- Understand the name of the psychiatric disorder you are being treated for.
- Talk directly with your psychiatrist about medicines. Your psychiatrist can educate you about what medications can and cannot do. If you have concerns or if you have read outside information about your condition or medication from a source other then the psychiatrist make sure you discuss this with your psychiatrist during the very next visit.
- Try to take your medicine as directed. If there is a problem, call the psychiatrist’s office as soon as possible and then schedule an appointment immediately.
- Use a pillbox with the days of the week on it so that you will be sure that you have taken your daily dose.
- Try to take your medicine at the same time every day. If you are using other medications, or herbal remedies let your psychiatrist know about this.
- Understand that medication is not a cure for psychiatric illness in the same way that insulin is not a cure for diabetes. Most of the time lifestyle changes and stress reduction will be required in order to bring this disorder into remission.
- Using alcohol, caffeine, and street drugs may keep the psychiatric medicines from working. Let your psychiatrist know if you are using alcohol, caffeine, or street drugs.
- If you have close friends or family that do NOT understand your need for medication, ask them to come with you to your next appointment if they will agree to it. They may simply need a better understanding about how your illness may be affecting you and how the medicine works. They may also need to know the best way they can help you manage and eliminate stress.
- Know how to recognize your particular symptoms of relapse. These symptoms may be very specific to the individual. Some of the more common signs of relapse are:
- Changes in sleep patterns
c. More frequent crying spells
d. Excessive daytime sleepiness
e. More nervousness increased worry or negative thoughts
f. Problems functioning with routine activities
g. Increased suicidal thoughts
Any increase in these symptoms should prompt you to schedule an appointment with your psychiatrist. Sometimes missing only a few medication doses can cause relapse. At other times, various stressors or medical illness can cause the medicine to not work as well. A visit to your psychiatrist during the early stages of relapse will help get the illness under control so that hospitalization can be avoided.
About the author of this article:
Kim B. Jones-Fearing, MD is a Board-Certified Psychiatrist in private practice in Burtonsville and Columbia Maryland.