What is mental health medications?

Mental Health Medications

How can you get past barriers to taking mental health medicines?

People often have concerns or questions about taking medicines for mental health conditions. Here are some common concerns people have and some things that may be helpful to think about.

It seems weak to need medicine to fix my problem.

You probably don't think it's weak to take medicine to treat a health problem like asthma or heart disease. A mental health condition is a health problem too, and medicine can help.

Medicine isn't a quick fix. But it may ease your symptoms enough that you can do other things that can help you, like getting counseling.

I tried a medicine, and it didn't work. Why try again?

Some people get a good result from the first medicine they try, but many don't. That can be discouraging, but try to be patient. There is no “magic pill” that works for everyone. Everyone's body is different. And for most conditions, there are many medicine choices. If you keep working with your doctor, you're likely to find a medicine and a dose that will help you.

I'm worried that I won't feel like myself anymore.

Sometimes people worry that medicine will make them feel dull or flat. But think about how your condition makes you feel. Mental health problems often rob people of their energy, focus, and joy in life. Your condition may cause problems in your relationships with family or friends. It may be hard to be productive or creative or even to take good care of yourself.

Medicines don't change who you are. But they may relieve your symptoms so you can feel more like the person you want to be.

I'm concerned about the cost of medicine.

There are ways to save money on the medicines you need. For example, maybe you could take a generic instead of the brand-name medicine. Ask your doctor or pharmacist about generics or coupons to reduce your cost. Or you might ask your doctor if you can buy pills at twice the dose you need and then split them. (Some pills can't be split.)

It's a good idea to ask your doctor about prescription assistance programs. If you qualify, you may be able to get the medicines you need for a very low price.

I don't want to have to rely on medicine.

You may not need to take medicine forever. Some people are able to stop taking their medicines. When you feel like you're ready to quit, work with your doctor to stop your medicine safely. Your doctor may need to slowly reduce the dose to help prevent problems, like having your symptoms come back.

Other people need to stay on medicine long-term to keep their symptoms under control. Many people take medicine every day for a wide variety of health issues. There is no shame in needing medicine to feel better. It's part of taking care of your health.

Why are medicines used to treat mental health problems?

Medicines are one approach to treating mental health problems. They usually give the best results when they're used along with counseling. Medicines may help relieve symptoms so you can get more benefit from counseling. And when you feel better, you may be able to take better care of yourself.

Most medicines don't work right away. It usually takes awhile to see results. It may take time and patience to find the right dose for you. And the first medicine you try may not be the best choice for you. Your doctor can work with you to find a medicine and dose that works well while causing the fewest side effects.

Supporting someone who takes medicines for a mental health condition

Treatment for a mental health condition often includes medicine along with counseling. Medicine may help relieve symptoms so someone can get more benefit from counseling. But some people may struggle with taking these medicines. It often takes time to find the right dose and the medicine that works the best. Sometimes people forget to take their medicine. And some people may avoid taking the medicine because of the side effects.

If someone close to you takes medicine for a mental health condition, they may ask you for support. Here are some things you can do to help.

  • Learn about the medicine.

    Understand how to take the medicine as prescribed. Also learn about side effects and signs that the medicine is working.

  • Remind the person to take the medicine exactly as their doctor says.

    If they often forget to take the medicine, using a pillbox, an alarm, or a pill reminder app may help. They could also try taking the medicine at the same time every day.

  • Encourage them to talk to their doctor if they want to stop taking the medicine.

    They shouldn't stop taking the medicine without talking to their doctor. If they're having problems taking the medicine, they should let their doctor know.

  • Help look for signs that the medicine is working.

    Some medicines start working quickly. Others may take several weeks. You could keep a journal of any changes that the person notices.

  • Help watch for side effects.

    If side effects are bothersome, the doctor may be able to lower the dose or change the medicine.

  • Accept that they may not take the medicine.

    Manage how you react if they don't take the medicine. For example, try to avoid arguing. And try not to focus too much on the medicine. Instead, focus on the things you enjoy about the person.

  • Help plan for a relapse.

    In a relapse, symptoms return. This can happen even if medicine is taken as prescribed.

  • Watch for signs of self-harm or suicidal behavior.

    Warning signs include talking about things like suicide, feeling hopeless, or being a burden to others.

Where to get help 24 hours a day, 7 days a week

If you or someone you know talks about suicide, self-harm, a mental health crisis, a substance use crisis, or any other kind of emotional distress, get help right away. You can:

  • Call the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline at 988.
  • Call 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255).
  • Text HOME to 741741 to access the Crisis Text Line.

Consider saving these numbers in your phone.

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The content above contains general health information provided by Healthwise, Incorporated, and reviewed by its medical experts. This content should not replace the advice of your healthcare provider. Not all treatments or services described are offered as services by us. For recommended treatments, please consult your healthcare provider.