Over the years, parents have come into my practice questioning whether-or-not medication is necessary, and safe, for their child. They listen to the radio, see an expert on television, or find a website or blog online, and all of a sudden they are not sure what to believe. Parents have become frightened about medicating their child. Here are some comments that I received from parents worried about medication:

“These drugs are harmful – we don’t even know how they work.”
“There is nothing really wrong with my child; it’s just a bit of extreme behavior, certainly not a disorder.”
“My neighbor’s daughter died from that medication.”
“I heard these medications are addictive.”
“I just want to use natural remedies.”
“I don’t want my son to be a zombie all day.”
“I’m afraid the side effects will be worse than the disorder.”

 From years of practice and education, I have become familiar with the arguments about the use, and possible misuse, of psychotropic medication for young people. While good healthy debate helps us all, this subject has also attracted many who distort, exaggerate, and even make up stories.

Having been interviewed myself on many radio and television programs to discuss this medication and more, I have seen the dangers of relying on sound-bite newscasts or talk show drama when it comes to terribly important topics. I have learned that many of the experts have had little or no experience working in the trenches with children. The problem is that the “experts” on television and radio, or who have a blog, are assumed to be knowledgeable.

One interview I did was for a national talk show viewed by millions of parents. I was talking about the medication used for ADHD with another doctor who had written a popular book against the use of any medication for this disorder. During a commercial break, I asked the author how he had become so convinced that medications are dangerous, as I had never seen many of the problems he was describing. He told me that he was not a child psychiatrist, but a family medicine practitioner for adults and he had never even treated a child or teenager with ADHD. He said he had written his book based on a literature search he had done on his computer. His book was doing well, and the audience warmed to his comments, as he tapped into the great anxieties that most people have about giving their children medication. I was concerned that parents listening to him might withdraw life-saving, school-saving, family-saving, abuse-saving medication treatments because of his biased arguments – arguments not based on facts or experience.

As a licensed psychiatrist specializing in children and adolescents, I have spent over thirty years treating children in the trenches. I have seen children in nearly all settings, including hospitals, outpatient public clinics, residences, foster agencies, and in private practice. I have evaluated, treated and prescribed medication for thousands of children and teenagers and have followed the progress of many of them over the course of many years. That is why I wrote, “When Kids Need Meds; Everything a Parent Needs to Know about Psychiatric Medication and Youngsters.” While I certainly don’t believe that all children with mental disorders need medication, I strongly feel that some do. To withhold these important therapeutic agents can be harmful and, in some cases, tragic. I have a deep sympathy for the children who suffer from mental problems and equal compassion for their parents. I respect the need for sound information, informed reassurance, and ongoing guidance during the time a child is being treated.


Information contained in this blog is intended for educational purposes only. It is not intended as medical or psychiatric advice for individual conditions or treatment and does not substitute for a medical or psychiatric examination. A psychiatrist must make a determination about any treatment or prescription. Dr. Paul does not assume any responsibility or risk for the use of any information contained within this blog.