As mental disorders are considered medical problems, individuals with mental disorders usually require medication to enable them to recuperate and live healthy life. Taking medication over a long period of time can be difficult - as some worry about the possible side effects or just don’t like the idea of taking medicine. Various sources on the Internet question the necessity of consuming medicine to alleviate the symptoms of mental disorders, raising scepticism and doubts towards pharmacotherapy.
Some studies have also demonstrated that rates of treatment refusal were about two times greater for pharmacotherapy alone compared with psychotherapy alone. However, many individuals have seen results when prescriptions are carried out properly and strict adherence to medication is maintained.
Mental illnesses that require medication
Contrary to beliefs that medication is unnecessary in the healing process of mental disorders, there are a number of mental disorders that warrant medication to help patients to treat or reduce symptoms. Individuals who are diagnosed with bipolar disorder or schizophrenia usually receive medication alongside psychotherapy as the medication is effective in reducing symptoms of these disorders. As these disorders cause biological changes in the body that makes long-term recovery difficult for patients, pharmacotherapy is extremely crucial to alleviate the symptoms caused by these disorders. As for depression, pharmacotherapy has been used to reduce symptoms and alleviate one’s mood, preventing the deterioration of one’s mental state.
Types of medication
Here is a brief introduction to the main types of medication for mental disorders:
Antidepressants: to treat depression, anxiety and certain personality disorders
Depressants: mainly used to help people stay calm
Anti-psychotics: to reduce the symptoms of schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorder, psychosis, and sometimes severe anxiety or bipolar disorder
Mood stabilizers: to prevent mood swings, usually used to treat bipolar disorder
Anxiolytics: mainly used to treat anxiety disorders
Stimulants: used to treat ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder)
How long will it take for medication to be effective?
The time that pharmacotherapy takes to be effective varies based on the type of medication that one is taking. Stimulants and anxiolytics start working quickly - within a few hours or even less. Antidepressants usually take two weeks or more to work - depending on one’s body size and metabolism. Antipsychotics take between six weeks and up to a few months for their full effects to work. If you are prescribed antipsychotics, your doctor will want to see you regularly to check how you are going.
Importance of the role of prescribers
In order to improve attitudes about pharmacotherapy, it is vital for prescribers to build rapport and trust with their prescribers. In order to help patients to have positive attitudes towards medication, prescribers have to help patients understand the biological changes that are happening to them and how medication helps to counteract those changes. Besides, patients have to be educated about potential side effects in advance so that they are not concerned when these side effects occur. As such, building a relationship with a reliable prescriber is of utmost importance to come up with the best medication strategy.
How to seek help for Mental health?
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-------- Kai Lim