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The Importance of Medication in Coordination with Therapy

Medication is an important treatment for many different ailments, conditions and diseases that we all experience. It can improve quality of life, reduce or eliminate symptoms, maintain baselines, and many more important functions throughout our daily lives. As the stigma of mental health decreases, it becomes clearer how important it is to integrate mental health medication into a full medical treatment approach when appropriate.

Written by Nicole Banks and Dr. Brandy Engler, PsyD, from Silver Lake Psychology

Integrated Mental Health

The first step to support your mental health should be to build a mental health team. This team should incorporate your Primary Care Provider (PCP), Therapist and a Psychiatrist if possible. Having these key players work together can ensure that your complete mental health treatment plan is known throughout your main medical team and can ensure the best treatment outcomes.

Benefits of Integrated Mental Health

Integrated Mental Health ensures that all of the key players of your mental health team are aware of the care the others are providing. This can ensure that any medications that are recommended are checked against the other medications that you’re taking to ensure the least amount of side effects possible. Working with your pharmacist and reviewing your medications can be another key part of your medication management plan.

Integrating medication can improve symptoms and increase favorable patient outcomes

While some consider the integration of medication as unnecessary, in many cases, integrating medication can improve symptoms quicker. This can also mean that overall treatment of your mental health conditions may shorten in duration due to the aid of medication. If medication is recommended, it’s important to understand all of your options.

Self-advocate during medication decisions

If a therapist recommends pursuing medication or if you have questions about adding medication to your mental health treatment plan, it’s important to do your research and advocate for your well being. Depending on the Provider, there may be many different treatment approaches competing and working together to treat you. Finding your voice and having open communication with your treatment team will ensure that the best decisions are made for you!

Starting medication

There are many different types of mental health conditions that can benefit from medication. Some of these include: anxiety, depression, mood disorders, ADHD, OCD, and many other mental health conditions.
While it may be intimidating to start taking medication, know it can be an effective treatment method when used in conjunction with therapy. The stigma of taking medications can be so intrusive or fearful that it may impede your ability to start medication. Medication is a useful part of many treatment methods and can be sometimes short term depending on your condition.

Discuss treatment methods to make sure you’re comfortable

It’s important to feel comfortable with your treatment. Take the time to discuss medication with your care team (for example, your psychiatrist, primary care provider and therapist). Ensuring that you are aware and in communication with your team can lead to increased success with medication adherence and patient outcomes. It’s important to be patient with yourself and your progress and to take the time to ask questions and understand the side effects and implications of any treatment, including medication. Finally, rest assure knowing nothing will be finalized without your consent.

 Understand any side effects

Like any medication, there can be side effects. Understanding any side effects from the medications that you may be taking is an important part of your overall health. Medication strategies can be a bit different for mental health medications. Starting slowly and weaning off of medications slowly is a common strategy for mental health medications that you may not be as familiar with as other medications.

Discussing your concerns regarding your mental health medications is important. If there are any side effects that you’re experiencing or if you have any questions regarding dosage, please consult with your PCP or Psychiatrist.

Be aware of your body and symptoms

It’s important to self-monitor whenever you begin a new medication, but especially when starting mental health medications. Whether you choose to journal or keep track of your symptoms using another method, it’s important to keep track of your symptoms. Having this information to discuss with your treatment team can help them to correctly dose and to integrate other approaches with your medication to improve patient outcomes.

Maintaining symptoms with medication

Depending on your symptoms and conditions, mental health medication could be a long term medication solution for you. It’s important to continue to track your symptoms even for maintenance medications. Depending on the condition, your medications may need to be adjusted over time. Keeping track of your symptoms can ensure that you keep your Provider apprised of your quality of life and can help make any adjustments that are necessary.

Many medications are available

There are many different medications available to treat mental health conditions. Your treatment team will do their best to ensure that the correct medication is prescribed. 

If you experience any side effects or something feels off, make sure to tell your Provider. And remember, it’s important to not compare yourself to friends, families, or those that you may read about, since responses to a given medication may vary, even among relatives. 

Given the number of approved medications on the market, take the time to work with your Provider to find the right medication for you. You may also receive recommendations to taper or change medications depending on your progress and symptoms.

Medication can help your progress in therapy

Medication is a crucial tool with integrated mental health and can help to reduce symptoms and their duration and improve quality of life. The stigma regarding mental health and medication isn’t what it once was and has greatly improved in recent years.

If you’re considering medication or if it is recommended, talk to your medical team and discuss your concerns and ask questions. Medication is a great choice to improve symptoms, improve the efficacy of therapy and improve your quality of life.

Learn How Prairie Integrates Medication with Care


[1] Bucci, K. K., Possidente, C. J., & Talbot, K. A. (2003). Strategies to improve medication adherence in patients with depression. American Journal of Health-System Pharmacy,60(24), 2601-2605. doi:10.1093/ajhp/60.24.2601

[2] Weiss, M., Murray, C., Wasdell, M., Greenfield, B., Giles, L., & Hechtman, L. (2012). A randomized controlled trial of cbt therapy for adults with adhd with and without medication. BMC Psychiatry,12(1). doi:10.1186/1471-244x-12-30

[3] Sudak, D. M. (2011). Combining CBT and medication: An evidence-based approach. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.

Mon May 10 2021

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