Psychiatric medication

Explains what psychiatric drugs are, what to know before taking them, and information on side effects and coming off medication.

How do I know if a drug is right for me?

Drugs don't work the same way for everyone, so when your doctor is deciding which medication to offer you, it's not always possible for them to predict exactly which one will suit you best.  

It's important to make sure you find a medication that works for you.

I have been on a number of medications and found that my symptoms got much worse on some, but better with others. 

To help you do this you can:

  • Discuss any problems with your doctor – they might be able to offer you an alternative type of medication or treatment, or advise you about how to manage your medication to reduce any problems.
  • Ask for a second opinion  if you're worried about your diagnosis or treatment, or are unsure about advice you've been given, you can ask your GP or psychiatrist to refer you to another professional for a second opinion.
  • Review your medication regularly – your GP or psychiatrist should give you a regular opportunity to discuss how you're getting on. For example, they should ask you how you're feeling, whether you think it's helping and whether you're experiencing any side effects.
  • Get a Medicines Use Review from your pharmacist – if you regularly take more than one prescription medicine, or take medicines for a long-term illness, you can talk to your pharmacist about any problems or anxieties you have. There is a video about this service on the NHS Choices website. Ask your pharmacist if you are not offered a review and you think it would be helpful for you.

Remember:

  • Pharmacists can give you information about psychiatric drugs as well as GPs.
  • Most high street pharmacists have a private consulting room if you don't feel comfortable discussing your prescription over the counter.
  • You can take a list of questions with you to help you remember everything you want to ask.
  • Some drugs take a while to start working, so you might need to keep taking them for a week or two before deciding whether they're suitable for you.
  • If you've been prescribed medication, it is still your decision whether or not to take it – and you have the right to change your mind.

It took several trials of different medications at different strengths before the right combination worked for me… The message from my experience is not to give up on medication because one drug doesn’t work. It may take a while and you may have to try different drugs before you find what is right for you.


This information was published in 2016. We will revise it in 2018.


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