Now that you’ve established in finding a trusted (board certified and licensed) psychiatrist, next comes the diagnosis. After the official diagnosis, comes the treatment plan. I like to think of a treatment plan as business plan or an action plan. When you decide to start a business, you have to find your niche. Then once that’s established, you need to have a product or idea that’s a cash cow and the right target audience for your business. Then you come up with your business plan that includes goals, expectations, growth in terms of opportunities and what you want to achieve in this business.
I didn’t think of my treatment plan in that way in the beginning but, it is a good idea to have a plan of attack. For me, my diagnosis (from a licensed/board certified psychiatrist) was Major Depression with Panic and Anxiety Disorder (remember Triple Threat Disease?) and our plan was psychotherapy (talking one on one with the doctor and with/without a couch) and medication. Psychotherapy is pretty much like to talking to a professional about your problems in a strict confidential space. It’s kind of like writing your innermost personal thoughts in a journal for no one to see or read except you. This type of therapy is not for everyone! However, it is a working solution for me. One of the subtypes of psychotherapy is cognitive behavior therapy (more at nami.org!) and that is where you and your doctor discover your unhealthy patterns and try to work out ways to help change your behavior and your ways of thinking. For example, during a session, I told the doctor that I felt useless and hopeless because of my depression. I felt like a nobody and what the doctor told me was that I need to change the way I think and behave. It’s true. Those negative thoughts that run in your head and affect your mood, can really affects your behavior. If you think positively, then you’re behavior will be positive. I always tell myself: I can do this! I can overcome this. Even on days when my mood is negative, I change my ways of thinking into a positive manner.
Here are some examples of treatment options that you can explore on http://www.nami.org:
- Psychotherapy with Cognitive Behavior Therapy (my treatment plan!)
- Dialectical Behavior Therapy
- Eye Movement Densensitization & Reprocessing Therapy
- Exposure Therapy
- Interpersonal Therapy
- Mentalization Based Therapy
- Psychodynamic Psychotherapy
- Therapy Pets (My fave! More on that to come!)
Remember that all these different types of treatment plans out there aren’t “one size fits all”. What works for one patient will not work for a different patient. So talk with your psychiatrist and choose a plan that works best for you.
Now that, I have established that psychotherapy with cognitive behavior therapy as my treatment; the next step came: medication! Because I had the Triple Threat Disease, I needed medication in order to help me feel better and function as well. My doctor prescribed anti-depressants as well as anti-anxiety medications. Here comes the Zoloft and the Xanax! When the doctor told me that I need medications, I remembering say: “Oh great! Another pill for me to take on a daily basis”. Because my doctor had extensive experience in dealing with patients that were going down the same road as I was and I had no choice, but to accept the fact that I needed more than just therapy. In my previous post, I mentioned that medications prescribed take six weeks to kick in; that’s so true for me. Most medications (regardless of what you take for whatever health problem) have side effects and take time to build up in your body.
Medications like Zoloft, Paxil, and other anti-depressants have side effects such as: nausea/vomiting, diarrhea, drowsiness, weight gain, loss or gain in appetite and etc. The same goes for anti-anxiety medications as well. For the past 13 years, I’ve been on Zoloft (briefly), then Lexapro and now Viibryd along with Alprazolam (generic Xanax) and I’ve experienced all of the side effects including weight gain. I kid you not when I say I used to be 120lbs and now, I’m pushing 200lbs. Yeah! Medications will do that!