This is the fifth and final segment in our journey to understand psychiatry with Dr Sucheta Tiwari. In this article, we will examine the principles by which psychotropic medication is prescribed.
Previous articles in the series on Understanding Psychiatry include a discussion of how to identify the need for help, the differences between a neurologist, psychiatrist and clinical psychologist, what to expect in the first visit to a psychiatrist and information on psychotropic medication, its workings and side effects.
Prescribing of Psychotropic Medication: 3 Principles
Dr Tiwari divides the process of psychiatric prescription down to three fundamentals principles.
There is a clear psychiatric diagnosis or a working diagnosis based on which a treatment protocol may be followed or options may be explored.
It’s important to remember that a psychiatric diagnosis is not fixed and is subject to change over a period of time, and is often not evident from one visit. The psychiatrist will reach a diagnosis, based on the consultation and the inputs.
The purpose of diagnosing is to help us and others (including other doctors, friends and family) understand better what we’re going through. It helps with deciding treatment protocols and predicting what other things might happen that we can prepare or watch out for. It can be enabling to have a name to our experience.
The process of decision making is shared with us.
We will participate in the medication prescribed to us – understand it, know what to expect, monitor our response to it, and give feedback to the psychiatrist. If we are not in a position to have this decision-making conversation, we may appoint a nominated representative who will act on our behalf.
Medication is only prescribed after evaluating the need,
and if there is a shared agreement that medication can help manage the disruption to the patient’s and their loved ones’ lives.
The common thread is that we are an active and essential part of our medication and recovery process.
We hope you’ve found the series helpful in demystifying the process of psychotropic medication. The aim is to feel enabled enough to seek help, and empowered enough to seek the right kind of help, ask the right questions, and participate in our recovery.
If you have other questions, please do write to us at [email protected] and we will do our best to respond to them.