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The Pros and Cons of Mental Health Medications

Psychiatric medications can sometimes be a controversial topic. Some people believe that mental health medications are essential for treating mental illness, while others believe that they are overprescribed and have the potential to do more harm than good. So what is the truth? Are mental health medications effective? Are they dangerous?

In this blog post, we will explore the pros and cons of psychiatric medications to treat depression and other mood disorders, anxiety disorders, post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), and other mental health disorders. We will look at the evidence to see if they are effective in treating mental illnesses. We will also discuss some of the potential risks associated with taking them.

Types of Mental Health Medications

Mental health medications are designed to treat a specific condition or set of conditions. Some of the more common mental health medications prescribed by psychiatrists include:


Antidepressants (e.g. selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors or SSRI’s) are the most commonly prescribed type of mental health medication. They are typically used to treat conditions like major depressive disorder, anxiety disorders, and eating disorders. Antidepressant medications work by increasing, decreasing, or managing levels of specific neurotransmitters such as serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine in the brain.


Antipsychotic medications are the main class of drugs used to treat people with schizophrenia and psychotic disorders. They are also used in people with psychosis which occurs in bipolar disorder, depression, and Alzheimer’s disease. There are two main types of antipsychotics: first-generation antipsychotics and second-generation antipsychotics. First-generation antipsychotics are typically used to treat psychosis. Second-generation antipsychotics are typically used to treat schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and major depressive disorder.

Mood Stabilizers

Mood stabilizers are typically used to treat bipolar disorder or personality disorders. Mood stabilizers work by evening out the highs and lows associated with bipolar disorder.


Stimulants are typically used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Stimulants work by increasing levels of dopamine in the brain.


Anxiolytics is the technical term for anti-anxiety medications. Anxiolytics are a type of mental health medication that is used to treat anxiety disorders. Anxiolytics typically work by reducing anxiety and promoting relaxation.

The Benefits of Medications

Medication isn’t right for everyone. But for some people with anxiety, depression, and other mental disorders, the results can be profound. Psychiatric medications can be very effective in treating mental illness. They can help to improve symptoms, and they can also help people to function better in their everyday lives. Most medications and convenient and affordable and easily prescribed by a psychiatrist; they can be taken from the comfort of home with little to no disruption to your daily routine. Some of the benefits associated with mental health medications include:

Relief from Symptoms

Medications can provide relief from the symptoms of mental illness. For example, antidepressants can help to relieve the symptoms of depression, such as sadness, fatigue, and changes in appetite.

Improved Functioning

Medications can also improve functioning in people with mental illness. For example, antipsychotic medication can help people with schizophrenia to think more clearly and function better in their everyday lives.

Increased Quality of Life

Medications can also lead to an increased quality of life. For example, people with depression who take antidepressants may find that their relationships improve, they are able to return to work or school, and they generally feel happier.

The Efficacy of Medications

There is a great deal of evidence to support the efficacy of medications. A meta-analysis of studies found that mental health medications can effectively treat mental disorders. The review looked at data from randomized controlled trials, and they found that mental health medications are effective in treating conditions like depression, anxiety, and schizophrenia.

The Downside of Mental Health Medications

Although medications can be life-changing, they don’t work for everyone. Depression, anxiety, ADHD, and other psychiatric conditions are often treated with a trial and error method including different medications and doses to find the right combination that will work best for you. As a result, it can take a long time for you and your doctor to find the right medication and dose that will work best for you. Additionally, some people may experience side effects from mental health medications, such as weight gain, dizziness, or fatigue. Some of the potential downsides include:

Alternative Treatments for Mental Health

If you’re experiencing lingering symptoms or unwanted side effects, or if you want to supplement your mental health medication, you might consider an alternative treatment. Non-medication treatments for mental health include talk therapy, lifestyle changes, and alternative treatments including TMS, Spravato, MeRT, and photobiomodulation.

Talk Therapy

Therapy is a type of treatment that involves talking with a mental health professional to help treat mental illness. There are many different types of therapy, such as cognitive behavioral therapy, which can be effective in treating mental illness. When used in conjunction with talk therapy, mental health medication can be even more effective at reducing mental health symptoms.

Lifestyle Changes

Making lifestyle changes, such as exercising more, eating a healthy diet, and getting enough sleep, can also help to improve mental health. While this can create a negative feedback loop — poor lifestyle habits worsen mental health and worsening mental health further interrupts healthy habits — it also opens an avenue for mental health treatment and prevention. Making lifestyle changes directly benefits depression, anxiety, PTSD, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and other mental health conditions.

TMS Therapy

Alternative treatments, like transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS), use gentle magnetic pulses to stimulate specific areas of the brain responsible for mood. TMS is non-invasive (does not require surgery), non-systemic (does not affect the entire body), and well-tolerated. TMS therapy can be used alone or in conjunction with talk therapy and medication.

Bottom Line: Can Psychiatric Medications Help?

Medications can be beneficial for treating mental illness, but they don’t work for everyone. Additionally, some people may experience side effects from mental health medications. Non-medication treatments for mental health include talk therapy, lifestyle changes, and alternative treatments including TMS, MeRT, and talk therapy. If you’re experiencing mental health symptoms, it’s important to talk to your doctor about all of your treatment options.

At Neuro Wellness Spa Psychiatry in Los Angeles, we understand there’s more to mental health treatment than medication. Our no-pressure clinicians here in Los Angeles can work with you to figure out whether antidepressants or a non-pharma alternative, like TMS therapy or individual therapy, might work for you. We offer convenient, affordable psychiatric appointments that can be scheduled in person or online. Plus, our psychiatry appointments are covered by most insurance, so you can focus on what’s important. Get Started Today.

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