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Solution: When to Medicate

by Editorial Team | February 22nd, 2013 | Parenting Predicament

drug free schoolMy child’s school has suggested medication for behavior problems, but I’m not sure. I know it’s common to medicate children for this but I also hear it’s often done when it’s not necessary. How do we know it is necessary?

The National Institute of Mental Health says, “When the benefits of treatment outweigh the risks” — that is, when your child would “suffer serious or dangerous consequences” without medication. The frustrating part is that often the risks are hard to assess. Children’s developing brains handle medications differently from adults’, and not enough research has been done on this yet. However, NIMH reminds parents that children’s brains can also be harmed by serious mental problems that go untreated. It’s a decision you need to give a lot of thought too — and you need to get the most current information from your doctor and other professionals who know your child.

As a commenter said here, medication should not be the only treatment a child gets. Look into family therapy, behavior management, or other mental health treaments. These often (though not always) work without medication.

NIMH recommends you work with your child’s school to arrange a professional evaluation. (Your state’s Parent Training and Information Center may help with this.) You’ll most likely find that your choices seems clearer when this has been done.

You can also download a free copy of Treatment of Children with Mental Illness here.

The answers given on this site are for information purposes only and not intended to replace professional consultation.

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