How to see a Psychiatric Medication Provider in 5 Steps

By Hilary Holmes, MSN, RN, PMHNP-BC –August 8, 2019


Step 1: Show up

This is often the hardest part; showing up takes a lot of courage and energy. It’s a vulnerable thing to do, but in doing so you’re telling yourself that you matter and you’re getting on a path toward wellness. Celebrate showing up!


Step 2:  Know that you have power!

Advocate for yourself. If you feel the recommendations the provider has made are not right for you, let them know! You are in control of what goes in your body. Stay in communication with your provider to find a treatment that is right for you.


Step 3: Consider medications

Medications aren’t right for everyone but for some, they can make a world of a difference. As you consider treatments (e.g. exercise, therapy, incorporating nutritious food, meditation, prayer, etc.), consider medications. Talk with your prescriber regarding how you feel about medications. Just because you walk into a psychiatrist’s office, doesn’t mean you have to walk out with a prescription! Let them know what you’re looking for. When you’re ready, start a medication cautiously and carefully.


Step 4: Side effects happen, but not always

For many psychiatric medications, even common side effects occur less than 30% of the time. You could easily be in the 70%+ who do not experience a particular side effect. Usually the serious side effects are much less common (>1%), but if they happen to you, don’t panic; mental health professionals are trained to manage these effects. If you experience a bothersome or worrisome side effect, contact your prescriber; they’ll likely be able to let you know if the side effect is bothersome but benign or something more serious and can recommend what to do next. When in doubt, seek out emergency medical services.


Step 5: Do the work!

Medication cannot do the work of healing for you. Do things to take care of yourself. See a therapist. Meet new people and spend time with those you connect with. Seek out what drives you in life. Stay active. Eat well and often. Medication can help you maintain the stability and energy to do these things, but it takes your effort to stay well.  Learning to take care of yourself takes time! Don’t be discouraged by the ups and downs of your self-care routine. Any time you struggle to do things to support wellness you’ll learn more about yourself and what does or does not work for you. These discoveries help you to progress day by day toward mental wellness.

*Hilary Holmes MSN, RN, PMHNP-BC is a wellness advocate and Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner who helps patients overcome depression, anxiety and other mental health concerns at the Center for Green Psychiatry.

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