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Mental Health Center

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Drugs to Treat Mental Illness

What Drugs Treat Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder?

Another group of drugs called stimulants may be used for certain disorders, primarily attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). The most commonly used stimulants include Ritalin, Dexedrine, Adderall, and Vyvance.

The FDA requires all ADHD drugs to include patient medication guides that detail serious outcomes from the use of the drugs, including a slightly higher risk of stroke, heart attack and sudden death, and psychiatric problems like becoming manic or psychotic.

The agency has also issued warnings that children and teens who take the non-stimulant ADHD drug atomoxetine (Strattera) may have suicidal thoughts.

What Drugs Treat Mental Illness in Children?

Many drugs used to treat mental disorders in adults are also used to treat the same illnesses in children. However, doctors often reduce the doses given.

The FDA has determined that antidepressant drugs can increase the risk of suicidal thinking and behavior in children and adolescents with depression and other psychiatric disorders. If you have questions or concerns, discuss them with your health care provider.

Can Drugs Cure Mental Illness?

Drugs cannot cure mental illnesses. Rather, they work to control many of the most troubling symptoms, often enabling people with mental disorders to return to normal or near-normal functioning. Reducing symptoms with medication can also enhance the effectiveness of other treatments, such as psychotherapy (a type of counseling).

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Joseph Goldberg, MD on February 08, 2014
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