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Home > Health Library > Starting Antidepressants: How to Care for Your Child
If your child has a mental health condition like depression or anxiety, the doctor may prescribe antidepressant medicines to help. These medicines change the levels of some chemicals in the brain. This may help affect your child's moods. Here are some ways to care for your child who is starting antidepressants.
For example, doctors often prescribe a low dose of antidepressant medicines at first. This is to help manage side effects. The doctor may have you slowly increase the dose until your child's symptoms are managed. The doctor will tell you how to do this.
Most side effects will go away after your child takes the medicine for a few weeks. If any bother your child, talk with the doctor. The doctor may be able to lower the dose or change the medicine. Common side effects include:
For example, if your child has trouble sleeping, have them take their medicine in the morning. Or if your child has an upset stomach, they may need to take the medicine with food. Ask your child's doctor for more ways to manage mild side effects.
These don't happen often, but you should be aware of them. Watch for:
Children respond to the medicines in different ways. It may take several weeks before you see any changes in your child. Your child may:
Make sure your child takes the medicine every day, even if they're feeling better. Suddenly stopping can cause side effects. And if you stop the medicine too soon, the symptoms may return. When it's time for your child to stop taking the medicine, work with your child's doctor to do it safely.
Your child may need a different dose. Or your child may need to try several different medicines. It can take awhile to find the medicine and dosage that works best.
Seeing a counselor along with taking the medicine can help your child. You also may want to do family therapy. Ask your child's doctor for a referral.
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If your child talks about suicide, self-harm, a mental health crisis, a substance use crisis, or any other kind of emotional distress, get help right away. You can:
Consider saving these numbers in your phone.
Current as of:
February 9, 2022
Author: Healthwise StaffMedical Review: Andrew Littlefield PhD - Psychology, Behavioral HealthLesley Ryan MD - Family Medicine
Current as of: February 9, 2022
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:Andrew Littlefield PhD - Psychology, Behavioral Health & Lesley Ryan MD - Family Medicine
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