In order to limit the exposure and transmission of Covid-19, PTI will be exclusively doing tele-psychiatry (virtual) visits. You will still have your appointment, you will just have to do it with our Virtual Psych Network (VPN™). Contact us today to schedule your appointment.

Understanding The Role of Medication And Mental Health Treatment


Medication can be an important part of a recovery plan depending on the mental illness and other treatment modalities.

Here at the PTI, our goal is to get you to your optimal state of health as quickly and efficiently as possible, however, we don’t believe in cutting the corners and short-cuts.  We have a team approach, and guess what?  You’re part of the team.  What you say matters and achieving your goals and determining what those goals are is important.  We want to be there with you to partner, help, motivate, eliminate barriers, and help set the vision for what “healthy” can look like.  

The main message we promote is that everyone has the ability to influence their own mental health, for better or worse.  Ultimately, each of us is in the driver’s seat when it comes to achieving our optimal state of health.  To improve and get better, that may mean temporary or long-term solutions such as counseling and the use of medication, however, there’s no substitute for implementing an array of “coping skills” and learning how to use them on a regular basis, even when, and especially when you don’t necessarily feel like it.

We also want to acknowledge that the use of medication is a polarizing and touchy subject in our culture, that’s laden with stigmas about mental illness.  The phrase “you need meds” can be as damaging as “you need help.”  We are well aware of the stigma that mental illness carries in our society and we want to educate others so that we can all get along better, because we believe in treating people right no matter what.

On one hand some people look to medication as the fix-all.  However, taking a pill can’t cure mental illness.  Medication can be a useful strategy for treating the symptoms of mental illness so that you can implement other coping strategies.  Many medications also have side effects and that can be discouraging to the person taking them.  Unless the side effects are contra-indications for taking the medication, it’s important to still take the meds on a regular basis, as prescribed.  Keep track of the side effects and whether it’s getting better or worse over time.  Feel free to give us a call if you’re concerned, especially if you’re getting to the point of wondering whether or not you should continue taking your meds.  Oftentimes, it’s worse in the long run to discontinue taking meds as prescribed or to overdose.  Communication is key and remember, we want to be in your corner, helping to find solutions that work.

In many cases, there’s a strong possibility of reducing the amount of medication over time if someone is willing to do the work on the other end.  That looks like aiming for building natural and community supports.  That means building better connections with family and friends that can offer support in some way, even if it’s just getting out of the house on a regular basis.  Consider being involved with a support group such as NAMI or another local mental health network.

Reducing Medication and Coping Skills

As we’ve said before, implementing your own coping skills to help elevate your mood, activity level, and mental engagement help tremendously.  That can be anything from taking a walk everyday to drawing, poetry, journaling, working out, or playing an instrument.  The main thing is to avoid passive engagement, such as watching too much TV, video games, or movies.  A little bit is OK but relying on them to get through the day makes things worse.

If reducing medication is important to you, talk with your doctor about it and make a strategy to implement community engagement, natural supports, and coping skills.  Keep a journal and track your moods and activities so that you can see what’s working and what’s not as well as have a reminder– and momentum– to carry you through the difficult times.

We also want to acknowledge that there’s other sources of reluctance with regard to taking medication.  Due to stigma as well as the invisible nature of mental illness, sometimes it’s difficult for someone to admit that they actually do have a mental illness.  If that’s the case, there’s often a back and forth inner dialogue about whether they should be taking medication at all.  As we’ve said before, the professionals are there to help.  Keep a journal and keep track of how things go.  If the medication helps, and you can see over time that it is helping with your activity and engagement levels, then that will help with motivation to keep doing it.

Lastly, medication is not the only solution that we want to throw at people.  A lot of times, people go to doctor with the expectation that medication is going to be the solution— whether they want it or not.  We’re not here to force medication on people arbitrarily.  We’re here to help.  There may be other forms of treatment that can help if you are adamant about not doing medication.  If you have questions, we’re in your corner and willing to help sort it out.  That doesn’t mean someone does whatever they want and then they get better, but it does mean that we want to be on your team.

If you or a loved one is having a rough time or has been in a slump for awhile, consider giving us a call.  Anxiety, PTSD, panic attacks?  We’re here to help and those things are treatable.  Whether you come to us for your mental health care or not, we want you to know that you’re important and that you deserve the best.  Don’t settle for anything less than your optimal state of health this year!  Make it count, it’s the only 2016 you’ll get.

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