Understanding Psychiatric Medications


If you’re taking a medication, make it your duty to know what it does and potential side effects.

Medication therapy can be an effective method for treating mental illness.  Unlike other types of medications, such as antibiotics, psychiatric medications cannot cure the illnesses for which they are prescribed, but they can help.  Sometimes, medications can be used to manage some of the symptoms or just to decrease the severity of the symptoms so that other forms of therapy can be utilized as a combination of different treatment methods.

Factors For Medication Management

Anyone who takes medications for mental illness should understand that sometimes, especially with severe mental illness, it may take some time to find the right dosage or combination of medications for each person.  In some cases, certain meds work better than others and that can be frustrating to the patient as the combination of meds may change over a year’s time.  Factors that affect whether or not medications are effective for an individual include age, sex, genetics, diet, physical illness, type of mental illness, and other habits such as smoking or drinking.

It’s also important to understand the types of medications that are prescribed for mental illness.  You should know what medications you’re taking and the amount.  Along with that, whenever you are prescribed a new medication, either have a conversation with your doctor or do some research on sites such as NAMI or NIMH to know the possible side effects, and whether they should be long-term or short-term side effects while your body is adjusting to the new medication.  Lastly, everyone who takes any type of psychiatric medication should know warning signs to look out for that would warrant contacting your psychiatrist.  It’s important never to stop taking your medications unless directed by your doctor.

If your child is taking prescribed psychiatric medications, have a conversation with your doctor regarding any potentially dangerous side effects that may show up in children.  Due to the ongoing development of children and teens, psychiatric medications sometimes have different effects on those populations than adults.

Older adults and seniors should also exercise heightened awareness when taking psychiatric medications, due to their bodies processing the drugs more slowly than a younger adult.  Also, older adults pose a higher likelihood of taking over-the-counter and herbal supplements which may interact with prescribed meds in a negative way.  Again, having those conversations with your doctor will help to provide clarity on what to look out for so that you can continue your road to recovery with as few interruptions as possible.

Knowledge is power and the more you know the more empowered you will be on your road to recovery.  We have well-trained professionals that want to make sure you are on the right track for recovery from mental illness, we care, and we’re ready to partner with you today.