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    Girl with pill on tongue

    Medication in Mental Health – What You Need to Know

    For many people, the decision to take medication for a mental health problem is a big one. Lots of questions and often lots more hesitation makes it difficult to sort out the important points. So, how do you go about getting the information you need and want?

    For starters, it helps to feel comfortable with your provider. Having a good alliance will make the conversation easier and help stave off any anxiety you might have. Next, clearly convey your need to be part of the decision-making process— the decision to take medication to be a joint effort. This will allow you to feel a part of the process and get you the information you want. You probably are prepared with some standard questions. Start by introducing those questions that are most prominent in your mind. Your provider will step in and give details where needed.

    Things to keep in mind when making the decision to take medication include:

    1. Purpose of the medication
    2. Potential side effects
    3. Risk/benefits
    4. Long term effects
    5. Length of treatment
    6. Alternatives to medication

    Once you have made the decision to start medication there are a few more points to consider. Keep in mind that no two people respond the same way to the same medication—–it is not one size fits all. So, there may be some trial and error involved in finding the right medication for you. Be patient! Most people find the right medication on the first try, but if this is not you, do not be overly concerned. Next, it is also important to understand that most medications take time to have their desired effect. Some medications may not have their full effect for up to six weeks. During this time, your provider may suggest more targeted psychotherapy or other modalities as indicated. Again, patience is crucial.

    Once you have found the correct medication and it is working to help you feel your best, it is time to consider the importance of regular follow-up. This is the way your provider checks in to see how you are doing with medication, making adjustments as needed, and allows you the opportunity to ask even more questions.

    Staying educated and informed about your mental health and its treatment are great ways to feel good!

     

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