5. “So, how’s that medication working out for you?”
Judging a medication’s effectiveness requires more than a physician asking, “How are you doing?” It requires at least two steps:
- Taking careful inventory of the challenges you face (writing them down, one by one), before you started medication
- Regularly reviewing each challenge as treatment progresses, in order to track improvement (or not), worsening symptoms, or new side effects.
During this titration phase, experts recommend talking with your physician weekly. In-office visits should take place every three to four weeks, to review side effects, physical health, patient and family well-being, and other therapies, when indicated.
Many experts and patients report that not enough physicians closely monitor medications used in adults. “It’s critically important to do, but the utter paucity of clinicians doing it is shocking,” says psychologist Stephen Hinshaw, Ph.D., a leading ADD/ADHD researcher and professor of psychology at the University of California, Berkeley. “You can’t notice small improvements or side effects without a monitoring sheet.”
Weiss recommends using rating scales that measure a broad range of symptoms and functioning; in other words, a metric for tracking how you’re doing in life. The Weiss Functional Impairment rating scale is a good place to start. Having a tangible method for observing change makes the target concrete and keeps it in focus.