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Why should I (or my child) take medication?

Medication is considered to be an effective form of treatment. Medication provides an immediate response, however it is most often used in conjunction with other therapies, such as psychotherapy and behavior modification. Because many of these disorders are due to chemical changes or imbalances within the brain or nervous system, the use of medication can, to a certain extent, correct these chemical imbalances and allow the patient to be more receptive to the other therapies as well.

Why did the doctor give me (or my child) more than one medication?

There are a number of reasons why more than one medication can be prescribed. Many of the disorders under discussion occur together. This is referred to as co-morbidity. Many times the doctor will supply a diagnosis as it applies to the main, and most apparent symptoms, but secondary symptoms of co-existing disorders can and do present themselves at the time of diagnosis. An example of co-morbidity is a child with a main diagnosis of Attention Deficit Disorder along with some of the symptoms of Depression.
Another reason for prescribing more than one medication is that there may be times that one medication does not do as good a job as it could alone, and it needs another agent to make it work more effectively. And sometimes, a medication is given to counteract the side-effects of another medication. Doctors look for the most optimum effects with the least amount of medication to achieve the best result.

What are Medical Trials?

A medical trial is "a systematic test of a medication in a patient that usually takes one to three months" (Wilens, p. 102). In order to find this most effective medication in terms of dosage and effect, doctors will introduce the meds slowly and study their effects over a course of time. In addition, some of these medications have to reach a certain level of dosage within the blood stream, and this takes days to sometimes weeks to occur.
During the initial course of a trial, the patient is monitored very closely in terms of the effectiveness of the medication. During this time, the medication dosages or even the medication itself (within the same class of medications) may be changed. If two full medication trials deem to be unsuccessful, the doctor may re-evaluate his or her initial diagnosis and new trials with new medications may begin. It is a long, and some say, one of the most difficult processes, but rewarding in the end when real results can be felt and seen.
As a parent, or a partner of someone undergoing a medication trial, you are a very important piece of the trial assessment. Doctors may ask the patient to keep a medication diary or log, and also ask the parent or partner of the patient to assist or create one also. A medication diary is simply a list of observations, by both the caregiver and the patient, of what the medication is, what the dosage is, what time the dosage is given, how the patient is feeling at the time of the dosage, how the patient feels after the dosage, notation of side-effects, etc. This information is a great help in the doctor's assessment of how well the medication is doing its job. In addition, if possible, schools and teachers can cooperate and add additional information by their observations.

List of Commonly Prescribed Medications




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