What Do I Need to Know Before Medicating My Child?

We live in a world where we are fortunate enough to have modern medicine to help provide our children who have many different medical issues with a quality of life never seen before. Yet, there is still so much more that we don’t know. 

When your child has behavioral or psychiatric problems, medication may be the only option offered to you as a parent. However, sometimes medication is not the only answer, or some risks outweigh the benefits. So, what do you need to know before medicating your child?

Are My Child’s Behaviors Caused By Environment?

When a child of any age has behaviors that interfere with their learning, quality of life, safety, or the safety of others, taking them to a psychologist or psychiatrist for an evaluation can be a good idea. 

These mental health professionals may not always have a blood test to definitively diagnose your child, but they do have a lot of knowledge and experience with making psychiatric diagnoses. These diagnoses do not need to define your child or how they are perceived; they are simply terms for the insurance or hospitals to help access care.

However, what if your child’s behaviors are not from an actual physiological or chemical source? What if they were caused by environmental factors, such as trauma

Being as certain as possible of the source of the behaviors may determine a different course of treatment entirely. For example, a child who has PTSD may receive a different psychiatric diagnosis based on behaviors. However, if the PTSD is addressed through therapy, medication will not be needed.

Taking Time to Get a Second Opinion

When a doctor recommends an intensive procedure for a health problem, we are inclined to get a second opinion. So if your child is being diagnosed with a serious mental health problem and faces a lifetime of medical treatment, shouldn’t you do the same? 

As there are breakthroughs all the time now in what we know about the brain and how we can diagnose mental health conditions, there are more blood tests, brain scans, and other evidence-based diagnostic tools to give more definitive diagnoses. Researching the latest advances to be sure of your child’s diagnosis is recommended. Understanding the mental healthcare system is also incredibly valuable.

What Are Some Other Treatment Options?

There are many different treatment options that people swear by, including diets, acupuncture, various other types of therapies, and more. On a Beyond Risk and Back podcast with Aaron Huey of Fire Mountain, he interviewed Dr. James and Nurse Veronica Seberger about new research and technology in the diagnosis and treatment of brain disorders. 

They discussed the concept of mapping the mind using magnetic frequencies, a result of over ten years of research. This allows them to “see” depression, PTSD, and more, and they are then able to re-train the affected pathways to allow healing at the source. This is just one example of alternative treatments that are beginning to be available. 

What Are the Risks and Benefits of Medication?

As a parent, it is crucial to understand the risks and benefits of medication for your child. Before you blindly put a psychiatric medication into your child’s body, be sure that you are aware of all of the potential side effects and how common they are. 

Sometimes the side effects are worse than the behaviors or mental illness themselves. Rarely does the first medication work, or does the same medication and dosage work long-term; there will always be adjustments. 

Will your doctor act quickly to make a change if it is not working or there are harmful side effects? What happens if your child stops medicating? Have you explored all of the options?

The benefits should always outweigh the risks. If your child never sleeps, cannot maintain weight, is harmful to themselves or others, medication as an intervention can be life-changing. However, if you are simply looking to improve their grades from B’s to A’s, medicating your child is more difficult to justify.

Using Medical Interventions With Other Treatments

Before medicating your child, something else to consider is if there are complementary treatments available that will allow your child to take the lowest dosage possible or perhaps only take medication temporarily. 

Talk therapy is an important treatment modality, or your child may even need residential treatment. A few months now could change their lives long-term. Improving diet helps with overall health. Combined with medication, it can make a significant difference as well. Other treatments include adventure therapy, animal therapy, music or art therapy, meditation and yoga, increasing exercise and activity level, and more. 

Treating mental illness is never as easy as taking a pill. Before you medicate your child, you should consider all of the available options and employ every available treatment to help heal holistically – healing the mind, body, and spirit simultaneously.

What do you need to know before medicating your child? You should be as sure as possible of the diagnosis and source of the behaviors. You should know that there are other options besides medication available. You should know that a pill is not going to solve your child’s problems. Treatment of behavioral and psychiatric problems is not about labels and pills. Treatment is about giving your child the tools they need to succeed. At Fire Mountain Residential Treatment Center, we know that medication is just one option, but recovery takes a lot of hard work. Not just work from the child, but also the family. We support families and parents with endless resources to help them heal and become stronger together. We understand that behaviors come from both environmental and physiological sources, and we offer tools to help both sources. Call us at (303) 443-3343 to find out if we can help your family.

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