It happens as we get sick, age, or just need something to help us feel better physically or emotionally; we meet with our doctor, and they prescribe us medications for whatever ails us. And if we’re not feeling our best emotionally and physically, we may even see different doctors to make sure we get back to optimum health all-around. But sometimes it can be difficult to keep track of what we’re supposed to take and when we’re supposed to take it, not to mention the cost of getting multiple medications filled at the pharmacy. And if we skipped just one dose, that couldn’t hurt, could it? Contrary to popular belief, it could indeed be harmful to miss taking routine doses, especially depending on the condition(s) for which they’re prescribed. Diabetes, high blood pressure, heart issues, and other medical conditions require routine medications to keep them controlled. Similarly, some medications for behavioral health conditions require that medications be taken on a regular schedule to prevent worsening of symptoms such as depression or anxiety. And if we’re not feeling great physically or emotionally, the other is likely to follow, leading to all-around poorer health. A special feature by the Food and Drug Administration indicates that between 20-30% of people never fill new prescriptions, and over the course of months or years many people either don’t take their medications as prescribed or stop taking them altogether for varying reasons At times, the side effects of medications can lead to health problems in and of themselves. Some medications prescribed for behavioral health issues such as psychosis (believing or experiencing things that are not real) can increase one’s risk for diabetes or high cholesterol. So how best make sure we’re taking the right medications, taking them as prescribed and that we won’t suffer from severe side effects? When prescribing medications, your doctor weighs potential side effects against the benefits you receive from the medication; working with your doctor to minimize or prevent any short- or long-term side effects from medications is important. Here are a few main points to follow:
- Get a pillbox – rather than having to remember to take your medications from multiple bottles over the course of the day, set up a pillbox to hold your medications that you can fill up once a week or once a month.
- Set reminders – use the calendar or reminder apps on yoursmartphone or other alarm that you can set to remind you to take your pills.
- See if the medication manufacturers have discount programs or check with your pharmacy to see if they have a discount program that can help with the cost of medications. Your prescriber may also recommend generic medications, which work just as well as name-brand medications but cost less.
- Talk with all of your medical providers about your medications, side effects, and concerns. Make sure that they all communicate with each other so that everyone is ‘on the same page’. Ask plenty of questions; your doctors are here for you, to make sure you feel as healthy as possible.
- Get tested for conditions like elevated blood sugar or cholesterol as requested by your physicians.
In short, making sure to take our medications as prescribed, communicate with our providers regarding any side effects or concerns, and putting steps into place to prevent missing doses will help us feel our best and maximize our emotional and physical health for years to come.