Why can't I just take a pill?

I was recently asked the question: Why can’t I just take a pill? Wouldn’t that solve the problem? Well, the answer is yes and no. Pills can be helpful for some psychological problems now and again. Often, people combine pills with psychotherapy. However, the crucial difference is that pills can also bring other symptoms. For example, I have people who tell me that they feel out of touch with real life when they are taking powerful anti-depressants. They report feeling like they live in a bubble or in a glass-house.

What pills can do is to help alleviate your unbearable feelings such as depression, fear, anxiety or on the flip-side, manic activity. However, in the same way, pills may also disguise what lies behind these unbearable feelings.

What may be behind those feelings? It could be issues rooted in the past such as not mourning someone whom you have lost, being abused, or being traumatised. When we push these feelings underground or choose to ignore them, what may often happen is that they pop up elsewhere in our lives. We may become stuck in that place of our psychological development. So, we end up having medically unexplained symptoms – like back pain, or headaches or severe skin problems.  

Of course, it is important to check with your doctor that what you have is not an obvious physical or medical problem. Often, however, it may be hard to tell what is biologically based or what actually maybe the result of something else in our lives. Nevertheless, most of us instinctively know that a link exists between our bodies and our minds. A skin breakout could be an infection or it might be triggered by conflict with your boss. When this happens, we could say that our bodies maybe trying to “tell” us something that we are not paying attention to consciously.  

Talking to a psychotherapist can help you to discover what may be triggering your symptoms and help you understand and work through them. We can explore what may be unconscious for you. That way, you tackle the symptoms in a whole way, not just in chemicals.

So, if you have medically unexplained symptoms, and somewhere in your mind you suspect that the pills may be covering up something else, you may want to explore that with a psychotherapist. Talking to a psychotherapist gives you an alternative personal approach to getting well emotionally and physically.

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