Take care of your mental health and keep medications in check

Welcome to October a month to celebrate harvests and Halloween. It’s also the month that brings awareness to mental health. The World Health Organization (WHO) earmarks October 10 as World Mental Health Day. This week, October 3-9 marks Mental Health Awareness Week.

Mental Health can be difficult to diagnose and treat. It often involves many visits to the doctor and counselor. Poor mental health can lead to appetite changes, interruptions in sleeping habits and ability to sleep, difficulty concentrating, and changes in energy levels.

Life events and health issues may cause depression and anxiety. Reduced exercise, lack of socialization, and loneliness negatively contribute to mental health. Some medications and health conditions can also contribute to these conditions.

Treatment of mental health including counseling, music therapy, meditation, and medication are some options. Let’s review some of the common medications used for mental health especially for depression and anxiety.

Medications on a med list for mental health are ‘left alone’ not changed, stopped, or switched especially if the depression and anxiety seem to be alleviated or in check. Mental health medications, especially those for depression and anxiety, may eventually become unnecessary or inappropriate. Deprescribing medications in this area takes time, these medications need to be tapered down slowly.

Why would one even think about reducing these medications anyway?

  • If depression or anxiety was due to a life changing event, an episode in time, the treatment may no longer be needed
  • Some medications can lead to cardiovascular changes and may be dosed too high for an older adult. Examples include:
    • Citalopram 20 mg daily is the maximum dose for an adult 65 years plus
    • Escitalopram 10 mg daily is the maximum dose for an adult 65 years plus
  • Some medications may cause increased risk of falls such as amitriptyline, diazepam, paroxetine
  • Some meds may cause reduced appetite such as fluoxetine
  • Other meds may increase seizure risk, for example bupropion

 

Be thoughtful about mental health awareness month. Talk to your doctor or other health care providers. Get help and treatment if needed. Have your medications reviewed for side effects that may cause mental health changes and for medications used for mental health that be unnecessary, need to be changed to a safer alternative, or reduced to a safer optimal dose due to changes in your body over time.

Keep reviewing your medications with your health care providers. Reviewing medications for mental health is a WISE & WELL choice. Come back to the website next week for more on awareness campaigns for the month of October.