Thursday, November 12, 2009

Eight Questions Parents Should Ask About Psychiatric Medications

By R. Scott Benson, M.D.

As a child and adolescent psychiatrist I talk to many parents about treatment options for their children. Whether it be talk therapy or medication, any recommendation for treatment should be based on a thoughtful evaluation.

If medication is recommended, parents find the following questions help in navigating this process. This dialogue with your child's doctor is a first step in forming a team effort for your child's treatment.

  1. How will the medication help my child? How long before I see improvement?
  2. What are the side effects which commonly occur with this medication?
  3. Is this medication addictive? Can it be abused?
  4. Are there any tests which need to be done before my child begins taking the medication? Will any tests need to be done while my child is taking the medication?
  5. How will my child's response to medication be monitored? How often?
  6. Are there any other medications or foods to avoid?
  7. How long will my child need to take this medication?
  8. What do I do if a problem develops (e.g. if my child becomes ill, doses are missed, or side effects develop)?

1 comment:

  1. Thank you Dr. Benson for sharing your expert advice on this topic. It is my belief that more Mental Health Professionals should present avenues in which parents can investigate treatment options. Also, stress to parents or caregivers the importance of carefully evaluating their options before deciding to administer medication to thier child.
    As a parent I wish I would have investigated my options further and not given in to the pressures I felt I was receiving from his teachers to put him on medication for attention difficulties. I felt pressured due to insinuations, complaints, etc.
    My son is now dealing very well with his attention difficulties via diet, schedule, and cognitive-behavrioral stratagies.


Comments are reviewed before posting, and comments that include profanity or other inappropriate material will not be posted. The comment section is not intended as, and is not, a substitute for professional medical advice. All decisions about clinical care should be made in consultation with your treating physician. If you need help with a mental health issue, please visit our resource page.