When you are treating mental illness, it can be difficult to know if your medication is properly working. Many times, psychiatric medication like antidepressants, take a few weeks to really take effect. More so, once they do, the change is often initially subtle.
It is an incredibly common question to ask one’s self if your psychiatric medicine is working. Some people feel initial embarrassment second-guessing the opinion of a doctor, or they have learned to ignore their own mental health warning signs in hopes of not rocking the boat.
But, the effectiveness of the vast majority of mental health treatments is measured by self-reporting. If the patient isn’t reporting a change in symptoms or is reporting a negative turn in symptoms, it is indicative that their treatment plan needs to be adjusted.
Let’s take a look at a few times when it is more than appropriate to speak with your doctor about changing medications or the dosage of medications you are currently on.
Adverse Side Effects
The first situation is absolutely the most obvious one. This is probably also the most important situation as well, as it could lead to dangerous situations.
If you are starting a new medication, and begin feeling adverse side effects, you should contact your doctor immediately. These can include physical symptoms like increased heart rate, slurred speech, or weakness. They can also include mental symptoms such as difficulty remembering, an increase in anxiety, suicidal ideation, and other intrusive thoughts.
While it is true that some medication takes a little bit longer than others to start to take effect, psychiatric medication should never “make things worse, before they get better”.
So if you are on a new medication, or a new dosage of medication and begin feeling obvious, adverse reactions – DO NOT try and stick it out in hopes things will improve. Speak to your doctor immediately, and make a plan to adjust things until they are working properly for your diagnosis.
When Your Warning Signs Are Starting To Appear
Many people who are navigating a mental health diagnosis know that there are certain warning signs to look out for when mental health starts to deteriorate.
For some people, these warning signs might be about how their living space is starting to reflect their inner turmoil –
- Dishes are starting to pile up
- Laundry goes unfolded, or dirty
- Pet areas are not cleaned
- Trash isn’t taken out
For other people, they can start to experience some warning signs of a mental health relapse through their own behaviors –
- Bathing and Hygiene become chores
- Motivation to start tasks is lacking
- Coping with increased drug or alcohol use
- Withdrawing oneself from friends and family
Warning signs are entirely unique to each individual and can vary greatly based on personal experience and diagnosis. Piling dishes in a sink isn’t necessarily an indicator your medication is not working for everyone. Some people might just hate doing dishes.
It is important to begin to learn the behaviors in your own life that are indicators that you might not be in the best or most healthy place mentally. This comes with practice, but once warning signs are established, you can stop mental health declines before they become serious by speaking with your doctor and adjusting your medication.
Major Life Changes
Whether we like it or not, a large part of learning to live with mental illness is living life on life’s terms. That doesn’t mean we cannot be proactive about addressing life’s terms right as they come up, or when we see them coming.
Major life changes and their effects on our mental health are often associated with negative events such as –
- A Divorce or Break Up
- A Death of a Loved One
- Loss of Job or Career
- Major Physical Injury
But when viewing major life events from the scope of how they affect our mental health, it is important to consider exciting and traditionally positive events as life-altering as well. Such as –
- Moving to a New Area
- Starting a New Job
- Moving in with a Significant Other
- Having a Child
All of these events are seen from a societal standpoint as positive and exciting, but that doesn’t mean they don’t come with their own stresses and anxieties.
Even positive, exciting events can create opportunities for us to backslide in our mental health journey. It is important that when major life events occur, no matter good or bad, we share that information and how it is honestly affecting us with our doctors.
Psychiatrists are here to help us navigate the ups and downs of life, to make sure that we experience life and the emotions that come with it in an appropriate way.
Raleigh, Chapel Hill & Durham Students Wanting To Change Medication In College
Starting college or returning to school after a long break is absolutely a major life change that can have serious impacts on an individual’s mental health. That’s why at AIM, we always want to extend a welcoming hand for students in our area.
Regardless if you are attending:
- NC State
- Meredith College
- Shaw University
Or any of the fine higher education institutions in our area, feel free to reach out to us for an initial consultation.
We know that heading away from home to school and managing your medication for the first time ever can be a huge undertaking, we are here to help.
Whether you are happy with your current medication and just want to find support in the area, or would like to actively review your treatment plan with our team, AIM can help you find exactly what you need.