Therapy can be defined as the attempted treatment or remediation of a physical or mental disease or defect. There are many types of therapy, including mental health therapy, physical therapy, and occupational therapy. Essentially any form of treatment is therapy, and drug therapy is treatment that involves using medications, usually on a consistent basis to treat disease.
Drug therapy can take many different forms. People who get strep throat might have antibiotic therapy for a few weeks to cure the condition. A person with a heart defect or who has had heart surgery requires prophylactic drug treatment with antibiotics prior to having dental procedures, and this helps to prevent developing serious illness in the heart called bacterial endocarditis. When someone has cancer, they might have chemotherapy, the administration of drugs to kill cancer cells.
Sometimes the term is used in context of taking medications to treat mental illnesses. This is often how it’s understood, even though this definition is far too narrow. Many forms of mental illness benefit from medications that have often been specifically designed to help restore people to better mental function.
Unlike taking antibiotics or using something like chemotherapy, drug therapy for mental conditions has long endured stigma. It is still difficult for many people to understand that mental illness is indeed, a physical illness. This has made a number of people extremely reluctant to try medications, even when they are miserable. It is viewed as weak to need medicines for mental conditions.
This attitude is changing but it may still be pervasive among certain sectors of the population. In particular, those who grew up when few drug therapies were available for mental illness may be reluctant to endorse them now. This is unfortunate because attitudes of these people may influence the degree to their children will seek drug therapy or they may make people use medicines feel as though they are doing something wrong.
Suspicions about medications doesn’t have to stem from the idea that drugs represent weakness. It can also come from people’s inherent distrust of the intent of pharmaceutical companies, and some of this distrust is justified. There have been instances where drug companies have buried relevant and negative information during testing and not fully represented risks/benefits of taking a medication. It is a profit-based industry. Despite this fact, there are many drug therapies that are life saving and are able to fully restore wellness in those who are very ill.
One common behavior among the many, who take medicines, particularly if they are suspicious about them, is that they will discontinue them as soon as they feel better. This is greatly damaging under many circumstances. Failure to take all antibiotics, for instance, may cause an infection to worsen. Certainly, discontinuing psychiatric medications will result in a return of symptoms.