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Navigating Mental Health Medication

Navigating Mental Health Medication, by Zachary Duty

Navigating medication for mental health can sometimes be a challenge. Imagine feeling overwhelmed with feelings of anxiety and/or depression. For some, that may not be difficult to imagine because it is your reality. So, how do you handle those feelings? You may find yourself at your primary care doctor’s office to discuss your options. It is possible that this doctor knows you very well and has experience with mental health. The doctor may even advise you to speak with a clinical social worker to further discuss your mental health. Your doctor may prescribe the perfect combination of medication for your needs and it could be life-altering in the most positive way.

Common Challenges

Unfortunately, many experiences are much less positive. What if your doctor doesn’t know you at all and only has 15 minutes to meet with you? The doctor quickly writes a prescription for an anti-depressant and doesn’t give it a second thought. Many individuals take prescribed mental health medications for years with little to no benefit and may be experiencing subtle negative effects. Despite the lack of any positive change, you continue taking the medication as prescribed, simply because the doctor told you to, and doctors know best. Rather than continuing to take a medication that isn’t serving you, take some time to re-evaluate.

Doctors do not want you to be in this scenario of taking a medication that isn’t working. Any doctor would rather you come back to the office and discuss your needs further to manage your medication in a way that better serves you. However, many doctors have difficulty finding time for more than a quick 15-minute appointment and it is possible that your situation cannot be fully expressed in that time period.

A pile of various medication tablets and pills

Alternative Ways to Get the Right Mental Health Medication

There are other options to address your mental health struggles in regards to medications. There are other professionals that can consult with you on the topic of mental health and prescribe helpful medication. A Psychiatrist is a medical professional who specializes in mental health. Psychiatrists are required to complete medical school just like primary care doctors. They have a deep understanding of medication and mental health issues. Meeting with a psychiatrist is an option for getting a thorough analysis of your needs and being prescribed appropriate medication.

Another option is a Nurse Practitioner. In most states, Nurse Practitioners can prescribe medications and many specialize in mental health. Some therapists consult with Nurse Practitioners and/or Psychiatrists, to help their clients get necessary, life-changing medications.

Even when working with someone who understands your needs and makes their best judgment regarding a medication that could be helpful, sometimes a medication just isn’t the right fit for you. Follow-up appointments are required to determine whether the medication is working or not. It may even be a good idea to consult with family or friends who interact with you regularly to ask if they have noticed any changes in your behavior or mental health while taking a new medication.

A man wearing a backpack runs along a trail in the woods

Consider All Your Options

The right medication can help you become more balanced throughout your life, but medication isn’t a silver bullet that will fix everything for everyone. One individual may take a medication that works great for their mental health and no further action is needed. Others may need medication and clinical counseling from a therapist. Most still may further benefit from a lifestyle change like a new exercise routine and alteration in diet. There are many ways to become a more healthy individual following a mental health struggle. The medications available to us today are truly miraculous and there are teams of people ready to help you find the necessary balance in your life. Take the time to explore all of your options with a professional rather than accepting the status quo of a quick doctor visit and subsequent prescription.

Zachary Duty, CSW

Zach Duty is a native Texan and a graduate of Southern Utah University with a bachelor’s degree in Outdoor Recreation. He went on to complete a master’s in social work at the University of Utah with an emphasis in child welfare. As a therapist, Zach has worked in residential treatment and for the state of Utah through the Division of Juvenile Justice. 

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