If you’re like many parents, you may view prescription drugs as a last resort to help your child.

No matter what your child struggles with—ADHD, depression, anxiety, muscle twitches (“tics”), sleep problems, etc.—there are typically a number of ways to treat most issues.

Of course, plenty of medications exist for treatment as well. Still, it can be difficult knowing if that’s the route you and your family should take or not. Admittedly, as a parent, it’s often a struggle to make this jump.

Therefore, let’s explore how you would know when it’s time to consider prescription drugs. We’ll help you sort through the information regarding this big medication debate, become familiar with common medications, and understand how your child is prescribed.

How to Know It’s Time to Consider Prescription Drugs

One of the hardest parts about being a parent is getting your timing right. Naturally, this applies to many areas of parenting. Specifically, though, it applies when you’re considering prescription drugs for your child.

These are some of the questions you need to ask yourself:

Has your child been properly diagnosed?

It’s never a bad idea to get more than one opinion. And to get those opinions from professionals (pediatrician, psychiatrist specializing in children/adolescents, etc.).

With that said, it’s risky to try medication when no one has pegged down a diagnosis for your child. Also, advice from a friend or family member isn’t enough reason to seek a prescription. It’s important to keep trying until you get a proper diagnosis.

How long has your child been experiencing a particular problem?

Some disorders rarely show up after a certain age. Many times, issues are situational rather than biological. Examining the time frame and sequence can help you to know if a medicine is appropriate.

Moreover, if you’ve seen no improvement even after trying alternative treatments, it may be time to consider medication for your child.

Are you okay with the risks involved?

According to the Federal Drug Administration (FDA), involved risks must be listed for every medication. While most of these risks aren’t incredibly significant or even frequent, some can be.

Therefore, when considering medication for your child, you also have to accept the risks involved. And it’s a good idea to know the safest drug for your child’s particular struggle.

Common Medications That Are Prescribed

Most conditions are matched with a specific kind of drug. Knowing about those common medications can help you to make the decision to get your child a prescription or not.

The following are a variety of typical prescription medications:


Commonly used to treat ADHD, drugs such as Dexedrine, Adderall, and Ritalin are all considered stimulants. However, this is only a handful of examples. Although stimulants can be effective in treating ADHD, growth suppression is a frequent concern. Also, accidental overdose and high blood pressure make up more serious but less common risks.


Prozac, Cymbalta, and Elavil are antidepressants frequently used to treat numerous conditions—depression, anxiety, OCD, ADHD, panic attacks, phobias, eating disorders, etc. To further categorize antidepressants, they each work with the body in different ways so it’s vital to know how they function. Common risks include skin rashes, insomnia, nausea, muscle pain, and headaches.


Used to treat severe anxiety, aggressive behavior, irritability in Autism, and “tics” or other outbursts seen in Tourette’s disorder, antipsychotics are less frequently prescribed. Some examples include Thorazine, Abilify, and Prolixin. Risks such as obesity, type 2 diabetes, and movement disorder don’t always outweigh the benefits.

Mood Stabilizers

These help to stabilize severe moods swings often seen in bipolar disorder as well as aggressive behavior. Lithobid, Depakote, and Trileptal are all examples of mood stabilizers. Some risks include upset stomach, increased thirst, weight gain, and drowsiness.

As mentioned at the outset, getting a proper diagnosis for your child is the first step to finding the right treatment method. Since they have the authority to prescribe medications, your pediatrician or a psychiatrist specializing in children/adolescents is a great place to start.

It’s often a struggle to make the leap to using prescribed medication for your child. We’re here to support you and navigate through the information with you. Please, reach out to us today if you need help in dealing with your child’s challenges.

Please click here to schedule a phone consultation with one of our therapists.

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