Mental Health is Part of Overall Health

By Katie Bui, clinical pharmacist at CHOC Children’s

Mental health is an important part of our overall health. It affects our energy level, our ability to connect with family and friends, our confidence, and our performance at school and work. Sometimes, it means taking medicine to help maintain our mental health. These medicines are safe and effective when taken appropriately under a doctor’s supervision.

Take medicine exactly as it’s prescribed

It’s important for patients taking medicines to take them exactly as prescribed. If you closely follow the medication schedule and directions, it will help your doctor know if the medication is working or not. It will also help minimize unwanted side effects from stopping it abruptly. When you take a medicine inconsistently, it is hard to figure out if the medicine is working or not, if the dose needs to be changed, or if your physician should have you try a new medication. If you have trouble sticking to a medication schedule, or if you have trouble helping your children follow their medication schedule, set a daily medicine reminder, plus a refill reminder so you don’t run out of medicine. Using a pill box can help you stay on top of a medication schedule and be mindful of when you’re due for a refill.

Possible side effects of antidepressants

Since these medicines affect the chemicals in the brain, they may take time to work, sometimes up to a month. Sometimes you might experience side effects before seeing positive changes results in mood. Most of these side effects are relatively minor and may include nausea, vomiting or sleepiness. If you experience major side effects like confusion, fever, rapid heart rate, high blood pressure, increasing depression or suicidal thoughts, no matter how long you have been on antidepressants, seek immediate medical help. These side effects are rare but it is important to know the signs and symptoms that require emergency treatment.

How mood medications interact with other medications

Sometimes, the medicine you take to treat a mental health condition can interact with other medicines you might be taking. This is another reason to follow the directions as prescribed by a doctor, and to ask your pharmacist any questions you have when you pick up a prescription. For example, mood medications such as fluoxetine (Prozac) or citalopram (Celexa) can interact with certain antibiotics like linezolid (Zyvox) and cause high fevers and confusion. Others can cause more sleepiness with sedating medicines like diphenhydramine (Benadryl) and clonazepam (Klonopin). As mentioned earlier, most of these interactions and side effects are rare and patients should talk to their doctors and pharmacists regularly when taking new medicines.

How lifestyle choices may positively impact mental health

Some lifestyle choices can also have a positive impact on your mental health. These can include simple daily activities such as going for a walk and being physically active, eating lunch outside to get fresh air and sunlight, listening to calming music, meditating, yoga and getting enough sleep each night. These activities help with relieving stress, which can directly help with mental health. It’s important to have an ongoing, open and honest conversation with your primary care physician and mental health professional about your mental health, what resources you need, and what lifestyle changes you can make.

-Reviewed by Dr. Hoang (Wayne) Nguyen, medical director of child and adolescent psychiatry at CHOC Children’s

Stay Informed about Mental Health

CHOC Children’s has made the commitment to take a leadership role in meeting the need for more mental health services in Orange County. Sign up today to keep informed about this important initiative.

Related posts:

Ask a CHOC Doc: Where Should I Store My Child’s Medications?

Question: Where should I store my child’s medications?  –Anonymous

Answer:

Contrary to its name, a medicine cabinet in the bathroom is not the best place to store medications. This is because the steam from showers can change the properties of the medication and it may lose some of its effectiveness. Storing medications in a cabinet near the stove is not ideal for the same reason. All medications should be stored in a cool, dry place away from light. Medications should be stored up and away out of reach of children. If possible, they should be stored in a locked cabinet.

Some medications require refrigeration. The bottle should say “refrigerate” on it. Liquid Augmentin® is a medication that must be kept in the refrigerator. Some medications, like liquid amoxicillin, don’t need to be refrigerated, but taste better if you refrigerate them. Others, like liquid azithromycin for bacterial infections, should not be refrigerated because it can get too thick and your child likely won’t want to take it.

-Whitney Pittman, clinical pharmacy resident at CHOC Children’s

whitney-pittman-choc-childrens-pharmacy-resident
Whitney Pittman, clinical pharmacy resident at CHOC Children’s

Submit a question for a CHOC Doc

Related posts:

Ask a CHOC Doc: How Important Is It To Finish An Entire Course of Antibiotics?

Question: Is it really that important for my child to finish their entire prescription of antibiotics?  -Anonymous

Answer:

Yes! Even if your child is feeling better, they should still finish the full course of their prescription as directed by their doctor. Even if, for example, they feel better on day five and their prescription is for 10 days of antibiotics, they need to finish the entire course as prescribed because the bacterial infection might still be present. To really beat the bacterial infection, it is important for your child to finish their entire course. Stopping short could cause your child to get sick again. If your child is experiencing a side effect, contact your pharmacist or pediatrician for more information on how to manage the side effect, such as taking the medication with food to help ease an upset stomach. If your child is having a side effect that they can’t tolerate or an allergic reaction, contact your child’s doctor immediately.

If the pharmacy gave you a full bottle of a liquid antibiotic, you might still have medication left in the bottle. If this is the case, you should always properly dispose of old medicine. It is not a good idea to keep the medication in the refrigerator or cabinet for the next time your child gets sick. Medications expire and they might not work properly or may cause your child to have an unexpected side effect. There is also the possibility that someone might accidentally take the medication.

-Whitney Pittman, clinical pharmacy resident at CHOC Children’s

whitney-pittman-choc-childrens-pharmacy-resident
Whitney Pittman, clinical pharmacy resident at CHOC Children’s

Submit a question for a CHOC Doc

Related posts:

Ask a CHOC Doc: How Can I Properly Dispose of Old Prescriptions?

Question: How can I safely dispose of old prescriptions my  family doesn’t need to take anymore? -Anonymous

Answer:

Expired or unused medications should be removed from the home as quickly as possible to help reduce the chance that someone may accidentally take them. There are several ways to get rid of old prescriptions.

  • Medicine take-back options – this is the preferred way to safely dispose of most types of unneeded medications. The US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) periodically hosts National Prescription Drug Take-Back events where temporary collection sites are set up in communities for safe disposal of prescription medications. Another option is to drop your medications off in a drop-box at a DEA-registered collector, which safely and securely collects and disposes of medications. For more information, visit National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day or DEA-registered collector to find an event or collection site near you.
  • Disposal in the household trash – If there are no specific instructions in the package insert, you can follow these simple steps to dispose of most medicines in the trash.
    • Pour unwanted or expired medications out of their original containers into a zip baggie.
    • Pour hot water (over 110OF – about as hot as a cup of coffee) into the baggie.
    • Insert kitty litter or another inedible product such as dirt or used coffee grounds into the baggie. Seal baggie. Place in trash bin.
    • Remove all personal information on the prescription label or empty pill bottles. Shred them or use a black marker to cross out label information.
  • Don’t throw unused or expired medications down the drain or toilet.

-Whitney Pittman, clinical pharmacy resident at CHOC Children’s

whitney-pittman-choc-childrens-pharmacy-resident
Whitney Pittman, clinical pharmacy resident at CHOC Children’s

Submit a question for a CHOC Doc

Related posts:

Ask a CHOC Doc: Is it OK to Cut Pills, or Crush Them into Foods?

Question:

Is it OK to cut pills in half, or crush them to mix into my child’s foods? -Anonymous

Answer:

Yes and no. Some medications can be cut or crushed, but some should be given whole. This is due to specific formulations of medications and how they work in the body. Most of the no-crush medications are sustained release, extended release, or enteric coated. The reason these medications can’t be crushed or chewed is because the tablet is formulated to release a specific amount of medication over a certain time period. Cutting or crushing the tablet usually results in the medication not being released into the body properly. Some medications shouldn’t be crushed or chewed because they have an unpleasant taste.

If you feel like your child won’t be able to swallow their medication whole, ask the pharmacist if it can be chewed or cut, or talk to your child’s doctor about prescribing a liquid formulation.

-Whitney Pittman, clinical pharmacy resident at CHOC Children’s

whitney-pittman-choc-childrens-pharmacy-resident
Whitney Pittman, clinical pharmacy resident at CHOC Children’s
Submit a question for a CHOC Doc

Related posts: