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All About Ambivalence and Medications

Shmuel Fischler, LCSW-C · February 3, 2021

Ambivalence isn’t necessarily a bad thing! In fact, it’s completely normal. When we witness any change, it’s only reasonable to assume that we may be subject to conflicted feelings at first. This is also true when it comes to taking medications. Let’s explore the role of ambivalence in medicine to ensure we’re getting the treatment we need.

Why Do We Feel Ambivalent?

There are several reasons we may start to feel ambivalent regarding a prescribed treatment. Side effects are one of the most common. We take medications to reduce specific symptoms, but what if we notice unpleasant side effects afterward? Uncertainty about the value of continuing the treatment may creep into our minds as a result. Individuals may also feel ambivalence regarding treatments or medication in general for any of these reasons:

  • Stigmas surrounding certain medications
  • Past experiences
  • Fear of growing dependence
  • Feeling that seeking treatment is admitting weakness or defeat

Some individuals may even be reluctant to take on the responsibility of remembering to take medication multiple times a day. While ambivalence is a natural occurrence, we need to shed it to gauge our treatment’s effectiveness.

Curbing Ambivalence

You can do several things to determine whether your current treatment is the right option for you. For starters, simply make a list of pros and cons regarding the treatment. This will start with the benefits of sticking to the treatment vs. forgoing it. It would help if you then considered the disadvantages of sticking to the treatment vs. forgoing it. For the best results, you should do this with your doctor so they can ask guiding questions along the way.  Ultimately, be sure to remember that your ambivalence is completely valid! Going through this process will help you know whether your current treatment is the best possible choice.

If the benefits of continuing the treatment outweigh the drawbacks, you’ll know for sure that your treatment is appropriate. If the drawbacks outweigh the benefits, you’ll know it’s time to explore some alternatives. As you can see, both of these results are positive outcomes that allow us to shed ambivalence and audit our current medical treatment along the way.

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If you are interested in seeking therapy in Baltimore, we’re here to help. Contact the CBT experts at CBT Baltimore at 443-470-9815. We would love to speak with you.

https://wchh.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/pdf/10.1002/psb.216