I know what the standard advice is. “Do not stop or change your medication with out talking to your doctor first.” And I think that it’s good advice! If you’re new to medications, or a certain medication and are particularly vulnerable then definitely I think this is the way to go. What about if you’ve been on medications for years? Decades? What if you’ve done your research and you know, absolutely that something needs to be changed. I would say still call your doctor to make an appointment to talk – even if you’re planning on making some adjustments on your own. That way you both can confirm what’s going on and what to expect. Also, always bring the dose up or down gradually. If you do it all at once there could be a whole other pile of problems.
If you’ve got a medication happy doctor, who can’t be trusted to know what’s right for you – do everything you can to get away from him or her. My mood and general well being suffered for about six years because my psych just kept adding things and increasing things. I’ve had damage to my memory as well as other cognitive effects.
For managing your own medications – I think it really depends. Like I said earlier if you are incredibly depressed, manic or in a lot of emotional or physical pain you may not be the right person to be making that decision. Of course doctors can take weeks to get an appointment with but usually you can talk to their nurse who will pass the message and get back to you much more quickly. At the very least talk to someone else in the household, or a friend.
I do think there are times when it’s okay to adjust your own meds. Rarely though should you stop them outright, unless you’re having a bad reaction. I very occasionally adjust mine. If I notice one is giving me Migraines. If it’s making me manic, or depressed. Or physically ill. But I also always let my doctor know the next time I see them. Because if they don’t know what’s going on, they can’t really help.
I recently gradually brought my Prozac down from 80mg to 40mg – on my own. I had felt flat for weeks. I could get nothing accomplished and it felt like my creativity was being squashed. It was not being a very happy pill. It took me about a week to notice any difference, but there is a difference. My mood, my ability to do things – even my sleep is better. I had read in many places that Prozac can cause a flattening in the mood and that’s why I started there. I’m on several medications, though only a couple of mental health ones. Obviously if you’re also on several medications be sure that what you’re adjusting is the root of the problem. It’s so easy to get lost when you’re dealing with multiple medications.
I’m not advocating being your own doctor. I think that even if you decide to make your own adjustments you should always let him or her know at your next appointment. Or through the nurse if it’s going to be a while. We certainly know more about how we feel, but they know more about the scientific aspects of taking too much or not enough or instantly stopping.
What about you? Are you on medication and do you feel comfortable making your own adjustments? Have you had any particular good or bad experiences with doing so? I’d love you hear from you :D