mother giving daughter prescribed psychiatric medication

What Parents Should Know About Children and Psychiatric Medication

When a child has a mental or behavioral disorder, it can take a toll on the whole family. As a parent, you may have to make significant decisions regarding your child’s care plan, which can leave you feeling overwhelmed and stressed. Making things worse is the fact that there is a lot of misinformation on the internet regarding children with these disorders and their treatment options.

When providers recommend psychiatric medications for children, parents understandably have many questions and concerns. At Georgia Behavioral Health Providers, we believe that families can only make the best decisions for their care when they have all the facts. Furthermore, we know that all families are unique and may choose different paths for care. That’s why we provide many types of services for people in need.

Below are answers to some of the questions that parents most often ask when considering psychiatric medication for their children. We hope it empowers you to make the best possible decision for your family.

Is There An Overmedication Crisis in Children?

There’s a belief among some parents that children today are over-medicated or take medication needlessly. While this idea is persistent, it’s untrue. In fact, research shows that most children with psychiatric conditions do not get any kind of treatment–medication or otherwise.

When children are diagnosed and treated with psychiatric medications, they often get treatment from general pediatricians or family doctors. Certainly, these doctors are excellent caregivers and have the best interest of the child in mind. However, a psychiatrist is best suited to prescribe these medications. When children receive specialized care for mental health issues, they are more likely to get the lowest effective dose.

Can We Just Make Lifestyle Changes Instead?

Certain lifestyle changes can reduce symptoms of mental and behavioral disorders in children. However, these changes are often not enough to meet the child’s treatment goals. For example, a teenager with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) may reduce the severity of their symptoms by decreasing caffeine intake and sugar. However, this is not a substitution for medication.

Instead, the teen may be better served by taking medication and making lifestyle changes at the same time. Your child’s provider can give you ideas on what kinds of lifestyle changes could help your child. These modifications can make it easier for your child to feel better on a lower dose of medication.

Will My Child Be Safe on This Medication?

All medications have potential side effects, including psychiatric medicines. If your child’s psychiatrist or psychiatric advanced nurse practitioner prescribes a psychiatric medication, it’s because they believe the risk of a possible side effect is lower than the risk of going without medicine.

Be sure to talk to the prescribing provider and pharmacist about any potential side effects. Medication management appointments can help your family manage side effects. During these appointments, the provider can modify prescriptions or change your child’s medications as necessary to avoid side effects.

Will This Make My Child Permanently Dependant on Medication?

Whether or not your child will need psychiatric medication throughout life will depend largely on their condition and whether it continues into adulthood. Many children outgrow disorders like ADHD and do not need medication as adults. However, children and teens with chronic disorders may always need medication.

In these cases, the continued need for medication is not caused by the early treatment. Instead, it’s due to the nature of the disorder itself.

Ultimately, the decision on whether or not to give your child medication is up to you, and LifeStance Health will be here to help you either way. If you have any questions and children and psychiatric medication, be sure to contact us.

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