Psychiatric medications can be an effective part of the treatment for psychiatric disorders of childhood and adolescence. In recent years there have been an increasing number of new and different psychiatric medications used with children and adolescents. Research studies are underway to establish more clearly which medications are most helpful for specific disorders and presenting problems. Clinical practice and experience, as well as research studies, help physicians determine which medications are most effective for a particular child. Before recommending any medication, the psychiatrist (preferably a child and adolescent psychiatrist) should conduct a comprehensive diagnostic evaluation of the child or adolescent. Parents should be informed about known risks and/or FDA warnings before a child starts any psychiatric medication. When prescribed appropriately by an experienced psychiatrist (preferably a child and adolescent psychiatrist) and taken as directed, medication may reduce or eliminate troubling symptoms and improve daily functioning of children and adolescents with psychiatric disorders. ADHD Medications: Stimulant and non-stimulant medications may be helpful as part of the
treatment for attention deficit hyperactive disorder (ADHD). Examples of stimulants include:
Dextroamphetamine (Dexedrine, Adderal) and Methylphenidate (Ritalin, Metadate, Concerta).
Non-stimulant medications include Atomoxetine (Strattera).
Antidepressant Medications: Antidepressant medications may be helpful in the treatment of
depression, school phobias, panic attacks, and other anxiety disorders, bedwetting, eating
disorders, obsessive-compulsive disorder, personality disorders, posttraumatic stress disorder, and
attention deficit hyperactive disorder. There are several types of antidepressant medications.
Examples of serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SRI's) include: Fluoxetine (Prozac), Sertraline
(Zoloft), Paroxetine (Paxil), Fluvoxamine (Luvox), Venlafaxine (Effexor), Citalopram (Celexa)
and Escitalopram (Lexapro). Examples of atypical antidepressants include: Bupropion
(Wellbutrin), Nefazodone (Serzone), Trazodone (Desyrel), and Mirtazapine (Remeron). Examples
of tricyclic antidepressants (TCA's) include: Amitriptyline (Elavil), Clomipramine (Anafranil),
Imipramine (Tofranil), and Nortriptyline (Pamelor). Examples of monoamine oxidase inhibitors
(MAOI's) include: Phenelzine (Nardil), and Tranylcypromine (Parnate).
Antipsychotic Medications: These medications can be helpful in controlling psychotic
symptoms (delusions, hallucinations) or disorganized thinking. These medications may also help
muscle twitches ("tics") or verbal outbursts as seen in Tourette's Syndrome. They are occasionally
used to treat severe anxiety and may help in reducing very aggressive behavior. Examples of first
antipsychotic medications include: Chlorpromazine (Thorazine), Thioridazine
(Mellaril), Fluphenazine (Prolixin), Trifluoperazine (Stelazine), Thiothixene (Navane), and
Haloperidol (Haldol). Second generation antipsychotic medications (also known as atypical or
novel) include: Clozapine (Clozaril), Risperidone (Risperdal), Quetiapine (Seroquel), Olanzapine
(Zyprexa), Ziprasidone (Geodon) and Aripiprazole (Abilify).
II - TYPES OF MEDICATIONS, “Facts for Families,” No. 29 (7/04)
Mood Stabilizers and Anticonvulsant Medications: These medications may be helpful in
treating bipolar disorder, severe mood symptoms and mood swings (manic and depressive),
aggressive behavior and impulse control disorders. Examples include: Lithium (lithium
carbonate, Eskalith), Valproic Acid (Depakote, Depakene), Carbamazepine (Tegretol),
Gabapentin (Neurontin), Lamotrigine (Lamictil), Topiramate (Topamax), and Oxcarbazepine
Anti-anxiety Medications: These medications may be helpful in the treatment of severe anxiety.
There are several types of anti-anxiety medications: benzodiazepines; antihistamines; and
atypicals. Examples of benzodiazepines include: Alprazolam (Xanax), lorazepam (Ativan),
Diazepam (Valium),and Clonazepam (Klonopin). Examples of antihistamines include:
Diphenhydramine (Benadryl), and Hydroxizine (Vistaril). Examples of atypical anti-anxiety
medications include: Buspirone (BuSpar), and Zolpidem (Ambien).
Sleep Medications: A variety of medications may be used for a short period to help with sleep
problems. Examples include: Trazodone (Desyrel), Zolpidem (Ambien), Zaleplon (Sonata) and
Diphenhydramine (Benadryl).
Miscellaneous Medications: Other medications are also being used to treat a variety of
symptoms. For example: clonidine (Catapres) may be used to treat the severe impulsiveness in
some children with ADHD and guanfacine (Tenex) for “flashbacks” in children with PTSD.
Long-Acting Medications: Many newer medications are taken once a day. These medications
have the designation SR (sustained release), ER or XR (extended release), CR (controlled release)
or LA (long-acting).
For additional information see Facts for Families: #21 Psychiatric Medication for Children and Adolescents: Part I - How Medications Are Used, #51 Psychiatric Medication for Children and Adolescents: Part III - Questions to Ask. See also: Your Child (1998 Harper Collins)/Your Adolescent (1999 Harper Collins).
If you find Facts for Families helpful and would like to make good mental health a reality for all children, please consider donating
to the Campaign for America’s Kids. Your support will help us continue to produce and distribute Facts for Families, as well as
other vital mental health information, free of charge.
You may also mail in your contribution. Please make checks payable to the AACAP and send to Campaign for America’s Kids, P.O.
Box 96106, Washington, DC 20090.
The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP) represents over 7,000 child and adolescent psychiatrists who
are physicians with at least five years of additional training beyond medical school in general (adult) and child and adolescent

Facts for Families
information sheets are developed, owned and distributed by the American Academy of Child and Adolescent
Psychiatry (AACAP) and are supported by a grant from the Klingenstein Third Generation Foundation. Hard copies of Facts sheets
may be reproduced for personal or educational use without written permission, but cannot be included in material presented for sale or
profit. All Facts can be viewed and printed from the AACAP Web site (www.aacap.org). Facts sheets many not be reproduced,
duplicated or posted on any other Internet Web site without written consent from AACAP. Organizations are permitted to create
links to AACAP’s Web site and specific Facts sheets. To purchase complete sets of Facts for Families, please contact the AACAP’s
Development and Communications Assistant at 800.333.7636, ext. 140.
Copyright 2006 by the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry

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