Can Medication Help Your Kid?

So, therapy's not working for your teenager. Would medication help? Well, let's talk about
that today on Tips on Teens. My name is Kent Toussaint. I'm a licensed marriage and family therapist,
and I specialize in helping kids, teens, and families live happier lives. I lead two organizations,
the group Private Practice Teen Therapy Center, and the nonprofit 501c3 organization, Child
and Teen Counseling, both here in Woodland Hills, California. And every Wednesday at noon,
I jump onto Facebook Live to answer your parenting questions. Let's jump into today's. My 16
-year -old daughter has some issues. She's really unmotivated, on her phone all the time, and
sleeps a lot. For a while, I just thought she was a typical lazy teenager. But about a year ago,
my husband and I realized she might be suffering from depression. She doesn't seem to have one
particular thing that bothers her, so it's hard to tell. We tried therapy, but she wasn't into
it. And eventually, we stopped. What I'm wondering

is this. How do I tell if her problem is something that needs medication? Should I take her to
a psychiatrist? How do I get this diagnosed? Thank you for your question. It's a great question,
and I wanna touch many points on this. First is the medical standpoint. First of all, I wanna
remind everyone that I'm a licensed marriage and family therapist, and not a medical doctor.
So if you want to have a world -clear medical opinion whether your kid needs medication, you
probably need to talk to a psychiatrist, and I strongly recommend that psychiatrist is someone
who focuses on kids, teens, and families. You know, teenagers especially, because the adolescent
brain is different than an adult brain. So you can take your child to an adolescent psychiatrist,
and they can evaluate, and then prescribe accordingly. Now I know some of you are like, wait
a minute, I don't really wanna put my kid on psychotropic medication. That scares me. What about
the side effects? Those are legitimate questions,

and appropriate to ask your psychiatrist those questions. They should be able to alleviate
those fears with how they respond. And if they're not alleviating those fears, then you get
a second opinion, or you try something else. When I think about referring to a psychiatrist
is if therapy's really not working, if there are things like self -harm, suicidality, maybe
if it's extreme, where your kid is kinda losing touch with reality, and having delusions. Those
are just a few examples of many that you would wanna consider. But it's a tough decision. You
can also, if you wanna get diagnosed, really specifically diagnosed, you can go to a clinical
psychologist, or a neuropsychologist who focuses on teenagers, and have them go through a
battery of tests, which is they fill out surveys, answer questions, there's interviews. It
probably takes a couple weeks to go through all the tests, and then they come up with a full report.
And they say, this is our exact diagnosis of what we think it is from

what these test results are. You give that to the psychiatrist, and now that psychiatrist has
a lot more information to go on to prescribe. So, again, there's a lot of moving pieces here.
A lot of it costs money, unfortunately. Finding a child psychiatrist, or a child psychiatrist,
or a psychologist who's on an insurance panel is kind of a unicorn. I'm not saying they're not
out there, but they are hard to find, and hard to find with availability. There are people who
are in private practice, cash pay, who are doing this, but again, it does cost more money. You
can also try to go through your school system, and get the school to test. But again, it's a lot
of hoops to jump through, a lot of paperwork, and it's a lot of proving the need. If your child,
or your teenager, is not willing to do therapy, and I understand that, it could be that one therapist
was not a good fit. Again, finding a therapist who really understands teens, understands teenage
resistance to therapy, and knows how to

work through that, I think is important. If your child is in real danger, again, they're cutting,
they're using a lot of drugs, they're possibly suicidal, or something like that, you may want
to consider a residential program to put them into, which is basically, they're in for, three
weeks, six weeks, 90 days, whatever that is, to help get them on the right track, where they're
focused, they're away from drugs and alcohol, they're in group therapy every day, individual
therapy every day, kind of get them in a stable place, find the right medication, to help get
them stable. So there's a lot of different aspects to this. Again, I encourage you to look into
therapy, even if you get the medication, because medication is often there to help create a
more stable balance for your kids, so they can do the work, so eventually, with the guidance
of the psychiatrist, can eventually wean off that medication, hopefully, that would be the
goal. Again, there's a lot of moving factors, moving pieces

in this, it's important to get help, my concern is, if you don't do anything, it just continues
to get worse, and we don't want that, so again, reach out, get help, talk to your therapist, talk
to, get a psychiatrist referral from your pediatrician, or your therapist, if you want to get
testing, find a psychologist who can do that, but again, some of this stuff does cost money,
unfortunately, right now, almost every child psychologist, or psychiatrist I know, is booked
out for the next three months, there are some exceptions, but child psychiatry is booming right
now, there's a lot of people in need, especially with COVID, it's really knocked a lot of kids
down, anyways, that's our question for today, if you'd like your question answered here on
Tips on Teens, you can email us at tipsonteens, at teentherapycenter .com, or direct message
us right here on Facebook, we love your questions, keep them coming, I'll be here next Wednesday,
again, my name is Kent Toussaint, I'm a licensed marriage

family therapist, from Teen Therapy Center, and Child and Teen Counseling, and we'll see you
guys next week, thanks a lot, bye bye.

Medicating Children

Can medication help your kid? This is a question with a lot of variables to consider. You definitely need the input of an adolescent psychiatrist who can evaluate and prescribe accordingly. Feeling hesitant to put your kid on medication? What about the side effects? These are appropriate questions which a psychiatrist should be able to answer.

Consulting a clinical psychologist first is a wise first step. Are there issues like self harm or suicidality? Is your kid losing touch with reality or having illusions?  A clinical psychologist can give you a battery of tests and a full report to give to a psychiatrist. This will give him/her a lot more information to go by.

Getting Them Stable

If your child is resisting therapy, finding a therapist who really understands teens is really important. We encourage you to look into therapy even if you get the medication. The value of medication is to get your child stable so that they can do the work. Eventually with the guidance of a psychiatrist they can get off the medication.

This Week’s Question

There are a lot of things to think about if you’re considering whether medication can help your kid. One thing is certain though: if you don’t do anything, the problem just continues to get worse. Here’s this week’s Tips on Teens question related to this topic:

“My 16 year old daughter has some issues. She’s really unmotivated, on her phone all the time, and sleeps a lot. For a while I just thought she was a typical lazy teenager, but about a year ago my husband and I realized she might be suffering from depression. She doesn’t seem to have one particular thing that bothers her, so it’s hard to tell. We tried therapy, but she wasn’t into it, and eventually we stopped. What I’m wondering is this: how do I tell if her problem is something that needs medication? Should I take her to a Psychiatrist? How do I get this diagnosed?”

There’s a lot to learn about this subject. Check out what Yale Medicine has to say about it.

Clinical Director Kent Toussaint answers your parenting questions every Wednesday at 12:00pm in our weekly segment Tips On Teens on Facebook Live. Have questions about parenting kids and teens? Send them to: We love to hear from you!

Head on over to our Facebook page every Wednesday at 12:00pm to watch LIVE!  Check out our page here –

If you have more questions or would like more information, please contact our Clinical Director, Kent Toussaint at 818.697.8555.