Effects of New Psychiatric Medication on Self-Injury

May 4, 2015 Kalie Gipson

Starting new psychiatric medication can affect self-injurious behavior. Starting when I was in my early teens, I was given many different combinations of medications to take for my mental illness. The medication side effects ranged from hives to hallucinations. The worst part about taking a different pill every couple of months was the uncertainty of how it was going to affect my mood. Most of the medications simply failed to make me better, but a few had severe adverse effects on my mood and overall health that were impossible to ignore. As a self-harmer, handling the stress and mood changes that comes along with new medications is vital to recovery. In short, you need to know the effects that new psychiatric medication may have on your self-harming.

Side Effects of Psychiatric Medication and the Desire to Self-Harm

Now I am back in that familiar place. My psychiatrist is shaking up my medicine, and the guessing games are being played once again.

The medication we are prescribed can make us go from simply depressed to suicidal. Psychiatric medication can make us considerably irritable and angry, increase our appetite and cause sexual dysfunction (these among a plethora of other physical and mental side effects). I have experienced many of these side effects, and when I was younger I didn't know how to handle them. My self-harm got worse because of medication side effects.

Prevention of Self-Injury with New Psychiatric Medication

Part of the effects of new psychiatric medication may be self-injury in those that tend to self-harm. Here's how to prevent self-injury when starting medication.This is why it's best to have a plan for preventative care when you are experimenting with new psychiatric medications to prevent its effect on self-injury. Feeling out of control and out of touch with your own emotions can lead to a desire to self-harm. This has the illusory effect of gaining a grip on your spinning moods or adverse side effects. One way to get a head start on new pills is to discuss with your doctor what the common side effects are, and what others have reported feeling. It's always a good idea to get a general picture of what you could possibly be dealing with.

Staying Proactive Through Medication Changes to Avoid Self-Injury Relapse

If it seems like the effects of new psychiatric medication on self-injury might be harmful, a good thing to do is track your moods as efficiently and accurately as possible. Are they swinging? Are you finding yourself extremely irritable (or more irritable than usual)? Is your depression going from bad to worse? These are all stressors that can lead to an increased amount, or a relapse, of self-injury. To combat these feelings, keep a list handy of safe alternatives to self-harm. Always keep in mind different activities you can do to channel any negative effects of the new psychiatric medication into something positive so you can keep your self-injury under control or prevent a possible relapse.

You Don't Have to Self-Injure on New Psychiatric Medication

It's easy to get caught up in the toil of new medications. What's not easy is keeping your composure when it comes to your self-care. Experimenting with new medications is a part of mental illness treatment, but we can still help ourselves when we start to feel powerless through it all. And just remember that if you do slip up, it doesn't diminish your worth or take away from all the work you've done. Brush yourself off and continue to be proactive.

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APA Reference
Gipson, K. (2015, May 4). Effects of New Psychiatric Medication on Self-Injury, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, June 15 from

Author: Kalie Gipson

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