As with any medical disorder, to answer this question, you want to weigh the risks and benefits. Does taking medication outweigh the risks of not taking it? Medication for mental health is just like medication for physical well-being…there can be side effects. Sometimes these side effects are minimal and don’t bother people and other times they can seem worse than the disease itself. For example, many antipsychotic medications have side effects that affect people physically (tremors, shuffling gait, restlessness or the need to move, etc). Anti-depressants, anti-anxiety medications, sleep medications, every medication out there has the potential for side effects. It is important to talk with your doctor about your medication and if there is a side effect that is unbearable, see if there is a different medication. Often depression and anxiety can be treated without medication using exercise, diet, and coping skills, but not always. Furthermore, other illnesses such as schizophrenia and bi-polar cannot be controlled without medication. I am a big proponent of talking with your doctor about whether medication is necessary for your illness, and when it is possible, I am a big proponent of trying without medication first. If you do need medication, there is nothing wrong with this. All it means is your illness needs a little help – it may or may not be permanent. Sometimes people just need extra help for 6 months or so as they pull back together. Medications that are available through your doctor are generally safe and it is just important to talk with them about other medications (including herbal, over the counter, vitamins, etc) to ensure there are no potential interaction problems between them. So, my advice – first, talk with your doctor. Second, whatever your doctor says, try exercise (with doctor’s permission of course!), engaging with friends and activities you like, and keeping to a healthy diet. Third talk it out in therapy (or do this along with my second point). If none of this works, go back to the doctor and discuss options for medication. Always remember, though, it is not a failure if you need medication! It just means your body and brain need assistance.