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Teens and Meds!

When it comes to medicating your teen there are all kinds of opinions. It seems these days for every opinion out there exists a “study” to prove that opinion. This brings me to the first point I would like to make about making a decision to take or not take medication. DO NOT DEPEND ON SOCIAL MEDIA AND GOOGLE. I am not saying discount the information completely, just don’t let it be your one and only guide. Discuss things with a psychiatrist when it comes to mental health medication. Even if you have the greatest GP in the world, get another opinion from a psychiatrist. And as humbling as it is to admit, get information from the psychiatrist and not your therapist. Therapists make referrals if they suspect it is necessary, but do not have the training to effectively give advice and concrete guidance about the medication.

Having said that, a good therapist will help you effectively communicate what is going on with the medication and describe symptoms that have led you and your teenager to suspect it is a good idea to be assessed for medication. Do not exaggerate or minimize symptoms. Just because you really think that your teen needs anxiety medication does not mean that you should take it upon yourself to describe symptoms in a way that make it more likely that the doctor gives you the medications. As you report how the medication is working this information is most vital as it helps the doctor decide how to change the medication in a way that is most effective. Often in talking with teens and parents I will hear that they have reported to the doctor that the medication is helping, yet to me they admit that they are unsure. Usually after some exploring what they really mean by “I think it is kind of working” is “it is not working at all”.

If one medication or a combination of medication is working it is important to have a very candid discussion with the therapist and the doctor and have both consult each other. The truth is that all too often I have seen teens having been misdiagnosed, go through tons of different medications, only to find that the medications were not working because there was nothing wrong with the brain chemistry. There is a chance that when no medication has helped it is behavioral, family, or system changes that need changing and not the chemistry of a teens brain. Conversely if certain symptoms like depression, anxiety, and impulsiveness continue to increase in severity and the client is being honest about truly working with a therapist it can be detrimental to not seek out medication. Medication is not necessary for most, but when it is and someone does not get medication they may be suffering for no reason.

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