Medication can be an effective part of the treatment for several psychiatric disorders of childhood and adolescence. A doctor’s recommendation to use medication often raises many concerns and questions in both the parents and the youngster. The physician who recommends medication should be experienced in treating psychiatric illnesses in children and adolescents. He or she should fully explain the reasons for medication use, what benefits the medication should provide, as well as possible risks and side effects and other treatment alternatives.
Psychiatric medication should not be used alone. The use of medication should be based on a comprehensive psychiatric evaluation and be one part of a comprehensive treatment plan.
Before recommending any medication, the child and adolescent psychiatrist interviews the youngster and makes a thorough diagnostic evaluation. In some cases, the evaluation may include a physical exam, psychological testing, laboratory tests, other medical tests such as an electrocardiogram (EKG) or electroencephalogram (EEG) , and consultation with other medical specialists.
Medications which have beneficial effects may also have side effects, ranging from just annoying to very serious. As each youngster is different and may have individual reactions to medication, close contact with the treating physician is recommended. Do not stop or change a medication without speaking to the doctor. Psychiatric medication should be used as part of a comprehensive plan of treatment, with ongoing medical assessment and, in most cases, individual and/or family psychotherapy. When prescribed appropriately by a psychiatrist (preferably a child and adolescent psychiatrist), and taken as prescribed, medication may reduce or eliminate troubling symptoms and improve the daily functioning of children and adolescents with psychiatric disorders.
Psychiatric medications can be an effective part of the treatment for psychiatric disorders of childhood and adolescence. In recent years there have been an increasing number of new and different psychiatric medications used with children and adolescents. Research studies are underway to establish more clearly which medications are most helpful for specific disorders and presenting problems. Clinical practice and experience, as well as research studies, help physicians determine which medications are most effective for a particular child. Before recommending any medication, the psychiatrist (preferably a child and adolescent psychiatrist) should conduct a comprehensive diagnostic evaluation of the child or adolescent. Parents should be informed about known risks and/or FDA warnings before a child starts any psychiatric medication. When prescribed appropriately by an experienced psychiatrist (preferably a child and adolescent psychiatrist) and taken as directed, medication may reduce or eliminate troubling symptoms and improve daily functioning of children and adolescents with psychiatric disorders.
Mood Stabilizers and Anticonvulsant Medications: These medications may be helpful in treating bipolar disorder, severe mood symptoms and mood swings (manic and depressive), aggressive behavior and impulse control disorders. Examples include: Lithium (lithium carbonate, Eskalith), Valproic Acid (Depakote, Depakene), Carbamazepine (Tegretol), Gabapentin (Neurontin), Lamotrigine (Lamictil), Topiramate (Topamax), and Oxcarbazepine (Trileptal).
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