Psychiatric Medication for Children and
Adolescent Part II – Types of Medications
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 prescriber should conduct a
comprehensive psychiatric diagnostic evaluation of the child or adolescent. Parents
should be informed about known risks and/or Food and Drug Administration (FDA)
warnings before a child starts any psychiatric medication as well as whether the
medication is being prescribed on-label or off-label (whether the medication has been
approved for children and adolescents for the condition for which it is being prescribed).
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). They come in several
different forms, such as pills, patches, and liquid forms. Examples of stimulants include:
Dextroamphetamine (Dexedrine, Adderal, Vyanse, Procentra) and Methylphenidate
(Ritalin, Metadate, Concerta, Daytrana, Focalin). Non-stimulant medications include
Atomoxetine (Strattera), Guanfacine (Tenex, Intuniv) and Clonidine (Kapvay).
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, 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),
Desvenlafaxine (Pristiq), Citalopram (Celexa) and Escitalopram (Lexapro). Examples of
serotonin norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs) include Venlafaxine (Effexor,
), and Duloxetine (Cymbalta). 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).
II - TYPES OF MEDICATIONS, “Facts for Families,” No. 29 (5/12)

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 generation 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), Paliperidon (Invega), Quetiapine
(Seroquel), Olanzapine (Zyprexa), Ziprasidone (Geodon) and Aripiprazole (Abilify)
Iloperidone (Fanapt), Lurasidon (Latuda), and Asenapine (Saphris).
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), Lamotrigine (Lamictil), and Oxcarbazepine (Trileptal).
Anti-anxiety Medications: Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are used to
treat anxiety in children and adolescents and are described above in the antidepressant
section. There are also other medications used to treat anxiety in adults. These
medications are rarely used in children and adolescents, but may be helpful for brief
treatment of severe anxiety. These include: benzodiazepines; antihistamines; and
atypicals. Examples of benzodiazepines include: Alprazolam (Xanax), lorazepam
(Ativan), Diazepam (Valium), and Clonazepam (Klonopin). Examples of antihistamines
include: Diphenhydramine (Benadryl), and Hydroxyzine (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), Eszopiclone (Lunesta), and Diphenhydramine (Benadryl).
Miscellaneous Medications: Other medications are also being used to treat a variety of
symptoms. For example: clonidine (Catapres, Kapvay) and guanfacine (Tenex, Intuniv)
may be used to treat the severe impulsiveness in some children with ADHD.
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)
II - TYPES OF MEDICATIONS, “Facts for Families,” No. 29 (5/12)

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: Anxiety Disorders Resource Center If you find Facts for Families helpful and would like to make good mental health a reality, 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 8,500 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 information sheets are developed, owned and distributed by AACAP. Hard copies of
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included in material presented for sale or profit. All Facts can be viewed and printed from the AACAP
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If you need immediate assistance, please dial 911.
Copyright 2012 by the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.

Source: https://www.aacap.org/App_Themes/AACAP/docs/facts_for_families/29_psychiatric_medication_for_children_and_adolescents_part_two.pdf

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