Taking psychiatric medication, like taking any medication, requires monitoring by a physician who will consider all of your medications (vitamins, herbs, over-the-counter, and prescribed) and all of your physical and mental conditions, as well as a variety of other aspects of the whole person you are and the environment you live in.
Good medication management, therefore, should be individualized and requires various levels of involvement by the physician prescribing the medications.
The first step is an evaluation of your need for medication.
If medication is needed, the next step involves the selection of a specific medication or combination of medications, in the context of all of your other medications as well as your current and past medical and psychiatric conditions. Other factors may be important to consider as well. It is often a complicated process to discuss all the important specifics that are a part of getting onto a particular medication.
The third step is safely staying on your medication, or combination of medications, for as long as you need it. And for as long as you take medications, it is important to make sure that the medication is doing its job properly. This process sometimes involves changing doses, or sometimes changing medications, and depends on various factors, for example problems with side effects or insurance changes. If you are stable on your medication, you may only need to meet with your psychiatrist every 3 to 6 months to discuss your current level of symptoms or lack of symptoms, and to inform your psychiatrist of any changes in your physical health, your other medications, or other aspects in your life. You may also need to have blood levels monitored, or have yearly basic blood work to make sure your body is handling the medication properly. Sometimes contact with others in your life may be important in making sure that the best medication at the best dose is being used.
Finally, the last step involves getting off a medication safely which usually requires some collaboration with your doctor. Many psychiatric medications should not be stopped suddenly.