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Questions About Medication Management

What types of medications are used to treat mental disorders?

There are many types of medications used to treat mental disorders. As a group, these medications are known as psychotropics. Sometimes, medications that are indicated for other health conditions may also be used to treat specific symptoms associated with certain disorders or to augment the effects of a psychotropic.

The most commonly prescribed psychotropics include:

  • Antidepressants
  • Anxiolytics
  • Antipsychotics
  • Antimanics or mood stabilizers
  • Sedative-hypnotics
  • Psychostimulants

Medications do not necessarily offer a cure, but they can greatly improve a person’s ability to function and succeed in obtaining a higher state of wellness. Unfortunately, there are common misconceptions about psychotropic medications.

Will these medications change my personality?

No. Medications do not have the power to change an individual’s personality. They do have the power, however, to change how a person feels and behaves. For example, after a person has calmed their anxiety, they can think more clearly, be more productive, and relax more easily.

Do medications cause side effects?

Yes, medications can cause side effects. Most are mild and resolve shortly after your body gets used to having the medication in its system. If side effects are persistent or severely uncomfortable, tell your provider. They will either adjust the dose or change the medication.

Everyone’s body is different. That’s why it’s important to maintain regular contact with your mental health provider, who will assess the safety and ongoing necessity for the medication.

What are the side effects of these medications?

Every medication has its own individual profile and potential for side effects. Depending on what you have been prescribed, your mental health care provider will instruct you about the most common or serious side effects. If you have questions about your medications, do not hesitate to ask your provider, who can give you the most accurate information and help you decide if the side effect is serious enough to seek alternatives, such as a dose adjustment or discontinuation.

It is important to always consult your provider before you stop taking your medication, as symptoms can sometimes worsen with abrupt withdrawal.

Once I start medication, will I ever be able to get off them?

This is a complicated question. Each individual is unique. In general, it is recommended that people stay on medications for at least 9 to 12 months after symptoms have gone into remission or resolved. Some need to stay on medications longer. This is an important conversation to have with your mental health professional, and another reason why ongoing medication management is necessary.

It is important to always consult your provider before you stop taking your medication, as symptoms can sometimes worsen with abrupt withdrawal.

Are psychiatric medications addictive?

With the exception of some anxiolytics, sedative-hypnotics, and psychostimulants, the majority of psychotropics do not cause addiction. Addiction is a psychological need or excessive desire for something that produces a sense of escape, or a “high.” When someone is addicted to something, that person will do whatever it takes to ensure that they have the “thing” that produces the sought-after effect.

When medications are used as prescribed, even those with the potential to be abused, it is unlikely that addiction will occur.

Can my primary care provider prescribe psychotropics?

Yes. Primary care providers do prescribe psychotropic medications. However, many primary care providers recommend that a specialist manage this type of medication. Psychiatrists and psychiatric-mental health nurse practitioners have specific expertise in the diagnosis and treatment of mental disorders. Psychotropics are a complex group of medications with many nuances that take prescribing beyond a science into an art. Just like someone with a heart condition sees a cardiologist, or someone with diabetes sees an endocrinologist, someone with a psychiatric disorder should see a psychiatric specialist.

We recognize that each client is unique. We honor this by taking the time to get to know you as a whole person.

Our team’s goal is to help you feel safe and comfortable, while partnering with you to develop a plan to achieve your goals. We know that change is hard, but even a small change in any aspect of your life can have a significant impact. Our providers will partner with you and help to guide you through your mental health journey.

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