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Psychotropic Medication: Is It Right for You?

Melinda Toth, LPCC
Counselor, Insight Clinical Counseling and Wellness, LLC

We take medication when we have a virus, disease, pain, and/or chronic physical illness, in which most of the time we don’t think twice about taking. When it comes to medication for mental health, that is often stigmatized by us, as individuals, and the community around us. Psychotropic medication can typically fall under the following types: Anti-anxiety, anti-depressant, mood stabilizer, and antipsychotics. These medications can help address the chemical imbalances within your brain/body. If you often wonder, “everything in my life is going fine, but why am I still sad/anxious” or maybe, “I am attending therapy, applying coping skills, and doing the work for myself but I still find myself struggling,” psych medication(s) may be right for you.

Of course, you need to consult with a doctor or nurse practitioner to inquire if these medications would be beneficial for you. You can speak with your mental health clinician to obtain referrals and gather some information on whether to pursue psych medication or not. Your mental health clinician can provide psychoeducation and general information surrounding psychiatric medication; however, they are unable to prescribe and or give medical/medicine advice outside of a psychiatric licensed provider.

If medication is a consideration for you, or maybe you are already taking/have taken medication for your mental health, it is always beneficial to have a mental health therapist to work on cognitive thought processes, trauma(s), environment, and habits/behaviors that medication doesn’t necessarily help with. I often run into people who are on psychiatric medication but not in counseling, and often see/hear that they feel better temporarily but still find themselves struggling. That is typically because they are not changing anything else in their lives. If I continue to return to the same habits/environments that I was in before medication, I will still find myself with similar mental health difficulties. The spiel I give to clients is medication can take care of 50% of ourselves while the other 50% comes from the work you put into yourself.

The benefits of psych medication are: improved quality of life, increasing daily functioning tasks, decrease in intensity of depressive and anxiety symptoms, and improved sense of safety (i.e. decrease in suicidal ideations/self harm). For some, psychotropic medication is necessary to take for safety reasons (i.e. psychosis, bipolar).

Psychotropic medication is not always the best route for some and that is why it is best to explore your options with your medical team. Reasons it may not be the best route are due to pre-existing conditions that may interact with your body chemistry, sensitivity to new medications, cultural beliefs, and etc. If psych medication is a route you are considering, please contact your primary care (PCP) for a physical. In addition, it is also beneficial to seek a provider that specializes in psychotropic medicine. Again, your mental health provider or PCP can provide a referral for this.

One reason people stay away from psych medications is because of the stigma of mental health “if I take a medication, I am mentally weak.” When, in reality, it is strong to work on yourself and receive the help you need for your wellness. Another example clinicians will give is if a person with a physical medical condition is taking medication to manage it, does that make them weak? If that person didn’t take the medication, would they worsen physically? Now, put that into perspective surrounding mental health.

Medication can be scary to take, it is the ‘unknown’ of how our bodies will respond. Medications, including psychiatric medication are put through research studies to examine the benefits, safety, and side effects. With regards to psychotropic medication, it can be a trial and error. What I mean by that is it may take some time to find the right one for you. A medical provider will work with you on this, they will meet with you frequently to assess how you are doing on this medication and address any potential side effects. It takes time, just like a lot of things in this world. Some medications can take up to a month before noticing beneficial effects. Be patient and communicate with your mental health team. Communication will help get you to ‘the right’ medication and treatment you need for your wellness. Speak to your mental health clinician and medical team before determining if it is ‘right or not’ for you.

Insight Clinical Counseling and Wellness does not have a medical provider and cannot prescribe psychotropic medication. For excellent referrals, please contact Insight Counseling or your clinician here to provide you a list of responsible providers in the tri-county area.

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