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Medication Management: Knowing How to Trial Your Prescriptions

If you are new to prescription medications or have struggled with acclimating to them in the past, it is important for you to be aware of the fact that medications will work differently in every individual. It is not easy to identify which medication is the best fit for you or your specific health condition without some trial and error. Take antidepressants for example; there are several different categories of antidepressants, each with its own brands that come with different physical, cognitive, and emotional side effects. Luckily, there are things that you can do for yourself that will help you to find the medication that will work best for you. 

Things to Know About Your Prescriptions Before You Take Them

There are prescription medicines available for nearly all severe mental and physical health conditions. Oftentimes, a person becomes hyper-aware of their symptoms and looks to their doctor for guidance. Through these conversations with your doctor, your doctor or psychiatrist may suggest a prescription medication to help with symptoms of physical or mental distress. It is important that you discuss and past reactions you have had with other medication, such as issues with breathing, stomach problems, rashes, or other allergic reactions. 

You may also need to discuss any current medication that you may be taking, as new medications may interfere with your current prescriptions. For example, it can be dangerous to take aspirin at the same time you are taking blood thinners. Try to identify anything you can about your past family history with mental and physical health as well as any medications that relatives have had success with in the past. 

If your doctor believes a specific medication is fit for your condition or diagnosis, you will want to know about possible side effects or other risks involved in taking it before doing beginning a medication regimen. Pharmacists can be a good resource to ask questions about how to take medication properly and potential side effects. As far as doctor opinions go, understand that there is no harm in asking for a second opinion when it comes to healthcare. Ask your doctor to refer you to another healthcare professional for a second opinion so that you feel confident in the choice you are making for your own health. This is also relevant when it comes to knowing and understanding the side effects of taking multiple medications at once. 

Reducing Medication Risks and Side Effects

With any new medication, there is the possibility of unwanted or unexpected drug reactions. Common minor side effects might include stomach problems, drowsiness, and mood changes. Less common, severe side effects could include hospitalization, disability or other permanent damages, or pregnancy birth defects in mothers taking prescription drugs. Typically these severe side effects are less likely to happen in certain medications, although any new medication can pose these risks. 

One important way to reduce your risks when taking new medication is to understand possible side effects and take any necessary steps to help lessen your chances of incurring them. A good example of this is if a side effect includes nausea, your doctor may ask you to take your drug with food to reduce your risk of feeling nauseous because of it. You can also ask your pharmacist for the FDA-approved labeling for your prescribed drug when you receive the initial prescription. These labels will include potential common and serious side effects. This will also help you understand what is normal to feel and experience with specific medications. For example, if weight gain is a possible side effect, then you may not want to be more mindful of your diet after you’ve started your medication. 

Your First Few Months on Your New Medication

Another important thing to know when you start taking a new medication is that some drugs take a while to start working or producing active results. At the very least, take your medication regularly for two to three weeks before choosing to rule out the medication entirely. It may help to know that some medications take 4-6 weeks to produce even minor results, with the best results happening in 8-12 weeks. If you are struggling to see or feel results, try to keep a journal close of your daily habits. Maybe the first thing you notice is that you are getting better sleep or feeling more energy throughout the day. 

Succesful Ongoing Medication Management

Continue to review your medications regularly when you start taking them. If any issues occur, talk with your doctor about any alternative medications or treatments specific to your health condition. Your doctor may want to adjust your dosage or switch to a different brand of medication. You may find that other lifestyle changes, such as increasing exercise or diet, may also ease or eliminate unwanted side effects. 

If you have any concerns throughout your experience taking medication, be honest and genuine with your doctor. If you experience worsening conditions, such as greater symptoms of depression, while taking your medication, it is essential that you speak with your doctor. After some trial and error, you may find the perfect medication for you. You deserve to experience the mental and physical relief that medication is able to provide, you just need to take the time to find the best suit of medication for you. 

If you have a mental or physical health condition that your doctor suggests you take prescription medication for, understand that this could be a huge step in the right direction for you. Medications hold a variety of benefits, such as providing mental clarity and reducing symptoms of distress. Before you start taking your new medication, it is important to address any co-occurring conditions and allergies that you may have, as well as discuss any other medication you may be taking. Understand any potential side effects and speak with your doctor to reduce any unwanted risks while taking your medication. Allow your medication a few weeks to produce results and monitor the effects that you may feel and experience. SoCal Mental Health values taking medication for severe mental health needs. If you are in need of mental clarity, we are here to help. For more about the treatment services we offer, call us at (714) 328-4760.