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Using Medications

Adolescent brains change significantly between childhood and adulthood because of normal hormonal, brain chemical and other body and brain developmental processes. If mental illnesses have a childhood onset, the symptoms and effect of medications and treatment may be different during and after puberty.
Adolescents may want to be more in charge of their treatment, but both adolescents and their parents 
will want to ask questions and evaluate with the doctor what changes can be expected with the medications, and the benefits and the risks of changing medications or dosages. Adolescents and parents need to learn everything they can about the medications and side effects, including which side effects are tolerable and which ones are threatening.

Whether or not medications are prescribed, adolescents and parents need to learn about, understand and support the goals of a particular treatment.  Informed choice is very important, and the earlier an adolescent becomes an educated partner in the choices, the better future outcomes will be.

There are several major categories of psychotropic medications: stimulants, antidepressants, anti-anxiety agents, anti-psychotics, and mood stabilizers. Dosages for medications approved by the FDA for children depend on body weight and age. For more information, check the National Institute of Mental Health home page.