Taking part in your care
Treating a mental illness such as depression or an anxiety disorder comes with a lot of complexity. It may take multiple tries to find a treatment strategy or combination that fits each person best.
Ginger White (@gingerw), who worked with health care providers for years before arriving at a mix of therapy and medications that allowed her to function well with dual diagnoses of depression and Asperger’s syndrome, described the process of finding the right diagnosis and treatment like this: “It is like an electronic circuit board with wires everywhere, but there is a disconnect between parts of the brain. Sometimes the wires may have a loose connection or be positioned incorrectly for optimum results. The goal of working with those affected is to assist in strengthening the valid connections, creating a bypass if needed.”
To be a successful partner in your care, follow these tips:
- Stay in touch — No matter how things are going, you should communicate regularly with members of your health care team. They can talk with you about adjustments in treatment if needed. Without your input, they can’t help you as well.
- Create a daily schedule — Keep a normal routine. Include when you’ll take your medications, when you’ll eat healthy meals and snacks, and when you’ll go to bed and wake up to ensure adequate sleep. Set time aside to do activities you enjoy. Include time to spend with other people.
- Add exercise to your life — Regular exercise can improve your mood and feelings of well-being. It can also lessen irritability, add energy, and improve your sleep and eating habits. Check with your health care provider before beginning an exercise program.
- Stick with your medications — The point at which people begin to feel improvements in mood and other symptoms varies, but it may take up to four to eight weeks to feel a noticeable difference. It is important to give each medication enough time to build up for optimal benefit.
You may experience uncomfortable side effects, especially when you first start taking medications. If the side effects are hard to tolerate, talk to your doctor right away. It’s important to give medications a fair trial, and adjustments can be made to help you better manage the side effects. Keep taking your medications even when you start to feel better — unless you are advised to stop by your health care provider. Remember that there are other medications to try in case the first one does not work for you.
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