man resting hands against head who looks stressed

How Can Medication Help Treat Depression?

If you are hesitant to take a medication, that makes sense. No one should agree to a prescription drug until they fully understand why they need it and what it does. This is a vital form of self-care. So, if you’re struggling with depression, it’s logical for you to ask lots of questions if and when an antidepressant is suggested.

Therefore, it can be helpful here to introduce a discussion in the name of answering the question in the title. How can medication help treat depression? Let’s explore the details behind this option and help you get informed and make the best possible decisions.

What Are Antidepressants and How Do They Work?

Antidepressant medicines are designed to treat more than depression. They may be prescribed for anxiety disorders like Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD), and disordered eating. For the purposes of this post, of course, we’ll focus on depression.

An antidepressant is meant to affect brain chemicals like norepinephrine, serotonin, and dopamine. Generally speaking, if you keep these neurotransmitters present at high enough levels, it should be enough to decrease the odds of a mood disorder like depression. Needless to say, effectiveness varies from person to person.

Are There Different Types of Antidepressants?

Short answer: yes. Each group of medications works differently in the body and may stay in the body for different amounts of time. Here are some grouping examples:

  • SNRIs (serotonin and noradrenaline reuptake inhibitors)
  • SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors)
  • Serotonin modulator
  • Tetracyclic antidepressants and analogs
  • Tetracyclic of mianserin
  • Noradrenaline reuptake inhibitors
  • TCAs (Tricyclic antidepressants)
  • RIMAs (Reversible inhibitors of monoamine oxidase A)
  • MAOIs (monoamine oxidase inhibitors)
  • Melatonergic antidepressants

man resting hands against head who looks stressedA few details to keep in mind on how a drug is selected and suggested:

  • It’s not about which one is “best.” Medication is prescribed based on your specific case. This may involve cost, co-existing conditions, other medications you are taking, your symptoms, and potential side effects.
  • Choosing the correct medication often means trying more than one and modulating dosage.
  • Family history matters. If someone in your family has been treated for depression, the doctor will consider any drugs that were effective for them.
  • The standard approach involves beginning with a low dose. This can and usually is increased until you’ve either reached the therapeutic dose, or you show improvement.
  • Antidepressants are not addictive.

What About Side Effects?

Each different medication has its own warning. Each individual person responds differently. Hence, this is one of the most important conversations you’ll have before agreeing to try an antidepressant. To follow is a list of side effects that may arise regardless of which drug you use:

  • Anxiety
  • Agitation
  • Dissociation
  • Exhaustion, fatigue, low energy, drowsiness
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Weight gain
  • Decreased sex drive
  • Dizziness
  • Dry mouth
  • Tremors
  • Heavy sweating
  • Blurry vision
  • Bladder problems
  • Increased heart rate
  • Changes in blood pressure

What About Suicidal Thoughts?

Speaking of important conversations, you will want to talk to your doctor and therapist about anything extreme like this. Talk about block box labels and the research that shows SSRIs may induce suicidal thoughts in about 4 percent of people. The risk is low — usually lower than suicidal ideation caused by depression — but, again, knowledge is power.

What’s the Next Step?

I trust this post laid a strong foundation for you on this crucial topic. Even so, there’s still a lot more to talk about. To get this important discussion, I invite you to reach out. Let’s connect for a free and confidential consultation to get your questions answered.

Depression is a challenge but about 8 in 10 people recover from it. Your path to healing almost certainly runs through a therapy office. Let’s get you started on that journey with medication management.

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How to Know If Medication Management is For You

You may be struggling with a mental health condition that interferes greatly with your life. Or you may simply need some consistent support right now. Medication can help reduce or eliminate your symptoms to help you manage your life and emotions well.

Appropriately trained mental health professionals are aware of what medications will help you, depending on your mental health condition and its severity. With medication management, you will be evaluated on what medications are most likely to aid you, provided a prescription,  and afforded medical monitoring if you decide to use them.

Still, even with experts in your corner, medication management is nothing to take lightly. It’s important to have the facts. Here is how you can determine if medication management is the right course for you.

How Medication Management Works

Medication is not a one-size-fits-all arrangement. Just because something works for you does not mean it will work for other people. A nurse practitioner or a psychiatrist will help you find the right medication after performing an evaluation for you.

Your clinician will also assess and inform you  of the following:

  • Your mental health condition
  • The reason for trying a medication
  • Medication goals
  • Potential side effects
  • Potential risks

During your appointment, let your clinician know about any allergies you have and any medications or supplements you are currently taking. After starting a new medication, your clinician will keep a close eye on you to see if the medication is working as intended.

Your clinician will also make sure that the side effects you are experiencing are not so severe that they interfere with your life. While the point of taking medication is to experience some measure of relief, do be patient as you work together to find the right medicinal balance for your brain and body. Your clinician will work with you to find the right fit.

Medication Management is For You…

If You Have Trouble Understanding Your Medication

You may know what medication to take and what does, but have less understanding regarding its purpose and side effects. With a medication management plan, your clinician will be able to address these issues.

Medication management can teach you exactly what your medicine is good for. Additionally, you can assess the risks knowledgeably. As you become more involved and comfortable with medication management, you will likely feel more confident and in control of your own care.

If You Feel Your Medication is Not Working

You may be taking the right medication in the way your clinician tells you to, but find you are experiencing health complications. Or you may feel that your medication is not working well now after a period of success.

A medication clinician can work with you to make sure you are taking your medicine correctly to decrease your risks of complications. They can also help you find other options should the need arise.

If You Experience Severe Symptoms

There are mental health conditions like schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and severe depression that cause concerning reactions in your brain and body. These symptoms can make it hard to function, distorting your view of the world.

Certain medications help relieve these issues by affecting neurotransmitters in specific parts of the brain. You may feel much more at ease knowing these medications are available and can be regulated with the help of medical management support.

Expertise and Guidance Matter When It Comes to Medication

Is medication management the right choice for you? Let’s find out together. We have helped many clients heal through a healthy combination of talk therapy and the appropriate medications.  Read more about medication management here and contact us soon for a consultation.

With medication management, you can initiate a regimen that helps you maintain a healthy lifestyle.

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Don’t Believe These 5 Myths About Medication Management for Mental Health

All forms of science and medicine are evolving. This means staying one to new developments and concepts. Unfortunately, thanks to social media and social norms, we can get stuck in certain belief patterns. A clear example of this has to do with the many myths swirling around medication management for mental health. It’s an area overloaded with confusion and stigmas.

To follow, I’ll discuss and debunk some of the more common myths. But keep in mind, it’s always important to keep an open mind when it comes to medicine. Knowledge shifts and thus, so do recommendations. Stay updated and informed!

Don’t Believe These 5 Myths About Medication Management for Mental Health

1. The Stigma

If you have digestive issues, you’d probably feel okay with trying some kind of medication to ease the symptoms. With mental health, however, society has constructed many a stigma. Choosing medication for a mental health disorder, to some, is a sign of weakness. You can handle the “normal” stresses of life like other people. Wrong.

If your feet hurt when you walk, you’d say yes to using an insert in your shoes. Let’s take this in the direction of mental health. If your brain needs some help keeping the proper balance of hormones and chemicals to keep you healthy, why would it be weird to seek assistance?

2. Medications Are Magic

When managing your mental health, quite often the goal is to decrease the impact of symptoms. It’s not a magic pill. Medication will not work alone. You will need to make lifestyle changes. You will also need to work with a skilled therapist. Being prescribed a pill is not the end of your journey. More likely, it is the start. When entering into mental health medication management, stay focused on the long-term and the big picture. Medicine is just one part of the program.

3. The Side Effects Are Overwhelming

Any medication contains the risk of side effects. With mental health medications, this risk can be greater because it involves brain chemistry. So, for starters, let’s clarify: They will not change who you are. Of course, certain behaviors and thought patterns may shift over time. But that’s why you’re taking the pills in the first place. Your therapist can be an immense help in parsing out such side effects.

But remember, you are the captain of your ship. You decide which meds you try. You decide if the side effects are not an acceptable trade-off. To get back to the theme of this post, it helps to stay open to new ideas and input.

4. One Size Fits All

With both medication and therapy, treatment is a personalized process. Each of us has unique characteristics that can influence how a medication works for us. Keep in mind:

  • There is little value in comparing your experience with a drug to anyone else’s experience
  • It can take time to find the right medication, dosage, and balance
  • Talk with your therapist about developing patience and flexibility with this process

5. It’s a Never-Ending Commitment

Far from it. Everyone’s path is different but mental health medication is not automatically ongoing. Plus, you are ultimately the arbiter of that decision. That said, never discontinue any medication without proper supervision. If you feel better, that’s wonderful. But you must still consult with your physician and therapist before making any change.

Take-Home Messages

Now more than ever, it is crucial that you get all sides to every topic. An excellent starting point on this quest is to speak with a therapist. If any of the above resonated with you,  read more about medication management, and let’s connect for a safe and confidential consultation soon.

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Medication Management: What Is It & Who Needs It?

Roughly one in six Americans are taking at least one medication for a mental health condition. In light of recent events, that number is rising. For example, antidepressant prescriptions rose by nearly five percent in 2020. Almost one-third of those antidepressant prescriptions are for people with no previous history of taking such a drug.

As a result, medication management is more important than ever. Individuals need to learn as much as possible about dosages, side effects, and more. This process is not a one-time event. Medication management is an ongoing and evolving journey for as long as you are taking any kind of prescription drug.

What is Medication Management?

Medication management is more than sorting your pills in plastic boxes for the week. It’s a form of outpatient treatment. After an evaluation is performed, medication management usually involves some or all of the following types of monitoring:

  • Periodic review of prescribed drugs
  • Outcomes
  • Side effects
  • Contraindications with other drugs
  • Contraindications with food or supplements
  • Safety and efficacy
  • Any unique symptoms and lifestyle factors
  • Consistency with which the patient is complying with dosages

Obviously, if it is a child or elderly or disabled person taking the prescribed drugs, medication management would involve a parent and/or caregiver

Who Needs Medication Management?

Navigating a mental health condition can be quite challenging. To add on the management of prescriptions only increases the burden. So, the short answer might be that anyone taking medication for a mental health disorder could benefit immensely from medication management. Also, if you have questions about your condition and the treatment plan, it is essential to have someone you can trust to help you find the answers you need.

Your medication management team will be crucial if and when you are not attaining the outcomes you seek. It’s first important to discern the reason why. Of course, it is possible that issues arise even when you are adhering to all drug-related instructions. In addition, it could be that incorrect dosage is the source of the problem. Your therapist and your medication management team collaborate to address any such concerns.

Your Appointment at Affinity Psychological Services

The process begins with you meeting one of our skilled and friendly psychiatric nurse practitioners. They, along with the rest of the staff, will create a safe space for you to handle your needs. Here are just a few of the most common issues we address during medication management:

Scheduling and Costs

Everyone has unique requirements in terms of their schedule and lifestyle. These days, virtual sessions are increasingly common. Assessment and treatment via video are available. As a pro-insurance practice, Affinity Psychological Services accept all local insurance plans. We believe medication management services should be accessible to all who need them.

Side Effects

You’re seeking to walk a fine line. There are aspects of behavior and thinking you want to change. At the same time, you still want to be you. Your psychiatric nurse practitioner will work alongside you to find the ideal prescription option and dosage.

Duration of Treatment

Every situation is different but, generally speaking, medication does not automatically have to be a permanent commitment. Medication management empowers you to learn as much as possible — and keep learning through the entire process.

Getting Started With Medication Management

You’ll want to work with a group that has already helped many others in your situation. Through talk therapy and medication management, Affinity Psychological Services offers a holistic approach that helps you maintain a healthy, fulfilling lifestyle. To take the big step toward recovery, all you need to do is call. We’ll set you up for a free and confidential consultation.