The Importance of Addressing Medication Side Effects with Youth and Young Adults

This two-page infographic, developed by the Program to Achieve Wellness, is a resource intended for service providers who prescribe or manage medication for youth and young adults. Side effects of medications are a reality for many individuals, especially for medications prescribed to treat serious mental illness. The most common side effect of these types of medications is weight gain. Children and young adults who are prescribed neuroleptics are at most risk of gaining weight on these medications, which can impact their physical and mental health. Up to one-third of children and youth who started a neuroleptic medication became overweight or obese in as few as 11 weeks. If medication is prescribed to manage a serious mental illness, healthcare providers should discuss the side effects of the medication with the individual. 

If a patient is experiencing weight gain as a side effect of their prescribed medication, care providers are encouraged to provide interventions to enhance the wellness of their patients. Interventions to address weight gain can include switching the prescription to a weight-neutral medication and encouraging healthy lifestyle changes that can assist the patient in weight management. Encouraging family involvement, as well as peer support groups, can assist youth and young adults with serious mental illness manage their symptoms, and address weight gain. 

This resource was first shared in 2018. 

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