by Mary Ellen Copeland, Ph.D

Your wellness program may include the use of medications. Deciding to use medications   is a personal decision that only you can make. Your decision should be based on the best information available from your health care providers and your own research. Whether you currently take medications or have had them recommended to you, there is information you need to consider if you decide they are to be part of your wellness plan.

Before visiting your doctor, plan ahead with a list of questions to review. A few examples are as follows:

    • What kind of an effectiveness track record does this medication have?checklist-clipart
    • What are both the short term and long term effects of this medication?
    • Are there ways to minimize the chances of experiencing these side effects?
    • Why was this particular medication recommended?

Many use medications as a primary way to deal with health problems. Some have used them for a long time. Now, more and more people who use medications are using self-help strategies to complement and enhance their treatment. Others use medications for the short term, to allow time to work on issues, set up systems, learn management techniques and make lifestyle changes that promote and enhance wellness.

Learn all you can about every medication you take. Have a thorough discussion with your physician and other health care providers about all aspects of the suggested medication. Use the internet to gather information. Explore a variety of viewpoints. Make a detailed list of medication questions or use the Medication Information Form outlined in Wrap for Life, to record information about each suggested medication or treatment. Make decisions on how to proceed based on your findings.

Keep your physician advised of how you feel and all side effects that appear after you start taking any medication. Don’t assume how you are feeling is a medication side effect and fail to report it. A serious condition that needs attention could be needlessly overlooked.

You may find that the side effects of your medication are intolerable. You may not be able to think clearly, may have digestive and elimination problems, gain excessive amounts of weight, have dry mouth, headache, dizziness or lose your sexual drive. You may develop a tremor. You deserve to feel well. Work with your doctor to find medications or wellness strategies that will not cause this distress.

Use the self-help techniques outlined in the various WRAP materials and other resources on mental health recovery so you will need only minimal medication or no medications or other invasive treatments.

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