Are psychiatric medications for you?

Deciding whether or not to seek mental health services can be daunting and overwhelming, particularly with the ongoing social stigma associated with it. Likewise, the decision to start psychiatric medication can also be difficult. This is where an assessment with a psychiatric medication provider can be helpful.  

After assessing and understanding your symptoms and how they are impacting you, a medication provider can help you understand the pros/cons of taking medication for your particular experience. This is a great opportunity for discussion and getting questions answered. Completing an assessment does not commit you to take medication. It simply provides you with information that can be helpful in making the decision for yourself.  

Common questions we hear about psychiatric medications:  

Will I experience side effects? Generally, side effects from most psychiatric medications are minimal and manageable. Side effects associated with antidepressant medications typically occur within 1-2 weeks of starting the medication and resolve as your body adjusts to the medication. 

Will I need to stay on medication long-term? Many people may be able to gradually taper off their prescribed medication after a period of stability. However, if needed, many antidepressants are considered generally safe for long-term use. 

Which antidepressant should I take? Most antidepressants have been found equally effective in studies. Selecting a medication will be determined by your symptoms, past medication experience, safety profile (such as for pregnancy), and patient preference. In addition, genetic testing can be considered as a tool in selecting a medication based on how your body processes medications. Your provider will decide if such testing is appropriate.

How soon will the medication reduce my symptoms? Typically most antidepressant medications can take 4-8 weeks to achieve a full therapeutic response. Your provider will likely start at a low dose to minimize side effects and taper up to an effective dose. Many people start to notice improvement within two weeks.

Reasons to consider psychiatric medication:

  • Mental health symptoms can negatively affect your relationships, ability to work or attend school, and even limit one’s ability to complete daily self-care. 
  • Medications can target chemicals in the brain associated with mood, anxiety, and other mental health disorders. 
  • Medication combined with psychotherapy has been shown in studies to be the most effective strategy in alleviating distressing mental health symptoms. 
  • Side effects are often minimal and manageable.
  • Many people are able to slowly stop taking medication after a period of stability. 

If your symptoms are causing moderate to severe interference in your life, or if your current treatment approach is not as effective or as fast in impact as you would like it to be, you may want to consider adding medication to your treatment plan. It can help you get your life back to normal. We’re here to discuss your options if you have questions regarding whether or not medication is right for you. Reach out today.

– Sara Heit, APRN, CNS