Getting a prescription from your doctor, going to the pharmacy, and taking the pills are only the first steps of a psychopharmacology treatment. Close medical management is necessary for a successful treatment and your safety.
Psychopharmacology is the use of pharmaceutical medications to treat symptoms of psychiatric conditions. There’s a multitude of medications that can help change your life for the better.
It is hard to predict how one will react to certain medications. What works for someone might not be an optimal option for others. Most likely, your medical team will start with a lower amount of the medication and gradually increase the dosage until there’s an improvement in symptoms.
With your help, the doctor will evaluate how effective the drugs are or if there are any side effects. The goal is to find the right drugs and dosage specific to you. If one medication doesn’t work, there are other options to explore with your doctor’s help.
Psychopharmacology can be a short-term aid and only needed for a few months, but it may be long-term too. The same concept works when it comes time to taper off the medication. A medical team member must closely observe and evaluate the process of stopping a medication. For some, the treatment will be a lifelong process; as the body changes with age, treatment must also adjust.
Psychiatric medications work by balancing and changing the brain chemistry to alleviate symptoms that may be debilitating. The categories include antidepressants, anti-anxiety, stimulants, mood stabilizers, and antipsychotics. Each type of medication tackles different symptoms in diverse ways.
Antidepressants help regulate mood, sleep, and alertness in people living with depression, insomnia, and long-term anxiety. Although there are anti-anxiety medications, those are not great options for long-term use, and anxiety disorders such as panic disorder and social anxiety disorder are commonly treated with antidepressants.
Anti-anxiety medications such as benzodiazepine and beta-blockers treat short-term severe anxiety symptoms and are carefully tapered off. Beta-blockers ease the physical reactions of anxiety, such as rapid heartbeat, sweating, and dizziness. While benzodiazepines are highly effective in rapidly decreasing anxiety, the medications are highly addictive, and your body can quickly build a tolerance.
Doctors prescribe stimulants to people with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and narcolepsy. Stimulants improve alertness, focus, and energy levels.
Mood stabilizers help ease the range of emotions of people living with bipolar disorder, mood disorders, and sometimes depression.
The use of antipsychotics encompasses patients that may have lost touch with reality suffering from hallucinations and delusions.
Combined with therapies, psychopharmacology is highly effective. In addition, therapy can become more fruitful once medications are added to your course of treatment. As symptoms subside and your mind is clearer, you can further engage in therapy.
The nature of psychopharmacology is to start slow and build up to the optimal dosage. Underdosing and overdosing delay treatment progress. For this reason, the doctor needs to keep a close eye to monitor symptoms, side effects of the medication, and interactions with other substances if you take more than one drug.
With management, you and your doctor will touch bases more often and create a closer patient/doctor relationship. This can significantly influence the treatment as one is more inclined to share feelings and thoughts with people we are closer to.
Your doctor will have more chances to make sure you are following the directions related to the prescription. With medication management, for each medication you take, you’ll know why you need this medication, how you should take it, possible side effects, and what to do if you miss a dose or took it twice because you forgot you had taken it already.
Medication management can further involve you in the treatment process. It’ll take you beyond just taking X amount of pills a day to be able to collaborate with your care team. You must be in tune with your mental state and physical health. This closer involvement in one’s treatment creates a ripple effect in developing life skills such as being mindful and taking responsibility for your well-being.
The Institute of Medicine of the National Academies found that 1.5 million preventable adverse events occur each year that can be attributed to a lack of medication management. Whether the patient forgot to mention a medication or a provider did not update the list on the virtual records, the commitment to managing prescriptions more closely will create a beneficial habit that will lead to fewer injuries and deaths
A pressing reason for medication management across the U.S. is to ensure patients aren’t abusing their prescriptions. There’s a greater opportunity to identify and prevent prescription misuse when a medical care team checks in more often with patients to discuss and manage treatment and dosage.
In psychopharmacology, benzodiazepines and stimulants are popularly misused. In Franklin County, 108,.000 prescriptions of benzodiazepines and over 204,.000 prescriptions of stimulants were filled in the first two quarters of 2022.
Benzodiazepines, commonly known as Xanax or Valium, are commonly used, with a 67% increase in prescriptions from 1996 to 2013, according to a study published by Cureus Journal.
The study also included that over 17% of patients misused the medication. 46.3% to further relax and 11.8% to get high. Benzodiazepines, if taken in large quantities, cause a dopamine rush which can be a highly addictive feeling leading to substance addiction.
The withdrawal symptoms from benzodiazepines are severe and sometimes fatal. Close medical observation is crucial for safety.
Another dangerous facet of misusing benzodiazepines is overdosing. The rates of overdose deaths per year associated with benzodiazepines have steadily increased from 1999 to 2020, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). In 1999, the U.S. reported 1,135 benzodiazepine overdose related deaths by 2020 the number reached 12,290 per year.
Mental health professionals expect to see more issues regarding benzodiazepine misuse coming up with the increase of anxiety in the U.S. population due to the pandemic.
Stimulants such as amphetamines (Adderall) and methylphenidate (Ritalin) are especially misused among teens and college students. Academic achievement, work productivity, and weight loss are the most common reasons. Ohio’s state profile, released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), shows that 79% of children diagnosed with ADHD were being treated with prescription stimulants in 2010. When prescribing medications for kids, the need for medication management is even greater. Children, teens, and young adults can be more vulnerable to bullying and peer pressure to abuse their prescriptions or sell or give their pills away.
Ohio’s state profile, released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), shows that 79% of children diagnosed with ADHD were being treated with prescription stimulants in 2010. When prescribing medications for kids, the need for medication management is even greater. Children, teens, and young adults can be more vulnerable to bullying and peer pressure to abuse their prescriptions or sell or give their pills away.
You want to ensure you take the best medication for you and the optimal dose for your specific condition. Always contact your doctor or us here at SUN Behavioral, and mention your interest in keeping a closer eye on your prescriptions.
You can start at home by creating a medication list and keeping it updated. Also, post your medication schedule somewhere in plain sight. Additionally, there are many apps available these days that help people track their medications.
Ask a loved one to help you with the management. Have a copy of the medication list and schedule in a shared home environment.
Having a diary of symptoms and side effects can be pretty useful too. Writing things down can help you remember all the points you wanted to talk to your doctor about during a visit.
Here at SUN Behavioral Columbus, we want to ensure that you and your loved ones can have a well-informed understanding of your health and healing journey.
Adding medication to your course of treatment should not be taken lightly. During management, you will work with your doctor to find the proper medication and dosage. Those are potent substances that can help you significantly with adequate oversight.
Although having a loved one aware of your treatment can help you, a doctor will always be the most efficient and safest person to manage your prescriptions.
Reaching out to your doctor should always be the first step. You’ll want to explain which symptoms you’re still experiencing and any side effects from your medication. Your medical care team will adjust the dose or switch to a different medication that may be more beneficial to you.
The capable team at SUN Columbus has been serving our community for years. Reach out to begin your journey to recovery.