From the earliest years of our lives, we learn to take care of our physical health, whether by doing sports, eating “an apple a day”, or going to doctor’s appointments. However, we don’t place the same importance on looking after our mental health. In fact, this topic is often shrouded in mystery and met with shame. Society treats psychiatric medication completely differently than pills one would need to take to treat a chronic illness or the flu. As a result, we’re too embarrassed, bottling our struggles up and not reaching out for professional help when we need it most. The best way to unveil the taboo of psychiatric medication, decrease anxiety, or overcome any shame around it is by staying informed and educating yourself on this topic. If you feel like you would benefit from taking psychiatric medication but don’t know what to expect, this blog post is for you! Instead of avoiding your mental health issues and isolating yourself, we invite you to take a closer look at psychiatric medication management, the details of this process, and things to expect along the way. Let’s get started!
What Is Psychiatric Medication Management?
Many mood disorders boil down to a chemical imbalance in your brain that psychiatric medication can help restore. If you suffer from anxiety or depression, chances are you also have lower levels of neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine, often referred to as the “happy hormones”. As a consequence, you might struggle with many unpleasant symptoms, such as insomnia, lack of appetite, significant mood swings, or irritability. While taking psychiatric medication won’t magically solve these mental health issues, doing so can bring significant relief, calming your emotions and helping your body function better. With that being said, psychiatric medication is no walk in the park. There’s a reason why they could only be prescribed to you by a mental health professional. We all come from different backgrounds and have particular medical records, history of diseases in the family, or genetic makeup. All these factors determine which drugs are safe and effective for us and which are not advised. Psychiatric medication management (PMM) is the entire process of not only prescribing the right drugs but also monitoring the treatment and establishing whether the psychiatric medication works well for you. Psychiatrists aim to make sure that the treatment helps:
- address each person’s unique needs,
- reduce unpleasant symptoms,
- minimize uncomfortable side effects,
- improve the overall quality of their lives.
Psychiatric Medication Management: What To Expect
If you’ve never had an appointment with a psychiatrist and you feel intimidated or anxious, it’s pretty understandable. We’re often scared of the unknown. The good news is that we’re here to share with you what that process looks like and what are some things you can expect when it comes to psychiatric medication management:
Step 1: Evaluation
The whole process of psychiatric medication management starts with establishing the details of your mental health issue, assessing your state, and making a diagnosis. At this point, the mental health professional can ask you for information on your symptoms, other health conditions, and medical history.
Step 2: Prescribing Medication
Based on that data and your current health status, the decision will be made whether you would benefit from taking psychiatric medication or not. If yes, you will be prescribed a specific medication depending on your mental health issue, i.e.:
- mood stabilizers
- anti-anxiety medication,
The psychiatrist will make sure to inform you of the medication, including its alternatives or potential side effects. Remember that the ultimate decision whether to take the drug or not is up to you.
Step 3: Monitoring The Response
This step is at the core of understanding psychiatric medication management. Once you start taking the prescribed drugs, it’s crucial to observe your bodily reactions as well as your emotions, thoughts, and mood levels. The first weeks are treated as a trial period where you can check with your psychiatrist the effectiveness of your medication. You can expect to share with them information on:
- any changes you’ve noticed in your functioning,
- the severity of your symptoms,
- side effects caused by the medication.
Step 4: Adjusting Medication
If you can’t see an improvement in how you feel, don’t lose hope. It’s absolutely normal to switch medications or adjust the dosage if the current prescription is not a good fit. Such a “trial and error” period can be challenging or even frustrating, but keep in mind the long-term benefits of your treatment. Try your best to be patient, trust the process, stay observant, and work consistently with your psychiatrist.
Step 5: Using Other Forms of Treatment
If you decide to take psychiatric medication, then it’s strongly recommended to do so alongside psychotherapy. Overcoming mental health issues starts with regaining neurochemical balance, but the real work focuses on maintaining that state, which requires:
- gaining insight into the mechanisms of your disorder,
- recognizing your unhelpful beliefs and behaviors,
- learning practical coping skills, i.e., mindfulness practices for emotion regulation.
Get Your First Psychiatric Medication Management Appointment with Harbor Psychiatry Making the first step is always scary. However, neglecting your mental health can have far worse consequences for you in the long run. We invite you to take a proactive approach toward achieving mental well-being. If you’ve been struggling with a mental health issue for a while or have a loved one who could benefit from psychiatric medication treatment, take action today. Start by contacting us here and booking your first psychiatric medication management appointment!