Overcoming mental health obstacles is a journey. There are endless treatment modalities, frameworks of practice and accommodations for diverse needs. Services look different for everyone, but some things remain common for a large majority of the population undergoing mental health treatment – medication being one of them.
If you’ve recently added prescription medications to your treatment plan, or if you simply need to get back on track with taking your daily dose, you’ve come to the right place. In this article we’ll cover how to manage medications, supporting your mental wellness and improving your overall quality of life.
What is medication management?
Medication management is the practice of reviewing medications and dosages with a medical professional to ensure optimal benefits of mental health medications and avoid potentially harmful side effects of certain combinations of drugs.
Medication management is part of an outpatient treatment program intended to decrease symptoms of mental illness and improve daily function. When medications are organized and reviewed by a medical expert, a person benefits from a safe treatment plan and greater independence in daily life.
Medication management works best when you have a support team, and a therapist should definitely be on that team. If you aren’t connected with therapy services, ask your psychiatrist to help connect you. In therapy, you’ll be able to unpack the effects of medications on your mental wellness.
What are the benefits of medication management?
Medication management increases awareness about the way chemicals in drugs interact with each other and can alert patients to potentially harmful drug combinations. Knowing about what side effects to look out for and which drugs to avoid can give someone peace of mind about their health.
It can be difficult to discern whether symptoms are the result of a medical or physical condition or a side effect of medication. Having conversations about these effects with a psychiatrist can provide clarity on how medications are affecting you.
Medication management educates patients as well. Being informed about treatment is empowering and enables individuals to maintain some control in their healthcare. When you’re knowledgeable about your medications, you can be a part of the decisions around switching drugs or changing dosages.
Medication management can also decrease the impact of external factors on your health. Forgetting to take medication, skipping medications due to high costs and insufficient transportation to pick up medications are all barriers that can be addressed and overcome with the help of your mental health team.
The top 7 medication management tips
Bring all of your medications to an appointment with your psychiatrist
Anything you take on a daily basis should join you on your next trip to the office. Even a medication that doesn’t seem to relate to your mental health concerns could cause an adverse reaction when combined with certain drugs. Your doctor should know about cold medicine, inhalers, daily vitamins, birth control, medications for allergies or prescriptions for other health conditions.
Be honest about negative side effects
Have you ever switched medications and felt an enormously positive difference, but felt reluctant to bring up side effects for fear of having that medication taken away? Ignoring the negative side effects of medication could be potentially harmful to both your physical and mental health in the long term. A medical expert can help you determine if the side effects are hazardous and if there’s a good replacement option.
Make a medication list
A medication list is a form that identifies all of your current medications, along with the dosage and frequency and reason for use. According to the Agency for Healthcare Research Quality, a medication list is a convenient way to share important information with your healthcare team and to keep track of the medications yourself. Consider printing off a medication list template to bring to your next appointment.
Use a schedule
When you are prescribed several medications with separate doses to take at different times of day, it can be tricky to take them all at the right time without mixing them up. One of the best medication management tips is to use an electronic schedule with alarms. Try a phone calendar or a medication dispenser like this one to stay on top of your meds.
Keep a log
Have you ever told yourself you’ll remember something so you don’t write it down, only to promptly forget minutes later? When it comes to your medication, it’s best not to test your memory. Jot down notes throughout the week, or write a synopsis of how you were feeling at the end of every day. A regular log of physical and emotional sensations can help you and a psychiatrist determine if medications are working for you or against you.
Know what to look for
Your doctor can let you know what side effects your medications are likely to produce, but also take note anytime you experience changes in sleep, appetite, mood, body temperature, interest in sex and other notable differences. Of course, you’ll also want to consider whether the medication is impacting what it is supposed to address – are the symptoms of your mental illness decreasing?
Don’t make changes on your own
Medication management works best when you are collaborating and making team decisions. You are the expert on your own body, but your psychiatrist is the expert on the medications you are taking. Trust your body, but consult a professional if you’re thinking a change is in order.
Get on track with medications today
Medication management is one step on your path to mental wellness. Get the help you need in managing medications from Pyramid Healthcare. We service Pennsylvania residents in areas relating to substance use and mental health. Call 888-694-9996 today to learn more.