When having a mental health challenge it is very important to know that medications may not always serve as a cure, but can help reduce the severity or make the symptoms go away. But those symptoms may come back if one stops taking medications as prescribed.
Some of these medications may include:
- Depressants – used to help you feel calm
- Anxiolytics – to treat anxiety disorders
- Stimulants – to cater for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder
- Antidepressants – used to treat anxiety and depression
- Antipsychotics – sometimes used to help restore the brain’s chemical balance as well as used to treat schizophrenia
- Mood stabilisers – most times used to treat people with bipolar disorders.
Most of these chemicals in the medications work together with other chemicals. For example, the food we eat reduces the damaging effects of the mental challenges, for instance, vitamin tablets and paracetamol for headaches.
Recent research has revealed that finding the right medication that reduces mental symptom severity with minimal side-effects is a complex experience for many young people, particularly when there is a lack of support, information, and reduced financial capacity. Based on these, it is important in optimising opportunities for the provision of medication information, and attention to therapeutic decision-making in relation to prescribing by healthcare professionals.
Why we need to take medications
Medications can be taken when we’re experiencing substance abuse challenges, though it may not suddenly solve the problem when experiencing persistent symptoms, lack of insight, side effects of some drugs, and other factors as prescribed by a physician or psychotherapist.
It can also help to reduce the hankering and addictive nature of substances and maintaining abstinence coupled with other therapies and counselling. Further, without re-admissions or relapses into the hospital, using medications can help to accomplish the kind of functional lives we need. Thus one of the most effective ways to improve its function is medication adherence.
How to use medications
In getting medications, it is essential to speak with your doctors about everything you must have taken or are still taking for proper diagnosis. There is a need to make sure that they are aware of what foods and drinks have already been taken, especially alcohol or other related substances as well as any other vitamins or herbal supplements and medicines.
Also, speaking with our counsellors about something bothering us before we stop taking any medication is important as a sudden stop in medications can result in unwanted side effects. Though the use of medications cannot be overemphasised as regards to mental health challenges it should be gotten from well-trained personnel or doctors.
Sometimes, many people do not take medication as prescribed. Some simply forget as this is an underlying concern – in these cases when we forget, it is very important to speak sincerely with the doctor about missed medication in a nonjudgmental way. Based on the unique reasons given for not taking them, a modification to the medication prescription or to the plan can be offered for optimal benefits.
Onah Caleb is a research assistant at Benue State University (Nigeria). He runs the blog KaylebsThought.