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  • Sabrina Trobak

The Benefit of Medication

Medication:  Why it can be Helpful

There are a variety of different hormones/brain chemicals in the brain and each one has a purpose.  If one or more of the brain chemicals is not at the level it is supposed to be at, it can cause a variety of issues in the brain and the thinking process.  This imbalance of brain chemicals can cause things like anxiety, depression, lack of focus, memory loss, skewed thinking, hallucinations and various other issues.  

Appropriate medication helps balance these chemicals so they are  at the appropriate levels and  allow the brain to function at a higher, more effective level.  Medication can be a highly effective tool to help create a balance of brain chemicals.  Medication makes it more manageable for people to work on changing behaviours.

Brain Chemicals

Some common brain chemicals and their functions:

DOPAMINE: the reward chemical, pleasure, focus,  motivation and wanting to learn.

SEROTONIN:  mood stabilizer, relaxed, calm, improves self esteem and sleep and reduces depression and worry.

OXYTOCIN:  feeling attached, connected, loved, feelings of trust.

ENDORPHINS: elevates mood, happiness, responds to pain and stress, used to alleviate anxiety and depression.

NOREPINEPHRINE:  excitement, happy, alert, motivation. 

GABA:  anti-anxiety/stress/panic/pain, increase calm/focus, maintaining control. 

MELATONIN: rest and sleep.

Generally, if any of these chemicals are too high or too low, they do not allow a person to experience the functions, resulting in feeling the opposite of what is mentioned above.

Medication is “A” tool

Medication is not THE answer.  It is a tool in a large tool box.  Medication is much more effective if it is accompanied with therapy.  Using medication with counselling and challenging old habits, thoughts and behaviours is often the most effective approach.

What causes the chemical imbalance?

There are a variety of different things that cause chemical imbalances in the brain.  A significant one is trauma.  Every time a person experiences trauma it has an impact on the brain chemicals, causing them to become imbalanced.  Trauma can be anything from growing up hearing parents yelling to witnessing trauma like a car accident, or experiencing violence, being bullied or growing up in an environment that feels unsafe etc.  

Every time a person experiences trauma the brain chemicals are altered.  Over time these changes remain and do not return to their healthy levels so medication may be required to help bring these brain chemicals back to a more healthy level.

Medication doesn’t work

Some people believe medication does’t work for them.  There is a large variety of different medications and, unfortunately, there isn’t a test a person can take to find the medication that works best for him/her.  This can be frustrating for patients trying to find a medication that works for them.

Often medication will have minor side effects that will last for a week or two but then the side effects will subside.  For some, the side effects don’t go away.  This does not mean “medication doesn’t work” for them.  It means that type of medication isn’t working.  Trying a different medication can often be beneficial.  It is important to work with your doctor to find a medication that does work for you; for some people, this means trying a few different medications before finding the right one.

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