1. Medication won’t do your work but they can make your work much easier to do. 

Life leaves its marks on all of us. Medicines can help you focus, stabilize your mood, or take the edge off of profound anxiety so that you can figure out how get to work, be a better friend, or get to therapy appointments. In therapy you can learn the dynamics and scripts that are driving you in ways that no longer work for you. There’s no pill for that. But there are pills that can lessen emotional intensity so that you can do your good work. 

2. See a specialist. Go to a psychiatrist. I was so lucky to train with some amazing doctors that I’m proud to call colleagues and friends. I always encourage my clients to see one of them for medication management. Psychiatrists have expert knowledge about the drugs they prescribe. They know about alternative medical treatments that even the best family practice doctors simply don’t have time to learn about. Take advantage of the expertise they have.

3. Different medicines react differently in each human body.

Some medicines take a while to work in your system. Others work more quickly. It’s hard to know how a medication will effect you without trying it. Also lists of side effects are often scary. Don’t Google them. Just because somebody in a medication trial got an upset stomach on med x it doesn’t mean you will. Find a psychiatrist you like. Work with them consistently and find right meds for your body.

4. Take the least amount of medicine that gives you maximum symptom reduction and minimum side effects. 

This is a balancing act for your unique body and physiology. Pick a doctor that you’re comfortable with and that you trust because it’s a process to get the right meds at the right dose. Persistence pays off here.

5. Alcohol and marijuana are drugs too.

Many of my clients start therapy with a firm personal belief that they don’t want to be on medication yet they’re drinking and/or using marijuana regularly. There’s a paradox there worth understanding and changing.