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A variety of medications are used to treat the symptoms of mental disorders such as schizophrenia, depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety disorders, and attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). For more information on mental illnesses, see the NAMI National’s web page on Mental Illnesses.

The best treatments for serious mental illnesses today are highly effective— between 70 and 90 percent of individuals have a significant reduction of symptoms and improved quality of life through a combination of medications and psychosocial treatments and supports. Recovery is possible.

Medication works differently for different people. Medication usually needs to be taken every day for a long period of time even if it does not feel like they are needed.

Your health care provider will determine which medication is right for you and what dosage. Medications can take 4 to 6 weeks to become fully effective. If one drug does not work, there are many others to try. Report side effects and let your health care professional know if the medication is not working.

Some people get side effects from medications. Side effects vary, depending on what type of drug you are taking, and may improve once your body adjusts to the medication.  Factors that can affect how medications work in people include:

  • Type of mental disorder, such as depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia
  • Age, sex, and body size
  • Physical illnesses
  • Habits like smoking and drinking
  • Liver and kidney function
  • Genetics
  • Other medications and herbal/vitamin supplements
  • Diet
  • Whether medications are taken as prescribed

Information about medications is frequently updated. Check the FDA Web site at for the latest information on warnings, patient medication guides, or newly approved medications.

Helpful websites

Florida Legal Services’ Prescription Drug Helpline:  It is a statewide, toll-free helpline which provides assistance to Medicaid and low-income Medicare beneficiaries whose necessary medications have been denied. Its services include assistance relating to prior authorization requirements, assistance to patients and physicians with acquiring an immediate, temporary supply of the denied medication, representation by an attorney at a fair hearing, etc…

Needy: Offers assistance to those who want to get their medications through patient assistance programs. All are free or charge a small amount. Most help people in limited geographic areas.

Partnership for Prescription Assistance
:  Helps qualifying patients without prescription drug coverage get the medicines they need through the program that is right for them. Many will get their medications free or nearly free.

RxHope:  An independent company supported by PhRMA (Pharmaceutical and Research Manufacturers of America) and participating pharmaceutical companies.  These programs help millions of underinsured or uninsured patients obtain needed medication.

My Florida RX:  Sponsored by the Florida’s Attorney General’s Office and the Agency for Health Care Administration to help consumers shop for the lowest medication prices in their area. The website has prices for the 50 most commonly used prescription drugs in Florida.

Pfizer Helpful Answers : A family of assistance programs for people who have no insurance, or who do not have enough insurance, and need help getting their Pfizer medicines.

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