Medications for treating mental health problems – sometimes called psychotropics – are prescribed to help with the symptoms caused by mental illness (e.g. depression) or a disorder (e.g. Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)). Medications help youth get back to their normal activities. They are often used with other treatments such as counselling.
Your doctor will assess your symptoms and may then recommend medication. They need to know what other medication you may be taking, if you have allergies or what other medications you’ve tried in the past.
Your doctor will discuss why the medication has been prescribed and what the risks and benefits are. There may be more questions that you or your parents/caregiver need answered. If so, ask your physician – it is your right to know.
Your medication will likely take some time before it is effective. The time it takes to work depends on what it is and what the symptoms are. Some medications (for attentional difficulties) may act quickly. Most other medications may take days or weeks to work. Your doctor will discuss any possible side-effects. Tell your doctor if you notice side-effects.
It is helpful to take your medication on a regular daily schedule. If you skip medication, you may have side-effects and your symptoms may return. Ask your doctor.
Medication treatment should not stop immediately when you feel better. It will usually take time before the dose is reduced and then stopped.
If you are taking more than one medication, your doctor and your pharmacist will check for drug interactions before you start a new medication. It is also essential that they know if you are taking herbal supplements or over the counter medications because these can sometimes interfere or interact with your prescribed medications.
Street drugs (e.g. marijuana, ecstasy, cocaine) and alcohol should be avoided. They can cause or worsen symptoms.
Ask your doctor or pharmacist if you have other questions. If you want more information on your illness or your medication, your doctor can suggest some good resources.