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08 March 2017

Patients often reject drug-only psychiatric treatment

Many psychiatric patients would prefer to talk and work through their problems with a caring individual rather than just be given medication.

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A combination of psychotherapy and medication is widely regarded as effective treatment for mental health patients. However, for a number of reasons the psychotherapy component is often neglected.

First treatment option

This appears to be a grave omission, as mental health patients are more likely to reject treatment if it involves only drugs, a new study finds.

Some experts believe talk therapy should be the first treatment option for many mental health disorders. The new finding – from a review of 186 prior studies – supports that stance, the researchers said.

A psychologist is someone who specialises in psychotherapy, the so-called talk therapy.

According to a Health24 article, in order to become a psychologist, one needs to do an undergraduate course (usually a B.A.) with psychology as one of your majors, followed by an honours degree in psychology. Students have to go through a stringent selection process in order to be able to do a Masters degree in Psychology. Course work is followed by an internship, a year's community service and a professional board exam.

Talk the talk

"Patients often desire an opportunity to talk with and work through their problems with a caring individual who might be able to help them better face their emotional experiences," said study co-author Roger Greenberg. He's a professor of psychology at the State University of New York's Upstate Medical University.

Greenberg and his colleagues analysed 186 studies of patients who sought help for mental health conditions. Overall, the average treatment refusal rate was more than 8%.

Patients offered drug therapy alone were almost twice as likely to refuse treatment as those offered talk therapy alone, the study found.

Among patients who started treatment, more than one in five did not complete it. Again, patients on drug-only therapy were 1.2 times more likely to drop out of treatment early, the researchers said.

Drugs not always a 'quick fix'

"Psychotropic medications may help a lot of people, and I think some do see them as a relatively easy and potentially quick fix, but I think others view their problems as more complex," said Greenberg.

Patients with depression were 2.16 times more likely to refuse drug therapy alone and patients with panic disorders were nearly three times more likely to refuse drug therapy alone.

The study results were published in the journal Psychotherapy.

Many patients with mental health disorders understand that the source of their problems may not be entirely biological, the researchers noted.

They may "worry that medications will only provide a temporary or surface-level solution for the difficulties they are facing in their lives," Greenberg said in a journal news release.

Read More:

How to deal with the crippling effects of low self-esteem

What is psychoanalytic psychotherapy?

Different schools of psychotherapy

 
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