How to Help When Your Loved One Avoids Psychotropic Medication

When most individuals hear that a friend or family member has to take medication for mental illness, there might be a small judgment inside. There continues to be a stigma against those who need psychotropic medication, along with a judgment for having a mental illness in the first place. Although medication brings reprieve of challenging symptoms, many individuals who need to take medication refuse to do so because of the stigma it carries.

Nonetheless, medication is an important part of a treatment plan. Research indicates that the combination of both medication and therapy yields the best results. Medication, which helps to bring a reprieve of symptoms, combined with therapy, which can address the underlying issues of the mental illness, has proven to the most effective with depression, anxiety, bipolar, and other forms of disorders.

Despite this, those who have been diagnosed with a mental illness and who do not want to participate in medication treatment will at times argue, avoid, and even lie about taking their medication. Some individuals will do what is known as cheeking, which is a way of looking like he or she is swallowing a pill, only to hold it against their cheek long enough to throw it away when alone.

Others might not want to take medication for their side effects. For instance, those taking medication for Bipolar Disorder might not want to take medication because it will limit the elevated mood of their mania. They might miss their wildly creative periods or their hyperactivity or their just plain feeling good. Others will avoid their medication because it makes them feel “different” or “lethargic” or even “fat”. The side effects for some medications are not pleasant, and especially for females the feeling of weight gain can deter them from continued use.

Sometimes, the simple act of forgetting to take medication might be at play as well. Mental illnesses such as Bipolar Disorder, ADHD, and even addiction to alcohol can come with short-term memory loss.

If you are a caregiver or someone who would like to support a friend or family member, the following are reminders to share with him or her in order to encourage compliance with medication treatment:

·       Medication is way to experience well-being. You do not have to take them for the rest of your life.

·       We can talk to a psychiatrist about the side effects and make adjustments as needed.

·       You’re not going to lose your personal control or autonomy in life.

·       Taking medications does not mean you are crazy. They are a means to restore balance.

·       If you let the illness run its course, there’s a smaller chance that you will find well-being, whereas if take medication, you’ll likely feel better.

·       If one medication does not work, others can be added or adjustments can be made to find the right solution to treatment.

·       Although medication might limit the exhilaration of mania, manic episodes can be dangerous and medication provides safety and stability.

Other ways you can help include buying a pill dispenser, setting an alarm when it’s time to take medication, using post-it notes as reminders, and if possible, arrange for medication to coincide with mealtimes.

Although it might be challenging at the start, once an individual is in the habit of taking medication and has become familiar with its effects, continuing to take pills at certain times of the day will get easier.  Also, depending on the mental illness, continuing to participate in an appropriate treatment plan might involve the eventual removal of medication. Yet, as long as psychological symptoms are present, medication can alleviate those symptoms and facilitate a healthy level of functioning.

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