HARD TO SWALLOW
One thing that happens in my practice frequently is the talk about psychotropic medications. Psychotropic medications are just another name for medications that are also called antidepressants, anxiolytics, antipsychotics, and mood stabilizers. These categories of psychotropic medications are the ones most talked about in my practice because I typically work with individuals who suffer from depression, anxiety, and bipolar disorder. It's not unusual that I will have a talk with most every patient at some point during treatment regarding medication as a treatment option. This isn't because I think medication is the answer, but I believe it's an option offered from a variety of treatment options. Part of my role as a psychologist and healthcare provider is to talk about treatment options. What I experience when having this discussion with patients is that it can be very uncomfortable, mostly because the fear many have in taking psychotropic medications. Some of these fears include the stigma of taking medication and what people think it says about them, the fear of becoming addicted and using the medication as a crutch to cope in life, the fear of making them feel "weird" or "not myself," and the fear of being labeled sick or ill. These fears are absolutely valid of course, but most importantly, exploring and processing what these fears entail should take precedence. I personally like to explore what the pill(s) means to the person…what does it represent or symbolize to him/her. Are there negative and/or positive associations with taking medication? It's important to explore these fears especially when deciding whether psychotropic medications are a treatment option. The reason for this is because medication should be taken consistently and as prescribed by your medical provider; if there are resistances and hesitancies regarding taking medication these should be addressed. If there are side effects, discuss those with your medical provider and your psychotherapist who is in your care. Anytime a patient that I'm working with is prescribed medication, the patient can expect a discussion about how the medication is going, if there are any side effects such as erratic or unusual behavior or increased suicidal ideation, and also a dialogue on how the patient feels about taking the medication. Usually, these details are important so that I can discuss them with the patient's prescriber. This approach really helps to maintain my patients' continuity of treatment. These are some of the expectations patients can have when they see me, but with this said, it might good to know what to also expect from a psychiatrist. Take a glance at the following article from the American Psychiatric Association
. I often get asked, "Do you prescribe medication?" This is one of the differences between a psychiatrist and a psychologist, at least in most states. In Indiana, licensed psychologists do not have prescription privileges. If you have fears regarding taking psychotropic medications, explore these fears with your therapist and/or medical provider because it can make a world of difference in your treatment. And if you decide that psychotropic medication is a favorable treatment option, then taking medication likely becomes easier to swallow.
*Image courtesy of mensatic
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