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A Comprehensive Solution: Digital CBT plus Medication in Mental health Problems
Mental Health
5 Minutes
Woman happily looking at computer screen.
“ Marc was always the one with the best advice for everyone, not only his relatives, but friends and even sometimes acquaintances. Anyone with family, or personal problems would come to him to seek out advice. Marc was proud of it, but it was his wife who noticed his signs of depressive symptoms and realized that he needed someone to help him. It took a while for her to convince Marc to consult with a therapist and start behavioural therapy to control his symptoms. However, due to a long waiting period and his depression being left unchecked, Marc fell deeper into depression to the point that during his first therapy session he was told that his symptoms were serious enough that he would need to take medication while pursuing his therapy sessions.”

This story is not limited to Marc, or even a small demographic of people.
There are many patients that need to get prescribed medications during the course of their psychotherapy sessions with their therapist. Prescribing medication by therapists is not meant to replace any kind of therapy, like Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. CBT is the main psychological treatment proven to be effective for a vast group of mental disorders, like two most common mental health problems: Anxiety and Depression.

“Had Marc’s therapist been able to prescribe the medication, all of his wife’s efforts from helping him understand that he had a problem to convincing him to seek out help would have prevented his symptoms from worsening and the doubled effort it would require to help bring him back to a healthy mental state.”

Although CBT, while very effective in treating such disorders, it is not always a standalone treatment. CBT sometimes has to be combined with medication in order to treat severe diagnoses like in depression, for more effective and longer lasting results.

One example is a Research that shows combining CBT with an appropriate medication has significantly improved the mental status of adolescent patients struggling with a range of mild to severe depression. In this case the medication will rapidly minimize the severe symptoms like suicidal thoughts, then CBT steps in to stabilize the results and make it long lasting. Unlike hard medication which can lead to quick results, CBT requires a long but steady pace approach that requires effort and patience in order to properly address and treat mental health disorders. Another benefit of using CBT while on prescribed medication is that it allows for patients symptoms to subside through the use of medication while they pick up a life skill in their therapy sessions that can be used anywhere at any time to help them overcome situations that lead to feelings of anxiousness and depressive moods.

Medication will rapidly minimize the severe symptoms, then CBT steps in to stabilize the results and make it long lasting.

At the same time, there are a good number of patients who do not respond to psychotherapy alone, for this group of patients the comprehensive solution, CBT, plus medication is the answer. This collaboration will result in better outcomes and significantly decrease the cost of the therapy (including the financial cost of care either paid by the patients themselves or the insurance companies whether it is medication or therapy costs; and ofcourse the cost of time which the patient needs to spend on psychotherapy sessions without receiving the desired outcome).

What happened in Marc’s story could occur in the opposite flow as well. Meaning that he would visit a psychiatrist at first and immediately get prescribed medication, but knowing that there are a number of individuals who do not improve their mental health symptoms with pharmacotherapy alone, there should be a way for the patient to have access to both approaches at the same time.

Research shows that the effectiveness of the collaboration of psychotherapy and pharmacotherapy will be the same regardless of the sequence or order. This means a patient dealing with depression and undergoing a CBT program, can get prescribed medication at any stage of the treatment, as both CBT and the medication can work parallel to each other. Or, patients who have started their treatment by taking prescribed medication after their diagnosis, can add CBT to their treatment process after. This combined treatment effort produces better results than any monotherapy or single method approach.

When we talk about mental health disorder treatments, patients always think about the costs involved. Costs, whether they are financial, time based or even the stigma associated with seeking help for mental wellbeing, are always the main deterrents for patients seeking out help. This is aside from the limited resources available for mental health providers, especially during the past two years.

Online CBT is the leading solution when it comes to treating mental health problems; it addresses the pain points (costs) that were mentioned above on top of guiding the patient through an effective recovery journey. This journey could be especially difficult without therapy given the stigma surrounding them. The solution to such a circumstance is having access to an online platform through the same clinic where patients received their diagnosis (first step).

With the help of an online platform such as OPTT, which monitors the patient’s progress and enables the provider’s team to collaborate easily, millions of people can benefit from the electronic CBT sessions combined with the pharmacological treatment, no matter the order they were started.

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