What to Expect when Taking Medication

Read below for information on what to expect when getting on/off medication, the misconceptions, and the side effects.

So we’ve all heard about how crappy meds make you feel, how they have tons of side effects and how they can cause serious damage to your system. If that’s the case, why do people get on them at all?

Here are some reasons why:

1. Medication can stabilize your mood. If you experience a rollercoaster of emotions, medication can even out the highs and lows for a pleasant middle ground.

2. Medication can raise your mood. Many antidepressants can uplift moods as well as even out the low points so you feel generally happier.

3. Finally, it can calm your highs. If you struggle with mania or anxiety, medication can calm your nerves & help you to feel yourself again, especially if you are prescribed medication to take in the moment.

Now that we’ve shown the benefits, let’s go over some misconceptions.

1. It does not cure you. As much as we’d love to take a pill and be back to our “normal” selves, there really is no way to have a mental illness-free existence. In combination with counseling/therapy, however, meds can bring you back to a high-functioning status.

2. It does not change who you are. Some people I’ve heard from are afraid of taking medication because it changes your personality or makes you someone else. But this is not the case. Medication may slightly alter who you are, but it also saves you from living in suffering as much as it can. And you won’t be the same as before because of that.

3. The side effects are worth it. You may have heard stories of people living with digestive issues, headaches, withdrawal, mood swings, or other problems while adjusting to or changing medication, or even just from taking it on a daily basis. While this is true, finding the right med combo will help alleviate the most uncomfortable side effects and give you more benefits than downsides.

Medication does have risk. But for many, it is worth the trade-off. In addition, sometimes there are more risks without medication than with it. For instance, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, bipolar I and II can worsen over time without treatment (link). In fact, my husband and I’s psychiatrist said my husband’s bipolar II can become bipolar I if left unmedicated.

After reading this, you may be more open to taking medication. If that’s the case, let me provide you with some tips before you get on a med.

Getting off and on medications: many people think that you notice a medicine kick in immediately. This is not the case. Medication takes over a month to fully take effect, though I can feel a slight difference after a full week or so. Often, adjusting to new medication can be difficult and riddled with mood swings, bathroom trips, and other symptoms, but be patient. Adjusting takes time, and once you’re fully on the medication, you will notice a healthy change.

Knowing whether your medication is right for you: medications take a lot of time to see if they’re the right fit, and sometimes the side effects just aren’t worth the treatment. Always inform your doctor of any changes and DO NOT QUIT A MEDICATION WITHOUT CONSULTING YOUR DOCTOR. Get your doctor’s emergency contact information or consult their answering service. They will be able to tell you to quit taking a med in an emergency situation.

Insurance risks: antipsychotics can get really expensive. Always ask your doctor for discounts, samples, or coupons, whether your med is covered, and if you can have a 90-day supply (these are always cheaper per unit). Another item to keep in mind is that some antipsychotics also function as seizure medication and can be cheaper or covered more by insurances.

Finding a good doctor: it is hard to find reliable, trustworthy psychiatrists. The field is a speculative one and can be full of undermedicators and overmedicators. Don’t be afraid to ask around for the best doctor in your area. I drive two and a half hours to see mine. He’s that good.

I hope this post changes your mind on the functions, risks, and pluses of mental health medication! Comment below with any additional thoughts, concerns, or points, and I’ll be sure to get back to you soon!

 

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