Tag Archive: psychiatric

  1. How to Deal With Side Effects of Medication

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    When your child has a mental health disorder, psychiatric medications can be life-changing. These medications can offer stability, normalcy, and the ability to function on a daily basis to those who would otherwise be debilitated by the symptoms of their mental health disorder.

    While psychiatric medications can be incredibly beneficial, some, unfortunately, carry unwanted side effects that can be difficult to manage. Sometimes, these side effects can outweigh the benefits of the medication. How do you know when the side effects are manageable? How do you know when it is time to talk to your child’s doctor about a medication change?

    Watching Your Child for Changes

    When your child is prescribed a new medication, ask about both the purpose of the medication as well as the potential side effects. Read the consumer warnings about side effects and drug interactions provided by your pharmacy or online. Knowing about the medication can help you understand if the benefits will outweigh any potential side effects.

    As your child begins to take the medication, watch for potential side effects. Changes in eating or sleeping habits or other side effects for the first few days or even weeks can be normal and expected as your child’s body adjusts to the medication. However, changes that are excessive or long-lasting may be cause for concern.

    Watch just as closely for desired benefits, such as improvement in mood, decrease in anger or irritability, or improvement in sleep or appetite. Psychiatric medications do not have simple blood tests to prove efficacy. To know if they are working or not, and whether or not there are harmful side effects, you will need to be very observant of changes in your child.

    Checking In With Your Child Daily

    Many of the changes in your child will involve internal changes in mood and brain function, which only your child can report. As a parent, you can help monitor these changes and keep track of them by checking in with your child daily. Ask them how they are feeling, how they slept, and what their mood is like. Help them to notice if there are changes. Sometimes, they may not even realize they are improving. Teens may also perseverate on any small side effect and be unwilling to acknowledge the benefits the medications are bringing to their mental health. A daily check-in can help both of you to better understand how the medication is functioning for your child.

    Keeping a Symptom vs. Side Effects Journal

    As a parent, keeping track of their mental health symptoms is something that can really help your child’s doctors to treat them more effectively. As they are prescribed medications, adding notes about side effects will also help the psychiatrist immensely to understand exactly how the medication is affecting your child. Monitoring symptoms vs. side effects regularly is crucial if symptoms or side effects increase and a change is needed.

    You can keep a physical journal, keep notes on your phone, or use an app to keep track of your child’s symptoms and side effects. There are also apps to download that your child can use on their phone to track moods and symptoms that will help everyone to understand how they are doing. These mood tracking apps help provide information not only to you and your child’s doctor but also to your child; a mood tracking app can help your child notice patterns and triggers and learn about their moods and behaviors to achieve greater self-efficacy in their own treatment process.

    Side Effects That Outweigh the Benefits

    Each medication has different side effects, but when the side effects are extreme or last longer than a few weeks or months, then it is time to talk to your child’s doctor about a dosage or prescription change. Some of these include:

    • Excessive fatigue or insomnia
    • Extreme change in eating habits
    • Rapid or extended weight gain
    • Tardive Dyskinesia or other uncontrolled facial or body movements
    • Increased anxiety or depression
    • Feeling “numb,” empty, or unable to feel emotions
    • Suicidal thoughts or attempts

    When to Report Side Effects Immediately

    Some side effects are life-threatening, although this is rare.  Be sure to read about any potential rashes or other allergic reactions specific to your child’s medication that can be fatal. Some of the other side effects that require immediate attention include:

    • Tachycardia (rapid heartbeat)
    • Difficulties in breathing
    • Seizures
    • Suicidal thoughts or attempts

    The goal of psychiatric medications is to achieve improved function and quality of life. Sometimes, it can take many trials to find the right medication, dosage, or combination of medications to achieve the desired result. Unfortunately, side effects are part of the process. Being educated and aware as a parent will help you and your child advocate for their needs with their doctor and, ultimately, find the right treatment for them.

    Psychiatric medications can offer tremendous benefits for your teen and your entire family, but they can also come with many challenging side effects. As a parent, you can help monitor your child’s mental and physical health to weigh the benefits versus the side effects of the medications. Knowing when to contact your child’s doctor to make a medication change will help your teen achieve the desired quality of life. Sustain Recovery treats adolescents with substance use disorders and co-occurring mental health issues. We emphasize the family’s continued involvement in the healing process. Our extended residential program in Irvine, California, helps teens identify the root causes of their behaviors. We help them learn accountability as they heal from addiction and mental health disorders. Contact us at (949) 407-9052 today to find out if our program is the right fit for your family.

  2. Getting Past the Stigma of Psychiatric Medication

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    Getting Past the Stigma of Psychiatric Medication

    Stigma surrounds psychiatric medication, particularly for children and adolescents. Everyone from conspiracy theorists to well-meaning friends or family members to even general medical practitioners have ideas about why you should not give your child medications to treat their mental health diagnosis. There is probably more misinformation about psychiatric meds than accurate information, which can make the decisions even more difficult to make. How do you get past all of this stigma and find the help your child needs?

    Weighing the Risks vs. Benefits of Medications

    As you wade through the stigma, information, and misinformation, bear in mind that everything has risks; there will always be some risks involved in giving your child any medication for any reason. The question you must ask yourself is this: Do the benefits outweigh the risks of the medication? When it comes to your child’s mental health, are your child’s symptoms interfering with daily life? Is suicide a risk? If the answer to either of these questions is yes, then most medications can definitely be a benefit in those situations and are also lower risk than either of those scenarios.

    Mental health and the medications used to treat it carry so much stigma. Imagine if your child was diagnosed with diabetes or cancer. You would absolutely use whatever medical treatments the doctor prescribed to help your child not only stay alive but also enjoy a reasonable quality of life. Mental health diagnoses are also medical conditions that require medical intervention and can be life-threatening. Yet because of the stigma attached, too many parents are afraid to access the help their child needs.

    Getting Accurate Information About Psychiatric Medications

    If you want to find the least accurate and most negative information about a medication, read unsourced personal stories or comments on social media. Personal reviews may not have anything to do with the medication itself. On the other hand, if you go to the manufacturer’s website, you may get glorified claims about the medication without all of the fine print that provides important warnings and information about clinical trials.

    Often, a neutral source that reviews or offers general information about many medications and has no affiliations with any pharmaceutical companies will have the most accurate information. Additionally, manufacturers are required to publish the complete prescribing information, which includes information on dosages, side effects, clinical trials, warnings, and more. Reading the complete information about a drug can seem excessive and tedious,  but doing so offers all of the facts about a medication so you can be aware of every potential risk.

    Finding a Psychiatrist You Trust

    Ideally, you will have access to more than one psychiatrist, so if you do not like the first one, you can meet with another one until you find one that both you and your teen are comfortable with. A good psychiatrist will gather as much information about your child and family history as possible before making a diagnosis. They will listen and observe your child as well as the family dynamics. Finding a doctor who takes time with your child, truly listens, and does not just rush to get through their list of clients is also important.

    When it comes to prescribing medication for your child, you should find someone who has a similar philosophy as you do about how much medication your child needs, what types to avoid, and how long your child will need to take the medication. Finding a doctor who listens and is willing to make changes when the medication is not working or if negative side effects occur will also help to build trust.

    Listening to Medical Advice Instead of Stigma

    Once you have met with the doctor and they have prescribed medication for your child, you need to listen to the medical advice over any stigma coming from outside sources. Reading as much as you can from reliable sources will be helpful. You may even want to consult with another doctor to get another opinion if your child is not in a crisis situation and you have that time. However, this is not the time to listen to stigma or conspiracy theories or even the concerns of well-meaning people in your life who are not trained psychiatrists with all of the information about your child’s condition.

    Following Your Gut as a Parent

    At the end of the day, you as a parent will be able to make the best decisions for your child if you listen to your gut instincts. You know how disabling your child’s mental health symptoms are. You know what is at stake if there are suicidal thoughts or attempts. You know if mental health is also impacting substance use. If psychiatric medications can provide a better quality of life for your child, and especially if they can save your child’s life, then all of the stigmas in the world do not matter.

    The stigma and confusion surrounding psychiatric medications can be overwhelming. As a parent, it can be difficult to make the decision to give your child medications for mental health diagnoses. Still, by weighing the risks versus the benefits and reading accurate information, you can make an informed decision that will give your child the best quality of life. Sustain Recovery specializes in working with adolescents with substance use disorders and co-occurring mental health issues. The family’s involvement in the healing process is crucial. Our Irvine, California, extended residential program offers structure and teaches adolescents accountability as they learn to find the underlying sources of their problems. We help them gradually transition back home and connect them to people and resources after the program as well. Contact us at (949) 407-9052 today to find out if our program is right for your family. 

The people at Sustain Recovery are truly passionate about their work. They put all their love, energy and spiritual strength in to it. They continue to support me today as I continue my ongoing journey in my personal recovery. I now have over a year of sobriety, my own apartment, a job, true friends and a support network that is always available to me. Although all that stuff is great, what matters most today is that I love myself and have the ability to love others. Thank you to all who had a hand and heart in Sustain Recovery

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