Medication Management

What does “medication management” mean?

Medication management is simply the use of medication to help treat a condition. It implies that the condition cannot be cured with medication but its effects or symptoms can be lessened. Conditions such as major depression, disabling anxiety, and bipolar disorder can often be effectively managed with medication, frequently in addition to psychotherapy.

Are psychiatric medications helpful or harmful?

Medication use for psychiatric conditions has both supporters and detractors. People who are in favor of the use of psychiatric medications say that they can help people function in society, have more satisfying relationships, and suffer less from distressing feelings. Others feel that psychiatric medications are used to manage people whose behavior is disturbing to others with no benefit to themselves.

Where do I fall in the debate?

My opinion about psychiatric medications is that they can be useful for people who are suffering from significant emotional or behavioral symptoms, but as with all medications, they need to be used responsibly and realistically. It is true that most psychiatric medications only treat symptoms, but the effects of reducing symptoms should not be underestimated. When they work, these drugs can help reduce suffering and improve a person’s ability to function and enjoy life and, in many instances, recover.

What about adverse effects?

Some psychiatric medications, such as the anti-anxiety benzodiazepines (eg, Xanax, Klonopin and Ativan) and ADHD drugs (eg, Ritalin and Adderall) may cause dependence and are potentially addictive. Others, such as some antidepressants (eg, Effexor and Paxil) are not addictive but can cause withdrawal symptoms when they are stopped suddenly. Other medications can sometimes cause weight gain and other side effects.

So I believe in informing my patients about the pros and cons of taking medication, as well as the benefits and risks of each type of medication that may be indicated. I can help you understand how medication may help you, but in the end, it is your decision whether to take it.