We live in a “quick-fix” society. We want what we want now, and don’t like to wait. The tendency for many is to want immediate gratification, not delayed gratification. This is very apparent to me because I diagnose and treat problems with mood and pain.
The quick fix medications, or what I also refer to as the “Band Aids”, do have an important place in treatment. Examples are treatment of panic or anxiety attacks and acute pain. Also appropriate use can be before acute stressors, such as being in a highly stressful social situation, being in court, public speaking, fear of flying, etc. These medications include the tranquilizers (“Benzos”), sleeping pills and pain pills (Opiates). They can definitely improve quality of life for those who need them.
The problem, though, is that quick fix medications are potentially addictive in some people, and thus can be overused and abused. If the tranquilizers are taken for mild anxiety frequently, this can result in the person not learning to cope with minor stress by relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, exercise, etc. This can also lead to needing to take more and more to have the same effect, and then not working well when they are needed for acute anxiety attacks or acute pain. Similarly, if sleeping pills are taken too regularly, the body never learns to sleep naturally. The same goes with pain pills, which should be preserved for moderate to severe pain and not mild pain. A good aspect of these medications is to help the person to maintain control in certain situations, which hopefully will improve confidence, functioning, and quality of life.
I prefer to focus in my practice on prevention of anxiety and pain. Psychotropic medications when prescribed effectively and often when combined appropriately leads to reduced acute and chronic anxiety and pain, improved overall mood such as depression, improves sleep quality, etc. The result is that the person can become in control of his/her life rather than the body being controlled by stressors and pain. Prevention can reduce the need and dependence on the “Band Aids” and “quick-fixes”, which leads to either more appropriate as needed use or in some patients they are not needed at all. It’s important to strive for long term success and health rather than only relying on the “quick-fixes.”