, feeling some relief and then believing that they are “cured” and don’t need counseling anymore. This same thinking often leads people to eventually stop taking their medication, which can be extremely dangerous.

Substance Abuse and Non-Compliance

In addition to the previously listed medical withdrawal symptoms and the risk for deepening depression due to prematurely discontinued counseling, medical non-compliance may also lead to self-medication through alcohol, drugs or compulsive comforting behaviors. Addiction develops very quickly in depressed people and further complicates their eventual recovery.

Strategies to Improve Medication Compliance

If you are struggling to comply with your depression treatment or if a loved one seems to be drifting away from his or her recovery plan, please consider the following strategies to maintain compliance:

  • Journal your feelings and carefully allow yourself to contemplate the repercussions of quitting
  • Empower a close friend or family member to hold you accountable to your treatment plan and to monitor your treatment compliance
  • Work with a counselor to develop an understanding of the recovery process, the need for continued treatment and specific strategies that will ensure ongoing compliance
  • Call our toll-free helpline for immediate, confidential help

Our counselors are standing by 24 hours a day with a caring ear, sound advice and access to the best recovery resources available. Don’t give up on beating depression. We can help. Call now.