When should you consider medication for your child’s anxiety?
It is no surprise that there could be significant reluctance for parents to use medication to treat their child's anxiety. There are legitimate concerns such as side effects that any parent must consider. So when should a parent set aside those reservations and consider medication?(I am not a physician and ultimately this is something a parent and a physician must decide.) We are often asked if anxiety can be treated without medication. Generally speaking the answer is yes. Nevertheless, there are some circumstances that may warrant medical intervention and I would recommend a conversation with a physician. Consider the following:
- If your child has significant anxiety symptoms they should have a complete physical in order to rule out organic or biological factors.
- Are the symptoms so intense that you or your child’s life routine are profoundly impaired? Is your child unable to attend school? Are they withdrawing socially? Is the fear of the disorder so strong that the distress is nearly constant?
- Is sleep seriously impacted? Is your child having trouble falling asleep? Are they sleeping less than 8 hours routinely? Sleep deprivation will only make it worse.
- Did the anxiety symptoms happen very suddenly following an illness? In particular, OCD can be a result of an infection.
- Is the anxiety leading to depression? Has your child made any comments about not wanting to live?
- Are any of the symptoms causing physical harm?
If these apply I would recommend at least a medical consult. This is not a complete list and we welcome comments from our readers as well. We interviewed a NeuroPsychiatrist, Dr. James Lee, about medical issues/medications and include that interview as part of the Turnaround Program. However, it is available as a separate purchase if you would like an in-depth discussion of this issue.