Starting a new medication?
Congratulations! This is a brilliant step in your journey of helping yourself to find health.
There are some very important things that you can do to make the most of your new medication. It is your doctor’s job to be the expert on the medicine and the condition, but YOU are the only expert on your experience.
1. Do some research
Whether you want to ask a doctor about a new medicine or you have been given a new prescription, get to know it. Look at the symptoms it treats, the possible side effects, medicines it might interact with, when you should take it, how you should take it (can you swallow pills or give yourself an injection?), etc. Ask your doctor or pharmacist if you have any questions.
2. Monitor yourself
Keep a journal where you can monitor your mood, pain, sleep patterns, energy levels, suicidal thoughts, appetite, etc. Start this before you begin taking a new medication or as soon as possible. Sometimes it is hard to tell how a medicine is affecting you, so this will help you compare and contrast your present state. Your doctor can also use this record to decide which medicine to try next.
3. Keep a personal medical record or timeline
Sometimes your complete record will not get transferred to new doctors. Keep track of the names and doses of current and past medications, with the dates and prescribing doctors. Add a few notes about how they affected you or why you switched. You can also include allergies, changes in symptoms, big life changes, and other important things for your doctor to consider. Bring this to every appointment and keep it updated.
4. Speak up
If a medicine is not working for you, talk to your doctor. Your health is their priority. Even if you are not sure you want to switch medications, begin the conversation so your doctor can give you options or help you evaluate your feelings. Be your own advocate.
5. Be patient
No medicine will heal you or take away every problem. You usually need to wait one month to see how a medicine is working. This can be frustrating, but know that you are working toward a healthier you.
Be patient with yourself too. If you are in the middle of transitioning, get plenty of sleep, drink water, and give yourself extra time to rest. Take care of your present self.
Did I miss anything? How do you empower yourself when you are starting a new medication?