Medications can play a role in treating several mental health conditions. Choosing the right treatment plan should be based on a person’s individual needs and medical situation. At Bristol Health, we use pharmacogentic testing and the latest research to cater a treatment plan for the individual.
Understanding Your Medications
If you are prescribed a medication, be sure that you:
Tell the doctor about all medications and vitamin supplements you are already taking.
Remind your doctor about any allergies and any problems you have had with medicines.
Understand how to take the medicine before you start using it and take your medicine as instructed.
Don’t take medicines prescribed for another person or give yours to someone else.
Call your doctor right away if you have any problems with your medicine or if you are worried that it might be doing more harm than good. Your doctor may be able to adjust the dose or change your prescription to a different one that may work better for you.
What are antidepressants?
Antidepressants are medications commonly used to treat depression. Antidepressants are also used for other health conditions, such as anxiety, pain and insomnia. Although antidepressants are not FDA-approved specifically to treat ADHD, antidepressants are sometimes used to treat ADHD in adults.
How do people respond to antidepressants?
All antidepressant medications work about as well as each other to improve symptoms of depression and to keep depression symptoms from coming back. For reasons not yet well understood, some people respond better to some antidepressant medications than to others. Pharmacogenetic testing uses information about a person’s genetic makeup to choose the drugs that are likely to work best for the individual.
It is important to know that some people may not feel better with the first medicine they try. Others may find that a medicine helped for a while, but their symptoms came back. It is important to carefully follow your doctor’s directions for taking your medicine at an adequate dose and over an extended period of time (often 4 to 6 weeks) for it to work.
Once a person begins taking antidepressants, it is important to not stop taking them without the help of a doctor. Sometimes people taking antidepressants feel better and stop taking the medication too soon, and the depression may return. When it is time to stop the medication, the doctor will help the person slowly and safely decrease the dose. It’s important to give the body time to adjust to the change. People don’t get addicted (or “hooked”) on these medications, but stopping them abruptly may also cause withdrawal symptoms
What are the possible side effects of antidepressants?
Some antidepressants may cause more side effects than others. You may need to try several different antidepressant medications before finding the one that improves your symptoms and that causes side effects that you can manage.
What are anti-anxiety medications?
Anti-anxiety medications help reduce the symptoms of anxiety, such as panic attacks, or extreme fear and worry. In the case of panic disorder or social phobia (social anxiety disorder) antidepressants are first-line treatment. Other medications can be given to be used “as needed” for situations where anxiety only occurs on occasion or with certain situations.
How do people respond to anti-anxiety medications?
“As needed” anti-anxiety medications are effective in relieving anxiety and take effect more quickly than the antidepressant medications often prescribed for anxiety. However, people can build up a tolerance to some of these medications. If they are taken over a long period of time, you may need higher and higher doses to get the same effect. Some people may even become dependent on them. To avoid these problems, doctors usually prescribe them for short periods, a practice that is especially helpful for older adults.
What are Stimulants?
As the name suggests, stimulants increase alertness, attention, and energy. Stimulant medications are often prescribed to treat children, adolescents, or adults diagnosed with ADHD.
Stimulants are also prescribed to treat other health conditions, including narcolepsy, and occasionally depression (especially in older or chronically medically ill people and in those who have not responded to other treatments).
How do people respond to stimulants?
Prescription stimulants have a calming and “focusing” effect on individuals with ADHD. Stimulant medications are safe when given under a doctor’s supervision. Some children taking them may feel slightly different or “funny.”
Some parents worry that stimulant medications may lead to drug abuse or dependence, but there is little evidence of this when they are used properly as prescribed. Additionally, research shows that teens with ADHD who took stimulant medications were less likely to abuse drugs than those who did not take stimulant medications.
What are antipsychotics?
Antipsychotic medicines are primarily used to manage psychosis. The word “psychosis” is used to describe conditions that affect the mind, and in which there has been some loss of contact with reality, often including delusions (false, fixed beliefs) or hallucinations (hearing or seeing things that are not really there). Our office does not treat patients with psychosis.
Antipsychotic medications are often used in combination with other medications to treat delirium, dementia, and mental health conditions, including:
- Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
- Severe Depression
- Eating Disorders
- Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
- Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
- Generalized Anxiety Disorder
- Antipsychotic medicines do not cure these conditions. They are used to help relieve symptoms and improve quality of life.
Some people may have a relapse—meaning their symptoms come back or get worse. Usually relapses happen when people stop taking their medication, or when they only take it sometimes. Some people stop taking the medication because they feel better or they may feel that they don’t need it anymore, but no one should stop taking an antipsychotic medication without talking to his or her doctor. When a doctor says it is okay to stop taking a medication, it should be gradually tapered off— never stopped suddenly. Many people must stay on an antipsychotic continuously for months or years in order to stay well; treatment should be personalized for each individual.
What are mood stabilizers?
Mood stabilizers are used primarily to treat bipolar disorder, mood swings associated with other mental disorders, and in some cases, to augment the effect of other medications used to treat depression. Mood stabilizers work by decreasing abnormal activity in the brain and are also sometimes used to treat:
- Depression (usually along with an antidepressant)
- Schizoaffective Disorder
- Disorders of impulse control
- Certain mental illnesses in children
Many medications used to treat children and adolescents with mental illness are safe and effective. However, some medications have not been studied or approved for use with children or adolescents.
Still, a doctor can give a young person an FDA-approved medication on an “off-label” basis. This means that the doctor prescribes the medication to help the patient even though the medicine is not approved for the specific mental disorder that is being treated or for use by patients under a certain age.
It is important to watch children and adolescents who take these medications on an “off-label: basis.
Children may have different reactions and side effects than adults.
Some medications have current FDA warnings about potentially dangerous side effects for younger patients.
In addition to medications, other treatments for children and adolescents should be considered, either to be tried first, with medication added later if necessary, or to be provided along with medication. Psychotherapy, family therapy, educational courses, and behavior management techniques can help everyone involved cope with disorders that affect a child’s mental health.
Women who are pregnant or who may become pregnant
The research on the use of psychiatric medications during pregnancy is limited. The risks are different depending on which medication is taken, and at what point during the pregnancy the medication is taken. Decisions on treatments for all conditions during pregnancy should be based on each woman’s needs and circumstances, and based on a careful weighing of the likely benefits and risks of all available options, including psychotherapy (or “watchful waiting” during part or all of the pregnancy), medication, or a combination of the two. While no medication is considered perfectly safe for all women at all stages of pregnancy, this must be balanced for each woman against the fact that untreated serious mental disorders themselves can pose a risk to a pregnant woman and her developing fetus. Medications should be selected based on available scientific research, and they should be taken at the lowest possible dose. Pregnant women should have a medical professional who will watch them closely throughout their pregnancy and after delivery.
Studies have also found that fetuses exposed to SSRIs during the third trimester may be born with “withdrawal” symptoms such as breathing problems, jitteriness, irritability, trouble feeding, or hypoglycemia (low blood sugar). Most studies have found that these symptoms in babies are generally mild and short-lived, and no deaths have been reported. Risks from the use of antidepressants need to be balanced with the risks of stopping medication; if a mother is too depressed to care for herself and her child, both may be at risk for problems.
After the baby is born, women and their doctors should watch for postpartum depression, especially if a mother stopped taking her medication during pregnancy. In addition, women who nurse while taking psychiatric medications should know that a small amount of the medication passes into the breast milk. However, the medication may or may not affect the baby depending s on the medication and when it is taken. Women taking psychiatric medications and who intend to breastfeed should discuss the potential risks and benefits with their doctors.
Above information obtained from https://www.nimh.nih.gov