Medication and Psychiatry
Certain mental health disorders are rooted in chemical imbalances. Chemical imbalances may need to be treated with medication to relieve symptoms that can cause distress or disrupt your ability to function efficiently in everyday life.
For many decades, a stigma has been attached to psychotherapy and medication. This stigma is rooted in ignorance. Chemical imbalances are a matter of biology and neurochemistry. Just as high blood pressure is managed with medication and lifestyle changes, some mental health disorders need to be treated with medication.
Before beginning any medication for mental health, you will likely need to meet with a psychiatrist or a psychiatric nurse practitioner for evaluation. The evaluation process can take a few sessions, as the psychiatrist will want to get to know you and understand the issues you are experiencing. Be honest and open with the practitioner regarding your symptoms to accurately evaluate your needs and place you on the proper medications.
Tracking Your Medication Journey
Every individual’s neurochemistry will be different. It may take a bit of trial and error before finding the type of medication that will get you feeling better. Be patient with the process. Some medicines can take up to six weeks before it builds up in your system enough for noticeable change. You may want to keep track of how you feel over the course of each day, noting the time of day you take your medication, and any mood changes you may experience. This can help your provider record any patterns and make recommendations for when and how you take your medicine.
You do not need to face a mental health illness alone. A close family member or friend can be a great support. While you adjust to your new medication, this confidant can offer objective and rational opinions on changes you may be experiencing. New medications can alter your mental state. Having someone that can keep you grounded during the adjustment process is beneficial. Should you experience adverse side effects, this person can help you decide the best course of action and keep medical professionals apprised of your current state.
Some psychiatric medications may have side effects. Your provider will inform you of typical side effects and what to look out for. Severe side effects should be addressed immediately, and you should reach out to the provider as soon as possible. Severe side effects may include suicidal ideation, apathy, sexual dysfunction, rash, agitation, and other effects that drastically affect your daily life. If you experience a mental health crisis, please seek help immediately.
SAMHSA National Helpline 1 (800) 662-HELP (4357)
NAMI Helpline 1 (800) 950- NAMI (6264)
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1 (800) 273- 8255