Explains what psychiatric drugs are, what to know before taking them, and information on side effects and coming off medication.
As well as the possible benefits, every psychiatric drug may cause unwanted side effects. These side effects can happen with short-term or long-term use.
This page covers:
This side effects you may experience depend on which medication you take and your individual reaction to it. Some people get certain side effects while others don't.
If you do get side effects, they could be mild or severe. There is no way to know how you will react before you start taking the medication.
If you experience side effects, it is worth thinking about whether the benefits of taking the drug outweigh any negative effects. This is something you can discuss with your GP or pharmacist.
We have information on the side effects you may experience from different types of psychiatric medication. See our pages on:
If you want to find the possible side effects of an individual drug, you can check the Patient Information Leaflet (PIL) that comes in the package for your medication. Or you can search for your drug in our A to Z of psychiatric medication and download the relevant PIL for your drug.
"Antipsychotics are effective but they make me really tired. I just cannot think straight when I'm on them."
"When I first read the list of side effects of the medication I'd be taking, my first impulse was to flush it down the toilet. It was scary stuff. But I took it and I feel that medication has really helped me over the years."
The likelihood of experiencing different side effects varies for each drug. Your risk of experiencing a side effect is described in most PILs for specific drugs. It usually looks like this:
In other words, if the risk is described as very rare (fewer than 1 in 10,000), that means 9,999 people out of 10,000 probably won't experience that side effect.
This data is available for all newer drugs, but not for some older drugs.
If you experience any side effects, you can report them via the Yellow Card scheme. This scheme collects information about the side effects of different drugs. It is a voluntary scheme, so you don’t have to report side effects if you don’t wish to.
This information was published in March 2021. We will revise it in 2024.
References are available on request. If you would like to reproduce any of this information, see our page on permissions and licensing.