5 Questions to Ask Your Doctor about Anti Anxiety Medication and Children

Anxiety in Children
The number of children taking anti-anxiety medication is growing larger and larger every year. Many parents are concerned about putting their child on medication, and with good cause. There are plenty of horror stories in the media about the dangers of anti-anxiety medication and their potential effects on the young. So with this epidemic of anxiety in children growing across the world, what are you to do?

The truth of the matter is the decision to place your child on anti-anxiety medication is a serious one, and shouldn’t be taken lightly. While these drugs have helped countless children relax and enjoy their lives more fully, there are a number of important questions you must ask your proscribing physician before taking the plunge.

1. Is there risk of addiction or abuse with this medication?

There is no more important question you can ask your doctor than whether your child could develop a chemical dependency for their anti-anxiety medication. When their child is suffering many parents are simply desperate for a medication that will work. But even the most effective medication is ill-advisable if it can lead to addiction.

2. What are the potential side effects from taking this medicine?

 

Likewise, there is no reason to allow your child to take an anti-anxiety medication whose potential side effects are worse than the condition you’re looking to treat. Would you really give your child anti-anxiety medication that is known to cause depression, psychosis or suicidal tendencies? Would you really give your child anti-anxiety medication that can cause serious hormonal problems? I would venture to say most would not but the issue of anxiety in children sometimes makes that a hard decision.

Anxiety in Children ImageWhile debilitating levels of anxiety represents a serious problem for children, you want to make sure that the cure isn’t potentially worse than the condition.

4. Is the medication proven to work for other children similar to mine?

There are countless factors to take into consideration when evaluating the effectiveness of a medication. Gender, race, social-economic class, diet, activity level, age, etc. All of these variables can affect whether a medication works or not.  Make sure that the medicine your doctor is looking to prescribe for your child has been proven to work effectively for other children who match your own child as closely as possible. While it’s unlikely a doctor is attempting to prescribe ineffective medicine to treat anxiety in children, drug companies are known to occasionally overstate the universal effectiveness of their products.

3. How will my child be monitored to make sure the drug is effective and no side effects are developing?

Anti-anxiety drugs are powerful forms of medication. Even the most benign drugs have the potential for some class of side effects, and even the most effective drugs have a failure rate. You should only place your child on medication when your child will be monitored by a physician who is trained to both gauge the effectiveness of medication and to spot potentially negative side effects. This should be a physician who is trained in monitoring children specifically, and shouldn’t be a general practitioner.

When you ask about a monitoring physician you also need to find out how often your child will be monitored, and how their monitoring schedule aligns with your child’s medication. If this medication is known to produce certain side effects 6 weeks in than your child better be monitored 6 weeks in. If the medication provides gradual improvement in mood every 2 weeks than your child better be monitored every 2 weeks.

Finally, you also want to make sure that this monitoring physician is able to adjust the medication as needed- this includes changing the size of the dosage, or changing the medication itself.

Remember that you can never be too careful when allowing your child to take pharmaceutical drugs. Although anxiety in children is becoming more prevalent these days, sometimes the harm from these drugs is worse than the problem itself.

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