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Psychiatry

Psychiatry services at the UMKC Counseling Center are currently suspended while we search for a new psychiatrist.  In the meantime, we will continue to evaluate students' needs for medication and make referrals.  Students who are already receiving medication elsewhere should make arrangements to continue to do so if at all possible with that provider.  Students especially need to consider finding or maintaining their current providers for ADHD medications.  As a reminder, students who are under age 26, regardless of their marital status, are eligible for coverage under their parents' health insurance under the Affordable Care Act.  Also, students may enroll in UMKC's Student Health insurance.  UMKC's Student Health and Wellness is able to prescribe and manage many antidepressant medications.  Student Health and Wellness is not able to prescribe ADHD medications.

We will update this page when we have psychiatry services in place.

Updated 6/1/2011

Note: Students who are currently taking psychiatric medications are encouraged to continue treatment with his or her established prescribing medical provider if possible, since that medical provider has an existing understanding of treatment needs.

Medication and mental health

The following list of frequently asked questions was compiled in consultation with a licensed psychiatrist. This information is not meant to replace your doctor’s recommendations. Always consult your doctor before using medication.


Why should someone consider using medication?

Medication can be a helpful addition to therapy and can speed recovery from depression, anxiety and other mental conditions.

How and why do the medications work?

Medication for mental conditions is intended to restore the normal functioning of chemicals in the brain.

How long do I have to take the prescribed medication?

The length of time needed for medication to take full therapeutic effect is different depending on the type used. For depression, a minimum of six months is recommended. If the depression is severe, 12 months may be more realistic. Most people, with few exceptions, can be taken off medication with the help of their doctor once they have stabilized.

Do I have to take the medication every day or can I take it when I need it?

Most medications are taken every day, however, there are a few that are taken as needed. Consult your doctor if you are unsure, and never take medication without your doctor’s consent.

What are common side effects?

Side effects vary from person to person and from medicine to medicine. Some examples include: dry mouth, drowsiness and headache. You are most likely to encounter side effects in the first three weeks of using a new medication and the symptoms often subside as your body adjusts. You doctor should inform you of the most common side effects for the medication prescribed to you. If questions arise, talk with your doctor and/or your dispensing pharmacist.

If medication is working for me, why do I still need counseling?

Research has shown that a combination of counseling coupled with medication is most effective in restoring normal functioning. Counseling helps a person make changes in their thinking and behavior that will help them maintain their gains in the future.

If I talk to a psychiatrist will he/she push me into taking medication?

Your doctor will not push you into taking medication. He or she will only offer you options for treatment. The decision whether or not to use medication is ultimately yours.

Will I get addicted or become dependent on the medication?

Most medications that treat mental conditions are not addicting or habit forming when used per your doctor’s recommendation.

How long does it take for medication to work?

The onset of beneficial effects differs from medication to medication. Most anti-depressants take up to three or four weeks to become fully active whereas some anti-anxiety medications can act within hours.

Will medication change me or my personality?

Many people who have struggled with mental illness say that medication helped them to feel more like themselves again. Symptoms of depression and anxiety can change the way a person behaves socially and academically. Medications will only help restore a person to his or her usual functioning.

Does taking medication mean I am weak?

Taking medication is not a sign of weakness. Instead, it shows that you are taking action toward change, which shows considerable strength.

Can I drink alcohol or use drugs while using the medication?

You should not use any other drugs or alcohol while taking certain medications. Consult your doctor about other medications you are taking.

If I take too much of the medication could it kill me?

While most medications used to treat mental conditions such as depression are safe, some medications taken in overdose could lead to serious illness and even death.

Don't some people ‘go crazy’ on these drugs (i.e. Prozac)?

Research has not shown that mental health medications cause people to “go crazy” or become suicidal. The typical response to medication is a restoration of normal functioning. However, if you experience any adverse side effects, including suicidal thoughts, you should contact your prescriber immediately.

How much do these medications cost? Are there ways to keep costs down?

Medication can be costly. This is why it is important to have health insurance. Speak to your physician about any financial concerns you may have. In addition, visit NeedyMeds for more information on managing your medication costs.

Where can I get more information about specific medications?

Information about specific medications is available through your pharmacist and can be researched at the library or on the Internet. The book Physicians Desk Reference (PDR) has extensive information on all types of medications.

Do other students take medications or am I alone in this?

You are not alone. Many students, as well as people in the general population use medication to help with mental conditions.