MISTAKEN BELIEF: “Taking medication for my mental health is a sign of weakness.”
CORRECTION: Even with all the progress we’ve made as a society destigmatizing mental health issues, some people still (incorrectly) believe that meds for mental health signify weakness. If you had diabetes, would you forego insulin because it made you look weak? If you had cancer, would you refuse a life-saving treatment like chemo because it felt like “a crutch”? Likely not. Mental health IS health. Plain and simple. Accepting treatment that could significantly improve your quality of life—whether that’s medication, therapy or a combination of both—is a sign of strength. It’s a sign of recognizing there’s a problem and being willing to take action to fix it.
MISTAKEN BELIEF: “I tried one medication and it caused side effects, so I’m giving up on all meds.”
CORRECTION: If one medication causes side effects, another might not. This requires “trial and error” because one individual’s unique biochemical makeup can vary greatly from another’s. Fortunately, over the years, numerous types of mental health medication have been developed, tested and FDA approved—which translates to more options for each patient. Additionally, if a patient experiences undesirable side effects from a medication that is also producing significant improvement in mental health symptoms, a prescriber might suggest augmenting with another medication that can reduce the undesirable side effects.
MISTAKEN BELIEF: “I can stop taking my medication as soon as I feel better.”
CORRECTION: For several reasons, it’s not a good idea to discontinue a mental health medication before consulting with your prescriber. First, symptoms can return/worsen after a medication is stopped. Second, stopping a medication “cold turkey” can interrupt or significantly delay the treatment process. This is especially true for medications like certain antidepressants, that can take several weeks before reaching the full therapeutic effect. Lastly, withdrawal symptoms like headaches, nausea, sweating and upset stomach (among others) can occur when abruptly quitting a medication without first tapering the dose under the guidance of a qualified licensed prescriber.
MISTAKEN BELIEF: “Medication will ‘cure’ me.”
CORRECTION: Mental health medications are not a cure. Rather, they work to reduce, and sometimes, eliminate symptoms—while taken as prescribed. Additionally, medications require varying lengths of time before a symptom reduction is noticeable. For example, hydroxyzine, often prescribed to help with anxiety, might produce a symptom reduction somewhere between 30 minutes to two hours after the dose is taken. An antidepressant like sertraline, however, might take several weeks before a a full therapeutic effect occurs. Medications affect brain chemistry, in turn, treating one “piece of the puzzle” when it comes to mental health. Often, addressing other factors like environmental stressors and unhelpful thinking patterns might be necessary to maximize treatment results.
If you’re interested in learning more about mental health medication, contact the professionals at Travco Behavioral Health today!