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No. 29 (2/00)
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. The youngster=s presenting psychiatric symptoms
along with past response to medications and also consideration of possible side effects will determine
the choice of medication. Psychiatric medication should only be used as part of a comprehensive
treatment plan.
Stimulant Medications: Stimulant medications are often useful as part of the treatment for attention
deficit hyperactive disorder (ADHD). Examples include: Dextroamphet- amine (Dexedrine, Adderal),
Methylphenidate (Ritalin), and Pemoline (Cylert).
Antidepressant Medications: Antidepressant medications are used 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 (tricyclics, serotonin
reuptake inhibitors, monoamine oxidase inhibitors and atypical). Examples of tricyclic
antidepressants (TCA
=s) include: Amitriptyline (Elavil), Clomipramine (Anafranil), Imipramine
(Tofranil), and Nortriptyline (Pamelor). Examples of serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SRI=s)
include: Fluoxetine (Prozac), Sertraline (Zoloft), Paroxetine (Paxil), Fluvoxamine (Luvox),
Venlafaxine (Effexor), and Citalopram (Celexa). Examples of monoamine oxidase inhibitors
(MAOI=s) include: Phenelzine (Nardil), and Tranylcypromine (Parnate). Examples of atypical
include: Bupropion (Wellbutrin), Nefazodone (Serzone), Trazodone (Desyrel), and
Mirtazapine (Remeron).
Antipsychotic Medications: Antipsychotic medications can be helpful in controlling
psychotic symptoms (delusions, hallucinations) or disorganized thinking. These medications may
also help muscle twitches (Atics@) 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 traditional antipsychotic medications include:
Chlorpromazine (Thorazine), Thioridazine (Mellaril), Fluphenazine (Prolixin),
Trifluoperazine (Stelazine), Thiothixene (Navane), and Haloperidol (Haldol). Newer antipsychotic
medications (also known as atypical or novel) include: Clozapine (Clozaril), Risperidone (Risperdal),
Quetiapine (Seroquel), Olanzapine (Zyprexa), and Ziprasidone (Zeldox).

TYPES OF MEDICATIONS, “Facts for Families,” No. 29 (2/00)

Mood Stabilizers and Anticonvulsant Medications: Mood stabilizers may be helpful in treating
manic-depressive episodes, excessive mood swings, aggressive behavior, impulse control disorders
and severe mood symptoms in schizoaffective disorder and schizophrenia. Lithium (lithium
carbonate, Eskalith) is an example of a mood stabilizer. Some anticonvulsant medications can also
help control severe mood changes. Examples include: Valproic Acid (Depakote, Depakene),
Carbamazepine (Tegretol), Gabapentin (Neurontin), and Lamotrigine (Lamictil).
Anti-anxiety Medications: Anti-anxiety 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: SRI anti-depressants, Trazodone (Desyrel), Zolpidem (Ambien), 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 Aflashbacks@ in children with PTSD.
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.
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
(1999 Harper Collins).
# # #
The Development of the Facts for Families series is a public service of the AACAP. If you would like to support expanded distribution of the series, please make a tax deductible contribution to the AACAP Campaign for America's Kids. By supporting this endeavor, you will support a comprehensive and sustained advocacy effort on behalf of children and adolescents with mental illnesses. Please make checks payable to AACAP, and send to: AACAP, Campaign for America's Kids, P.O. Box 96106, Washington, D.C. 20090 The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP) represents over 6,000 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 psychiatry. Facts for Families is developed and distributed by the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP). Facts sheets may be reproduced for personal or educational use without written permission, but cannot be included in material presented for sale. To purchase full sets of FFF, contact the AACAP Publications Clerk at: 1.800.333.7636, ext. 131. Nelson A. Tejada, American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, Operations Department, Phone: 202-966-7300 ext. 131, Main Fax: 202-966-2891, Publication Fax: 202-464-9980


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