Medication Management

Mental Health Medication

Medications can play an important part of a treatment plan. Psychiatric medications work by influencing the brain chemicals regulating emotions and thought patterns. Treatment typically consists of pills or capsules taken daily. A few medications are available as liquids, as injections or as tablets that dissolve in the mouth.

For most medications, your provider will start at a low dose and slowly increase dosages to therapeutic levels. Following these instructions will reduce side effects and discomfort.

Whenever stopping a medication, it's necessary to work with a doctor to taper off the dosage while brain chemicals get used to the change. Stopping medication abruptly can result in uncomfortable side effects.

Medications may work better for one person than for another. It is difficult to predict exactly who will respond to what medication. Doctors usually review clinical records and see if there is an evidence base for recommending one type of medicine over another. Family history and side effects also come into play when prescribing medication.

Medications for mental illness fall into the following categories:

  • Antipsychotics
  • Antidepressants
  • Anti-anxiety Medications
  • Mood Stabilizers

Medicines are usually more effective when combined with psychotherapy. In some cases, medication can reduce symptoms so that other methods of a treatment plan can be more effective. For example, a medication may alleviate some significant symptoms of major depression and then talk therapy can help you change negative patterns of thinking.

Be persistent until you find the medication or combination of medications that works for you. A few psychiatric medications work quickly and you will see improvements within days, but many work more slowly. You may need to take a medication for several weeks before you see improvement.

Side Effects

Side effects are a part of taking mental health medications.  Newer medications have fewer side effects than older ones, but no medication is 100% side effect free.  Many people don't experience side effects or see them go away within a few weeks.  Changing medications or dosages will often resolve a side effect problem.  It is important to stay in close contact with your health care provider in managing side effects.  If you feel a medication doesn't work, or you are having side effects, consult with a provider to adjust the treatment plan.