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Mental Health Medication – to Medicate or not to Medicate

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Mental Health Medication – to Medicate or not to Medicate

To Medicate or Not to Medicate…

As a therapist, I have listened to numerous clients share their fears about taking medication to support their mental health needs. Common fears include side effects, adjustment periods, weaning side effects, “zombie effects”, and long-term effects. Fear of the unknown is ultimately the underlying influential factor. It’s a difficult line to walk. You are the only one who truly experiences what it is like living with your brain. Here are some guidelines as you consider medication:

1) Establish Trust. In order to make decisions about what to put in your body, you need a deeply trusting and close relationship with your medical provider team. Ideally, this would be a psychiatrist and therapist (tag team).

2) Ask questions. Ask your psychiatrist all of the questions. Side effects (expectations for side effects, adjustment period, weaning, long-term use, and warning signs), Modality and Effectiveness (the how and how well of the medication), Availability of Psychiatrist for Adjustments (contact between scheduled appointments in case of concern or questions), Availability of Medication in General (at risk for low supply at pharmacy), and Expectations for Length of use (short-term versus medication for long-term diagnosis like Bipolar Disorder or Schizophrenia).

3) Create measures to keep track of changes throughout the process. This is helpful for your treatment team to have measurable outcomes versus “I feel a little better”. Mood and anxiety scales can be created with your therapist and even discussed with family/friends to share observations for additional input.

This is ultimately your decision. Just don’t make a decision based off of fear alone.

by: Olivia Espinosa

Postpartum Counseling

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