Resources for affording medications and managing them.

Making the decision to take medications for your depression can be a big decision and should be made with the input of a qualified psychiatric provider. Sometimes only one medication is enough, and sometimes multiple medications are needed to alleviate symptoms. It is important to note that medications for depression are often not “silver bullets,” and can also require psychotherapy and/or other supports.

Below you’ll find resources for talking with psychiatric medication providers, remembering to take meds, managing meds, and more.

General Depression Medication Tips

Keep a Medication List

Especially if you are taking multiple medications, it is important to keep an updated list of your medications with you. Medication tracker and reminder apps, such as Round Health and Medisafe, can help you keep an update list of medications in addition to pill reminders. Keeping an updated list of medications can help to prevent dangerous medication interactions and ensure that all of your providers are on the same page.

Use Only One Pharmacy if Possible

Pharmacies have varying prices for the same medication, so it may be difficult at times to have just one pharmacy. However, having only one pharmacy can reduce the likelihood of dangerous medication interactions that could occur if the pharmacy does not have your most updated medication list. Websites such as GoodRx and SingleCare can assist you in determining which pharmacy has the best prices for your medications.

Get a Yearly Medication Review

At your annual visit with your primary care provider (or at a visit with your psychiatric medication provider), ask to review all of your medications to ensure they are all still necessary and to evaluate whether doses need to be changed.

Know Your Medications
  • It is *very* important to understand the basics of your medications- namely, what they’re intended to treat, any interactions they may have with other medications, and/or other considerations (i.e. dietary restrictions or lifestyle factors). 
  • You may also want to know about potential side effects that could occur with a medication. You can discuss potential side effects and how they would be addressed with your clinician. *It is also important to understand that side effects and other potential medication complications do NOT occur in many people taking the medication. Make sure you discuss any concerns about side effects with your psychiatric provider, especially prior to discontinuiing medications.
  • Resources for learning more about psychopharmacology include: “Psych Meds Made Simple” book by Ashley Peterson, MedlinePlus and A Healthy Place Patient Information Sheets.
  • DO NOT assume all of your providers are aware of the ins and outs of your medication (especially if you’re taking many meds/infrequently prescribed meds).
Make Sure All of Your Providers Have an Updated Medication List

Most providers ask about medication changes, but mistakes happen. Make sure to include as-needed medications as well that you may not take every day.

Questions to Ask Your Psychiatric Medication Provider

The following are questions to ask your provider prior to starting a new psychiatric medication. This list is not exhaustive! Click on the image to view the printable questions.

Affording Medications

Use Discount Programs
  • Many states offer prescription assistance programs. Contact a NAMI affiliate to see what your state offers.
  • NeedyMeds is a nonprofit that helps people get access to lower cost drugs. They can help you find lower cost drugs from pharmaceutical companies, and they have a drug discount card.
  • MedicineAssistanceTool is a search engine designed to help patients and their care team to find resources available through the various biopharmaceutical industry programs.
  • RxAssist can help you learn about ways to use pharmaceutical company programs and other resources to help reduce your medication costs.
  • PatientAssistance can help you find coupons for specific drugs, and also find patient assistance programs offered by drug companies.
  • GoodRx and Blink Health are fantastic resources that offer significant discounts on meds. They can also help you to compare prices at different pharmacies to help you find the cheapest option.
Consider Delivery Pharmacies

Pharmacies that do not have brick-and-mortar locations may have lower cost medications. Some pharmacies include: 

The Cost Plus Drug CompanyCapsule Pharmacy, and Amazon Pharmacy.

Compare Pharmacies
  • All pharmacies do not charge the same price for a medication. Call different pharmacies in your area or use GoodRx or Blink Health to compare prices.
  • There are many delivery-based pharmacies, such as the Marc Cuban Cost Plus Drug Company and Capsule that are able to negotiate with drug companies to get much lower medication costs.
Ask Your Doctor for Coupons and/or Samples
  • If you’re receiving your medication for the first time, your doctor might have coupons, or can help you apply to the medication supplier to help you receive a discount (if you meet income requirements). You can also receive coupons through some of the discount services above.
Sign Up for Insurance
  • Private insurance, and public aid programs such as Medicaid and Medicare, can greatly offset the cost of paying for medication.
    • Click here to see if you qualify for Medicaid. 
    • Click here to see if you qualify for Medicare.
    • Click here for more information about the Health Insurance Marketplaces and here to learn about the steps to take for getting insurance through the marketplace.
    • Click here for a glossary of terms that breaks down some of the terms related to insurance, medication discount programs, etc. so they’re easier to understand.

Difficulty Taking Medication Consistently

Address Side Effects

Many people stop taking medications because they may experience uncomfortable side effects. Instead of discontinuing the medication(s) altogether, which can be dangerous to your health, track your side effects and discuss them with your psychiatric provider. You can also be proactive and discuss potential side effects and how they could be addressed with your provider. There are many ways to work together to reduce or eliminate side effects, but make sure this is done safely with the aide of an experienced clinician. 

Utilize Reminder Apps and Calendars

If you are consistently forgetting to take medications, there are a number of options to try:

  • Utilize your phone for calendar reminders or reminder apps: schedule a recurring reminder on your phone for times to take your medications, or utilize reminder apps such as Round Health or Medisafe to give you notifications to take your medications.
  • Try reminder devices: EllieGrid is a smart pill box that makes a sound and a phone alert when it is time to take medications. Smart pill caps, such as this one, can help if you often forget if you’ve taken your medication(s) by alerting you of the last time the cap was opened.
Bring Your Medication with You

If you consistently forget to take your medications, bring them with you so you can take them on-the-go.

Pill boxes do not need to be large and bulky. These pill boxes can hold up to 8 medications and are compact (these erasable labels are helpful to label medications). This medication holder is very non-descript, visually appealing, & compact, and holds a 7-day supply of medication.

Pair Taking Medication with Another Established Habit

Pairing taking your medication with another habit can help to increase the likelihood of taking the medication. For instance, if you take your medications in the morning, try taking them after doing an already-established habit, such as brushing your teeth, eating breakfast, or making coffee. Make sure the medication is located close to where you perform the habit so it is easy to take. 

Make Sure You Don't Run Out of Medication

Check out the next section on managing medications for tips!

Trouble Organizing and Managing Medication

Use a Pill Box
  • To keep medications organized and avoid medication errors, use a pill box with the meds you need to take on various days/times of day. You can try traditional boxes like these, organizers that you can take apart and bring along just the medications for the day, like these, or many different variations. Schedule a reminder for a specific day of the week to refill your pill box.
  • If you:
    • Would prefer not to put each individual pill into a pill box for each day
    • Have difficulties remembering to load up your 7-day pill box every week
    • Want to carry many important medications with you but don’t want to carry a full 7-day organizer
    • Have a complex regimen for taking medications (i.e. meds taken multiple times a day, many as-needed meds):

Consider a pill box where you can pour many/all pills into a compartment, such as these. You can label each compartment using an erasable label, in case you need to change around the configuration, or a label maker, such as this one.

Make Sure You Don't Run Out of Medication

Keeping on top of medication, especially multiple medications, can be very difficult. A few tricks include:

Make Sure Your Medication is on Auto-Refill

Call your pharmacy and make sure that all the medications that can be auto-filled are “on auto-fill” so that you don’t have to continue reaching out to the pharmacy when medications get low or run out.

Use One Pharmacy if You Can

Once you find a pharmacy that works for you, try to keep your medication at that pharmacy so that it is easier to manage refills and coordinate with the pharmacist if needed.

Put a Reminder on Your Phone At Least a Week Before a Prescription Expires

Contacting your provider or pharmacy well before to a prescription expires will ensure that you don’t miss doses. This is especially important for controlled medications such as benzodiazepines or stimulants, as you cannot put those on auto-refill.

Get Your Medication Delivered

It can be difficult to go to the pharmacy when it’s hard to simply get out of bed. If it is difficult for you to get to the pharmacy, see if they can deliver. Many pharmacies offer free delivery, and others are primarily delivery-based pharmacies, such as Capsule or Amazon Pharmacy. This can reduce barriers to taking medications consistently.

Request Blister Packs

If it is difficult to keep track of how many medications you have left, ask your pharmacist to get them packaged in a “blister pack,” in which the medications are individually packaged, so you can keep better track of how many are left.

Use Apps as Reminders & to Keep Track of How Many Pills are Left

Apps such as Medisafe or MyTherapy can remind you to take meds and help you keep track of how many you have left.

Utilize Innovative Medication Management Services

Amazon offers Pillpack, an online pharmacy and service in which medication is packaged into individual packs for different days of the week and times of day at no extra cost. Additionally, HeroHealth is a medication dispenser which dispenses daily medication and is connected to a pharmacy, which tracks when more medication is needed.

General Medication Management

Managing care and medications can be very difficult, especially when you’re feeling exhausted and distressed. The following are ideas to try:

  • Ask a family member or friend to assist you with staying on-top of medications and assisting with contacting insurance companies, psychiatric medication providers, pharmacies, etc. 
  • Consider working with a patient advocate or private care management organization to have more assistance with working with various providers and organizations.
  • Utilize services such as GetHuman or Dial a Human, which allow you to bypass many automated systems in order to speak with a person faster.