Archive for April, 2024

Five Tips for a Successful Medication Management Appointment

We’ve all been there: you show up at your doctor’s appointment and suddenly you can’t remember much more than the initial problem that brought you in. Weren’t there some questions you wanted to ask? A side effect or symptom you thought was maybe related to the new medication you’re taking? Was there some information you were supposed to bring this time? In other words, showing up to a medical appointment feeling prepared can be harder than one might anticipate. So how can you make sure you show up as prepared as possible for your medication management appointment? 

Fortunately, our medication management team has come up with 5 tips to help you get the most out of your medication management appointment at LynLake Centers for Wellbeing.  
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1. Make sure you do your paperwork.

At risk of sounding like Roz from Monsters Inc., it is really important that you complete all of the intake paperwork in your LynLake portal account prior to your first medication management visit. This allows your provider the chance to read over your history, diagnoses, symptoms, medications, and any other background information they need to guide their decision-making. Be sure to include all medications you currently take, including dosage and how frequently you take them, as well as supplements. Also, make sure you know which medications you have taken in the past, and at which dosages, even if they didn’t work well for you. 

2. Identify your main goals beforehand (and consider writing them down).

As mentioned earlier, sometimes the mind goes blank once a medical visit has started, so perhaps give some thought beforehand as to what your goals are for the appointment, then write those down to have on hand for your visit. You might even want to talk with your therapist about possible goals for your med management consultation. Are you hoping for relief from depressive symptoms like low energy, no motivation, sleeping too much or too little, and so forth? Or maybe you experience panic attacks and you are hoping to find something that might reduce how often they happen or how long they last. If you aren’t able to be that specific about your goals, that’s ok too. Your med management provider will be able to ask questions to help them hone in on what it is you’re hoping to achieve with medication. 

3. Come with an open mind.

While the TV might be encouraging you to try a certain pharmaceutical for your depression, or you have a friend whose anxiety practically disappeared after they began taking a specific medication, your med management provider may determine that you would more likely benefit from something you have never heard of before. So while you may have a specific medication in mind, try to keep an open mind when it comes to the actual medication you may end up trying. Your provider looks at a number of factors in order to determine which medication may be right for you, and those factors may point to a different solution for you than for your friend. Your med management provider may even recommend that you hold off on medication for now, until some other issue has been resolved, or because they believe a non-medication solution might be more effective. If you go into your session focused on your overarching goals, rather than on a specific pharmaceutical solution, you are more likely to be receptive to your provider’s recommendations. 

4. Ask questions to determine the right plan for you.

Even though your medication management provider will do their best to identify the best solution for your symptoms and concerns, you can always ask questions to better understand their recommendations. It is your mental and physical health that will be affected by their decisions, after all, so speak up if you have questions about their decision, any potential side effects, safety concerns, what to expect from the medication, how long it will take before you notice any improvements, and so on. It’s even ok to decide, after meeting with your provider, that you don’t want to take the medication they prescribed! Plenty of people decide to take some time after their appointment to determine whether they want to take the medication that was prescribed or try an alternative approach. You can also ask questions after your appointment by messaging your provider through your LynLake portal account – you don’t need to wait until your next appointment.

5. Be patient and keep reasonable expectations.

Rarely do medications work immediately. In fact, most medications for depression and anxiety can take up to a month before you see any benefits at all. Likewise, some of the initial side effects you may experience might subside over time. It’s also important to keep in mind that medications tend to work slowly over time.  You may not even notice they are working until one day you realize you haven’t had a panic attack in a few weeks, or you have been getting up with your alarm most mornings lately and have felt more motivated to spend time with friends.

It’s also important to remember that medications target symptoms, not your overall personality. For example, medication cannot turn an introvert into an extrovert, nor can it transform you into someone who is organized and on time for everything. So be sure to talk with your medication management provider about the results you can reasonably expect from the medication they have prescribed for you, and when you can reasonably expect to start experiencing those results. 

At LynLake, we want you to feel empowered to advocate for yourself and your mental health. Medication management can be a beneficial part of that plan, so if you would like to meet with one of our medication management providers, be sure to talk with your therapist or contact our referrals team directly to schedule your appointment. 

Understanding Trauma and PTSD – Part I: What is Trauma?

Throughout our lives, most of us experience a wide range of events – some good, some neutral, some bad, and some that are truly horrific. While all of these events have the potential to affect how we understand ourselves and the world around us, our brains are wired in such a way that negative events have a greater impact on our perceptions and reactions than their positive counterparts. It’s a survival mechanism, to ensure that we don’t have to learn twice that fire is hot and a growling dog can bite. In other words, our brains are designed to learn from traumatic experiences, as painful as some of those lessons might be.

Sometimes, but not all of the time, traumatic events can lead to the development of a mental health condition known as post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD. We will talk about PTSD in Part II of this mini-series. In this first blog post, we will discuss the different types of trauma that can lead to the development of PTSD and related conditions.  

Acute Trauma

Acute trauma occurs when a person experiences a single event that is profoundly distressing, harmful, or has the potential to be harmful (or fatal), such as a car accident, a mass shooting, a natural disaster, or a house fire. Merely witnessing one of these events can be distressing enough to be traumatic. It’s also important to note that an event that is hurtful, but not harmful, is not considered acute trauma. To be regarded as acute trauma, the brain needs to register the event as a serious threat to one’s safety and wellbeing.

Complex Trauma

Complex trauma can develop when a person experiences prolonged and/or repeated harmful or extremely distressing events over an extended period of time. Examples of complex trauma include domestic abuse, repeated sexual abuse, severe childhood neglect, and growing up in a war zone or violent neighborhood. Even bullying can be considered complex trauma if the person experiencing it believes they are in danger with no means of escape. 

Generational Trauma

Research on how trauma affects the children of those who experienced it has shown that the effects of trauma can last for generations. While some of the impact appears linked to how trauma shapes the way trauma survivors parent their children, there is also emerging evidence suggesting that trauma (especially complex trauma) can actually change our DNA, which then gets passed down to our children genetically. 

Vicarious Trauma

People in certain professions – for example, medical professionals and therapists who specialize in working with trauma survivors – can end up feeling as though they have absorbed some of the pain and emotional impact of the trauma others have described to them. While this may not lead to PTSD, it can have other emotional and physical consequences, and can negatively impact how the person thinks about themselves and the world. 

Chronic Stressors

Sometimes referred to as chronic trauma, chronic stressors refer to stressful life events that occur repeatedly and over an extended period of time. Whereas complex trauma involves a series of events that cause serious harm (or the threat of serious harm), chronic stressors are events or situations that create ongoing pain and/or uncertainty but do not pose a serious threat to the person’s life or safety. In this category, we might place things like prolonged financial stress, growing up with parents who fight all the time, or being in a toxic work environment for months or years. While there is still some controversy as to whether these kinds of situations should be considered traumatic, most therapists will tell you that people who have experienced a chronic stressor such as those I just mentioned can end up with similar physical and psychological symptoms as people who have experienced complex trauma, albeit perhaps to a lesser degree. Moreover, the same interventions therapists use to treat PTSD often seem to be effective at treating symptoms resulting from chronic stress. 

Little ‘t’ Trauma

You may hear therapists refer to certain life events or situations as “little ‘t’ traumas,” not because they are insignificant, but because they typically don’t make the same neurological impact as the “big ‘T’ trauma” (which is the same thing as acute trauma). While they may not come with a risk of death or bodily harm, these events can be quite painful. Examples of little ‘t’ traumas might include things like the ending of a long-term relationship, the death of an elderly parent, the loss of a pet, or sustaining a concussion while playing a sport. The list of little ‘t’ traumas is a long one, and literally all of us will experience multiple little ‘t’ traumas over the course of our lives. How we come to understand these negative experiences can make a big impact on how we think of ourselves and the world in which we live, but they do not typically lead to the development of PTSD. 

Healing From Trauma

It is important to remember that suffering is an unavoidable part of the human experience and we are born with the innate capacity to heal and learn from these painful experiences. One of the best ways to start the healing process is to talk about your traumatic experience with someone you trust. While this someone certainly doesn’t have to be a therapist, mental health professionals are trained to help you process the negative events in your life in a way that allows you to grow from them, becoming more resilient and able to face painful experiences in the future. 

If you are suffering from the after-effects of trauma and would like to speak with one of our qualified mental health professionals at LynLake Centers for Wellbeing, please contact us today. We are here to help. 

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