Are Your Psych Med Side Effects Worse Than Benefit

Depending on the person and the type of psychiatric medication they are taking, the side effects experienced are wide and varied. Some are often an annoyance while others become just too much to live with on a daily basis, making thousands of patients left to decide if the side effects are worth the treatment and management of their disorders or diagnoses. When side effects for psychotropic medications lead to the belief a person is actually worse off taking the drugs, it is time for a full comprehensive exam and medication review by a qualified and experienced psychiatrist.

Unbearable Side Effects

Many people report that their side effects make living with a disorder or mental health diagnosis worse than the struggle through life without any medications. Some of the side effects that lead people away from medication are debilitating movement disorders, intense restlessness and agitation, sexual dysfunctions, or potentially life-threatening health risks. A review of some of the main side effects of the common classes of psychiatric drugs follow:

Common Side Effects of Antidepressants

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Weight gain
  • Diarrhea
  • Sexual problems

Common Side Effects of Anti-Anxiety Medications

  • Nausea
  • Blurred vision
  • Headache
  • Confusion
  • Tiredness
  • Drowsiness
  • Dizziness
  • Nightmares

Typical Side Effects of Stimulants

  • Difficulty in falling asleep or in staying asleep
  • Loss of appetite
  • Stomach pain
  • Headache

Less common effects include:

  • Personality changes – appear emotionless or flat
  • Motor or verbal tics

Possible Effects of Anti-Psychotic Drugs

  • Drowsiness
  • Dizziness
  • Restlessness
  • Weight gain
  • Dry mouth
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Blurred vision
  • Low blood pressure
  • Appearance of tics and tremors
  • Seizures
  • A lowered number of white blood cells

Less common effects related to physical movement include:

  • Rigidity
  • Persistent muscle spasms
  • Tremors
  • Restlessness

Common Side Effects of Mood Stabilizers

  • Itching, rash
  • Excessive thirst
  • Frequent urination
  • Slurred speech
  • Heartbeats that are fast, slow, irregular or pounding
  • Seizures
  • Tremors or shaking of hands
  • Changes in vision
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Blackouts
  • Loss of coordination
  • Hallucinations (visual or auditory)
  • Swelling of face, tongue, throat, lips, eyes, hands, feet, ankles or lower legs

Side Effects or Symptoms Requiring Immediate Attention

Call your doctor right away or seek emergency mental health treatment if you experience any of the following:

  • Thoughts of suicide or dying, or attempting suicide
  • New or worsening depression
  • New or worsening anxiety
  • Panic attacks
  • New behaviors of aggression, anger or violence
  • Acting on dangerous impulses
  • Unusual changes in behavior or mood
  • Extreme insomnia or restlessness

Manage Medication Side Effects Successfully

If psychiatric medications are causing you side effects that are becoming more and more intolerable, call the office for a comprehensive review for medication management of your mental health disorder or concern that will allow you to enjoy life once again. Call Dr. Hege, a local highly esteemed and experienced psychiatrist with decades of successful treatment planning while keeping those annoying side effects to an absolute minimum.

CARA: Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act

CARA is a bill that has made its way through the House and Senate and was just officially signed into law by the President of the U.S., which effectively changes the way the nation looks at the opioid epidemic. CARA looks to bend drug policy away from punishment and makes a push toward a public health approach by providing hundreds of millions of dollars into increased treatment resources and award grants to address the national epidemic of addiction to heroin and prescription opioids.

Political Support for CARA

While the opioid crisis has been progressively growing in this country for more than a decade with opioid and heroin related deaths growing more than 400% in a 10 year period, it has relatively recently come to the attention of U.S. national policymakers. The U.S. Senate passed the bill with a vote of 92 to 2, and the House followed suit and passed the bill with a vote of 407 to 5. President Obama has completed the process this past week by signing the bill into law on July 22, 2016.

Emphasis of CARA

The new bill, CARA, shifts the emphasis of treatment away from abstinence and toward the new emphasis of medication-assisted treatment. Use of medications as part of a comprehensive treatment plan has proven to be the most successful and most effective for those who want to end their opioid addiction. CARA will also allow qualified practitioners to more than double the number of patients that can be treated with specific medication, buprenorphine for example.

Benefits of CARA

When fully funded with approximately $800 million in funds each year, CARA will provide grants that will:

  • Expand access to opioid overdose reversal drugs (i.e., naloxone)
  • Support for addiction treatment services including those that use buprenorphine and other medication assisted treatments
  • Develop and enhance recovery services
  • Develop a link between recovery services and other recovery support systems
  • Provide state grants for opioid abuse education, treatment and recovery efforts
  • Provide for a prescription drug monitoring program across the country
  • Provide grants to develop prevention systems addressing overdose deaths

Local Treatment for Opioid Addiction Available

Dr. Hege has been providing treatment for opioid addiction / substance abuse for decades. Call the office for a confidential appointment.

EEG Biofeedback and Adult ADHD

EEG Biofeedback or Neurotherapy is a relatively new technique that has provided patients positive results when included as part of their therapeutic treatment plan. Mental health professionals have found that EEG Biofeedback delivers individual benefits for those diagnosed with adult ADHD. Many patients often report benefits that rival ADHD medications such as Adderall or Ritalin, with positive results lasting for years, allowing these patients to remain medication free.

What is Neurofeedback or EEG Biofeedback?

The terms of Neurofeedback or EEG Biofeedback are interchangeable, describing treatment that utilizes a computer to measure brainwave activity or the electrical activity of the brain while thinking about or performing specific tasks. This feedback is presented initially on a computer monitor, where through training and practice, a person learns how to change the manner in which their brain functions. The goal of EEG Biofeedback with adult ADHD is to teach a person how to produce a mental state that is not only appropriate to a situation, but allows them to use it on a daily basis to exhibit successful behaviors at home, work, school or social situations.

Neurofeedback Clinic near Atlanta

Dr. Darvin Hege, an adult ADHD psychiatrist, works closely with CRG – Cognitive Rehab of Georgia for those patients that need adjunct therapy added to their comprehensive ADHD treatment plan. Dr. Hege provides his decades of experience in developing and strategizing an individual mental health treatment plan that works, referring to a select few medical associates in the community.

Meeting Unique Needs of Adults with ADHD

Call Dr. Hege for a confidential comprehensive evaluation. The unique needs for adults with ADHD are covered through use of multiple interventions that may include medication, cognitive behavioral therapy, cognitive rehabilitation, EEG Biofeedback and other compensatory strategies in designing a treatment plan that is as individual as you are.

College Transitions with Mental Health Disorders

College students with psychiatric disabilities are entitled to reasonable academic accommodations as provided by the American Disabilities Act of 1990 and 2008 amendments. The University of Washington through a grant from the U.S. Department of Education reports that tens of thousands of adult students report having a mental illness. Students with mental illness may experience symptoms that interfere with their educational goals and create a “psychiatric disability.”

Mental Health Intervention for College Transitions

Without mental health intervention, proper medication if prescribed as part of the treatment plan, or adjunct services, college students with mental health issues may experience severe disturbances in thinking, emotions or functional life skills. These disturbances may bring a diminished capacity to cope with the demands and stress of college life, which include a time of significant transition, a new lifestyle, friends, an alternate way of thinking, and exposure to new cultures along with the pressure of academic rigor and expectations.

College Transitions and Substance Abuse

Academic demands, new peer pressures, and poor ability to adapt and cope to the new environment of a college campus may result in students struggling with mental health or psychiatric disorders. The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse report 45% of college students binge drink and almost 21% abuse prescription or illegal drugs, often due to the students’ struggle to feel adequate and cope with their new life situations. Partnering with a qualified college transition psychiatrist can help steer the college student toward positive management of both their psychological issues and academic success.

Symptoms of College Psychiatric Disability

Some of the most common symptoms exhibited by adult students with developing psychiatric disabilities include:

  • Difficulty concentrating, making decisions and remembering things
  • Exhibiting increased anxiety, fear, suspicion, or blaming of others
  • Confused or disorganized thinking
  • Denial of obvious problems and resistive to offers of help
  • Displays of extreme highs or lows in mood
  • Marked personality changes over time
  • Talking about or thinking about suicide

College Transition Psychiatrist

Developing a strategy and treatment plan, as well as stabilizing any psychiatric issues, can help to minimize psychological and mental health issues that would otherwise prevent a successful first college experience. Call the office for a confidential appointment.

Adjunct Psychiatric Resources a Positive Force

Most experienced psychiatrists and psychiatric mental health professionals take advantage of adjunct psychiatric resources as a part of their therapeutic treatment plan. Adjunct programs or non-medication treatments have an important role in either augmenting a treatment plan that uses psychiatric medication or as part of a specialized program that does not use medication.

Adjunct Psychiatric Resources

Atlanta psychiatrist Dr. Hege works closely with a few select mental health therapists who provide non-medication treatments in conjunction with his individualized treatment plan. Whether medication is prescribed or not, referral to adjunct psychiatric resources is at the discretion of the doctor and may be made at any point in the therapy process. Working with a psychiatrist who maintains an open line of communication with skilled adjunct therapists make for a successful treatment program and plan. Not every patient may require an adjunct program, yet some may need to be involved in two or three services beyond scheduled sessions with Dr. Hege.

Evening Recovery Program

One of the adjunct psychiatric resources or service programs that Dr. Hege recommends and refers to is the Evening Recovery Program which is an outpatient program for adults 18 and up, specializing in the treatment and recovery of those with alcohol and substance abuse/addiction or the co-dependents in their lives. Advanced non-medication techniques are employed in a small group setting that meets 3 evenings a week for 6 weeks. For those that need a longer period of time they also offer 6 week aftercare recovery groups. Session times are offered in the evening to allow added convenience to busy lives and schedules.

Individual Psychiatric Care with Adjunct Services

Dr. Hege refers to a variety of specialized adjunct psychiatric resources to fully meet the needs of his patients. Evening Recovery Program is just one service that the doctor may want to include in the development of your individualized treatment plan.  Call the office for a confidential appointment today.

Buprenorphine Opioid Medications Treat Addiction

Buprenorphine is the generic name for Buprenex, Suboxone, Zubsolv, Bunavail, or Subutex to name a few. On March 29, 2016, the White House announced a proposal to increase a physician’s current patient limit of 100 for those prescribed buprenorphine, to 200 patients in order to effectively address the rising numbers of those with opioid addiction.

Suboxone and U.S. Opioid Epidemic

Suboxone and the other trade names for buprenorphine are used to treat opioid addiction and opioid use disorders in the U.S. which are now being officially addressed as an opioid epidemic. This increase in the number of patients one doctor can prescribe buprenorphine will be part of a package of public and private initiatives to address the rapidly growing problem.

Use of Buprenorphine in Treatment

Buprenorphine is the generic name for an opioid medication used to effectively treat opioid addiction. Patients may take the medications at home via a prescription. Treating opioid addiction in the home allows successful confidential treatment outside of an in-house addiction unit in the hospital or other opioid addiction facility.

Purpose of Buprenorphine Treatment

The National Alliance of Advocates for Buprenorphine Treatment, NAABT, describes the prescription and use of this medication as a suppressant for the debilitating symptoms of cravings and withdrawal. For those with an opioid addiction, buprenorphine gives the patient the ability to make positive long term changes that lead to a life without opioid addiction.

Trade Names of Buprenorphine

Buprenorphine is known by a variety of trade names, all of which require special training and certification in order to prescribe these medications. Trade names include:

  • Suboxone
  • Buprenex
  • Subutex
  • Butrans
  • Cizdol
  • Zubsolv
  • Bunavail
  • Belbuca

Doctor Able to Prescribe Suboxone

Dr. Hege has completed the training and holds the certification required in order to prescribe Suboxone and other buprenorphine mediations. In addition he has years of success in the treatment of opioid addiction.

If you want to end your opioid addiction and reclaim your life, give the office a call for a confidential appointment.

Prescription Drug Monitoring Program in Georgia

Currently 39 U.S. states, the District of Columbia, and Guam (a U.S. territory) report operation of a Prescription Drug Monitoring Program, or PDMP. The program is being utilized to collect, monitor, and analyze all of the data regarding both practitioner authorized prescriptions and the medications dispensed by pharmacies.

Prescription Drug Monitoring Database

The Georgia Prescription Drug Monitoring Program has a statewide electronic database that keeps track of prescriptions being filled, who is writing the prescriptions, who is filling similar prescriptions from multiple doctors, or which doctors appear to be prescribing scheduled drugs for diagnoses that do not support use of that medication, as examples.

Purpose of Georgia Prescription Drug Monitoring Program

The PDMP’s purpose under Georgia law is to assist in the reduction of controlled substance abuse, promoting the proper use of Schedule II, III, IV, and V medications, reducing “doctor shopping” where duplicate prescribing and overprescribing of controlled Schedule drugs will be tracked. The Prescription Drug Monitoring Program in Georgia was signed into law in 2012 and was established through the Georgia Drugs and Narcotics Agency.

“The Georgia prescription drug monitoring program database has been very helpful to my practice,” Dr. Hege says. “I look up potential patients if we have any concerns about whether they are abusing prescription medications. If they are being prescribed medicines like Xanax, Adderall, suboxone, methadone, or other controlled medications in high doses or from multiple doctors, I decline them.”

Access to the Georgia PDMP

Access to the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program is restricted to those professionals who register on the site and to dispensing pharmacies. In addition access to the data bank may also accessible in certain situations by:

  • Licensing and Regulatory Boards for investigations of health professionals who prescribe or dispense Schedule II – V prescription medications
  • Law Enforcement agencies for drug investigations (court orders may be required)
  • State Medicaid programs for member and provider reviews
  • State medical examiners for cause of death assessments
  • Research organizations for data analysis and research

Psychiatrist using PDMP

Dr. Darvin Hege uses the Georgia Prescription Drug Monitoring Program database as part of his practice. He has a secure restricted access to track every prescription of a controlled drug that he prescribes. In the development of a successful treatment program for his patients he has access to verify his patients are taking their medications as prescribed if concerns develop.

“If I have concerns about my ongoing patients, I look them up on the program website,” Dr. Hege says. “If my concerns are substantiated about their abuse, I stop writing these prescriptions for them and recommend more intensive substance abuse treatment. However, seldom do they ever accept my recommendations for help. Usually when confronted, they are not at that stage of being ready for help and the feelings about being caught create such defensive reactions that the relationship is not salvageable.”

“When I start patients on abusable medications, I always warn them about these risks. I am especially proactive with patients I start on Adderall, including telling them about this monitoring system to discourage them from ever starting to overuse it. We have many very effective and wonderful medications but these risks need to be faced with the patient before they take their first pill.”

Cold Medicine vs. Bipolar Drug Interaction

Over-the-counter cold medications are a common purchase throughout the year when your stuffy nose, post-nasal drip or scratchy throat affect not only sleeping, but the ability to work and interact with others. Since they are over-the-counter, many do not give any consideration to a possible drug interaction with prescription medications, nor do they ask their pharmacist or doctor about any possible drug interactions.

Drug Interactions a Common Concern

Drug interactions happen all the time. For those diagnosed with bipolar disorder, taking over-the-counter medications can become complicated and require a psychiatrist or experienced mental health professional to manage possible drug reactions. Those with bipolar disorder often are prescribed more than one medication to treat the disorder – multiple medications increase the chance of drug interactions, even with something as common as an over-the-counter cold medication.

Interactions: Over-the-Counter Meds with Rx Drugs

Doctors check for potential bipolar medication interactions between with other prescriptions, over-the-counter drugs, certain foods, vitamins or herbal supplements. If there is a drug interaction warning, your doctor will make the decision as to whether or not the medicine is safe for you to take.

Drug Interactions with Bipolar Medication

Some types of over-the-counter drugs that interact with bipolar disorder medications are:

  • Cold or flu medications containing antihistamines, decongestants and expectorants
  • Sleep aids
  • Diuretics
  • Antacids
  • NSAID pain relievers like Advil, Motrin or Aleve

drug interaction can also occur between multiple prescription meds used to treat bipolar disorder. Working with a specialized bipolar psychiatrist is important to achieve the optimal medication dosages even when you are ill.

Medication Interaction Psychiatrist

Drug interaction psychiatrist Dr. Hege can review your list of prescriptions and recommend safe treatments for your cold or flu. Stopping your prescribed medications can induce withdrawal effect that end up making your common cold much worse. Call the office for an appointment that fits your schedule.

Bipolar Disorder: Adverse Consequences

New research on bipolar disorder presented in the journal Psychiatry Research reports that 100% of patients with bipolar disorder surveyed had experienced adverse consequences related to their disorder.  Having and living with bipolar disorder means everyone who comes in contact with you – family, friends, co-workers, the babysitter or grocery store clerk, are impacted in some way. The impact is tremendous and the consequences can become quite severe.

Living with Bipolar Disorder – Keeping Life in Check

Living with bipolar disorder means that the disorder becomes a close knit companion to every aspect of your life.  To minimize or avoid any adverse consequences there is a daily need to consider how your symptom levels affect the degree of effort exerted to keep behaviors and moods in a state functional for daily living. Even common routine daily living activities such as getting dressed, buying lunch out, or filling up the gas tank require effort.

Bipolar Disorder Examples of Adverse Consequences

Some of the most referenced adverse consequences those with bipolar disorder give are noted below:

  • Losing a partner – Odds are that if you or your partner have bipolar disorder you are 2x more likely than an average couple without bipolar history to divorce. Working to keep a relationship happy and healthy is hard, and adding in a mental illness makes it all the more difficult. When it comes to having a good “give and take balance” in a relationship those with bipolar disorder often require more “take” than they are able to “give,” and this may over time become too difficult for their partner to deal with.
  • Losing a job – Adverse consequences of having a bipolar disorder also include becoming unemployed. Research data has shown some hard statistics that only ½ of bipolar patients are employed at any given time, only 27% hold down a full-time job, their healthcare is more expensive overall, and productivity on the job is lower than those without bipolar disorder. While it is difficult to be consistent on the job when your emotions and behaviors are wavering up and down, being under the treatment of a qualified psychiatrist does give you an upper hand on dealing with the adverse consequences of bipolar disorder.
  • Being absent at work or as a parent/partner  With bipolar disorder there are days when you really cannot “get out of bed and go to work.” The depression can rob you of your energy to produce, work or accomplish even the simplest task. Absenteeism is a problem with bipolar disorder and is one of the common adverse consequences of the disease. Psychiatric management of your diagnosis will help make your daily effort to go “out into the world” more functional and less stressful for you. Following a prescribed regiment of medications and adjunct therapies does work, and it will work for you too.
  • Losing relationships with family – It is not easy to adapt to changes in mood and behavior. Not everyone can cope, and over time feel it is easier to just walk away. Bipolar’s adverse consequences are that mood swings, risky behaviors, mania and depression often leave family and friends confused, exhausted, and afraid that their own responses may trigger an unpredictable outburst or mood swing. Finding the right bipolar psychiatrist that can meet your needs and situation is crucial for a successful outcome.

Make the Call that Leads to Real Help

Help is just a phone call away. Call Dr. Hege for a confidential appointment where your successful treatment for bipolar disorder can put those adverse consequences in check.

Prescription Drug Addiction

Prescription drug addiction is a growing problem in the U.S. with the National Institute of Drug Abuse estimating that 20% of the U.S. population have used prescription drugs for non-medical reasons at some point in their lives. With data only looking at those who have overdosed on prescribed medication and have been abusing them, the numbers point to more than 8 million citizens with a prescription drug addiction at any one time.

What is Prescription Drug Addiction?

Addiction causes compulsive drug seeking and use even when harmful consequences are involved. While many may think of illegal drugs when talking about a drug addiction, the number of “legal addicts,” or those with a prescription drug addiction continue to rise. Abusing drugs whether legal or illegal, lead to changes in the brain’s structure and function which have a negative impact on one’s personal or professional life. Addiction is a chronic often relapsing brain disorder.

Common Medications of Prescription Drug Addiction

There are three classes of medications that are typically abused with prescription drug addiction taking over a person’s life. The three classes are 1) opioids, 2) stimulants, and 3) central nervous system depressants.

  • Opioids – may be used effectively to treat pain on a short term basis; used long-term they may lead to prescription drug addiction and physical dependence. Over-use can easily lead to a life threatening overdose. Prescription medications properly prescribed and taken are not an addiction, however if the need for more and more opioids begins to take a front seat in your life it may be time to seek help. Working with a qualified addiction psychiatrist is the best option for breaking the hold prescription drug addiction has on you.
  • Stimulants – may be used to treat medical issues of ADHD, ADD, depression, narcolepsy and numerous other problems. Working with an experienced mental health professional the use of these medications has proven effective for millions of people with a specific diagnosis such as ADHD, ADD, or depression for example. Using these medications for enjoyment can quickly turn into a difficult to stop prescription drug addiction. It may even be possible that these medications may be what the doctor prescribes after a comprehensive evaluation.
  • Central nervous system depressants – medications such as Xanax, Valium, Klonopin or Ativan may be used to treat anxiety, panic, insomnia, and sleep disorders. These medications work by decreasing brain activity resulting in a calm or drowsy state. These medications can quickly become both physically and psychologically addicting and are prescribed on a short-term basis if at all possible. Having a seasoned prescription drug addiction doctor working with you is the top choice when your well-being, mental and physical health are involved.

Local Treatment for Prescription Drug Addiction

Help is as close as your phone. Give our office a call to set up an appointment.