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The Role of Medication Management in Mental Health & Wellness

When it comes to mental health challenges like anxiety and depression, there are many different treatment plans that can be effective at helping you start to feel better and stay better. While some people benefit from therapy alone, there are also people who benefit from the use of medication as part of their treatment plan. Here at The NEST, we want to fully support you in your care and now offer medication management options for women.

Disclaimer: While there is no one-size-fits-all plan for mental health and wellness challenges, there are many treatment options that can help you overcome your symptoms. There are some who benefit from the use of medication along with therapy, but that's not always the case. If you have questions about your options, we are happy to talk with you about creating a treatment plan with you in mind.

Meet Brenda Reiter, CNP

We know that it can be a little nerve-racking to talk about personal matters with someone you don't know just yet, so we want to take a minute to introduce you to our Women's Health Nurse Practitioner, Brenda Reiter.

Brenda has devoted her career to the promotion of women's health for the past 25 years, working in a variety of clinical settings. She has worked with women in all stages of life and cultural backgrounds. She has expansive knowledge in the treatment of anxiety and depression along with other mood-related health concerns. And she's also a Certified Menopause Practitioner.

Brenda has a passion for treating the whole person and has always been open to alternative therapies. In recent years, her focus has turned more to mental health and hormonal changes in women.

We've worked with her in the past and are excited to add her wealth of knowledge and care to The NEST team in Stillwater, MN. In addition to the medication management described above, she's also working with hormone consults, birth control needs, along with perimenopause and menopause changes.

Now that you know a little about Brenda, let's jump into the role that medication management can play in your treatment plan.

How medication can help your mental health

Medication can be effective, along with therapy, for helping symptoms of depression and anxiety.

If you're struggling with symptoms from anxiety, depression, or other mental health challenges, it can feel overwhelming to take the steps that you need to in order to start feeling better. Medication may be able to help you focus so you can begin to better manage your symptoms.

While medication can help, there is no such thing as a magic pill that will make you feel completely different. Medication for anxiety and depression can play a role in helping to treat your symptoms. And working with a therapist to address any underlying causes of your struggles and challenges can help you learn other effective strategies that can help as well.

It is possible for the right medication to help you enjoy life and resume the activities that you used to like participating in. You may also find that medication is able to help you improve your sleep, which can then help you be rested and better able to handle the everyday stress that you may encounter.

The role hormone management can play in your mental health & wellness

During perimenopause (the transition of your body to menopause) and menopause, you may experience a decrease in hormones. This can cause you to experience:

  • Difficulty concentrating or remembering things

  • Feelings of fogginess

  • Irritability and other mood symptoms

  • Difficulty sleeping

  • Hot flashes

There is a range of emotional changes that you can experience throughout life due to hormones. Sometimes, added estrogen and progesterone through hormone therapy can make a big difference.

Hormone replacement therapy can include bioidentical hormones that are usually made at a compounding pharmacy. But there are also lifestyle changes, such as diet and exercise, that can help make a difference as well.

Common concerns people have about taking medication for their mental health

If you're a little concerned about taking medication to help with your mental health, you're not alone. There are some pretty common concerns that we hear on a regular basis.

Some of these concerns include:

  • Afraid of being overmedicated

  • Fear of having a decrease in emotion (often described as being like a zombie)

  • Not wanting to be on medication for a long period of time/Fear of having to take medicine forever

  • Fear of side effects from the medication

These are just a few of the concerns that we're able to address and discuss with clients. However, another common concern is caused by the stigma that surrounds mental health and the need to take medication.

The stigma around mental health and medication

While most people would never hesitate to take prescribed medication if they had an infection and wanted to feel better, many will struggle with doing the same thing in order to feel better from mental health challenges like anxiety, depression, and other disorders.

But remember, your physical health is just one part of your overall health and wellness. Your mental health is also included in this and you should never feel ashamed or embarrassed of taking steps to help you feel your best.

It's important to address any concerns that you have with your therapist and/or the professional that's prescribing the medication for you.

This is one of the benefits and reasons why we're so excited to have a nurse practitioner join our team. When working with The NEST, your therapist and Women's Health Nurse Practitioner can work together to form the treatment plan that is best for your specific situation.

It can take time to start feeling better

Medication does not work overnight in treating mental health challenges. It can take two to six weeks for you to know how effective the medication is actually working. Many people end up giving up on their medication before it fully has a chance to work.

It's also not unusual for people to have to make adjustments in the type of medication that they're taking as well as the dose. Just like each person is unique, we all react differently to medication. That means there is no one pill that is the right solution for everyone.

It's important to work closely with your healthcare team, especially during those first few weeks of starting a new medication. Sticking to follow-up appointments can be very important in helping to make any necessary adjustments.

It's also helpful for women to work with a therapist during this time to learn other strategies and techniques that can help them as well.

FAQs about Medication Use

Listed below are some commonly asked questions about medication management. However, if you have specific questions about the role that medication can play in helping you feel your best, our team at The NEST is happy to speak with you and answer any questions that you have.

Q- What are the side effects of medication for anxiety and depression?

There is a list of side effects that you could experience with any type of medication. However, that doesn't mean that you will experience any. And if you do, you may find that they resolve over time.

Some side effects of anxiety and depression medication could include:

  • Feeling nervous or jittery

  • Fatigue or drowsiness

  • Trouble sleeping

  • Headache

  • Dry mouth

  • Decreased sexual desire

  • Nausea

Some of the more serious side effects could include worsening of depression symptoms, confusion, or twitching. It's very important to talk about what you're experiencing when taking medication. Again, this is a benefit of doing medication management through The NEST, so you can work closely with both your therapist and Nurse Practitioner.

If you do experience side effects, it's important that you don't just stop taking your medication suddenly without talking to your health practitioner. Doing so could lead to you experiencing withdrawal symptoms.

Your health practitioner can work with you to make adjustments in your medication, dosage, or to help you stop taking it in the proper way if needed.

Q - Will the medication cause me to gain weight?

While weight gain could be a side effect of some medications, that's not always the case. If this is a concern for you, make sure you mention it to your health practitioner. There are some types of antidepressant/anxiety medications that can be better to try than others if this is a concern.

If you know that weight gain could be a side effect of a medication that you're being prescribed, there are some lifestyle changes that you can make to help prevent it.

Brenda is happy to discuss these concerns with you during your appointment to help you find the best solution for you.

Q - How do medications, such as SSRIs, work for anxiety and depression?

Serotonin is sometimes referred to as the "happy chemical". It's a hormone in your brain that helps to control your mood, wellbeing, and feelings. Low levels of serotonin in the brain can be linked to symptoms of anxiety and depression.

SSRI stands for Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors. These types of medications work to increase both the amount and activity of your serotonin, which can help to improve your feelings and mood.

If you are looking for information specific to how medication can help during pregnancy or postpartum, Brenda is happy to discuss your concerns and options with you during your appointment.

Q - Will I need to take medication forever?

While medication can play an important role in helping you to feel better, it doesn't mean that you will need to remain on medication forever. This is something that can best be answered when speaking directly with your health practitioner.

There are many ways that medication can play a role in your treatment plan for a period of time while you work with a therapist to learn other strategies and techniques that can help long-term.

Q - Can I take medication while I'm trying to conceive, pregnant, or breastfeeding?

There are certain medications that are safe to take while pregnant and breastfeeding, but that's not the case with all medications. It's important to discuss these concerns with your health practitioner to make sure you are prescribed the right medication for your situation.

As a Woman's Health Nurse Practitioner at The NEST, Brenda can work with you to find the right solution for your specific situation.

Is medication right for me?

At The NEST, we want to provide you with the best treatment plan that is customized to you and your personal needs. This might mean that your therapist recommends you speak with our Nurse Practitioner, a psychiatrist, or your healthcare provider about the possible use of medication. However, that's not always the case.

We will always strive to provide you with your best options. But you have full control over your treatment. Your therapist will work closely with you to create a personalized treatment plan.

Our only goal is to help you feel your best. We never have a preconceived idea of what that requires. We're not trying to push you in one direction or another. We just want to be here to provide you the care and support you need.

If you're interested in exploring your options for therapy or medication management, please contact our office today.

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