By Nancy S Buck, PhD, RN
I have spent many, many years of my professional life working in the mental health and psychiatric field. I have worked in the second oldest private psychiatric hospital in the country (USA), worked in several community mental health centers, worked as a front line professional as well as in management positions. I have been a private practitioner seeing people in my own office, as well as worked in a group practice where several practitioners shared office space and resources. I have worked with children, adults, teens, young adults, couples and families. I have trained and educated other “professionals in training” to become mental and behavioral health practitioners. In other words, I have worked in this area for a very long time.
Because of my experiences, both personal and professional, I have very strong beliefs and opinions regarding the use of medication as a tool and adjunct in helping those who need and want help. This same holds true for those who were medicated against their will and consent.
NONE OF THIS MATTERS! My experiences, opinions and beliefs do not matter. They only matter to me when it is my turn to make a decision about using or not using medication for my own Mental Health & Happiness.
If you are considering taking medication to help with your Mental Health & Happiness it is your job and responsibility to educate yourself. Please, do not rely on others opinions, beliefs and experiences. Gather as much information as you can to become a well educated and informed consumer.
This is YOUR responsibility. EDUCATE yourself.
Here’s a list of the questions I recommend you ask. I encourage you to get the full and complete answers to these questions.
- What medication/s are you being prescribed? What is the name? Is there a generic name or brand for this medication?
- What is the expected or hoped for outcome in taking this medication? Why are you being prescribed this medication? Is it possible to get the same or similar results without taking mediation?
- What are the side effects? What are the short term side effects? What are the long term side effects? (Do you even know what a side effect is? The side effects are the other unhelpful, sometimes unpleasant and occasionally dangerous effects the drug has on your whole body. The drug effects your whole body. Those additional symptoms are called side effects.)
- Will you be prescribed another medication to counter the side effects? What? Will that new medication have side effects?
- How long has this drug been on the market? Is there another similar medication that has been on the market longer so that potential hazards and side effects are now known?
- Was this medication tested on people like me? That is has it been tested and found safe and effective for both men and women? Has it been tested and found safe and effective on children the age of my child?
- How long will I need to be on this medication?
- How long will it take before I experience positive effects of this medication?
- How long after I stop taking this medication will it take for this drug to be completely out of my system?
- Where did you, my doctor, learn about this medication? Anyone other than the drug company? What studies have you read about this medication? Have you read any other studies than those that were sponsored by the drug company?
- Do you benefit financially or through other gifts or tokens of appreciation by prescribing this medication to me? (Is your doctor getting a kick back for prescribing this medication?)
Please take charge and take control of you Mental Health & Happiness. Woking with a trusted professional can be helpful. And sometimes it is necessary. It is your job to be an informed consumer, especially if the work you are doing with your counselor includes taking medication.