medication planning box

Safety Tips for Taking Psychiatric Medication

It’s perfectly healthy to be skeptical or nervous about starting any medication, especially psychiatric medications. It’s important to know that psychiatric professionals will only prescribe medication if they believe that the benefits to your overall well-being are bigger than the risks. You can also take steps to lessen your risk and stay in control with these safety tips.

Watch for Side Effects and React Appropriately

Like all medications, psychiatric prescriptions can have side effects. If you experience any life-threatening problem, call 9-1-1 right away.

Luckily, extreme reactions are rare. It’s possible that you may experience a reaction that is not life-threatening but is also severe enough to keep you from wanting to continue the medication. Do not throw away the medication. Instead, call the prescribing provider as soon as possible. Stopping certain psychiatric medications cold-turkey can cause significant problems. Instead, your provider may lower your dose or change your prescription.

For many medications, the most common side effects are relatively mild and go away in time. For example, patients may experience nausea or dry mouth with some medications. If these issues interfere with your life, call your doctor and see what modifications you can make. In some cases, you can take the medication at a different time or take a smaller dose. If the symptoms are tolerable, you may make note of them and discuss them at your next medication management appointment.

Know What To Do If Your Symptoms Worsen

For many people, psychiatric medications truly help, even if it takes a few weeks. However, some patients experience worsening or new symptoms. This can include thoughts of suicide.

If your symptoms worsen in any way, call the prescribing provider immediately. If the worsening symptoms include thoughts of suicide, seek immediate care. This may be through your local emergency room or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

Learn About Interactions

All prescription medications can negatively react with other substances. Your prescribing medical provider and pharmacist should check for any interactions between your prescriptions. However, your new medication may also react with over-the-counter substances.

Most psychiatric medications have negative interactions with alcohol. If you take one of these medications, it’s important to abstain from alcohol–even just one drink. Depending on the medication, alcohol may decrease its efficacy or cause serious health concerns.

Some medications have more surprising cross-reactions. For example, patients should not eat grapefruit while taking certain medications. No matter what type of prescription you have, it’s vital to read all instructions that come with the medication.

Store Your Medication Safely

Do you have children in the home or live with anyone who should not have access to psychiatric medication? If so, take an extra moment to consider where you will keep your prescription. It’s best to keep it behind a lock or out-of-reach of children. While this may seem overly cautious, this extra step can keep your family safe.

How to Dispose of Psychiatric Medication

Sometimes you and your doctor decide it would be best to change your dosage or medication. This process requires a new prescription. So, what should you do with any leftover pills? To protect the environment, avoid throwing these away in the garbage or flushing them down the toilet.

Furthermore, if your medication is a controlled substance, it’s particularly important to keep it from falling into the wrong hands. Instead of tossing it out, take it back to the pharmacy. Some pharmacies have medication return boxes through which you can return medicine with no questions asked. In other cases, you can simply tell the pharmacist that you no longer take the prescription.

If you have any questions about your medication management, feel free to reach out to LifeStance Health.