Thinking about trying medication

Are you thinking about trying medication to help with your mental health? Here's some advice on how to decide if a medicine is right for you.

How to decide if a medicine is right for you

Each time you are prescribed a new medication, you and your doctor will not know how well it is going to work for you until you have been taking it for a while. It will also be difficult to predict whether you will suffer from any side effects.  

This is because:

  • Not all medication works for every person.
  • Many medication take some time to start working and longer to reach their full potential.
  • All medications have side effects – but not everyone gets them, and each person is affected differently.

You may need to try a few medications and different dosages before you find one that is right for you.

Different people have different ways of deciding whether a medication is right for them.

  • Some like to do what their doctor tells them without question.
  • Some like to ask their doctor lots of questions about the possible benefits and side effects.
  • Some like to research the medication, either by looking at the information in the box or by visiting websites like this one.

Other things about benefits and side effects

  • Some medication doesn't start to work straight away. (For example, medication used to treat depression normally take a few weeks to start having a beneficial effect.)
  • Some side effects are like the illness being treated.
  • Some side effects improve or go away over time.
  • Some side effects don’t happen straight away.
If I could go back in time to before I started taking meds, I would tell myself to persevere as things will get better, even if it doesn’t feel that way.
Read Katie-Louise's story
There’s no shame in taking medication. Mental health is just as important as physical health, and sometimes that requires taking medication to help it, and there’s nothing wrong with that
I take medication for my mental health and it's taken me so long to accept the fact that it’s okay! You aren’t weaker just because you take medication!
Medication for mental health is nothing to be ashamed of and is just as normal as medicines or vitamins for physical health.
It’s ok to be on medication and it’s ok not to be. You have to do what you think is best. One medication might not work for you, and you try something else, that's perfectly normal and try not to worry about side effects!
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What are your rights?

In most cases you have the choice not to take a medication that you don’t want to take.

It is much better if an agreement is made between you and your mental health team to give the medication a try to see if it can help.

In most cases, also getting a parent or carer to support you and to understand the treatment plan gives it the best chance of success.

Sometimes, however, there are real risks that you could harm yourself or someone else.  In this case, offering you a choice may not be possible and the medicine may have to be given to you without your consent to keep everyone safe.

If you are worried about the medication, you must talk to your doctor or mental health team or to an adult that you trust (this could be a parent, teacher, older friend or other professional such as a social or youth worker). You could also ask that person to go with you to appointments to support you.  

I don’t want to be on medication for the rest of my life, but at the moment I know that without the meds I’m definitely worse.
Read Rachel's story

Experiences of mental health medication

If you are worried about starting to take medication for your mental health, you are not alone. Many young people take medication; here are their stories and experiences.

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