The Hows & Whens of Fine-Tuning Your Meds

The Hows & Whens of Fine-Tuning Your Meds
prescription medication adjustment bipolar disorder
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Hope & Harmony Headlines
October 20, 2022  •  Volume 15, Issue 42

Medication adherence is essential for maintaining stability with bipolar. But sometimes a prescription stops working as well as it once did and needs to be “tweaked.”

Hormonal issues, poor sleep, metabolism changes, and other factors may be at play. Weight gain, mental fogginess, and other side effects may be too difficult to handle. Or perhaps it’s simply time for an adjustment.

Adjusting medications is common—and requires patience.

“Because you’re not dealing with something constant, it’s sometimes difficult for clinicians to figure out what’s going on, and for the person to actually get a sense of what the problem is,” says Sonu Gaind, MD.

A couple of other factors may necessitate a medication modification.

If it has been a while since your medications were reviewed or calibrated, it’s time. Our bodies evolve, as do treatment options. In 2020, for example, the American Journal of Psychiatry published a study revealing major changes in the way doctors have treated bipolar over the past two decades. People with the diagnosis these days are much more likely to be prescribed second-generation antipsychotics rather than traditional mood stabilizers.

This brings up the importance of having a strong bond with your prescriber. Research has shown that the doctor-patient relationship, one based on vulnerability and trust, can be one of the most moving and meaningful experiences shared by humans.

If you’re not already tracking your moods—and sharing that information with your doctor—ask your care provider for guidance on how best to get into a good routine.

Fine-tuning your meds with a “rescue medication” strategy can provide temporary consolation in situations that don’t occur often but leave you feeling off-balance.

Says bp Magazine columnist Melvin G. McInnis, MD, FRCPsych: “Several people have shared with me that just having the rescue medication available—just knowing that an effective intervention is at hand if needed—can be helpful in and of itself.

Read “Tweaking Your Meds: Strategic Medication Modification” >>

Originally posted September 27, 2022

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