When kids are under the care of a psychiatrist for a mental health concern, they might be taking medications to regulate their moods or minimize their anxiety. Medications like antidepressants and mood stabilizers can have side effects to consider before using them to help kids. When our kids take medicines that appear helpful, we might be reluctant to make any changes to their regime. Yet, our kids might express a desire to stop taking their medications. What can we do when kids stop taking psychotropic medication?
Putting Our Fears Aside
When our kids want to make changes to their care needs, especially when they are working, we might be reluctant to hear them out. We might think about who our kids were before beginning medications. Perhaps, they were out-of-control, depressed, moody, irritable, or otherwise challenging to live with. Our concerns are valid, as many people might want to stop taking medications once they feel better, believing that they are “cured” only to regress without the aid of medications.
However, as parents, we might need to put our fears aside for a moment to listen to our kids. We might want to just say “no” to our child’s desire to change their treatment, hoping that our “no” will have enough weight on its own. After all, we are the parents—shouldn’t our word be law within our own homes? For the moment, we need to put those emotions aside and listen to our child’s concerns and needs.
What is Their Experience with Medications?
We can listen to our kids to figure out what is going on from their perspective. Many taking psychotropic medications have concerns about the long-term effects of these medications. Our kids might have valid concerns, and if we aren’t hearing them, they might stop taking medications without our knowledge. The consequences of ending some medications without medical supervision can be severe depending upon the medication, dose, and how long the person has been taking these medications. To prevent our kids from doing something drastic without our knowledge, we need to hear them out, validate their experience, and work on solutions.
Reasons Kids Might Want to Stop Medications
Some common side effects of medications can be weight gain, tremors, dry mouth, constipation, and emotional numbing. One of the most heard concerns from people taking psychiatric medications is that they “just don’t feel like themselves.” By remaining open-minded to hear our kids out without rushing to judgment or controlling their behaviors, we can understand the issue and work towards solutions. We can ask questions like:
- What side effects have you experienced on these medications?
- How do the medications make you feel?
- Do you feel that the medications are working or not?
- Would you like to take a break from medications or stop them completely?
- Do you feel like making a change in dosage or try different medications?
Above all, just listen to their concerns and potential fears. While we might fear the worst if our kids stop taking medications, their concerns might lead them to quit medications without our knowledge. When kids are taking medications, remember to frequently check in with them about how they feel about these changes or any side effects that might occur.
Setting Guidelines for Behavioral Changes
While medications are helpful to some people, others might not like how they feel while on medication. They might not comply with their medications and, if we do not hear their concerns, we won’t be able to put in alternative solutions to help them. We should keep the bigger picture in mind. Our end goal is to help our children become the best version of themselves, and they can achieve wellness through many alternative paths.
By partnering with our children in their treatment and validating their needs, we can foster a healthier relationship toward recovery. When kids feel that their treatment is forced upon them “or else,” they might rebel and give up on recovery entirely. While we can set clear guidelines for behavioral changes, without our child being part of the process, they might only comply to get us off our backs and discontinue any healthy coping strategies once they are no longer living under our roofs.
When our kids want to make any changes to their treatment, whether discontinuing or changing medications or ending therapies or other approaches, we can continue to have the same expectations within our homes. Remember to keep a backup plan for intervention if behaviors begin to resurface without medications or due to changes. By writing these expectations and plans out with our kids, we can have everything spelled out ahead of time rather than reacting in the moment when things become unmanageable.
When kids want to make changes to their treatment plan, we might be hesitant or reluctant to listen to them. We might think back on some of their past behaviors, remembering how things were before interventions took place. Our fears of having our kids go back to where they were before treatment can surface, and we might just want to say “no” to any changes to what is working. However, kids might have valid concerns over taking psychiatric medications as part of their treatment. We can best support our kids by hearing their concerns and working toward solutions. Always keep the bigger picture in mind—just because we are changing the pathway, this doesn’t mean we change the destination. If your child struggles with problematic behaviors, like addiction, cutting, promiscuity, or other issues, Fire Mountain Residential Treatment Center is here for both kids and parents. Call us today at (303) 443-3343. We’re here to make your family’s fire burn brightest.