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Should young children take anti-depressents? Dr. Ramey answers your questions!

Question

My physician prescribed anti-depressant medication for my eleven-year-old. The medicine seems to be helping but I’m worried about getting my child dependent on these drugs. She says she can’t wait to take the medicine to make her feel better. How long do kids usually stay on medication?

Answer

Your doctor made a mistake in not referring you to mental health counseling in addition to prescribing medication. Speak with your physician about your concerns, and ask for a referral to a therapist. Medication can be very helpful in treating childhood depression, but a comprehensive treatment plan has as its goal getting kids off medicine. Cognitive-behavioral therapy is very effective with these children, and helps them learn how to identify and control their feelings without taking drugs.

Question

My teenager tells me she has “flashbacks” of bad things that happened to her when she was younger. I’m not a perfect mom and there were lots of problems when my kids were little. However, my life is back on track and the kids are in a real stable situation. I only hear about these “flashbacks” when I get after my daughter about her grades, cleaning her room, or fighting with her sisters. How can I tell if she is making this up?

Answer

Regardless of whether these reports are real or fabricated, your daughter needs a psychological evaluation, so speak with your family doctor about getting a referral to a mental health professional.

However, you also need to send a very strong message to your teen that past events are not an excuse for her inappropriate behavior. Make sure your rules are clear, specific, and reasonable. Set up consequences that you can readily implement. Perhaps most importantly, be consistent in your follow-through.

It sounds like you’ve made some great changes in your life. That’s a wonderful example to your kids that yesterday’s memories are a record of where you have been and not a road map for the rest of your life.

Question

Help! I know my child needs to see a psychologist, but I have no idea how to get help for him. I’m also very nervous about bringing my child for therapy.

Answer

Speak with your family doctor and ask for a referral. If that doesn’t work, talk with a counselor at your child’s school. Make certain that the therapist has experience and training in working with children your child’s age. Ask to meet alone with the therapist for the first session. Write down specific questions or concerns you have about therapy. Ask the therapist to describe what typically occurs during a session. You’ll get a real good sense after one meeting if this is a good match for you and your child.

Please recognize that counseling is much more than someone talking alone with your child. That typically accomplishes very little. It is essential for you to be actively involved in this process.

Next Week: Who commits sexual crimes against children—-some surprising (and disturbing) research results!

 

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We have created this blog as a way to communicate key childrens' health and safety issues to parents and other child advocates. It is managed by Dayton Children's department of marketing communications. Comments can be sent to rodneyg@childrensdayton.org.

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