Psychiatric medications are sometimes used to treat a child’s mental health disorder(s). Medications can be important elements in the successful treatment of psychiatric disorders. They can help control symptoms, make other types of treatment more effective, and may help lower the barriers to learning in order to enhance school and life success.
Medications do not cure psychiatric disorders, but in many cases, they can help a child function more easily and cope more effectively. The length of treatment depends on the individual and the disorder; some children may only need to take medication for a certain amount of time and never need it again, while others may have to take medication for longer periods of time.
It is important to understand that medications may not produce the same effect in everyone — some children may respond better to one medication than another, often due to factors such as age, gender, weight, body chemistry, diet and other treatments. Some may need larger doses versus smaller doses; some may have side effects, while others may have no side effects; some may experience minimal symptom relief as opposed to having complete symptom relief.
Families and teachers often report that a combination of medication and therapy have allowed their child to participate more fully in school activities, and experience improved functioning at home. However, it is our belief that medications should be used only when the anticipated benefits outweigh the risks of any side effects.
It is not unusual for children to require changes in dosages and/or medications over time. For this reason, our psychiatrists monitor the impact of medications a minimum of once per month for each child. Our staff will meet with the child’s psychiatrist up to once per week on an as-needed basis.
As with any intervention, a case-by-case decision-making process is necessary, taking a child’s diagnosis and individual needs into account. The decision to medicate will be made by a medical professional experienced in diagnosing and treating childhood disorders.