Taking medication: things to consider
If you’re dealing with a mental health problem, like depression, it can be hard to make decisions about what treatment is best for you.
It can take time before you find a treatment that works for you. The decision as to whether or not you take medication is ultimately yours. However, for many people, medication is an important part in managing their mental health.
Discussing your options with someone can be a real help in making a decision that’s in your best interest. If you’re thinking about medication, talk to someone who understands how it works – often the best place to start is your family doctor (GP).
In some cases your family doctor will refer you to a psychiatrist, who is able to prescribe medication. If you see a clinical psychologist, they’ll be able give you advice and support. They aren’t able to give prescriptions, because they are not medically trained.
The effects of medication
The effects of medication vary depending on things like your age, gender, the severity of your mental health difficulties, and the type of medication.
Your doctor will be able to give you a more specific answer about the effects of the medication they are prescribing for you. Ask them as many questions as you want to.
In many cases, it will take a few weeks before medication is working fully and you might find that you have ups and downs while your body stabilises. Be patient and don’t give up. If you feel like it’s not working properly, see your doctor before stopping or changing the amount you take.
Tackling all the angles
Medication will help you manage the biological aspects of your mental health problem but won’t make other difficulties disappear. It’s really important to consider counselling as well as medication.
Counselling will help you work through any difficulties that you’re having and provide you with the skills to manage better.
Side effects from taking medication
Possible side effects of medication include a dry mouth, a change in appetite or changes in your energy levels. Talk with your doctor about the likely side effects.
If you find it’s having unusual side effects or they seem worse than you expected, ask your doctor about it. They may be able to provide you with alternative medication to reduce the side effects.
Medication can be dangerous, especially if taken in conjunction with other medications, drugs and alcohol. Tell your doctor if you’re taking other legal or illegal drugs (including alcohol) so they can tell you if any of those are likely to react badly with your prescription.
More information on managing medication
Take a look at rxisk.org, an independent drug safety website that provides information on specific types of drugs and personal accounts about other people’s experience.