Medication Adherence and the Impact on Mental Health

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By: Kristin Trammell (Therapist/Training Specialist)

Taking prescriptions for mental health needs is a very common practice in America. While medication may not solve or be a complete cure, it can help give people a leg up in being able to regulate themselves and cope with stressors. Medication, however, can only be as effective as we help it to be; meaning that we want to take it regularly, timely, and want to avoid foods, drinks, or activities that may contraindicate the medication’s effectiveness. 

Experiencing mental health difficulties can be a barrier in taking medication regularly and as prescribed. Often times people may not take their medication as they should due to forgetfulness, stigma, denial that they need it for their health, lack of understanding, expense, side effects, or feeling like they do not need it anymore. 

Here are a few tips in maintaining medication adherence to enable further mental health recovery:

  1. Be honest with your doctor about concerns of the medication regarding side effects, necessity of the prescription, or if you feel you do not need it any longer. 
  2. Seek payment assistance for prescriptions through local medbanks or non-profit programs, such as Salvation Army. Utilize non-profit pharmacies, such as Good Pill Pharmacy,, and discount programs, such as GoodRX,
  3. Set an alarm on your phone, watch, or clock, or set a reminder in your schedule/calendar each day at the same to ensure you take the medication on time every day.
  4. Eat healthy foods and limit foods that can contraindicate the medication. Two foods that can contribute to anxiety and depression are sugar and caffeine, so it is a good idea to limit or avoid these. 
  5. Exercise daily: Go for a walk, complete a chore, lift weights, stretch, play with your pet or child. Anything to help us get moving is a good place to start! Exercising can help trigger pleasure and happy chemicals in the brain that can have a positive impact on overall mood and health. 
  6. Be honest with your doctor or therapist regarding possible stigma of taking prescriptions for mental health. Remind yourself mental health prescriptions are a resource to assist you in coping, and taking them does not mean there is something wrong with you. Many people in America take some type of medication for physical or mental health every day. Our brains and bodies operate with chemicals and electrical impulses, and sometimes these chemicals can become imbalanced, which medication can support us in balancing out chemicals within the body to help our overall health. 


Chisholm-Burns MA, Spivey CA. The cost of medication nonadherence: Consequences we cannot afford to accept. J Am Pharm Assoc. 2012;52(6):823-826.

Jimmy B, Jose J. Patient medication adherence: measures in daily practice. Oman Med J. 2011;26(3):155- 9. DOI: 10.5001/omj.2011.38. PubMed PMID: 22043406; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC3191684.

National Aliance on Mental Illness. (2016). Medication plan adherence. Retrieved March 24, 2022, from

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