There are several reasons an individual may consider stopping their medication. Individuals may not feel comfortable with the side effects they are experiencing, they may not be able to afford the cost of medication, or they be interested in trying other ways to cope. If you are considering going off your medication, we have listed below important steps to take and conversations to have before making your decision.
Consider the following if deciding to stop your medication:
- Have a discussion with primary caregivers in your personal support system as well as a discussion with your psychiatrist.
- Create a pros and cons list. What are the advantages and disadvantages of taking and not taking medication? Ensure they align with your goals.
- Understand the symptoms of deterioration and your triggers.
- Track your symptoms and side effects for one month, at minimum.
- Increase your cognitive and behavioural coping strategies in order to manage any symptoms that arise.
- Understand what the medication is being used or. Ask questions, such as:
- What symptoms are they targeting?
- Are the symptoms positive or negative?
- What are the side effects?
- How long will it take for the medication to be effective if I choose to resume my medication?
- Identify under what conditions you will need to resume taking medication.
- Identify your early warning signs for relapse. Develop a schedule to check on your early warning signs daily.
- Develop a crisis plan that you can instate if things are not going well.
- View going off your medication as an experiment. Set a timeframe and reassess whether stopping your medication is having the intended or unintended effect.