Can Depression Be Controlled Without Drugs?

Tuesday, 06 Aug 2013 05:34 PM

By Peter Hibberd, M.D.

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Question: My son (he’s 22) has bipolar disorder, but refuses to take medicine because he doesn't like the way it makes him feel. He sees a therapist every other week, and it seems to help, but I worry that without taking meds his mood swings aren’t being controlled. What do you think: Is therapy enough?

Dr. Hibberd's answer:
 
I agree with you. The very nature of bipolar disorder creates a disordered perception of reality, and its victims cannot always realize or control their behavior. Bipolar disorder is a condition where psychotic behavior is common, along with attention deficits and disorganized and abnormal judgment. These conditions can’t be treated with counseling alone, and the suicide risk is high in untreated cases.
 
Death and/or injury is just so preventable with medication use. Why would someone choose not treat this brain disorder, when he would surely not hesitate to treat a lung or heart disorder?
 
Therapy is not enough. Encourage him to consult a psychiatrist who can prescribe some medication that will not slow him down the way his prior medications may have. Anticonvulsant drugs, among others, can be effective in treating bipolar treatment, so modern medical management does not have to make him feel drowsy or experience negative side effects  the way the old management strategies used to.

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