may be an important part of treatment for some psychiatric
disorders in children and adolescents. Psychiatric medication
should only be used as one part of a comprehensive treatment
plan. Ongoing evaluation and monitoring by a physician is
essential. Parents should be provided with complete information
when psychiatric medication is recommended as part of their
child's treatment plan. Children and adolescents should be
included in the discussion about medications, using words
they understand. By asking the following questions, children,
adolescents, and their parents will gain a better understanding
of psychiatric medications:
is the name of the medication? Is it known by other names?
is known about its helpfulness with other children who have
a similar condition to my child?
will the medication help my child? How long before I see
improvement? When will it work?
are the side effects which commonly occur with this medication?
are the rare or serious side effects, if any, which can
this medication addictive? Can it be abused?
is the recommended dosage? How often will the medication
there any laboratory tests (e.g. heart tests, blood test,
etc.) 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?
a child and adolescent psychiatrist be monitoring my child's
response to medication and make dosage changes if necessary?
How often will progress be checked and by whom?
there any other medications or foods which my child should
avoid while taking the medication?
there any activities that my child should avoid while taking
the medication? Are any precautions recommended for other
long will my child need to take this medication? How will
the decision be made to stop this medication?
do I do if a problem develops (e.g. if my child becomes
ill, doses are missed, or side effects develop)?
is the cost of the medication (generic vs. brand name)?
my child's school nurse need to be informed about this medication?
with psychiatric medications is a serious matter for parents,
children and adolescents. Parents should ask these questions
before their child or adolescent starts taking psychiatric
medications. Parents and children/adolescents need to be fully
informed about medications. If, after asking these questions,
parents still have serious questions or doubts about medication
treatment, they should feel free to ask for a second opinion
by a child and adolescent psychiatrist. Parents seeking a
referral for any reason to a local child and adolescent psychiatrist
may contact the AACAP, 3615 Wisconsin Avenue, NW, Washington,
D.C. 20016, (202) 966-7300.
#51 Updated 11/95
Family Resources wishes to thank the (AACAP) for giving
us permission to use this article.
American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP)
represents over 6,900 child and adolescent psychiatrists
who are physicians with at least five years of additional
training beyond medical school in general (adult) and child
and adolescent psychiatry.
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Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP).
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