NORTH DAKOTA (KXNET) — It’s not easy trying to find help for mental health and behavioral challenges, and medication for those diagnoses is complex and can be overwhelming.
According to a news release, medication can offer a lot of hope for anyone who is struggling to function in day-to-day life.
Dr. Amanda Daggett, APRN, PMHNP-BC, a nurse practitioner at Dakota Family Services breaks down the basics of psychotropic medications.
Medication is often prescribed along or with psychotherapy, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Psychotropic medications work on the chemicals in the brain known as neurotransmitters, and most people are familiar with some of them and how they affect mood, energy, and cognition.
Serotonin is one of the most common neurotransmitters involving mood, and a lot of people say “Well, I’ve had my serotonin fix for the day.” Other neurotransmitters that are targeted with medications are norepinephrine, dopamine, acetylcholine, glutamate, and GABA.
Since psychotropic medications have a stigma, people don’t always believe that they are necessary or work, but just like physical concerns, psychiatric disorders are based on biological and environmental factors.
Starting a new medication can be scary, but they take time to work, symptom relief isn’t immediate, but happens slowly over time. Some medications can take six to eight weeks to work, but a provider can give a better timeline of when to expect results.
Medications won’t cure mental illnesses but improve your quality of life by improving function in work, school, home, and social settings.
If you’re feeling unsure about a medication being the right one, there’s always the option to change what you’re taking, but talk with your provider to monitor side effects and to see if the medication is in fact working. Some medications have withdrawal symptoms or side effects.
There are always risks and side effects to watch out for, but they are highly dependent on the medication and the body chemistry of the person taking them. One person could have serious side effects, while a different person on the same medication might not have any at all.
It’s not always recommended to stop taking the medication when you feel better, some people only need them short-term, but others may need life-long management.