This month’s mental health blog will address the benefits of medication to help combat the symptoms that come along with mental illness. Simply exercising, eating clean, and keeping a positive mindset can improve your mental health but may not be enough. Taking medication for mental illness is not an easy way out but may be essential for some to live a “normal” life. Medication works best when it is part of a treatment plan. This plan may include therapy, peer programs, exercise, etc. It is important to know that it will take time to feel better and some medications take weeks to show improvements. Side effects may even start before the benefits. Know that not all medicines are the same and it is normal to switch to find one that works best for you. There are many types of medications out there to help with different mental health illnesses.
One type of medication is antipsychotic medications. These can help reduce or eliminate unwanted voices or fearful thoughts. Antipsychotics promote clear thinking, a focus on reality, and feelings of organization and calmness. Antipsychotics also help people sleep better and communicate more effectively.
Antidepressants are one of the more common types of medication for mental illness. These aid in reducing feelings of sadness and anxiety. They help people dealing with suicidal thoughts. They do not make people happy or change a person’s personality, but simply help prevent harmful thoughts and feelings of depression.
Mood stabilizers work to reduce extreme highs and lows in mood. They do not prevent the feelings from the normal joys and fears of life, but simply manage the more extreme feelings. This medication can treat depression that lasts for long periods of time, goes away, and comes back. This is typically used when symptoms aren’t treated well enough with an antidepressant alone.
Sleeping pills and tranquilizers help to reduce anxiety and insomnia. These medications can make a person feel more relaxed. Some are used to assist with sleep but all can cause drowsiness so they should be used with caution. These are only to be used briefly as longer use can cause dependency.
The final type of medication are stimulants and related medicines. These can improve concentration and have a calming effect. They increase the attention span of both children and adults. They can also improve the ability to follow directions and reduce hyperactivity and impulsiveness.
When thinking about going on medication for mental health, it is important to understand that there are options available. Have an open conversation with a doctor to get information about how the medication can help with specific concerns along with possible side effects. Discussing different medications with others who have similar experiences to gain first-hand information can also be helpful. A lot of the time the only way to know if a medication is right is to try it. If side effects pop up that are harmful or uncomfortable, it is always possible to stop the medication with the help of a doctor. Taking medication for mental illness does not signify weakness. It also does not cure people. It is a mechanism to help with the symptoms felt with mental illness.