The reality in the world of mental health is that, culturally, we do not consider the use of medications a good choice. The stigma with mental health and, additionally, the use of psychotropic medications as a means to help our mood or state of mind are often met with feelings of helplessness and shame. It may be further exacerbated by hearing messages of “be stronger,” “keep it together,” or, even “love your God more.” These types of responses to someone’s mental state or their expressed interest in taking prescribed medication is simply INSULT TO INJURY. If you have experienced these responses from others you’ve opened up to, I am terribly sorry that your desire to heal, recover, or find happiness was not met with more support.
What I have learned as a mental health provider is that by the time a client makes it to my office, it is because their suffering is quite pronounced and they are desperate for relief. They, often times, have already made multiple visits to their primary care provider (PCP) in an attempt to treat the symptoms of depressions, anxiety, sleep deprivation and/or addiction, before beginning their treatment with me – an EXHAUSTIVE EXPERIENCE!!
“SOMETHING JUST ISN’T RIGHT!”
If you have been struggling with symptoms such as chronic fatigue, anxiety, sadness, feelings of hopelessness, irritability, constant worry, and more, for more than two weeks, then maybe it is time for you to act.
“BUT WHERE DO I BEGIN?”
To get medication management ball rolling for you, I have 5 tips I’d like to share with you.
1. Take the mental health screener. I prefer the PHQ-9 and/or the GAD-7. This can be helpful for you to understand the severity of your symptoms and is also helpful to take to the provider at your initial appointment.
2. Find a provider to consult about medication management. Often the beginning point is sharing your concerns with your PCP. They are often helpful in referring you to a specialist. There are several mental health professionals who assess, diagnose, and prescribe medications.
Most people think of psychiatrist, whom are medical doctors (MD), when it comes medication management. What people often are not aware of is that advanced practiced register nurses (APRN) with prescriptive authority specializing in mental health, also has the ability to assess, diagnose, prescribe meds, and create a treatment plan for you. You may see this noted as APRN, CNS Rx-PMH or APRN, NP Rx-PMH. I, myself, am an APRN.
3. Prepare for your appointment. Before you go to your first appointment, you should be prepared.
Compile a comprehensive list of any medications that you are currently taking. This includes any over the counter medications, supplements and vitamins. This information is important in considering options for you.
Take note of any medications that you may have tried in the past. Was it helpful or not? Were there side effects and any information related to the use of that medication?
Determine your goals. Your goals matter. Share with your provider any goals and/or expectations you may have concerning the use of a medication.
Ask questions! Your symptoms and diagnoses will determine the choice of medication. Knowing why a specific drug is suggested for you (and potential side effects) is important information to have for most people.
4. Follow up with your provider. It is up to you to carry out the plan that you and your provider decided upon. Commit to yourself to stay with the treatment long enough to give it a chance. Have a clear understanding of how long before you experience any relief of symptoms. If the plan is not effective you can decide together what the next step may be.
HAVE YOU CONSIDERED GENETIC TESTING?
An innovative approach that providers may suggest is the use of genetic testing. This is called pharmacogenomics. The genetic testing requires a swab of the inner cheek but provides a wealth of information in effort to prescribing medication that is uniquely best suited for you . This happens to be a service I provide, so feel free to contact me if you have any questions.
5. Realize that your recovery is possible. Treatment does work and there is much hope that you will get better and recover from your current symptoms.
I hope you can also come to realize that it is possible you may have a genetic predisposition and/or chemical reason you need to utilize medication. This stands alone and is not resolved with psychotherapy.
Consider utilizing psychotherapy in addition to medication. Once symptoms are treated it can then be optimal to look at what may be triggering symptoms or any unresolved issue that creates a constant undercurrent contributing to your symptoms.
Weather you are considering the use of genetic testing, treating acute symptoms related to a crisis, managing symptoms from a chronic mental illness or simply considering options, my hope is that you won’t tarry in that space for very long. Make a decision today that you will take the first step in your recovery and healing journey. You are more than welcome to contact me to set up an appointment, ask questions, or to allow me to simply point you in the right direction.