Understanding Medication, Therapy, and What They Do
When your nervous system is dysregulated, you can experience a range of symptoms to include racing heart, rapid breathing, sweating, fatigue, depressed mood, lack of motivation, hopelessness, and more. This is because something has activated you beyond your window of tolerance and diminished your ability to manage these symptoms with the resources you currently have. This image explains this process and how medication and therapy work both together or each on their own to improve your ability to decrease and/or manage symptoms as they arise.
The mind and body always want to meet at homeostasis, which is the balance between the two that results in a regulated nervous system and minimal symptoms. When the nervous system is regulated then anxiety and other mood symptoms are minimized or non-existent. This is accomplished by a combination of many things to include medication, therapy, utilizing coping skills, and practicing mindfulness.
EMOTIONS, THOUGHTS, BEHAVIORS
The black line represents the flow of emotions. Throughout life emotions rise and fall as we travel through each day, with external elements constantly pulling and pushing us between the Parasympathetic Nervous System (Calm) and the Sympathetic Nervous System (Anxious). Everything you can see, touch, taste, smell, or hear is constantly activating you and signaling your nervous system to respond. This would include psychosis, which may create distorted, paranoid, or delusional thoughts that also influence the nervous system.
WINDOW OF TOLERANCE
The window of tolerance is the range of emotions and symptoms we can handle with the resources we already have available. Therefore, the goal is to identify coping skills and supports that help us to better manage our emotions, behaviors, and thoughts within our window of tolerance in order to minimize uncomfortable emotions, thoughts, and behaviors (aka symptoms).
Coping skills can be learned through therapy with exploration and practice. These are important because they can expand your window of tolerance, allowing you to handle more intense emotions and symptoms without feeling out of control due to hyperarousal (anxiety, paranoia, psychosis, etc.) or hypoarousal (Depression, fatigue, hopelessness, etc.). This is shown in green, which provides a visual displaying the window of tolerance becoming larger with therapy and coping skills.
Medication is sometimes needed to decrease some of the unwanted emotions, thoughts, or behaviors (symptoms). In some cases medication may be needed to decrease symptoms so that the individual is not so far out of their window of tolerance that they may feel hopeless or require emergency interventions. Medication may be the only option for some, depending on their symptoms and their resiliency (ability to overcome) at the time, and not necessary for others; it is unique to the individual.
It is important to note that sometimes only medication can be beneficial or only therapy, and other times both may be needed. Also, in some cases the role of medications and coping skills are swapped, and medications can help to increase the window of tolerance while coping skills decrease symptoms.