There is a common thread that unites many parents of teens today affected with mental illness. This thread is the unwillingness or refusal by teens to take medication for their mental impairment.
It is frustrating, scary and overwhelming. How can you help your teen when all they do is battle you? You beg, plead, bribe, or threaten in every way for them to take their medicine. None of it works.
So what does work? There is only one place to get that answer – your teen.
Now you may think the only response you are going to get from your teen is the word, “No!” After all, that is a common word you have been confronted with daily. Just because they give a negative answer does not mean that teens want to live in a life of mental confusion. They truly want what every other teen has – normalcy or free of illness.
The biggest drawback for mentally challenged teens are the side effects from medications. Teens often express feelings of being lethargic, not themselves, worse than before, and even embarrassed that they have to take medication in the first place.
The other complication is that mental illness is tiring in itself. It drains your teen emotionally, mentally, and physically because the brain is trying harder to undo the symptoms of mental illness that is happening inside. They are constantly at war with their thoughts that race in their mind which leaves them exhausted, depressed, acting out, unusual behaviors, and more.
In their eyes, the future is bleak for them or they try other sources such as drugs and alcohol to numb what they are going through inside their mind.
As a parent, the last thing we need is for our teen to end up with an addiction on top of a mental illness. So, how are we to win this fight?
Years ago, those in the psychiatric field often gave out a one size fits all medication for mental illness. Much has changed since then and doctors who treat mental illness today have learned a lot through trials and research.
Here are some lessons they have learned and what you and your teen can do:
- Each medication works differently on each individual. What works for one may not work for another. It takes time to see any difference and keeping a journal of what helps and what does not is productive in figuring out the right type of meds your teen can tolerate or do well on.
- Some homeopathic treatment can help along with therapy. But it has to be discussed with those who prescribe prescriptions.
- Staying away from certain foods that can aggravate mental illness. Healthy choices have always shown great success for those who have suffered from disorders and illnesses. Ask for references by your mental health advocate for a nutritionist.
- Medicine needs to be measured out by the weight of the teen and built up from a very small dosage to a higher one IF and when needed. Communication is the key to make sure your teen and the doctor prescribing the medication are working closely together and to monitor any changes along the way.
- Doctors are more open to collaborate on what teens are comfortable to use and more willing to continue on.
- The stigmatism of being on medication is becoming less due to the amount of young people who take medications for various medical reasons. Taking medication for mental illness is not a death sentence. It is to give normalcy in one’s life.
- When a teen’s body matures as they age, often times a medication change is necessary.
- Doctors and patients must have a good rapport with each other in order for the patient to be compliant with taking the medication. If your child does not like the doctor, maybe it is time to look for a new one.
- The more the teen is involved in the decision making of the medication/therapy, the more apt they are in wanting the treatment to continue. Ask your teen to participate and even take the lead to figure out what medication will work best.
Finally, the best medicine I have found is prayer mixed in with the wisdom of the medical field professionals. Praying for God to put upon your teen a desire to get better is always a benefit to your child. We may not have control over what our teen does or how they will respond, but God knows their fears, worries, their capabilities, and their heart. Your job as a parent is to support your teen and encourage them in their journey to not give up as they find the best solution to establish a healthy mental attitude of healing.
When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought me joy. Psalm 94:19
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6-7)
Bible Quotes take from NIV Copyright 2011