The Risks and Side Effects of Psychiatric Medications for Children

When treating mental health issues in children, physicians may prescribe psychiatric medications to help manage symptoms. While these medications can be very helpful, parents need to be aware of the potential risks and adverse effects associated with them. In this article, we will discuss the different types of psychiatric disorders that are commonly prescribed to children, as well as their potential risks and side effects.

Types of Psychiatric Medications 

Psychiatric medications are often prescribed for children to help manage symptoms of mental health disorders. The most widely recognised kinds of mental meds incorporate antidepressants, antipsychotics, energisers, state-of-mind stabilisers, and anxiolytics. Each type of medicine works differently in the body and has its own unique set of risks and side effects. Antidepressants work by increasing levels of certain chemicals in the brain, which can help to improve mood and relieve symptoms of depression. Antipsychotics work by blocking dopamine receptors in the brain, which can help to reduce psychotic symptoms such as hallucinations and delusions. Stimulants increase levels of dopamine and norepinephrine in the brain, which can help to improve focus and attention. Mood stabilisers work by stabilising mood swings and reducing impulsivity. Anxiolytics work by reducing anxiety and relieving stress. When prescribing psychiatric medication for children, it is important to weigh the risks and benefits of each type of psychotropic medication to determine the best course of treatment.


Antidepressants are commonly used to treat children suffering from depression and anxiety. The most common types of antidepressants are selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs), tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs), monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs), and atypical antidepressants. These medicines work by increasing levels of neurotransmitters in the brain, which can improve mood and alleviate symptoms. However, there are potential risks associated with antidepressant use in children, such as suicidal thoughts or behaviour, agitation or restlessness, anxiety or irritability, sleep disturbances, changes in appetite or weight gain/loss, nausea or vomiting, dizziness, or lightheadedness. It is important to weigh the risks and benefits of antidepressant use before starting treatment. If you have concerns about your child’s mental illness, please consult with a qualified mental health professional.


Common antipsychotics used in children include risperidone (Risperdal) and aripiprazole (Abilify). While these medicines can be effective in treating certain mental health conditions, they can also cause several side effects. Potential risks associated with antipsychotic use may include drowsiness or fatigue; movement disorders such as tremors or tics; weight gain; diabetes; high blood pressure; increased cholesterol levels; dry mouth; constipation; blurred vision; muscle stiffness; difficulty concentrating; and thoughts of suicide or self-harm. It is important to weigh the risks and benefits of antipsychotic medication before starting treatment and to closely monitor children for any potential side effects.


Stimulant medication is the most commonly prescribed treatment plan for attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in children and adolescents. These prescriptions help to improve focus, and concentration and reduce impulsive and hyperactive behaviours. Common stimulants used include Adderall and Concerta. While these treatments are generally safe and effective, there are potential risks associated with their use. These may include insomnia or sleeping problems, loss of appetite, weight loss, irritability, agitation, mood disorders, depression/anxiety, headaches, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, fast heartbeat, high blood pressure, chest pain, palpitations; and skin rash, itching. If you are concerned about any of these side effects, please speak to your child’s doctor.

Mood Stabilisers 

State-of-mind stabilisers are a kind of prescription that is regularly used to treat temperament problems like bipolar disorder and depression. While they can be effective in managing symptoms, there are also potential risks associated with their use. Common side effects may include gastrointestinal distress, weight gain, and skin rash. More serious potential risks include liver damage and behavioural problems such as aggression. It is important to discuss the risks and benefits of mood stabiliser use with a mental health professional before starting treatment of children.


Children and adolescents are susceptible to developing anxiety disorders, which can have a significant impact on their quality of life. Various pharmacological agents can be used to treat anxiety in children, including buspirone (Buspar), benzodiazepines such as clonazepam (Klonopin), and alprazolam (Xanax). These treatments can be effective in reducing anxiety symptoms; however, they also carry the risk of potential side effects. Some of the most common side effects associated with anxiolytic use include drowsiness, confusion, memory impairment, coordination problems, slurred speech, low blood pressure, depression, and addiction. It is important to weigh the risks and benefits of these medications before starting treatment.

Addressing Your Concerns About Your Child’s Medication

Parents need to be informed about the potential risks and side effects associated with any medicine their child is taking. Encourage your child’s doctor to provide you with detailed information about each prescription they prescribe so that you can make an informed decision about your child’s care. Additionally, parents should monitor their child closely while they are taking any psychiatric medications—especially during the first few weeks when they are beginning treatment—for signs of any potential adverse reactions. 

If you have concerns about your child’s medication regimen, talk to your doctor right away so that they can address your concerns promptly. Ultimately it is important to remember that being informed about all aspects of your child’s care is essential for ensuring their continued good health. Appointments can be made by calling Dr. Sagnik Mukherjee at 98313 13020 or visiting the psychiatric clinic’s location at 19x/1 Dum Dum Road in Kolkata, West Bengal.

Dr Sagnik Mukherje_Photo

Dr. Sagnik Mukherjee is a highly regarded psychiatrist in Kolkata, bringing over a decade of experience in mental health to his practice. With a medical degree from Chittaranjan Hospital and an MD in psychiatry, his expertise spans adult psychiatry, geriatric psychiatry, child psychiatry, depression, anxiety-related disorders, and relationship issues. He has built a strong professional foundation, having worked at esteemed institutions such as Chittaranjan Hospital, SVS Medical College & Hospital, KPC Medical College, and Iris Hospital. His clinic is known for its advanced technology and state-of-the-art infrastructure, providing personalised mental health care, including medication management, individual and group therapy, and specialised services for substance abuse and eating disorders. His holistic approach takes into account lifestyle, diet, environment, and family dynamics when creating effective treatment plans. Additionally, he’s a respected TV speaker on social issues and offers online consultations for patient convenience, making him a trusted figure in the field of psychiatry in Kolkata.