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It can be hard to tell whether medication is working or not, especially if a person has been through the healthcare wringer and is on multiple medications. Unless they have a 24-hour home health provider monitoring all of their prescriptions and symptoms or side effects, it’s tough to do it alone. This is especially true for someone like me, a person who has never worked in the healthcare field and whose background is in behavioral science rather than “science” science.

That said, this article is in no way suggesting that you stop taking medication before talking to your healthcare providers. Always consult a physician. We’re merely sharing a few personal experiences with different medications for entertainment purposes only.

Now that we got that out of the way, let’s look at how we can determine, with our doctor, whether our medication is actually working or is it just a placebo effect. Here are some quick reference points to consider during our evaluations:

  1. Be our own patient advocates
  2. Do your own research before going to the doctors
  3. Take notes at the doctors
  4. Keep records
  5. Pay attention to our bodies, journal!
  6. Ask lots of questions; don’t worry about what the doctor “thinks” of you. You can’t save your butt while saving your face!

Placebo effect statistics

Let’s get to the behavioral science behind this. The placebo cure rate—or the percentage of people who improve after taking a fake pill or receiving sham surgery—ranges from 15 to 72 percent. The stronger the sugar pill, the more significant its effect will be. And this phenomenon isn’t just restricted to self-reported measures like pain; Not only can it have positive psychological effects, but it can also lead to physical results.

As any patient knows, taking medication is not always a guarantee that the condition will improve. In fact, sometimes, it can be difficult to tell if the drug is actually working or if the improvement is simply due to the placebo effect. However, there are ways to determine whether a medication is truly effective.

One way is to look at behavioral changes. For example, if a person’s symptoms improve after taking a medication, the drug is likely to have an effect.

Another way to tell if a medication is effective is to look at statistics. Clinical trials are designed to test whether a drug is effective and usually involve many people. Therefore, if the results of a clinical trial show that a medication is effective, it is likely that the medication will work for most people who take it.

Ultimately, it is essential to work with your doctor to determine whether a medication is working or if it is just the placebo effect. Doing this, will ensure you get the most benefit from your treatment.

How does the brain affect mental health?

Behavioral science has shown that the brain is mighty powerful and can have a significant impact on our overall health. For example, the power of positive thinking has been shown to improve our immune system, manage stress levels, and even lower blood pressure. Similarly, the placebo effect is a well-documented phenomenon in which patients experience improvements in their condition simply because they believe that they are receiving treatment. In other words, the mind can have a significant impact on the body.

So, how can we tell if our medication is actually working or if we’re just experiencing a placebo effect? One way to do this is to track our symptoms over time. If we’re taking medication for anxiety, for example, we can keep a journal of our anxiety levels before and after taking the drug.

If we see a consistent decrease in our anxiety levels after starting the medication, it’s likely that the drug is actually working. But, of course, there are other factors that could affect our anxiety levels (such as lifestyle changes or other medications), so it’s important to discuss our progress with our doctor. They can help us to interpret our symptoms and determine whether our medication is genuinely effective.

What factors impact our mental health?

What causes mental health problems? Here are a few:

  • Abuse, trauma, neglect
  • Social isolation or loneliness
  • Discrimination and stigma, including racism, sexism, etc.
  • Social disadvantage, poverty, or unsurmountable debt
  • Grief from death, health changes, debilitation, loss of sight, hearing – a loss of who you once were
  • Severe or long-term stress
  • Having a long-term physical health condition
  • Unemployment or losing your job
  • Homelessness or poor housing
  • Being a long-term caregiver for someone
  • Drug and alcohol addiction
  • Domestic violence, bullying, or other abuse as an adult
  • Significant trauma as an adult, such as military combat, being involved in a serious incident in which you feared for your life, or being the victim of a violent crime
  • Physical causes – for example, a head injury or a neurological condition such as epilepsy- can impact your behavior and mood. (It’s important to rule out potential physical causes before seeking further treatment for a mental health problem).

What does science say about mental health?

According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, or NCBI, many researchers or scientists who study the brain believe that the development of most mental disorders is caused, at least in part, by an imbalance of chemicals within the brain or neurochemicals.

Though the causes of mental illness are still largely unknown, scientists have made significant progress in recent years in understanding the role that neurochemicals play in behavior and mood. A growing body of evidence suggests that many mental disorders are the result of a chemical imbalance within the brain. This imbalance can be caused by various factors, including genetic predisposition, environmental stressors, and even certain types of infections. (Infections such as  HIV or syphilis can cause changes in the brain, which could lead to mental health problems)

Childhood illnesses such as measles, mumps, and rubella could also cause changes in the brain that may lead to mental health issues. In addition, scientists are studying how nutrition can impact mental health as well. A deficiency in specific vitamins and minerals has been linked to mental health problems such as depression and anxiety.

While medication can often help correct the chemical imbalance, it is not always effective in treating the underlying cause. Sometimes, behavior modification or therapy may be necessary to provide lasting relief. However, regardless of the reason, it is essential to remember that mental illness is a real and serious condition that should not be ignored.

So ultimately, our mind is in control of whether or not medication works or not. If it is working, it is also important to stay on top of your medication, taking it on time and as prescribed. If you deal with debilitating health issues or are on a limited income, there are many wonderful RX organizations that help with the on-time delivery of your medication as well as financial assistance.

How do you know if a medication is working?

In conclusion, with all of the options out there, it is crucial for us to be our own patient advocates, take notes, keep records and pay attention to our bodies if we want to understand best if our medication is working. 

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