The Effects of Treating Psychiatric Disorders in Children with Medicine
Children as young as toddlers and preschoolers are being prescribed medication for conditions like ADHD, ODD and bipolar disorder. For some parents, the drugs are a godsend. But experts worry that not enough is known about how these medicines affect developing brains and bodies when treating psychiatric disorders in children.
“I Think We Found What She Needed”
What nearly everyone agrees on is that these medicines are not meant to be a quick solution for stressed-out families. If medication is suggested for a preschooler, Dr. Gleason suggests parents find out if it's been tested in young children, and if not, how older kids do with it. Parents should learn about all the side effects of a possible medication before filling a prescription. Most important, parents should remember that they know their child best. Dr. Klein recommends that if parents are uncomfortable with a doctor's judgment, they should seek a second opinion. “And remember, if you start your child on a treatment, don't think of it like jumping off a cliff. You can change course later. You are ultimately the one to decide whether to maintain a child's medication.”
With medical help, Victoria was able to wean Shelby off several powerful medications. She's now on three drugs that seem to be controlling her symptoms without extreme side effects. Though Shelby still has tantrums and doesn't always get the sleep she needs, her outbursts are less frequent and she's more receptive to reason. “I can say ‘Grandma can't join us for lunch today because she has a doctor's appointment,’ and she'll say ‘Oh, okay,’ rather than having a fit. That's huge for us,” says Victoria. She describes a recent trip to Target to pick out Halloween costumes: “Shelby wanted to be a butterfly, and I suggested that her sister be Dorothy. It was eight at night, and yet she was able to calmly explain that there were no butterflies in Oz, so we should pick something else for her sister. I realized that this is who Shelby is. The last two years have been a nightmare, but I think we found what she needed.”