In a world with numerous medication options, it may be tempting to think that there is a pill that can solve all your problems. “Taking a pill is much easier than going to therapy. It will work more consistently; it will work faster. It is cheaper. It requires less effort, less commitment.”

On the other hand, maybe a professional has suggested trying medication. And you may be reluctant. “What if medication has side effects? Or changes my personality? What if I get addicted to the pills, and I realise I cannot live with them?” 

Meds or Therapy?

These are common thoughts that may cross your mind when you start working on improving your mental health. But there are no one-size fits-all answers. There are some facts that may help you decide, with the help of a qualified professional, what are the options that suit you best for improving your mental health and your quality of life.

  1. Pills are not skills

This means that, while pills may chemically boost your ability to deal with everyday difficulties, they do not provide skills or adaptive coping mechanisms. These skills can come only as a result your work towards your personal healing. This is one of the reasons why, while in some cases therapy and meds may have similar results, the results of psychotherapy last longer (Leichsenring et al., 2016).  

  1. Medication can be beneficial

The example of eating disorders demonstrates well how sometimes medication can be effective, while other times psychotherapy may make a difference (Reas & Grilo, 2021). 

  1. Explore combinations

In some cases, the combination of therapy and medication may be the suggested course of action. Research shows that this is the case for some specific diagnoses, like bipolar disorder  (Parikh et al., 2014).

Working on yourself, your mental health and your quality of life is a process. Sometimes the answers are not clear. It is important to seek professional help, to guide you and assist you in making an informed decision that suits you. With this help, you can be empowered to assess yourself what seems to be working better for you.

If you or someone in your family is unsure whether to opt for psychotherapy or pharmacotherapy, it may be a good idea to seek professional help.    

Elena Marinopoulou is a Behaviour Analyst with Willingness Team. She works with children and adults and has a strong interest in parent training, sleep and feeding issues, as well as Acceptance and Commitment Therapy.


Leichsenring, F., Steinert, C., & Hoyer, J. (2016). Psychotherapy versus pharmacotherapy of depression: What’s the evidence? Zeitschrift Für Psychosomatische Medizin Und Psychotherapie, 62(2), 190–195.

Parikh, S. V., Hawke, L. D., Velyvis, V., Zaretsky, A., Beaulieu, S., Patelis-Siotis, I., MacQueen, G., Young, L. T., Yatham, L. N., & Cervantes, P. (2014). Combined treatment: Impact of optimal psychotherapy and medication in bipolar disorder. Bipolar Disorders, 17(1), 86–96.

Reas, D. L., & Grilo, C. M. (2021). Psychotherapy and medications for eating disorders: Better together? Clinical Therapeutics, 43(1), 17–39.