Why do people stop Psychiatric medications?
The biggest reason people stop medication is they don’t like taking pills. Some people just forget. Others start doing well so they say, “I don’t need it anymore”. Side effects that are uncomfortable are another big problem. Dry mouth, constipation, nausea, and dizziness can occur with a lot of medications. People stop medications because they don’t believe that they are sick or that the medication will help. Individuals are in denial about illness. Lately I’m seeing people stop medication because it’s too expensive. Sometimes people stop medication because they like the manic state and don’t want anything to stop.
One patient told me he wanted to use alcohol and didn’t want to take his medication with alcohol. I think that makes sense.
How do we keep people on medication? First education is the key. Educating them on the risks of the mental illness. Psychiatric illness can be damaging to the brain. Untreated mental illness results in breakup of relationships, loss of jobs, legal problems and problems in marriages.
Going off medications may result in withdrawal syndromes. Stopping medications can make a lot of things worse. Depressive disorders, anxiety disorders and psychiatric disorders become worse. Untreated mental illness may predispose people to addiction and self medication with drugs of abuse.
The doctor and patient relationship, if effective can increase compliance with medication. Some one must believe that everything possible is being done to heal the illness and minimize side effects.
The support of a loved one helps. Making sure someone always has these medications and in a pleasant supportive way reminding them to take it.
Rituals help people be compliant with their medications. Take the medication the same time and place everyday. This helps from forgetting it. Take the medication every time you brush your teeth in the bathroom or with your dinner everyday.
Talking with other people who are taking the medications you are on helps decrease anxieties about taking it.
Making sure you are on a medication you can live with helps. You need to be able to swallow it, live with the side effects and deal with a dosing schedule. These nuances need to be worked out between the patient and doctor.