In a perfect world, our medicines would fix our problems and not create additional ones. Sadly, we don’t live in that world. Antidepressants may induce weight gain, foggy-headedness, flatness, impotence–things that wouldn’t necessarily make one feel better. Stimulants create problems with weight loss, rebound agitation, even tics in some individuals. Pain meds may create dependency.
Some encounter the side effects of psychotropic drugs and decide to tough it out. Others play around with dosages (on their own). Still others keep trying to find that right compound. All of it creates work. As a counselor, it is wise to monitor med compliance, dosage changes (doctor approved or otherwise) and side effects. Given that most clients see their medical doctor or psychiatrist only once every 6-8 weeks, do not assume they’ve talked to anyone or are still on their medications. Make sure to also ask how they feel about the meds as this may change. Even though the counselor isn’t in charge of medications, counseling issues related to the medication and the feelings about it surely are our domain. One clear benefit to our “med checks” is that we can help them get the most out of their 15 minutes with the psychiatrist by zeroing in on what they should talk to the doc about.