12 Mar To Medicate or Not to Medicate
When your child struggles with ADHD, Anxiety, Depression, or another mental health issue, it is natural to question, “What’s next?” It is not a secret that advancements in medication have provided us with a pill to treat just about anything, including the symptoms of mental illness. However, it is not always an easy to decide if starting a medication regimen will be right for your child. There are many pros and cons to medicating your child, but ultimately the decision is yours alone to make. Although medications do not provide a magical fix, they can significantly improve your child’s overall wellbeing and can be a helpful addition to your child’s treatment plan.
Medication in Conjunction with Therapy
Getting your child engaged in therapy is a great first step. A therapist can work with your child to build up the various coping strategies and other skills that they may be struggling to access. For some children, ongoing therapy can be enough to reduce their anxiety, ADHD symptoms, and depression; however, this is not always the case. As a therapist, we are regularly assessing how well your child is able to utilize the skills being taught in sessions. Your child’s therapist can provide insight regarding the appropriateness for implementing a psychotropic medications into your child’s treatment planning. Many clients experience an increase in suffering when they are not able to access the skills they are being taught in therapy. Adding in an appropriate medication regimen can be helpful in reducing this suffering, and can help decrease their symptoms so that they can fully engage in outpatient therapies.
Medication is not always long-term
Many parents worry that their child will have to take their medications for the rest of their lives. Thankfully, this is not always the case. Psychotropic medications, like those prescribed for ADHD, Anxiety, or Depression can be taken short-term (e.g. for stabilization). As above mentioned, medications can be helpful in reducing symptoms so that children can develop and begin to use cognitive or behavioral interventions. Working in collaboration with your child’s therapist, doctor(s), and teachers can help you to determine when may be an appropriate time to decrease, or eliminate, medications.
Medication can assist with socialization
One of the benefits of adding a medication regimen to your child’s current treatment plan is that it can greatly improve their ability to engage in day-to-day tasks. Many parents are alerted to the severity of their child’s symptoms once their child begins school. Teachers may report that your child struggles with attention, focus, behavioral issues, and socialization. When symptoms start to impact your child in a negative way, in multiple areas of their lives, it may be time to consider medication. Medication, along with behavioral modification, is the recommended strategy for ADHD when the disorder interferes with your child’s ability to function. Medications can significantly improve your child’s ability to focus and impulse control, in turn improving their interactions with peers.
Deciding to start your child on medication to treat their mental health issue can be a very scary and difficult decision. Parent’s are tasked with weighing the pros and cons, and often worry about what this will mean for their child. However, you are not alone in this process. Your child’s therapist can help you with assessing your child’s current level of functioning, and point you to an appropriate professional that can provide more insight into what medications may benefit your child.
Medication alone is not always enough. Finding a therapist that can implement behavioral or cognitive techniques can help your child gain the skills to manage their symptoms, and improve their overall well being. If you’d like to speak with a therapist at North Shore Family Services, please contact us to schedule.
Amber is a licensed clinical social worker who earned her Master of Social Work degree from The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She also holds a Bachelor’s of Arts degree in Applied Psychology from the University of Illinois at Chicago. Amber has six years of experience working with children, teens, young adults and their families in a variety of settings, including residential, juvenile probation and outpatient therapy.