Medication Management Q&A
Many clients have heard the best treatment for many mental health concerns is a combination of psychotherapy and psychiatric medication management. While certainly not for everyone or every mental health issue, medication can be helpful for a number of presenting concerns. To shed some light on the topic, CEO Dr. Chad Lorenz interviewed psychiatric nurse practitioner Dr. Brittney Burns, asking questions many clients have…
Lorenz: What is psychiatric medication management?
Burns: Psychiatric medication management includes assessment and management of psychiatric medications that are used to treat psychiatric disorders in children and adults such as ADHD, anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, and others. Medication management incorporates medications, monitoring of overall health, and recommendations for other treatment modalities such as psychotherapy and lifestyle changes aimed to increase overall well-being.
Lorenz: What does the first appointment usually look like? Subsequent appointments?
Burns: At a patient’s initial appointment, psychiatric providers assess for medical conditions and concerns that may contribute to psychiatric symptoms. The assessment is much like an assessment that a primary care provider would do but instead of focusing on the physical aspects of an exam, we utilize discussion to identify the patient’s mental health needs. This assessment will help to determine the appropriateness of medications in the patient’s treatment plan. If needed, additional lab tests and screenings may be ordered. The provider will work the patient’s primary care or other relevant providers to order the needed tests and ensure they are completed in a timely manner.
Follow-up appointments are determined at each appointment based on how the patient is doing. These appointments are guided by report and discussion between the patient and provider. These appointments may include therapy, medication adjustments, screenings, and other various tasks deemed fit by the provider to improve patient care.
Lorenz: How do psychiatric providers determine if medicine could help?
Burns: Psychiatric providers do a thorough assessment of the patient’s psychiatric symptoms and history to determine if medication initiation is appropriate. Continued monitoring and discussion with the patient determines the medication’s safety and effectiveness.
Lorenz: What issues does the research show medicine to be particularly helpful with?
Burns: The cause of mental illness is still yet to be fully understood, but it is believed that an individual’s genetic make-up and exposure to situational stressors can alter the balance of chemicals in the brain. Taking medications regularly can help to improve the balance as well as lower the intensity and frequency of mental health symptoms.
Lorenz: Does medicine treat mental health issues by itself?
Burns: No, medication along with lifestyle changes and psychotherapy prove to achieve the most successful patient outcomes. The addition of medication to a treatment plan can help patients be more receptive to new ideas as well as different types of approaches and skills they may be introduced to in therapy.
Lorenz: What about side effects?
Burns: Every individual reacts to medication in a different way. To determine the appropriateness of a medication, the provider discusses the desired and potential adverse side effects. Along with the patient, these side effects are then weighed against the benefits of the medication to determine the appropriateness of the treatment.
Lorenz: How often should patients be seen to best monitor progress?
Burns: If any medication changes are made during an appointment the typical follow-up will be recommended for 2-4 weeks. After that the provider will determine the frequency of follow-ups depending on the patient’s progress and how they are responding to the medication. To deliver the safest care possible, follow-up appointments are never recommended for longer than 6 months out. In order to effectively manage medication the patient needs to be seen in the provider’s office.
To schedule an evaluation or psychiatric medication management evaluation, call the clinic at (952) 443-4600. Most insurances are accepted in-network.