A group of young people sit on a picnic bench together in the park. They are smiling and talking together.

Thinking about trying medication

How to decide if a medication is right for you

Each time you are prescribed a new medication, you and your doctor will not know how well it is going to work for you until you have been taking it for a while. It will also be difficult to predict whether you will suffer from any side effects. You may need to try a few medications and different dosages before you find one that is right for you.

Think about the following questions when deciding.

  • Does it work for you?

    Not all medication works for every person.

  • How much time does it take to start working?

    Many medications take some time to start working and longer to reach their full potential.

  • What are the side effects?

    All medications have side effects – but not everyone gets them, and each person is affected differently.

Different people have different ways of deciding whether a medication is right for them:

  • Some like to do what their doctor tells them without question.
  • Some like to ask their doctor lots of questions about the possible benefits and side effects.
  • Some like to research the medication, either by looking at the information in the box or by visiting websites like this one.
  • Some medication doesn't start to work straight away. (For example, medications used to treat depression normally take a few weeks to start having an effect.)
  • Some side effects are like the illness being treated.
  • Some side effects improve or go away over time.
  • Some side effects don’t happen straight away.
If it works well for others then that's amazing, but medication wasn’t something I was interested in long term. But once I found the right medication for me and got better, I realised it was definitely the best choice for me.
Finding the right medication could take some time, but it’s worth pursuing and working at. It may not work but it’s about adjusting your expectations and giving it time to see what happens.

What are your rights?

In most cases, you have the choice not to take a medication that you don’t want to take. It is much better if an agreement is made between you and your mental health team to give the medication a try to see if it can help.

In most cases, also getting a parent or carer to support you and to understand the treatment plan gives it the best chance of success.

Sometimes, however, there are real risks that you could harm yourself or someone else. In this case, offering you a choice may not be possible and the medicine may have to be given to you without your consent to keep everyone safe.

If you are worried about the medication, you must talk to your doctor or mental health team or to an adult that you trust (this could be a parent, teacher, older friend or other professional such as a social or youth worker). You could also ask that person to go with you to appointments to support you.

A young Black woman talking about something serious with an older Black woman in the park.
I don’t want to be on medication for the rest of my life, but at the moment I know that without the meds I’m definitely worse.
If I could go back in time to before I started taking meds, I would tell myself to persevere as things will get better, even if it doesn’t feel that way.

Real stories

  • There’s no shame in taking medication. Mental health is just as important as physical health, and sometimes that requires taking medication to help it, and there’s nothing wrong with that.
  • I take medication for my mental health and it's taken me so long to accept the fact that it’s okay! You aren’t weaker just because you take medication!

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This form is not a mental health support service. We cannot reply to this. If you are at risk of immediate harm, call 999 and ask for an ambulance or go to your nearest A&E. If you are worried about your mental health, call: Childline (for under 19s) on 0800 11 11; or Samaritans on 116 123.

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