Should I Medicate My Child?

This question is one of the harder one a parent faces: Should I medicate them?  There’s a fear of whether we are simply masking symptoms vs. healing.  There’s also a very real trend in mental health to go with excuses rather than reasons for problems that need to be  conquered.  And, of course, there is the problem of some in the mental health professions who are not as good as others.  This then leaves a dilemma for the parent of what best to do for their child.

Let me offer some quick but important points.  However, as I go through this it is important to note I am not a doctor.  Medication is not my thing.  However, having seen people struggle with this issue I think I can offer advice from a non-medical view.

First, there is a stigma attached to psychiatric medications because they address mental issues that it’s really a short cut to avoiding responsibility.  Let me say that this is bunk.  Psychiatric medication is prescribed for real physiological reasons, they just happen to have mental effects.  I know people with diabetes, and they take insulin on a regular basis.  You can tell sometimes if they need some more just based on the way they are acting.  Using insulin is changing their mood, but it is not an excuse, it is a need.

Second, on a related note, some disorders are almost entirely organic in their nature.  Schizophrenia, bipolar disorder are both disorders that medication is probably between 90 and 99% a neurological issue that needs medication.  Counseling can potentially help some, but they need the medications to function.

Third, even in cases where the issue is not mainly neurological, or is some combination of organic compounded by psychological or social, then medication is still an important tool.  Anti-depressants are the classic example: research shows over and over again that the most effective treatment of depression is to combine anti-depressants with cognitive-behavioral therapy.  These two together do more than either one separately.

Finally, I would say that there is a real problem with over prescribing.  Or prescribing without referral to accompanying pscyhotherapy.  It is important to know and understand what your doctor is doing with your child and why.  You can ask more questions to learn why and the how of what is going to be done to help your child.  A good doctor should be able to answer your questions, just don’t be rude about it.

For more information on medications and some of the specific disorders they may be used to treat, you can check out my book.


One thought on “Should I Medicate My Child?

  1. I would like to add one thing to the issue of medication. Sometimes, in the case of ADHD for example medication can bring a child to a point that behavior modification and be effective. If they are all over the place it is difficult for them to learn to control themselves. With the aid of medication they can learn to control themselves when they are on it and then you can wean them off the medication and they can continue to use the skills they have learned and eventually be able to do it without the aid of the medication.

    Your issues make it difficult for you to control yourself they don’t provide an excuse for bad behavior.


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