JOPLIN, Mo. — Medication mental health side effects could impact one of the most vulnerable populations in our country. Bringing awareness to seniors and their mental health concerns…

“The effects usually take place within the first two weeks.”

Jennifer Berry at Freeman Health System said several psychotropic or other medications can cause our bodies to have a physical or emotional response.

“Anytime we’re introducing a foreign item to our body, it changes our chemical make-up, which can produce either positive or negative impacts, regardless or age,” said Berry, Asst. Director of Adult Outpatient Services.

She said senior citizens typically have more medication as part of their daily regimen, so keeping an eye on any adverse side-effects is especially important for that age group, even for mental health.

“We see a lot of our seniors that have more chronic health conditions, and therefore are usually put on more medications, so watching the interaction, making sure they’re speaking with their physician if they’re having any abnormal interactions.”

Friends and family can watch out for signs of fear, or anxiety, or anything that changes from their normal routine.

“Increased in sleepiness, changes in eating patterns, more agitation, irritability. Sometimes even cognitive changes, loss of memory.”

And, to be self aware, berry suggested patients keep a log of the side effects they are experiencing anytime they start a new medication.

“If they’re noticing any new symptoms, or worsening symptoms, maybe they’re sleeping more frequently during the day, or they just have a significant decrease in energy or motivation, just out of character for them, they should speak with their physician immediately.”

She added it’s not just psychotropic medications to be mindful of — pay close attention to any new medication.

“Blood pressure, yeah, anything that could also create similar results. That’s why having that log of symptoms and talking with your medication provider, they can kind of decipher whether it’s more of a health concern, or if it’s a true mental health concern.”

If you know anyone struggling with their mental health and they need someone to talk to, we urge you to call the suicide prevention hotline at 1-800-273-TALK. For more resources you can visit our Suicide Crisis tab here.