Getting to Know Medication Management

Medication is often an essential part of mental health treatment. It can treat underlying symptoms in acute and chronic situations and help patients maintain the equanimity they need to stick with the healing process.

Prescribing medication in mental health requires something known as “medication management.” In medication management, the patient and therapist work together to determine whether or not a medication is the right option for the patient. In session, the psychiatrist and patient discuss options, then the psychiatrist recommends a dosage. The patient then follows up with the psychiatrist, checking in about the effects of the medicine to determine whether or not it benefits the patient.

In some cases, patients may need long-term management of their medications. Bodies adjust over time, and medications may not be as effective after years or months of use. In cases where a medication has addictive properties, long-term management can help guard against addiction.

The Benefits of Medication

Many patients are hesitant when first introduced to the idea of taking medication. At our clinic, we understand that this is a complex decision. There are several benefits to these medications, however, and understanding them and dispelling certain myths can help clarify the decision making process.

Myths about Medication

Medication for mental health is quite common in the US and used for a wide range of mental health issues. One misconception some have is that only severe cases require medication or that medication somehow implies a situation is dire.

Another myth is that all medications are addictive or that they may somehow “change” a person. First, only some medications come with a risk of addiction; second, effective medication management addresses both these concerns, monitoring the patient so that they have a safe experience with medication.

Sometimes, medication is not the right answer for a patient. By working in tandem with your psychiatrist, you can make sure that getting on medication is best for you and your needs.

How Medication Can Help

Some conditions are better served by therapy, such as when a person is dealing with self esteem issues, for example. Many patients with other conditions, however, benefit greatly from medication, including those with anxiety or depression. In fact, with severe depression, medication is often the greatest driver of recovery and wellness.

The Pros and Cons

If you are considering medication for a mental health condition, it can be helpful to weigh all of the pros and cons before making your decision.

Pros include:

  • It’s effective
  • It can speed up your rate of recovery
  • It can provide the equilibrium needed for successful therapy
  • It can improve your quality of life
  • It can address biological triggers

Cons include:

  • It can come with side effects
  • It requires medication management
  • It can take a while to find the right dosage
  • It can come with some social stigma

Common Psychiatric Medications

Medication transformed psychiatric care around the turn of the 20th century, allowing doctors to step away from more dangerous interventions, including restraints. Today, psychiatric medication can address any number of mental health conditions and are used widely around the world.

Antidepressants

Antidepressants are by far the most widely used psychiatric medications. These medications not only address symptoms of depression but also can work with symptoms of anxiety or attention deficit. Some antidepressants you may learn about include:

  • Fluoxetine
  • Venlafaxine
  • Duloxetine
  • Citalopram

Anti-Anxiety Medications

In acute or chronic cases of anxiety disorder, psychiatrist may prescribe anti-anxiety meds. Common anti-anxiety meds include:

  • Clonazepam aka Klonopin
  • Buspirone
  • Lorazepam

Antipsychotics

Antipsychotics sound frightening, but they do other things beyond treating psychosis. Antipsychotics are effective in treating PTSD, eating disorders, and even OCD. Common antipsychotics include:

  • Ziprasidone (Geodon)
  • Aripiprazole (Abilify)
  • Lurasidone (Latuda)

Stimulants

Stimulants are like the caffeine you get from your morning coffee, but much stronger. They can be very effective in treating eating disorders and hyperactivity disorders such as ADHD. Common stimulants used in psychiatry include:

  • Dextroamphetamine
  • Methylphenidate
  • Lisdexamfetamine
  • Adderall

Managing Your Medication

In effective medication management, patient and doctor work together to find the right balance for the patient. The patient has to remain committed to the process, and the patient must adhere to all dosages and recommendations made by a doctor. A patient should never take someone else’s prescription and they should also never take more than their own recommended dosage. Self-dosing can create very dangerous scenarios for patients.

Patients should keep in mind that their need for medication may change over time. When progress is made in therapy, for example, patients sometimes require less or even no medication. Long term medication management can help navigate these nuances.