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No. 29 (Updated 2/14/2013)


Psychiatric medications can be an effective part of the treatment for psychiatric disorders of childhood and adolescence. In recent years there have been an increasing number of new and different psychiatric medications used with children and adolescents. Current research studies are underway to establish more clearly which medications are most helpful for specific disorders and presenting problems.

Before recommending any medication, the physician should conduct a comprehensive psychiatric diagnostic evaluation of the child or adolescent.

ADHD Medications: Stimulant and non-stimulant medications may be helpful as part of the treatment for attention deficit hyperactive disorder (ADHD).

Stimulant medications include: Adderall, Adderall XR (long-acting) Dexedrine, Dextrostat and Dexedrine Spansule.

Non-stimulant medications include: Strattera and Intuniv.

Antipsychotic Medications: These medications can be helpful in controlling psychotic symptoms (delusions, hallucinations) or disorganized thinking. These medications may also help muscle twitches or verbal outbursts. A few examples are: Chlorpromazine, Thioridazine, Fluphenazine and Trifluoperazine.

Mood Stabilizers and Anticonvulsant Medications: These medications may be helpful in treating bipolar disorder, severe mood symptoms and mood swings (manic and depressive), aggressive behavior and impulse control disorders. A few examples include: Lithium (lithium carbonate), Valproic Acid and Carbamazepine.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved Risperdal (risperidone) in 2007 for the treatment of schizophrenia in adolescents, ages 13 to 17, and for the short-term treatment of manic or mixed episodes of bipolar I disorder in children and adolescents ages 10 to 17. Before 2007 only lithium was approved for the treatment of bipolar disorder in adolescents ages 12 and up.

For additional information about psychiatric medications see Facts for Families:
#21 Psychiatric Medication for Children and Adolescents: Part I - How Medications Are Used,
#51 Psychiatric Medications for Children and Adolescents: Part III-Questions to Ask.

For additional information see Facts for Families:
#00 Definition of a Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist,
#25 Know Where to Seek Help for Your Child, and
#52 Comprehensive Psychiatric Evaluation.
See also: Your Child (1998 Harper Collins)/Your Adolescent (1999 Harper Collins).

This article was written by Becky Ohde, a staff member.

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