Understanding Your Medication

Mental Health
5. Medication

Understanding Your Medication

It is your psychiatrist’s responsibility to explain to you and your parent your diagnosis and ways to treat it. Your parent’s permission–or consent–is needed before you can be prescribed psychotropic medication. Your psychiatrist should also ask you for your consent. Before asking you to agree to take a medication, your psychiatrist should explain, in a way that you can understand:

  • Why he or she is prescribing the medication
  • How he or she thinks the medication will help you
  • What might happen if you do not take the medication
  • What side effects you may experience from the medication
  • How long you may need to take the medication
  • Whether other treatments are available

Before you begin taking a medication, your psychaiatrist should also explain how to take it and what to do if problems arise.

You should always be given the opportunity to ask questions about your medications. Some questions you might want to ask your psychiatrist include:

  • What is this medication called?
  • Why do I need to take this medication?
  • (If you are prescribed more than one medication) Why do I need to take more than one medication? What does each medication do?
  • Is there anything else I should try first, like therapy, physical exercise, or dietary changes?
  • What are the common side effects? Are there any side effects that are so serious that I will need to see a doctor right away if they happen?
  • Are there any side effects that might be made worse by combining this medication with others?
  • Will I need blood tests to monitor the effects of this medication?
  • How long will I have to take this medication?
  • Should I take this medication in a certain way, like with food, or at a certain time of day?
  • Are there any other medications I shouldn’t take with this medication?
  • How often will I see you?
  • How can I reach you if I have an emergency?
  • What should I do if I cannot get in touch with you?