- How to spot childhood anxiety and what to do about it
- Childhood anxiety can be treated, but the challenge is to recognize it
- How does anxiety affect your child’s academics?
- What’s the most effective way to treat children with anxiety?
- All work and no play: Why your kids are anxious
- How can I cope with an anxious child?
- How to discipline a child with anxiety
- How to help your child with school anxiety
- Should my anxious child go on medication?
The decision to medicate a child is never an easy one. There is often a stigma associated with medicating children that can make a parent’s decision even more difficult and frightening. We worry if the benefits of any medication will outweigh the possible side effects or long term effects.
But a good doctor can help you look at the pros and cons of choosing medication, therapies, or a combination of these and other treatments. With a little research and the support of your child’s doctor, you’ll be able to make the best decision for your child.
There are a range of treatments for childhood anxiety
If your child’s anxiety is interfering with daily life, preventing them from making friends and participating in activities, disrupting their sleep, or causing compulsive behavior, then a medical professional may recommend a strategy including therapy and medication to calm your child and help them to learn how to manage their fears. There are also supplements and natural remedies available that may assist an anxious child. These should not be given to your child before consulting with a physician or pediatrician.
There are some medications that can be effective in treating anxiety that are not improved or resolved by therapeutic intervention. These should be considered if your child’s anxiety is severely affecting their ability to live a normal life. If your child suffers from panic attacks, it may be necessary to take medication to treat acute attacks.
There are also natural homeopathic remedies that are known to have a gentle calming effect and assist in sleep. The decision to take any medication (even natural remedies or supplements) should be taken in consultation with your doctor and your child but is usually encouraged only as part of an already existing strategy including parental support and therapy.
I never thought I would medicate my child
Before I had my first child, I was convinced I would not medicate him or any of my other future children. But when I had a child with ADHD who struggled to learn and retain information, I realized that sometimes we need to explore medication, even on a trial basis, to give our children a happier, more meaningful life.
It is a decision I have never regretted. It may not be fun to give a child medication, but it is one of the tools we have at our disposal to help our children live more fully, whether it is for ADHD, depression, anxiety, or something else. If your child is struggling to interact with his or her peers, having trouble sleeping, feeling sick often, or having trouble academically, you may need to consider medication as a part of your child’s treatment so they can function well in their daily routine. Your child’s doctor can help you discover if a trial of anxiety medication would help him or her thrive.
Medication was not our first choice
I will lay my cards on the table. We decided to medicate my 11-year-old. After 3 years of therapists, alternative everything, family counseling, and individual education plans at school, nothing seemed to be having sustained results. We made the decision to medicate and continue with cognitive behavior therapy.
In our case, it worked and he is medication-free with a range of really good strategies to manage his anxiety. Not all children need medication, but any decision you make needs to be in consultation with qualified health care professionals to ensure the decision is made with your child’s best interests at heart.
Talk to your child’s doctor
To answer this question, an extensive conversation with your family’s health provider or pediatrician is essential. Be sure to ask about side effects, about consequences of extended use if your child’s condition dictates that he or she will be on the medicine for a long period of time, and about whether there are alternative treatments that are more natural or holistic in nature. In my opinion as a mom and an educator, taking medication or allowing your child to take medicine that can alter mood, perception and/or thought should be avoided if possible.
But if not, proceed with caution and patience. For example, talk with your healthcare provider about starting your child on the smallest dosage of the anxiety medication. If that dosage does not work, then, under his or her supervision, keep increasing the dosage until it does work.