Medications are an important part of effective treatment for many mental health conditions. The decision to start or to continue psychiatric medications is not one to be taken lightly. Our approach to psychopharmacology (or “medication management” as it is sometimes referred) is designed to respect your individuality and to acknowledge the complexity of this intervention.
First and foremost, effective psychopharmacology takes time. A detailed history and ongoing discussion of your response to medications is essential to providing excellent care. By spending the time to get to know you, we can tailor the selection of medications and the dose to your specific needs. We can better understand how your current life stressors or other medical conditions may affect your medication response. There is enough time to discuss any concerns you may have about each medication including side effects.
To this end, we typically schedule at least 90 minutes for the initial interview. Follow-up appointments are no shorter than 25 minutes and often are scheduled for 45-60 minutes. Furthermore, when starting or adjusting medications, we request that you return frequently to be sure that the interventions are effective. We will weigh you regularly and may check your blood pressure or request additional laboratory tests to monitor your reaction to medications. We will also ask that you complete symptom questionnaires before every appointment. This gives us another source of information to track your personalized response to treatment.
Most people who benefit from psychiatric medications do best when the medication management is combined with psychotherapy. We often provide psychotherapy and psychopharmacology services in the same appointment session. If you are already participating in psychotherapy with another provider, or need an intensity of psychotherapy that we do not offer, we can coordinate with the other providers in the community.
Medications are selected carefully and we adhere to the latest scientific evidence in each recommendation. We are especially cautious about prescribing controlled substances. We will not prescribe controlled substances at the initial interview. These powerful medications can be safely and ethically managed only in the context of an ongoing treatment relationship.
Your physician will work with you to determine a follow-up schedule that best meets your needs. Most psychiatric conditions have a tendency to fluctuate over time. It is better to have a scheduled appointment than can detect any changes early than to wait until a crisis arises. For ongoing care, we recommend that you return at least once every 3 months, although for some patients more frequent visits are optimal.