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Explains what psychiatric drugs are, what to know before taking them, and information on side effects and coming off medication.
As well as potential benefits, every psychiatric drug has the potential to cause unwanted side effects. These can occur after both short-term and long-term use.
Mild side effects might:
Severe side effects might:
This depends on the drug and your individual reaction to it. Some people get side effects and some people don't. If you do get side effects, these could be mild or severe – there is no way to know how you will react before you start taking the medication.
If you get side effects, it's generally up to you to decide whether the benefits of taking the drug outweigh the side effects or not.
You can read about side effects associated with particular types of medication on our pages about:
Alternatively, if you want to know about a specific drug, you can look it up in our medication A–Z.
You can also report any side effect you experience to the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) using the Yellow Card scheme.
The likelihood of experiencing different side effects varies for each drug. Your risk of experiencing a side effect is described in most Patient Information Leaflets (PILs – the leaflet that comes in the drug packet) like this:
In other words, if the risk is described as 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 of the oldest drugs.
This information was published in 2016. We will revise it in 2019.
References are available on request. If you would like to reproduce any of this information, see our page on permissions and licensing.