Mental Health & Medication

Overview

There remains a certain amount of stigma 
associated with taking psychiatric medications. This has improved to some extent, however many people express views such as "I should be able to handle this on my own", or "I don't want anyone to know that I take these medicines". It is imperative for people to understand that psychiatric conditions involve real biological and chemical imbalances, much like hypertension or diabetes and that medications can help to restore chemical balances in the brain. It is also important to emphasize that nobody needs to know about any personís treatment unless they choose to divulge that information.

Types of Medications

There are numerous medications available
 to help with treatment of depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, persons needing assistance with substance abuse disorders as well as psychotic disorders. Some medications work well for one or more of these issues. One thing to emphasize is that all of the medications work, however due to each individual's chemistry, some may work better than others for each person. It helps to try to stay open to your prescriber's suggestions regardless of the class of medications that may be recommended. The term "atypical antipsychotic" sounds very scary, however these medications are commonly used for problems such as mood stabilization as well as adjunct treatment for depression. Talk with your provider about any concerns that you may have.

Side Effects

Unfortunately, many medications which are helpful for mood, anxiety and other symptoms come with "baggage". Some common side effects include 
weight gain, sedation, nausea, diarrhea, sweating, vivid dreams, sexual side effects and dry mouth. Many of these side effects will dissipate over time if the client will continue to take the medication as prescribed. It is important for prescribers to have a conversation about these issues and ask if the symptoms that brought them in have improved. If so, can the client tolerate some of the discomforts that they are experiencing? Medications prescribed for hypertension, high cholesterol, diabetes and other disorders often have side effects as well and it really comes down to a risk/benefit situation. If a person is so depressed that they are missing numerous days of work because they just can't make themselves get out of bed but gained 10 pounds after starting the medication, which is the worst situation? Sometimes side effects can be dealt with by a change in medication or the addition of another agent to offset the effects of the first medication. Again, this is something to speak with prescriber about.

Treatment plan

Each time a client meets with a prescriber, they
will have ideally met with a therapist in order to give a detailed history of the circumstances which led them to seek help. Medications can be a wonderful tool for stabilization of symptoms, though it is important to point out that the medications do not solve problems. They can, however, often "level the playing field" so that the necessary therapy work for underlying issues can be more effective. All clients being treated with psychiatric medications are highly encouraged to work closely with a therapist. Other key aspects to the treatment plan include exercise, dietary changes, support groups and ways of increasing social support systems.  The following are some reputable sites for more information regarding psychiatric medications. We look forward to helping all of our clients meet their personal goals.