New Patient & Family Guide to SGA Medications

Kim on April 24, 2013

The Provincial Mental Health Metabolic Program is excited to tell you about a new resource that is now available!

The Patient & Family Guide to Second-Generation Antipsychotics (SGAs) is designed to help children, youth and their families understand how to monitor and prevent some of the metabolic side effects of SGA medications.

So, what are SGA medications?
SGAs are a type of medication that used to treat certain mental health conditions. For example, they can be used to treat symptoms like aggression, mood swings and problems knowing what is real or imaginary (psychosis). These medications are also called Atypical Antipsychotic medications (or AAPs). Some common SGAs you may have heard of include: quetiapine (Seroquel), risperidone (Risperdal), aripiprazole (Abilify) and olanzapine (Zyprexa).

What are “metabolic side effects”?
All medications have side effects, and side effects are different for each person. SGAs have some common metabolic side effects that can include:

-          Weight Gain (often around the belly)

-          High Insulin / High Blood Sugar

-          High Cholesterol Level

-          High LDL (known as “bad” cholesterol)

-          Low HDL (known as “good” cholesterol)

-          High Triglycerides (a type of fat in the blood)

-          High Blood Pressure

How can this guide help patients and families?
The great thing about this guide is that it helps kids and their families learn about some of the side effects that they might experience, and provides practical tips on how to reduce those side effects by making small, realistic changes to their lifestyle. This includes key tips on healthy eating and physical activity. The guide also explains why it is important for your doctor to monitor for metabolic side effects. Monitoring includes both a physical exam (to measure things like height, weight, waist circumference and blood pressure), and blood tests (to measure the amount of fat and sugar in the blood).

What else is in the guide?
At the end of the guide, you will also find links to some really helpful websites and other resources on healthy living and mental health. You’ll also find a tool to help you remember to write down your monitoring results, and keep track of your progress.

The important thing to remember is that there is a lot that families can do to live well while on SGA medications! For more information about these medications, or about the Provincial Mental Health Metabolic Program, visit:



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BC Children's Hospital

This is an agency of Provincial Health Services Authority, providing provincial tertiary mental health services to the citizens of British Columbia. Programs include: Adult Tertiary Psychiatry, Geriatric Psychiatry, Forensic Psychiatric Services, Child & Adolescent Mental Health, Women’s Reproductive Mental Health, as well as the Provincial Specialized Eating Disorders Program for children and youth located at the BC Children’s Hospital.

Provincial Health Services Authority

Provincial Health Services Authority (PHSA) is one of six health authorities – the other five health authorities serve geographic regions of BC.

Ministry of Health

British Columbia Ministry of Health

RBC Children's Mental Health Project

RBC Children’s Mental Health Project is RBC's cornerstone “health and wellness” pillar; RBC Children’s Mental Heath Project is a multi-year philanthropic commitment to support community-based and hospital programs that reduce stigma, provide early intervention and increase public awareness about children’s mental health issues.

BC Children's Hospital Foundation

Through a wide range of fundraising events and opportunities, The BC Children's Hospital Foundation is united with its donors by a single, simple passion - to improve the health and the lives of the young people who enter BC Children's Hospital every day.