Medication Therapy Management
Kentucky Mental Health Care providers are trained to diagnose and treat mental health disorders with medication on an individual basis. Some patients are treated with medication alone, while others are treated in combination with therapy or other treatments. A trained physician oversees each patient prescribed with mental health medications, and patients regularly participate in therapy so that our doctors can adequately assess their patients’ progress and the effectiveness of prescribed medications. Medications can play a role in improving most mental health conditions.
Some patients may find relief through psychotherapy sessions involving counseling and other coping strategies. Still, medication is often recommended when symptoms are moderate to severe or symptoms have not improved with therapy alone. At times, a therapist will recommend a consultation with a psychiatrist based on their clinical judgment. Anyone who wants to learn if medication may be helpful can meet with a psychiatrist for an evaluation and discussion of what role medications may play in their treatment. Kentucky Mental Health Care offers several licensed psychiatrists and psychopharmacologists who may prescribe mental health medications as part of some patients’ treatment plans.
What is Psychopharmacology (medication management)?
Psychopharmacology refers to the use of medication in treating mental health conditions. The complexity of this field requires continuous study to keep current with new advances. Psychopharmacologists need to understand all the clinically relevant principles of pharmacokinetics (what the body does to medication) and pharmacodynamics (what the medications do to the body). This includes an understanding of: Protein binding (how available the medication is to the body)
- Half-life (how long the medication stays in the body)
- Polymorphic genes (genes that vary widely from person to person)
- Drug-to-drug interactions (how medications affect one another)
Since these medications are used to treat mental conditions, an extensive understanding of basic neuroscience, basic psychopharmacology, clinical medicine, the differential diagnosis of mental disorders, and treatment options is required. Psychopharmacologists also must be skilled in building and utilizing a therapeutic plan with the patient.
Proper medication therapy management is a significant aspect of successful outpatient treatment programs.
Who Qualifies as a Psychopharmacologist?
In a generic sense, any physician who treats patients with psychotropic medication is a psychopharmacologist. Physicians who have completed residency training after medical school have an in-depth understanding and expertise in pharmacology, including psychopharmacology. Psychiatrists (who have completed four years of advanced training after medical school) have an even higher level of knowledge and expertise in psychopharmacology.
Understanding Medication Management
Medication serves an important role in mental healthcare.
Not every mental health issue is best treated with medication. Low self-esteem issues, as an example, can not be treated with medication. In these scenarios, therapy is likely the best approach.
Often, a combination of medication and therapy makes for the best mental health plan. Someone with an anxiety disorder, for example, can regulate anxiety via medication while also building tools in therapy to deal with the disorder.
Kentucky Mental Health Care providers are trained to diagnose and treat mental health disorders with medication on an individual basis. A trained physician oversees each patient prescribed with mental health medications, and patients regularly participate in therapy so that our doctors can adequately assess their patients’ progress and the effectiveness of prescribed medications. Medications can play a role in improving most mental health conditions. Some patients are treated with medication alone, while others are treated in combination with therapy or other treatments.
Taking medication to help with mental health issues is relatively common; in fact, one in six Americans take medication as part of their mental health plan. Patients should not feel like they are an extreme case if they are taking medication.
Many, too, are mistaken in believing that all medications are addictive or that it will cause them to disengage from others in some way. Medication affects each patient differently, and side effects vary. Additionally, our responsible doctors or nurse practitioners only prescribe medications that come with a risk of addiction when a patient’s situation absolutely necessitates it.
Generally speaking, research shows that the most effective treatments for most mental health conditions involve a combination of medications and psychotherapy. Some conditions require the use of multiple medications. A psychiatrist/psychopharmacologist should be involved when multiple psychiatric medications are prescribed or when medications require monitoring. Medications can aid patients in crisis or manage conditions in the long term. While some patients benefit from therapy alone, many need a combination of medication and therapy interventions.
Types of Psychiatric Medications
Doctors may prescribe patients with the following health medications as a part of their treatment:
- Anti-anxiety drugs
- Antipsychotic medications
- Mood stabilizers
are the most commonly prescribed psychiatric medications. Antidepressants work through the neurotransmitter serotonin and may also have effects on norepinephrine and dopamine. There are multiple types of antidepressants, including SSRIs (e.g., fluoxetine (Prozac®), sertraline (Zoloft®), escitalopram (Lexapro®), citalopram (Celexa®), and SNRIs (e.g., venlafaxine (Effexor®), duloxetine (Cymbalta®). These medications are the first-line choices for depression and anxiety disorders.
(e.g., clonazepam (Klonopin®), alprazolam (Xanax®), lorazepam (Ativan®) are prescribed to treat severe anxiety, panic attacks and at times insomnia. These medications are controlled substances with the potential to cause addiction, so they require close monitoring.
Stimulants (e.g., dextroamphetamine salts (Adderall®), methylphenidate (Ritalin®), lisdexamfetamine (Vyvanse ®) are used predominately to treat ADHD.
are commonly used to treat mood disorders such as bipolar disorder and treatment-resistant depression. Some mood stabilizers such as lithium and valproic acid (Depakote®) require monitoring of blood levels.
(e.g., aripiprazole (Abilify®), lurasidone (Latuda®), risperidone (Risperdal®), perphenazine (Prolixin®), and haloperidol (Haldol®) are used to treat psychotic illnesses such as schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorder. They also have FDA indications for treatment of bipolar disorder and, in some cases, can be used to improve treatment for depression.
How long will I need medication management?
In some instances, psychiatric medications can be used for short-term relief of symptoms. In other cases, medications may prove to be beneficial for a longer period of time. Medication use could range from a few weeks or months to several years, depending on what the psychiatrist and the patient believe is the most effective way to treat a mental health condition. Decisions regarding starting or stopping medications are best made in collaboration with a treating psychiatrist. The patient and provider work together to weigh the benefits of medications against the risks or side effects they may cause.
Treatment plans for patients requiring mental health medications are very individualized. Things can change over time, as well. Those with chronic conditions and long-term medication programs may find that their bodies have adjusted and adapted to their existing dose. In these scenarios, Kentucky Mental Health Care psychopharmacologists may need to adjust a dosage; in many medication management scenarios, a doctor or nurse practitioner may also need to ensure that substance abuse or addiction is not present or should be co-manged with Kentucky Recovery medication-assisted treatment. Both entities work together to form a comprehensive wellness plan. Our doctors will request a list of current medications before prescribing any mental health medications. Because medication management takes a team approach, we collaborate and request feedback with each client during follow-up visits and therapy sessions.