Medications aren’t always a breeze to take. I’ve been on various ones for RA, migraines and permanently taking thyroid medication.
I took medication for Post-Partum Depression in 2006, after Julian’s birth. I have no shame in saying that.
Psychiatric medications are a necessity for many people. Without them, they may or may not be able to function in daily life.
The Side Effects Gamble
When you have prescribed pretty much anything, the doctor has decided that it’s better for you to take it than not.
Nobody can predict all the side effects you may face when taking psychiatric medication. There’s a list that comes with the medication that warns you, but sometimes others can occur.
Withdrawal symptoms are real. I’m currently taking Effexor for migraines and if I miss two or more days, I feel terrible. I’ll spare you the details but let’s say I am not pleasant to be near.
Some of the heavier medications have dangerous side effects and should be looked at carefully. They can also wreak havoc on your organs- lithium (prescribed for bipolar disorder) can cause liver damage. Regular blood work can help monitor this.
What do I do if I experience negative side effects?
*Please remember that I am not a doctor, so I highly recommend staying in touch with your prescribing doctor.*
1. Monitor the length and intensity of side effects. Obviously, if you go into anaphylaxis, call 911 immediately. Skip the rest of this post.
Otherwise, I recommend monitoring for a few days, because our bodies need a few days, if not weeks, to adjust to the new medication. Call your doctor to let them know what is going on.
2. Watch for symptoms of tardive dyskinesia. If you are taking an older anti-psychotic and some other medications, you may be at risk of this permanent side effect.
Tardive dyskinesia affects the facial muscles, mainly causing involuntary movements of the mouth, lip, and tongue. If you notice this, contact your doctor immediately.
3. Lifestyle changes. Some of the lighter side effects, like weight gain, sleep, and sexual issues, can be helped by changing habits, exercise, and discussion with your partner.
4. Change the dosage and/or timing of taking the medication. Changes to the time you take your medication can be a huge help. You may feel better after this and/or changing the dosage.
5. Ask for a new medication. Not all medications are for everyone. Everyone’s bodies and brains are different. It’s okay to ask for a new medication if the one you have isn’t working.
Living on Meds
Some medications do interact with other medications/food. For example, those on lithium aren’t supposed to take ibuprofen. It can cause brain damage.
People who took MAOI inhibitors years ago couldn’t eat certain kinds of cheese, soy sauce and a long list of other things. It was deadly. It’s not as dangerous now, but your food and drink intake have to be watched carefully to avoid a potentially deadly rise in blood pressure.
If the prescribing doctor informs you of these things, definitely stick by them. Your life may depend on it.
As with all other meds, please take your psychiatric meds as prescribed and try not to miss a dose. These medications are meant to help along with therapy if needed, or if not, lots of self care.
Meditation for mental illness does not equal shame.
Information courtesy of:
MAOI food information
Dealing with Psych Meds side effects
For further reading:
“72 Hour Hold” book review
Men and Mental Health