Considering ADHD medication for your child? Ask your pediatrician the right questions.
Medication can be an important part of treatment for some psychiatric disorders in children and adolescents. In many cases, the right medication at the right dosage, can be extremely effective in managing symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
But the decision to use medication as part of your child’s treatment plan can be daunting. If you are considering medication for your child, be sure to ask your pediatrician the following questions:
- What is the name of the medication? Is it known by other names? Is a generic equivalent available?
- How is the medication administered? Is it produced in alternative forms, such as liquid suspension, tablet, or a patch?
- Has this medication been tested with children? Or is it being used “off label”? (ie. It has been tested with adults but not with children, or it has been shown to be effective in treating a similar, but not the same, condition.)
- Is this medication addictive? Can it be abused?
- How long will it take before we see improvement?
- What are the common side effects? Will it affect my child’s appetite or sleep patterns? What are some of the less common side effects?
- What do we do if a problem develops? For example, what if my child becomes ill, he misses doses, or we see signs of side effects?
- Under what conditions should we immediately stop use? Can this medication be stopped “cold turkey” or does it need to be tapered over a period of time?
- What is the recommended dosage? How often will the medication be taken and at what time of day?
- Do any tests need to be done before starting the medication?
- How long will my child need the medication? What are the risks of long-term use?
- Are there any other medications or foods that my child should avoid while taking the medication? Should the medication be taken on an empty or full stomach?
- Should my child stop participating in any particular activity while taking the medication?
- What is the cost of the medication (and its generic, if available)? Does my health insurance cover it? Is financial assistance is available?
- Are there other medications for this condition? Why do you recommend this one over the others?
Note: If you have any specific questions about any medical matter you should consult your doctor or other professional healthcare provider. Your child’s pediatrician can assist you with the process of diagnosing and treating ADHD.