3 Reasons Why Medications Do Not Always Help

CompassionateLove Blog: Displaying compassion for those who struggle with mental illness    (c)2017  Nancy Virden, Always the Fight Ministry

Doubts about medications may come from watching a person try them and remain in an emotional or mental struggle. Before denying yourself or anyone else this type of treatment, here are three reasons why meds do not always help. 

(1) The patient is non-compliant due to their illness.

A study on patient compliance to medical treatment statesdpressed-2798, “…depression continues to play a central role in nonadherence.”¹ Think about it. Depression challenges our ability to think beyond the negative and hopeless. Depression saps our energy and motivation. There is often a giant I don’t care shadowing our days.

Depression can tell us we are not worthy of treatment, and who cares if we live or die. There may be trust issues. 

Adherence, or compliance, means taking medication as prescribed. Timing and dosage are important.  Whether taken with food, water, or on an empty stomach affects how medication works.  

Other mental illnesses create struggle with compliance as well. A manic state leads one to believe he is well and no longer in need of treatment. Anxiety may cause one to cancel appointments or leave prescriptions unfilled.  Temporary disconnection to reality disrupts the best of intentions. It is difficult to maintain any schedule when your mental health is struggling.  

Any of these reasons can interfere with a patient’s communication with doctors. Without full disclosure,  a psychiatrist will not have access to the knowledge she needs to make the best recommendations. 

(2) The medication needs adjusting. 

pills-rgbPsychotropic medications, similar to other types of medicine, require specific dosages for different people. Finding the balance that works best may take some time. Meanwhile, functioning can remain challenging. 

Not all medications work well for everyone either. It’s a complex system matching the right med to the client who will respond best to it.  Some medicines even have a dual purpose. For example, in a higher dose one drug relieves anxiety, and in a lower dose the same drug helps with depression.

Unfortunately, for some people a search for effective treatment may take longer than for most. This does not mean there is no hope!   

(3) The patient refuses co-treatments. 

Psychotropic medications are not “happy pills.” If our expectations are for them to fix a negative personality or relationship problems, we will be disappointed.

One’s usual thinking state may be unhealthy. Experiences have influenced how we think.  Medication cannot make us reasonable.  We choose how to be.

Psychiatrists are medical specialists and generally do not offer psychotherapy. Seeing a licensed therapist is important. Yet even that is not enough without our full participation. 

Co-occurring disorders such as addiction add another layer to treatment needs. If there is unwillingness to make all-around changes, medicine will not help much.

Do you know someone who takes medication and is not improving? Find out if any of the above are interfering. If that person is you, it is imperative to keep trying. Asking for support, and communicating honestly with your professional mental healthcare team, is an important first step. 

Today’s Helpful Word

Nahum 1:7 NIV
The LORD is good, a refuge in times of trouble. He cares for those who trust in him…



NOTE: I am not a doctor or mental health professional. I speak only from personal experiences with and observations of mental illness. In no way is this website intended to substitute for professional mental health care.

If you are struggling emotionally today or feeling suicidal, or concerned about someone who is, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Hope and help is yours.

 *pictures from rgbstock.com

¹Martin L, Williams S, Haskard K, DiMatteo MR.  The Challenge of Patient Adherence. Ther Clin Risk Manag. 2005 Sep; 1(3): 189–199. Published online 2005 Sep. Retrieved on January 8, 2017 from  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1661624/

²Mental Health Treatment. Mental Health America. Retrieved on January 21, 2017 from http://www.mentalhealthamerica.net/types-mental-health-treatments

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