Why Put a Child on More Than One Medication?

These are the most common reasons why a doctor might recommend adding a medication:

  • In the same way that you might take two medications if you have both high blood pressure and high cholesterol, some kids take multiple meds because they have more than one disorder. For instance, it’s common for a child who has ADHD to also have anxiety or depression, and both can be treated with medication.
  • When a medication isn’t helping enough, your doctor might propose adding a second prescription to boost the effect of the first. For example, if your child has ADHD and hasn’t improved enough on a stimulant medication, the doctor might want to try adding a non-stimulant medication that also helps with ADHD symptoms.
  • When a medication is helping but has troubling side effects, your doctor might be able to avoid them by lowering the dose. Then he might add a second medication to treat remaining symptoms. For instance, if your child can’t tolerate an effective dose of a stimulant medication, your doctor might lower the dose and add a prescription for a non-stimulant.
  • Sometimes medications are added to counteract the side effects of the first prescription without lowering its dosage. For instance, if your child with ADHD has sleep problems as a side effect, your doctor might prescribe something to counteract the insomnia. In most cases, it’s preferable to reduce dosage or change meds, but in some cases this option is preferred.