Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Medicating My Child

No parent wants to medicate their child. I have to say this since I think the media has taken such a negative spin on parents medicating their children. Often I’ve heard that we’re just too lazy to parent. Believe me, when the moment came when the doctor told us that we needed to medicate our son since he has a chemical problem in the brain and no amount of therapy, good parenting or nutrition was going to fix it, I was worried. Then when I read the side affects of the medication and the risks involved, I was terrified. This is my first born, this is a child who I love and adore and to put something in his body that could potentially cause harm was so unsettling. Then I was reminded by the doctor that if my son had a heart problem that required medication, I’d jump on the opportunity to help our son. In fact, our son did have a kidney problem when he was a baby and we gave him medicine everyday for almost 2 years and never did I feel guilty or irresponsible. I felt I was doing a good job, taking care of my son and his medical needs. And the truth is, this is no different. My son has a medical need, and he needs medication to help him.

As a parent, it’s hard to accept that there are no blood tests, MRIs or biopsies that can diagnose my son’s illness. That’s why it’s so hard for people looking in on us to understand that my son is truly ill. Unfortunately our son’s illness is diagnosed by a therapist and psychiatrist analyzing my son’s symptoms and behaviors. Even the doctors are hesitant to be specific on what to call my son’s illness, thus the general diagnosis of “mood disorder”. Our doctor tells us that it doesn’t matter what we call it, as long as we are treating the symptoms. And as our son grows, our doctor takes into consideration that there’s the possibility that his brain will change as it develops and he may not need medication in the future. We’re reminded to handle only one day at a time and to not look into the future, easier said than done.

Another challenge we face in medicating our child is that there’s very little research done on treatment and medication for children. Heck, they didn’t even acknowledge that children could have mood disorders until the 1990s, so we still have a long way to go before we know how to best treat our kids. As for the medication, it too is still so new and most are not even approved by the FDA, since understandably, there aren’t many parents willing to let their kids be put through clinical trails. So the doctors are doing their best to prescribe what they think works, based on what they’ve seen in their own practice. So yes, there’s a lot of trial and error. This is both with the type of medication and the amount. Then you take into account, that all kids are so different, for example, one kid may have a positive response to a medication, while another will become much worse. So it’s easy to see why I felt such fear about going down this path of treatment and why I honesty believe every parent takes this step with great caution and much prayer.

But at the end of the day, as my son continued to get worse, my Dad offered some wise insight. He told me that I’d be irresponsible to NOT give my son medication because without this treatment he’d have no hope of getting better, in fact, without medication we’re taking the risk of him causing serious harm to himself or to one of his own family members. Not to mention, we had the opportunity to turn my son’s life around and give him a chance to experience a joyful life, free from the misery he felt inside.


  1. I was just reading thru some more of your old post and found it interesting that your son had a kindey problem when he was younger to. My daughter had a kidney problem to, she was born with it and it was discovered when she was 2 months old. She stayed on an oral preventive anitbiotic for 6 years till she had surgery to correct the defect. I have no idea if the prolonged use of the antibiotics had anything to do with the bp and other mental health issues she is now facing but it is cause for pondering. We as parents never no the cause and effect the medications we give our children now will have on them later in life we can only pray we are doing what is best for them.
    And my stance on medicating children, no i don't believe every hyper child needs to be medicated. But anyone who tells me I am a bad parent because i medicate my daughter needs to be willing to spend 2 days with my Bipolar/Adhd child while she is off her meds. Then I think they will change there tune =-)

  2. My son’s kidney problem was discovered as a baby too. We too gave him daily antibiotics for years. What if this was the source of our kids illness? I know I'll never get a doctor to admit it if it was, but it does make you wonder. I guess we'll never know.

  3. If someone says that you are a bad parent because you medicate a child who needs it, two solutions (I used them when doctors say that I pretend to suffer from ADHD because I just want to deny that I am the laziest one. One even told me that if he were my father, he would have made back all my education without my incapable mother : hell, and then, he wondered how he could be responsible to find me crying in the bathroom ?) :

    - Ask them to handle your son/daughter for one month while out of meds. Two days are way too little, they will not have enough insight, one month full time will give them a much better insight.

    -Ask them if they want your child to suicide : it'll give them another facet of the illness, and you ask them to purpose something if they are not happy with what you do.

    - Ask them what would they do if their child were having heart failure to such a point that he can't run without risking to die : would he make him run 10 miles ?
    Then, reply that it's same for bipolar. Back to first point : if they are not happy with what you do, then "come in my house for one month and parent him 7/7 24/24, without neither me nor daddy. Then, we'll discuss the matter".
    These kind of people love criticising, but if they have to make the job, they run away : give them this power of making the job if they are so unhappy with what you do. It's the most efficient reply you can give to criticism from so-well-intentionned-persons.
    Next time they come and tell them they suffer, you can also reply back in the same way, to make them feel what you felt (especially working with step and in-laws, and I experimented it with stepmother), as example they come and see you because they have a cancer from smoking++++, reply that they pretend to suffer : they will immediately flash back on what they did years ago, and that if they forgot, you have never forgotten what they did.

  4. Giulia- You're right, spend one month with our kids and I'm sure most people would change their mind about using medication.

  5. Oh yeah !
    I had the problem with a doctor at a medical exam for driving license (the weirdest thing I've ever seen in my life).
    I always reply to those people coldly, clinically. After sometimes an hour like that, they give up. I know it's exhausting, but it worth the effort (and believe me or not, this doctor now helps me with my fight for all this driving license mess while having ADHD : believe me or not again, he has had never seen an ADHD person in his whole career as a specialist of road traffic medicine !! When I think about it, I wonder if I become delusional myself or if I am into the most incredible story I've ever seen !!)