The obvious about using coping tools and non-pharmacological techniques for mood issues or behavioral concerns is that the person receiving these are not faced with experiencing many side effects with the potential to cause more problems when taking medications instead. For example, if I'm anxious and I take an anti-anxiety medication, sure I might feel less anxious, however, I may also become unproductive that day, sleep more than usual, and then feel irritable and even more anxious as it wears off. Reason being, I haven't actually dealt with what caused my anxiety in the first place! Now, in the event the person is taking medications, even reaching for coping tools or the caregiver using non-pharmacological approaches will reduce the amount of or chances for side effects if PRN, or as needed, medication was being used on top of their routine medication regimen.
However, there are two other bonuses to regularly using coping tools and non-pharmacological techniques:
1. It allows the individual the mental drive to figure out what is causing their mental anguish. Psychotropic medication can often make someone's judgement clouded or confused in the moment, especially PRN, or as needed, medication is used. Getting to the root cause is imperative for growth and change. Simply, if you remove the trigger, often the mental anguish resolves.
2. And for both the individual, and if a caregiver is involved, it empowers them to take control into their own hands. Lack of control is an upheaval that rears it's ugly head and is a very common trigger to many people's angst. The more and more the person can resolve their own mental anguish on their own, without relying on a pill, the better they feel about themselves. Their self-esteem increases; angst and sadness resolve.
We call these "side benefits"! We know coping tools and non-pharmacological approaches work, but these side benefits are what motivate us to continue using them as well!
Coping tools and non-pharmacological techniques are individualized to the person, i.e., people respond differently to tools, so you need to find out what works for you or for your residents, patients, or loved ones. You try something, if it worked - great! If it did not work, you try something new. Over time you will build your toolbox of all these effective and impactful tools that you will feel strong, confident, and ready for anything! Happy tooling!