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
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.
of Commonly Prescribed Medications