Psychopharmacology Information

Counseling Center staff does not include a psychiatrist and current clinicians at the Counseling Center do not prescribe psychotropic medication to students. By connecting with a counselor at the Counseling Center, CCNY students can explore with their counselor the option of trying medication and can be helped to connect with off-campus psychiatric resources as needed.

Depression Medication and Therapy

If you are experiencing feelings of depression, your counselor may discuss how the combination of medication and therapy will reduce these feelings effectively. Taking an antidepressant helps to elevate your mood, lets you sleep well, and improves your appetite and concentration. You will find that you “have fun” doing the things you like again.
These medications take some time before they begin to lower the symptoms of depression (about three to four weeks). There may be some side effects which can be discussed with your doctor. If you have an issue with a side effect you can look to take the medication at another time of day or switch medications. It is crucial not to stop the medication abruptly without speaking directly to the doctor.

Useful Questions to Explore with Your Therapist Before Beginning to Take Medication

Am I distressed enough by my depression to require medication?
What is the right choice of treatment for my illness?
Do I feel concerned about potential side effects?
Are there alternative options beside medication?
Have I pursued all other venues of treatment?

Additional Questions to Discuss with the Psychiatrist

What are your qualifications?
What biological factors might be contributing to my depression?
Are there any side effects or risks associated with these medications?
Is there anything I should not eat or drink when taking these medications?
Will there be any drug interactions with any medications I am currently taking?

Strategies for Taking Medication

Consult with a Psychiatrist, not a Family Doctor or General PCP - A family doctor / general health PCP can refer you for mental health treatment but is not an expert in mental health care. A psychiatrist is knowledgeable on psychotropic medications and related care. It is important that you receive treatment from the doctor with the appropriate qualifications necessary to provide the suitable care.

Follow Instructions - It is important to take your medication according to your doctor’s directions. Make certain to take the amount prescribed. While it may be tempting to stop taking medication when you begin to feel better or to take more if you are feeling better, it is important to continue to take your medication as prescribed and to discuss all concerns with your psychiatrist.

Reconsider Alcohol and Other Drug Use while on Medication - Some medications and drugs may interact with the psychotropic medication prescribed by your psychiatrist. For example, alcohol can reduce the effect of SSRI medication and it may be beneficial not to drink while taking medication. Also, interactions can take place with other medications including sleep aids, cold medication and prescription painkillers.

Be Patient - It usually takes several weeks before you feel the full effects of medication. Meanwhile, engage in counseling and, with time, the combination of therapy and medication will offer you the best treatment results.


Based on:
Bezchlibnyk-Butler, K. Z., Jeffries, J. J., Procyshyn, R. M., Virani, A. S. (2013). Clinical handbook of psychotropic drugs (20th Edition). Boston, MA: Hogrefe Publishing.

Last Updated: 08/04/2016 11:12