This blog post will overview when it’s time to check in with your doctor/prescriber for an adjustment or a new medication altogether, as promised.
There are so many medications out there as discussed in my last post that most people only try two or three from any given class to find the one that works. The exceptions are treatment-resistant cases, but even with Treatment Resistant Depression there are still other methods to provide relief.
So many patients would come into the hospital having attempted suicide and wanting to die, only to find a medication that started to really work for them. This is why I implore people to seek help when they are suffering from MDD. Your brain is trolling you during depression. It is lying to you when it says things will never get better. It is not likely you have tried everything as there are literally hundreds of TRD treatments. You may find one that helps you and if you complete suicide, well, you’ll never find out, and you won’t die relieved. You’ll die in pain—the pain of depression.
There’s medical cannabis, medical esketamine, etc. There are treatments even outside of medications that can provide relief for you, so please—don’t throw in the towel.
That aside, let’s focus back on how you feel when you take a new medication. We went over the fact that it can take up to twelve weeks (12!) to feel the full effects of a medication and to know whether or not it’s working. But sometimes when you start a medicine, all you get is unpleasant side effects for the first couple of weeks.
No getting around it: that sucks.
Sometimes the side effects are bearable because you know relief is waiting. However, if you’re having any intolerable side effects, or severe dizziness, weakness in your limbs, or anything that seems way out of left field, CALL YOUR DOCTOR IMMEDIATELY. Don’t fuck around with side effects. You’re on medication to help you, not make you worse.
Now, if you’re the anxious type of person, reading the package insert may severely increase your anxiety and even bring on a nocebo effect. What’s that?
A nocebo effect is said to occur when negative expectations of the patient regarding a treatment cause the treatment to have a more negative effect than it otherwise would have.
Your brain is pretty damn powerful. It can amplify negative expectations. But at the same time, you need to be informed.
If only there were a trustworthy person who could break it all down for you. Someone who’s accessible to you to help walk you through what to expect and what to report, and when to stop taking the medication.
Luckily, there is! They’re called pharmacists.
The best part about pharmacists is that they spend a lot of time learning about biochemistry, chemistry, and medications themselves. They are the best people to turn to when you’re on multiple medications. I guess you can tell I hold pharmacists in high regard.
Because their training is designed to understand not only what’s in a medication, but how it works with your body for your best results.
If you’re anxious about a medication, ask your doctor and pharmacist. Oftentimes a pharmacist will have insights that are different than your physician’s. They can help you understand your medication while your doctor can help you understand what’s going on with your body.
Build your own treatment team—reliable, trustworthy people who are in this field to help you live your best life.
Once you’re on a medication that works, you’ve obtained lift-off. Enjoy it.
You’re cruising along on your medications now. Things seem great for a while.
Then, something happens. You seem more irritable, your mood unstable, or the voices are back but very faint.
This is the moment you contact your doctor and get an urgent evaluation. You may need to increase your dose of medication, have an add-on, or switch to a new medication/class entirely.
How do you know it’s not just a bad week, or a bad day? How do you know that it will pass or it won’t? How do you know when to call that doctor?
Anything that is outside of your baseline “normal for you” is reason to contact your doctor for an evaluation. If your symptoms are returning and have lasted two weeks or are bothersome, don’t hesitate to call your care provider. You are not a pain in the ass, you are not inconveniencing your provider. You are their patient and you are paying them for a service. You are in a health-care relationship with them and you deserve to live your best life.
Use your connections. Go in for that evaluation. Your provider will ask you questions about your symptoms, when they started, and what’s going on in your life that could be contributing to a medication fall-out. Let them use their schooling to help you determine if the symptoms are the product of a bad week and are transient, or if you need a booster to help you get back to better.
If you have a support network—friends and family—enlist their help in recognizing the symptoms of depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, etc. Have them help you make the call to go in for an evaluation. Get someone to go with you if you just can’t seem to do it alone. Let them help you. It’s okay to have an advocate.
Remember, this is about you and your health. Take control of it before it takes control of you.
This post is not a substitute for professional medical advice. This post is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or (in the United States) 911 immediately. Always seek the advice of your doctor before starting or changing treatment.