The treatment plan you and your healthcare provider develop may employ medication, therapy and lifestyle changes, by themselves or in combination, to manage your symptoms. Remember that a plan is only as good as its execution. This is your recovery, and your plan. Your job is to make sure you understand the plan, and that you stick to it.
If your treatment plan includes prescribed medications such as antidepressants, your healthcare provider will explain why a specific medicine is being prescribed for you, and advise you on when and how you should take it. (See medication for more about the different classes of medications available to treat depressive conditions).
It is your responsibility to follow the medication plan outlined for you. Since medications can take up to six weeks to begin working, and because certain side effects are possible, it is also your responsibility to help monitor your medication plan, taking note of any events – both positive and negative – that might be associated with your medications, and to share that information with your healthcare provider.
When managing your medications:
Do not change your dose or stop taking your medicine. Until your healthcare provider tells you to stop or make a change, keep taking the recommended dose at the recommended time. Unless you are directed to by your healthcare provider, do not double your dose if you discover you have missed a dose. And do not stop taking your medication if you begin to feel better.
Stopping your medication too soon increases the chances that your symptoms could return, and that they could return even more intensely.
Record any side effects you are experiencing. Don’t hesitate to share these details with your healthcare provider right away, rather than waiting for your next scheduled appointment.
Track your symptoms, too. Making simple notes of how you are feeling throughout the day will help create a record you and your healthcare provider can use to assess the effectiveness of your meds.
Don’t combine your medications with other medicines or with alcohol. Speak with your healthcare provider before taking any over-the-counter drugs, or anything prescribed by another provider such as your dentist. And avoid drinking alcohol to avoid any potentially dangerous interactions with your medications.
Carry a record of your medications with you. This will help serve as a reminder to you of your medication plan, and can be used when speaking with other healthcare providers about conditions unrelated to your depression. Try putting our Medication Wallet Reminder Card to use.
If your treatment plan includes therapy, this too needs your commitment in order to succeed. Therapy works gradually. It can take weeks or even months to experience the benefits of therapy, but over time, most people do see an improvement.
Your patience with and your participation in therapy are both critical to success. Keeping your therapy appointments and attempting to complete any assignments or exercises suggested are essential to getting the maximum benefit from therapy.
Sticking with your treatment plan also means taking recommended lifestyle changes seriously, and devoting the time and attention needed to develop new, healthier habits. To start, you can put the tools included in this website to work for you to address key areas such as nutrition, exercise, sleep and stress management.