Pill reminders – Can they help you take your pills on time?

pill reminders

Pill reminder and pill-tracking app is the new mantra used by researchers to improve medication adherence in patients.  

A 2016 poll conducted by Popit Research Labs showed that around 40% of voters relied on their memory to track their pill usage while almost 60% used some form of external pill reminder. Also, multiple studies are suggesting the rise in medication non-adherence due to forgetfulness. There is clearly a need for an external source to keep track of one’s medication usage.

pill reminders

Popit Research Labs, 2016

Do pill reminders work?

With the rise in pill reminder solutions, the first question that pops into your mind is – Do pill reminders actually help? Can they help you take your medications on time? 

According to a randomised clinical trial done in 2018, to check the impact of medication reminder apps to improve medication adherence in a Coronary Heart Disease study, adherence improvement for app users seemed to be ~7.2%. It was concluded that patients who used medication reminder apps had better medication adherence compared to those with usual care.

A study by Cochrane on interventions for medication adherence in the elderly concluded that behavioural and educational interventions along with the aid of simple strategies such as using pill reminders may lead to greater satisfaction in medication management in the elderly.

In a poll conducted by Popit, almost 50% of the users confirmed they have some kind of reminders for pills and they find these useful in tracking their pills for birth control. In a clinical pilot together with a leading university hospital, their pill reminder solution was able to reduce missed pills by over 80% and help build a solid routine around pill-taking.

pill reminders

Popit Research Labs, 2016

Which is the most effective pill reminder?

With the internet being flooded with various pill reminders apps and medication trackers, how do you know if these are effective or not?  Does it really make sense to invest in one? If yes, then which one?

Pill dispensers are cheap, but using a pill dispenser is more or less relying on your memory. On the other hand, smartphone alarms are free, but most people end up ignoring these alarms as constant notifications can get annoying after a while.

smart sensing device could be another option that you can rely on. This is the world’s first and only tracker for a pill blister that comes with built-in sensors. It can sense when you pop a pill off the blister and notifies you only when you miss a pill. Which means, if you take the pill, you don’t get the daily annoying reminders. Also, there is no manual input needed to keep a track of your pill usage. 

We compiled a comparison chart so you can evaluate which solution is best for you.

pill reminders

Pill Reminders

How do pill reminders help?

Medication cannot work as intended if it is not taken as prescribed. Consistency and taking pills according to guidance play a key role in any treatment.

Some of the cases where pill reminders have proven to be beneficial include:

1. Avoiding unwanted pregnancy 

pill reminders

The risk of pregnancy with a typical birth control pill use is 9% and the pill is 99% efficient only when used perfectly.

By perfect use, it means you have to take the pill every day without fail. You must also take it at the same time day after day. In a recent survey conducted by Popit, more than 1 in 12 women on the pill may have experienced an unintended pregnancy due to missing a pill.

2. Medication adherence in chronic health conditions

Medication non-adherence in chronic health conditions is a recognized public health problem. According to a study conducted by NCBI on unintentional non-adherence of prescribed medication, more than 60% of the test group forgot to take their pills on time.

3. Improved parental or caregiver medication adherence 

To keep a track of someone’s medication is more challenging than managing one’s own treatment. You can easily manage this when you have an app that can notify you whenever they miss their pills.

So, do you need one?

Pill Reminders

Evolution of pill reminders

From the humble reminders such as markings on a calendar to smart sensing devices, pill reminders have evolved over the years. This also confirms the need for an external source to track pill usage apart from relying on one’s memory. Multiple studies are also supporting this claim saying it could be one of the ways to improve adherence in patients.

Pill reminder solutions are usually a one time purchase and cost less than a good pair of sneakers. They are the most reliable alternative to ensuring you take your medicines on time and stay on track. These can also be a thoughtful gift for your loved ones. For, after all, there is no greater gift that you can give or receive than to stay healthy or investing in the good health of your loved ones. 

(In a clinical pilot – DOI: 10.15761/COGRM.1000217, conducted by a team of doctor’s including Henna Kärkkäinen, MD, Ph.D, Department of Gynecology and Obstetrics, Heikki Matero Ph.M, Janne Sahlman MD, Ph.D at the Kuopio University Hospital, it was concluded that an on-demand reminder system increases adherence of birth control pill users. More details regarding this study can be found here. )

How Is Depression Treated?

how is depression treated

When a person feels depressed, the ideas of ever getting better or ever wanting to participate in life again can seem like impossible pipe dreams. This sensation of complete hopelessness is just one of the severe symptoms associated with depression, and too often it prevents people with depression from seeking the treatment and help needed to overcome the illness. Having prior knowledge or raising awareness around ‘how is depression treated’ could help you or your loved ones in the long run.

So, How Is Depression Treated?

The short and most important answer to that question is “effectively.”

Like other clinical illnesses, depression is often the expression of several underlying causes, which can be both physiological and emotional. Although each person responds differently to various treatment modalities, most individuals suffering from depression find relief from the emotionally painful, debilitating condition with a combination of three types of treatments, which work together to address all underlying causes of the condition.

Psychotherapy for Depression

Talk therapy and cognitive behavior therapy are incredibly effective for patients with depression. Sessions with a therapist help patients identify unhealthy patterns in their lives, establish healthy boundaries in their relationships and work and provide improved methods for overcoming life’s challenges. Therapy is recognized as a proven long-term treatment for depression, as its effects can last a lifetime.

Lifestyle Changes

Your doctor or therapist will likely recommend you consider making some lifestyle changes and provide effective strategies for a healthy, happy life in addition to your other treatments for depression. These changes might include regular exercise, eating a healthy diet, improving your sleep hygiene and routine, taking steps to reduce stress, and reaching out for support from your friends and family to avoid isolation.

Any lifestyle changes you make should aim to improve your physical health and daily emotional balance to support your recovery and encourage continued improvement. When adjusting your lifestyle or adding new activities to your daily routine, it’s usually easiest to start with something small and work your way up to making bigger changes after you begin to feel better.

Antidepressant Medications

The physiological aspect of depression responds well to antidepressant medications. When it comes to antidepressant medications, your doctor has plenty of tools in the shed, so to speak. Several different types of medication are available to address depression and its symptoms in various ways.

Ask your doctor about side effects, what to expect when starting depression medications and, since all medications work at different paces, find out how soon you should expect to notice their effects.

Make a Commitment to Getting Well

When it comes to depression, the path to wellness looks different for every person. As a result, it can take some time before each patient finds the perfect path or treatment plan. Throughout the process of learning to manage and overcome depression, it is important to stay in contact with your doctor and therapist to adjust treatment as you progress. Also, keep in touch with your loved ones for continued support.

When starting treatment for depression, make a commitment to getting better and promise yourself you can. Flawlessly follow your entire treatment plan and know about strategies that provide guidance around how to deal with depression.. Take medications exactly as prescribed (never miss a dose), attend all of your therapy sessions and make a real effort to adjust your lifestyle in a positive way. With perseverance and the right combination of treatments, you can get out from under depression’s shadow to start living and enjoying your life again.

How To Deal With Depression – 11 Strategies

Depression affects roughly one third of individuals at some point in their lives. Extreme despair, feelings of hopelessness, insomnia, fatigue and isolation characterize depression. Although it is highly treatable, individuals experiencing depressive episodes often do not seek the care they need and continue suffering. Getting professional help and learning how to deal with depression can help you overcome episodes and recognize depression in others.

11 Strategies for Dealing with Depression

  1. Exercise – Exercise triggers the release of the endorphins that make you feel happy. Getting into a regular routine will regulate hormones, improve your overall health and boost your confidence.
  2. Eat Well – A balanced diet supports your body and your brain with vital nutrients. Avoiding junk foods (processed, preservatives, unhealthy fats, sugar and simple carbohydrates) will prevent inflammation, regulate weight and help you dodge other health issues.
  3. Nurture Your Microbiome – Current scientific research has shown the interwoven connection between digestive health and cognitive function. In fact, the feel-good neurotransmitter, serotonin, is produced in the intestines. Take probiotics for a healthy gut and mind.
  4. Sleep Soundly – Good sleep promotes better health and improved mood by regulating your body’s natural systems.
  5. Practice Smiling – Whether you have a reason or not, smiling actually prompts your body to release feel-good endorphins. Give it a try. Sit quietly, close your eyes and smile. You don’t even have to picture a happy place (although imagining the beach would probably compound positive effects).
  6. Meditate – Meditation imparts all sorts of scientifically proven health benefits on its practitioners, and improved mood is one. Meditation teaches your brain alternatives to chronic stress, anxiety and negative emotions.
  7. Socialize – Depression often creates isolation, but you need your friends and family’s support. Spend time with the people about whom you truly care to strengthen bonds and cultivate meaningful relationships.
  8. Schedule “Me Time” – If you have a life filled with responsibilities and not much free time, make scheduling time for self-care a priority – whether that means a massage, five minutes to meditate in the morning or a week-long fishing trip.
  9. Listen to the Beach Boys – Music with a fast tempo (more than 72 beats per minute) has the ability to uplift your mood. Choose a groove that brings back happy memories or listen to something new.
  10. Celebrate Thanksgiving Every Day – Each time you practice feeling grateful, you strengthen the brain’s neural pathways responsible for that positive feeling. Write a list of all the people, places and things for which you are grateful. Read it every day – rain or shine.
  11. Call a Help Line – Sometimes reaching out and talking with someone anonymously can really help. Several resources are available over the phone and online that will offer further assistance on how to deal with depression.

When Facing Depression, Seek Professional Help

As much as you can do on your own to try to combat depression, it is a true medical disorder. Like other clinical diseases and conditions, depression usually doesn’t have a singular, underlying cause; individuals suffer from depression for reasons related to biology, lifestyle, external stresses, life challenges and difficult events. If you find yourself struggling with depression, schedule an appointment with your doctor or therapist to learn more about additional strategies, like medication and therapy, to help you overcome depression and begin enjoying life again.

Starting Depression Medication? Here’s What to Expect

Deciding to begin an antidepressant is an important decision to be made with your doctor or therapist. It is not a decision every individual makes easily. Starting depression medication, however, can give you the boost you need to overcome depression and to enjoy life again. If you decide to begin treating your depression with medication, this is what you should expect.

Common Side Effects of Depression Medication

Depending on your medical history, depression symptoms and goals for the medication, your doctor will prescribe you one or a combination of the various types of antidepressant medications available. Types of drugs commonly prescribed for depression include:

  • selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs)
  • serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs)
  • tricyclics
  • monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs)
  • atypical antidepressants (other medications used for depression which do not fit into a category)

Although proven effective at treating depression, these medications are not without side effects. Potential side effects of antidepressants include:

  • nausea
  • weight gain
  • restlessness and insomnia
  • drowsiness and fatigue
  • blurred vision
  • dizziness
  • dry mouth
  • lower libido
  • irritability
  • increased suicidal thoughts

Everyone reacts differently to antidepressant medications, but most will experience some side effects. Sometimes, these side effects will clear up after the first few weeks of treatment.

If intolerable side effects persist, you might consider talking with your doctor about changing medications. Be sure to ask your doctor about your treatment expectations and potential side effects of the various medications.

How Soon After Starting Depression Medication Will You Feel Better?

Each person’s body chemistry, condition and symptoms are different. As a result, it can be difficult to predict the exact outcome or timeline of any given patient’s treatment. Some medications, however, work more quickly than others. Depending on your prescription, you might begin feeling the effects of your medication right away, after a few weeks or not until after up to two months of treatment.

Due to the variability in treatment timelines and patient response, it is important to try to be patient while your doctor works with you to perfect your treatment plan when starting depression medication. In fact, many doctors ask their patients to commit to, at the minimum, six months to a year of finding the right treatment before starting a patient on a medication.

When beginning a new depression medication, stay in close contact with your doctor. Notify your healthcare professional of any side effects you experience, adverse changes in behavior, improvements or lack of changes. During the first few weeks or months of treatment, your doctor will work with you to adjust your dosage, type of medication or combination of medications to help you achieve your desired treatment outcome.

The Key to Success on Antidepressants? Medication Adherence

Different types of antidepressant medications work in different ways. For example, the most commonly prescribed (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors or SSRIs) require time and consistency for them to effectively combat depression from the inside out. Adhering to your prescription instructions and doctor’s orders will give you the best chance at finding a medication that helps you defeat depression.

For the best results, ask your doctor at what time of day your medication should be taken, whether to take it with food or on an empty stomach, and be sure not to miss any doses. There are tools available to help with becoming more consistent with pills, from the humble smartphone alarm clock to the more sophisticated pill tracker.

Make The Most Of Treatment: How Best To Take Depression Medication

If you and your doctor have decided that a depression medication could help you overcome depression, congratulations on seeking help and taking the first major steps in depression treatment. Although they can be incredibly helpful and are scientifically proven, antidepressants are not a quick fix. This article will shed some light on how to take depression medication so they work best.

You will need to adhere to your treatment plan, continue working with your doctor and/or therapist and be committed to getting better for the long haul. To increase your chances of success with antidepressants, consider the following tips on how to take depression medication.

How to Take Depression Medication: 7 Tips for Success

  1. Be patient. Successful depression treatment does not happen overnight. Finding the right medication, the proper dosage or the perfect combination of medications for your personal treatment plan can be a long process. Also, not all antidepressants begin working right away, and you might need to try several medications before you see the desired results.
  2. Avoid drinking alcohol. Alcohol and antidepressants do not mix. Not only will alcohol worsen symptoms of depression and hinder your treatment progress, it can also be extremely dangerous – even deadly – when combined with these types of medications.
  3. Expect some side effects. The main goal of antidepressants are to help you overcome depression. So, these medications are not without side effects. You will probably not experience every side effect on your medication’s list of potentials, but you will likely develop some. Consider your goals for treatment, the types of side effects you can tolerate and talk with your doctor about what you should expect.
  4. Don’t stop treatment on your own. The decision to stop taking a depression medication should be made in tandem with your doctor. To stop taking some medications safely, you might need to ween yourself off by progressively reducing your dosage. Talk with your doctor about the reason(s) you want to go off the medication and ask about the healthiest way to do so.
  5. Continue taking medication – even when you feel better. Antidepressants do not work like an antibiotic, with which you complete the prescription and pleasantly find your ailment eradicated. The process of antidepressants is more comparable to that of supplements, which need to be continued until you have worked out other issues in your life which might be compounding the medical condition. If you feel better, that’s great! But have a serious conversation with your healthcare provider before deciding to go off medication.
  6. Don’t give up if the medication you are trying does not help. Sometimes, finding the right antidepressant can take several attempts with different medications or combinations of medications. If the first (or first few) types of medications you try don’t deliver the desired results, talk with your doctor and try again.
  7. Take medication exactly as prescribed. With depression medication, adherence is vital to achieving a successful outcome. Ask your doctor about the best time of day to take your medication, whether it should be taken on an empty stomach or with food and find out if it will interact with any other medications or supplements. To ensure your medications work the way they are intended and to give yourself the best chance of beating your depression, follow your doctor’s prescription-related orders and never miss a dose.