Tuesday, 9 January 2018

What Is Medication for your Mind?

It is no secret that mental health problems and illnesses seem to be on the rise throughout the UK, in fact approximately 1 in 4 people in the UK will experience a mental health problem each year. According to MIND, the overall number of individuals who experience mental health problems has not significantly changed over the recent years however, it appears that the coping mechanisms used by individuals with mental illnesses are getting drastically worse, meaning that the number of people who self-harm or have suicidal thoughts is increasing. 

In many cases, part of the recovery process from mental illness can include being offered medication. It is so important that people understand that medication is not a quick fix and will not be effective alone but instead with the help of different therapies, usually talking therapies. Not everybody with mental health problems will require or be offered medication, and usually you would have the choice of having medication or not. Medication for mental illness still has a lot of stigma around it, like mental health as a whole and there are people who don't agree with it, doesn't think it works or believes that it changes who the person is. Medication can be used to reduce symptoms and manage an illness better, just because a specific medication works for one person, it doesn't mean it will help another and medication has to be monitored closely because sometimes a type of medication can actually make the symptoms worse.

Usually, four main types of psychiatric medications are stuck to when treating patients, these being; Antidepressants, Sleeping Pills and minor Tranquillisers, Antipsychotics and Mood Stabilisers. Psychiatric medication can only be prescribed by a healthcare professional such as a GP, a psychiatrist or a nurse practitioner who is usually attached to your mental health team. Medication is also usually a last resort after other treatments have been tried. There is no telling how long you will be on your medication for but usually depends on your diagnosis and how severely your conditions affect you.

Antidepressants are most commonly used to treat Depression, but some types of antidepressants can actually be used to treat other conditions including, Anxiety, Phobias, Bulimia and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. Antidepressants work by boosting the activity of specific brain chemicals, especially noradrenaline and serotonin which are thought to be involved with regulating mood. There are several different types of antidepressants that may be prescribed, one type might work best for you so it is important to be honest with your doctor about how you are finding your medication to ensure that they can find the correct type and dosage for you.

Insomnia is quite common within mental health problems and sleeping medication will only be prescribed in severe cases. Sleeping Pills and Tranquillisers can be used for sleep problems or to calm you down if you're experiencing severe anxiety, usually taken when required and as an anti-anxiety medication. Within this category of medication there are three further types which target the symptoms addressed above. These drugs are sedatives, meaning that they slow your body and brain functions down, including breathing, heartbeat and your thought process. Some types of sedatives will only be prescribed for a short amount of time due to risks of becoming addicted to them or because they become less effective when taken over a longer period of time. 

Antipsychotics are usually prescribed to reduce distressing symptoms of psychosis, schizophrenia, schizo-affective disorder, bipolar disorder and in rare cases, anxiety. Antipsychotics can be taken in various different ways. Usually they are prescribed orally in liquid or tablet form but can also be prescribed as depot injections. 

Mood Stabilisers can help stabilise your mood if you experience severe mood swings and can be helpful for individuals who have bipolar disorder, hypomania and mania and in some circumstances, for severe depression. Mood stabilisers are available in five different drugs with some of them being very different chemical substances from each other. However, they are all grouped together because they can all be used to help stabilise your mood.

When taking any medication, it is essential to be aware of the side effects that you may experience. Each individual drug has their own side effects but many are similar. I have been on various different medications for four years and I still experience side effects, but the side effects from the medication are more manageable than the side effects from my illness, so they are seen as more beneficial than harmful. Despite being on medication for a number of years, I still struggle, I still sometimes wake up with a 'medication hangover' and I still sometimes wonder if the medication I am taking every single day is actually working.

I hope that this post has taught you a thing or two about psychiatric medication and information on the different types of medication. If you want me to go into anything further, then leave me a comment. I am also sorry that this post is a day late but even so, I hope you enjoyed.

Sources & More Information: 
MIND: Mental Health Facts/Statistics
MIND: Medication

Thank-you for reading, Tay x 

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