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Medication is often part of a treatment plan recommended for a child or adolescent with a psychiatric problem. With medication, symptoms can be reduced or eliminated, substantially improving the life of the child. You can view our Guide to Psychiatric Medications for Children and Adolescents for information on specific medications. Medication has been proven effective in the treatment of many disorders, including:

  • anxiety
  • attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
  • obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
  • depression
  • eating disorders
  • bipolar disorder
  • psychosis
  • autism
  • Asperger syndrome
  • other problems, including severe aggression, sleep problems, and bedwetting

When medication is prescribed for their child, parents should make sure they are aware of the facts about the medication. The prescribing physician should explain the reasons for the prescription and how it will affect the child's problem. Parents should ask questions to help them understand the medication's purpose and be sure that it is administered properly. The following questions can be helpful:

  • What are the brand and generic names of the medication?
  • Why is the medication prescribed?
  • Has the medication been helpful with other children with similar difficulties?
  • How does the medication work?
  • How soon will results be seen?
  • What are the specifics of administration ? - How and how often to take it, dosage, what to do about missed doses
  • What are the side effects, if any?
  • Is the medication potentially addictive?
  • Are any lab or blood tests required before or during the medication regimen?
  • Does the medication interact with other medications?
  • Should I inform the school nurse of the medication?
  • How long will my child need to take this medication?
  • How will the decision to stop be made?
  • How often will the child's response to the medication be monitored and by whom?

As with any type of treatment, medication therapy should be seen as a partnership between you and your child's doctor. By asking questions and staying informed, parents play a vital role in the process.