Mental Health and Medication

Mental Health and Medication

Posted on Oct 4, 2023

By Dr. Tamsin Franklin, TTC’s founder and principal doctor.

I have always worked from the perspective of helping people to achieve health. This includes mental health as well as physical health, as they are part of the whole being that is you. So far, so trite.

A fortnight ago, I saw Rebecca (not her real name) whom I have seen as a patient for a number of years. Rebecca works in IT, has a long-term partner and a greyhound… and yes, lives in Northcote. She has a great psychologist and has been seeing him regularly for the past 3 years.

Rebecca exercises, she eats really well, she is a member of a gym (code for: tries to get to the gym) and she is super anxious.

Where I struggle is to get Rebecca to consider medication. There is a real blocker in many people to consider using chemicals to change mental state. People will use vaccines to prevent disease, take hormones to enable them to be the gender that feels their true self, antibiotics for a urinary tract infection, anti-hypertensives for elevated blood pressure… you get the picture. However most people struggle to accept that our brain can also sometimes need help from outside. That sometimes we don’t carry within us the capacity to enact cellular change, and that it is OK to try to fix it with chemicals.

Rebecca will happily support her partner taking medication for their ADHD, which has been transformative I might add, and has enabled them to thrive in the work environment and to feel confident in accepting tasks they previously ruled themselves out of being able to perform. But Rebecca won’t give herself the same licence.

To be clear, I am not saying that drugs are great, and that everyone should get on the anti-depressants. These types of medication work about 50% of the time; they are not for everyone; they can be a total PITA to come off; and they have side effects (goodbye libido). However, for some people, they can also liberate them from a cycle of internalised negativity, shouty unpleasant self-talk, and cycles of behaviour that have not worked in the past and are not going to work in the future.

Falling in love… chemistry, finally getting your period and realising the world is actually ok… chemistry, staring at your new born baby and despite the lack of sleep, the destroyed vagina, and the nipples like grated carrots, you feel content… yep, chemistry.

If you have tried everything and are exhausted and just going around in circles, then trialling medication is OK. It might not work, but it is not something to deny yourself through a feeling that somehow this is a failure and the only acceptable form of mental health is one that is achieved by denying access to help, be it chemical or otherwise.

If you would like to discuss these issues further, please make a long (30-minute) appointment with either myself or one of my colleagues.