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Coping Skills - Play it Safe

For many people, being told they need to go on a medication to help control a health problem can be stressful, annoying, even embarrassing. Sometimes medications can make one feel sick, such as nausea, excessive urination, muscle pain, and general malaise. Some may experience mood swings. A medication may affect a person's ability to engage in intimate relationships with a loved one.

People react differently to changes in their health and medications they may have to take. They may not follow to their providers' treatment plan, substitute ordered medications with herbals or vitamins. They may decide not to take their medications due to a side effect of the medication or they may be in denial of a health problem. Doing any of these things can harm you or affect your health.

The best way to cope is to learn as much as possible about your health and recommended treatment options. Talk with your healthcare team about your medications and how they make you feel. Let them know if you experience any changes in your mood or your body that is of concern. Many times your healthcare team can make changes to your medications or treatment plan that works better for you.

Another way to cope is a healthy life style. Talk with your healthcare team about a diet and physical activity program that is best for you. For many, improving diet and physical activity resulted in lower medication doses or being taken off a medication. If changes in your health are making you feel sad or hopeless, talk to your provider about seeing someone who can help you work through your feelings. You may also want to talk to your chaplain about spirituality and your health.

Physical Activity Center (My HealtheVet)

Healthy Eating Center (My HealtheVet)

Healthy Living (Medline Plus)

Vivir saludablemente (Medline Plus) (en Español)

Coping Tools and Checklist (ACS)


Reviewed/Updated Date: May 2011
Clinical Advisory Board Sponsor: Rose Mary Pries, PhD
Clinical Subject Matter Experts: Maureen Layden, MD, MPH; Eric Spahn, PharmD
Patient Education Subject Matter Experts: Kathy Horvath, PhD