Top Doctors: Psychiatric meds for kids

Dr. Judith Greenberg poses her Huntington office. (July

Dr. Judith Greenberg poses her Huntington office. (July 23, 2011) (Credit: Daniel Brennan)

Gone are the days when many kids were only familiar with medications like aspirin and cough syrup. Now, many children take psychiatric medications to fend off conditions such as hyperactivity, anxiety and depression.

Here's a look at what you should know before your child is placed on these drugs:

1. MEDICATION MAY NOT BE NECESSARY


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In some cases, therapy alone can successfully treat conditions like anxiety, depression and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, said Dr. Gabrielle A. Carlson, director of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at Stony Brook University School of Medicine.

But the treatments -- which aim to change behavior -- are challenging and take a lot of time, she said. "There are alternatives to medication, but there's no simple fix."

In terms of ADHD, for example, "you're talking about a lot of work on the parents' and the teachers' part," she said. Treatment for depression and anxiety, meanwhile, requires extensive homework assignments, and not just for a while. "It's not like you do it for six weeks, and you can stop it," she said.

2. VERY YOUNG KIDS USUALLY DON'T NEED MEDICATION

"In general, most children are at least school-age when they are considered for psychiatric medications," said Dr. Judith Greenberg, staff psychiatrist with the Departments of Substance Abuse and Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at Zucker Hillside Hospital.

In rare cases, preschool-age children may be prescribed psychiatric medications. Typically, they have severe symptoms that don't respond to therapy, she said.

3. PARENTS SHOULD ASK QUESTIONS

Introducing these drugs without educating yourself on all aspects of it would be a mistake. "Parents should have a clear understanding of why a particular medication is recommended for their child, the nature and severity of the child's underlying condition, what other methods of treatment may or may not work, and what happens if medication is not used in a particular situation," Greenberg said.

4. KEEP AN EYE ON YOUR CHILD

"Parents should monitor their children for changes in habits (sleep/appetite), energy, mood, movements, rashes, or medication-specific concerns," Greenberg said. "Notify the prescribing physician immediately with any concerns. Anyone can have an odd or unusual reaction to any medication."

Greenberg adds that parents shouldn't stop, start or adjust a child's medication without first talking to a doctor.

5. DON'T LOOK FOR PERFECTION

ADHD medications may have a quick effect if they're given at the correct dose, but others take a while to kick in, Carlson said. And even if they do have an effect, it may not be perfect.

"People expect everything to clean up nice," she said. In fact, many children will get better but not recover completely, she said.

The severity of the condition matters. "I use this metaphor: If your temperature is 101 and you take some aspirin, your temperature might go down to 98.5. But if it's 104, it might go down to 101.5. You're better, but you may not feel great."

 

This is the sixth installment of a 26-week series in which Newsday presents Castle Connolly's list of top L.I. doctors.

This week, we are featuring psychiatrists.

Dr. Thomas Aronson

2 Brooksite Dr.

Smithtown

631-265-0909

Dr. Samuel Bailine

5 Ridgeway Rd.

Port Washington

516-883-3304

Dr. Raymond Behr

81-A Arleigh Rd.

Great Neck

516-482-1980

Dr. John Benjamin

1983 Marcus Ave.

Lake Success

516-216-1780

Dr. Sheldon Berman

8 Payne Circle

Hewlett Harbor

516-374-4417

Dr. Ashok Bhatt

871 E. Park Ave.

Long Beach

516-889-8844

Dr. Cathy Budman

North Shore-LIJ Health System

Dept. Psychiatry & Neurology

400 Community Dr.

Manhasset

516-562-3223

Dr. Jovita Crasta

2277 Grand Ave.

Baldwin

516-377-5400

Dr. Marvin Frogel

78 Oxford Blvd.

Great Neck, 516-482-5377

Dr. Michael Gurevich

997 Glen Cove Ave.

Glen Head

516-674-9489

Dr. Eli Margrethe Katus

1035 Rte. 106

East Norwich

516-922-5607

Dr. Jack Katz

1010 Northern Blvd.

Great Neck

516-336-2565

Dr. Amy Koreen

28 Elm St.

Huntington

631-423-8368

Dr. Kwang Soo Lee

221 Broadway

Amityville

631-789-7448

Dr. Vera Liang

221 Broadway

Amityville

631-598-7396

Dr. Jack Nass

580 Sunrise Hwy.

West Babylon

631-321-7697

Dr. Bruce Rosen

222 E. Middle Country Rd.

Smithtown

631-265-6868

Dr. Sherif Sami

7 Bond St.

Great Neck

516-487-9191

Dr. Michael Schwartz

150 Broadhollow Rd.

Melville

631-385-3313

Dr. Yogendra Upadhyay

400 Sunrise Hwy.

Amityville

631-608-5212


CHILD & ADOLESCENT PSYCHIATRISTS

Dr. Gabrielle Carlson

SUNY Stony Brook

Child & Adolescent Psychiatry

Putnam Hall, South Campus

Stony Brook

631-632-8840

Dr. Carmel Foley

420 Lakeville Rd.

New Hyde Park

718-470-3550

Dr. Lajpat Gandhi

110 E. Main St.

Huntington

631-427-6411

Dr. Judith Greenberg

775 Park Ave.

Huntington

631-629-4790

Dr. John Pomeroy

The Cody Center for Autism

5 Medical Dr.

Port Jefferson Station

631-632-3070

Dr. Deborah Weisbrot

SUNY Stony Brook

Child & Adolescent Psychiatry

Putnam Hall, South Campus

Stony Brook

631-632-8840

Dr. Daniel Williams

3003 New Hyde Park Rd.

New Hyde Park

516-488-3636

 

How they were picked

 

Castle Connolly Medical Ltd. is a health care research and information company founded in 1991 by a former medical college board chairman and president to help guide consumers to America's top doctors and hospitals. Castle Connolly's established survey and research process, under the direction of a doctor, involves tens of thousands of doctors and the medical leadership of leading hospitals.

Castle Connolly's team of researchers follows a rigorous screening process to select doctors on national and regional levels. Using mail and telephone surveys, and electronic ballots, they ask physicians and the leadership of top hospitals to identify exceptional doctors. Careful screening of doctors' educational and professional experience is essential to the committee. Not every good physician makes the list. Rather, the list is a way for patients to get started on their search for the best medical professional. Newsday is not part of the selection process.

Doctors do not and cannot pay to be selected and profiled as Castle Connolly Top Doctors.

 

To see the whole list . . .

 

Who else is on the list of Top Doctors? More than 6,000 listings are in the New York Metro Area edition of "Top Doctors," published by Castle Connolly Medical Ltd. The softcover list price is $34.95. For more information, go to castleconnolly.com, or call 800-399-DOCS.

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