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Major Psychiatric Medications

Updated February 2006

Stimulant Medication. These medications help with attention and help to reduce hyperactive behavior. Some are also used to treat daytime sleepiness. They include Ritalin (methylphenidate), Adderral (amphetamine, dextroamphetamine), Metadate, Cylert (pemoline), Provigil (modafinil), Methylin ER, Focalin (dexmethylphenidate hyddrocloride), Dextrostat, and Dexedreine spansules. Some of these medications are available in longer acting forms such as Concerta (methylphenidate), Metadate CD (methylphenidate), Ritalin LA (methylphenidate), and Adderral XR (amphetamine, dextroamphetamine).

Straterra (atomoxetine HCl) is a new non-stimulant medication alternative to treat children with symptoms of attention deficit and hyperactivity. It is classified as a SNRI, which is believed to prevent the re-uptake of norepinephrine at the cell receptor site. The most common reported side effects were upset stomach, decreased appetite, nausea or vomiting, dizziness, tiredness, and mood swings.

Anti-depressants. These medications are used in the treatment of serious depression, school phobias, obsessive-compulsive behavior and some eating disorders. Children who are depressed often have trouble concentrating, staying on task and other ADHD symptoms. Some children with ADHD are also diagnosed with other disorders including depressive disorders. There are several types of anti-depressants. SSRI antidepressants include: Luvox (fluvoxamine, used often to treat OCD), Paxil (paroxetine), Prozac (fluoxetine), and Zoloft (sertraline, also used in OCD, panic, and eating disorders), Celexa (citalopram) and Lexapro(S-citalopram). Tricyclic antidepressants include: Anafranil (clomipramine, often used in Obsessive Compulsive Disorder or OCD), Desyrel (trazodone), Elavil (amitriptyline, also used in chronic pain and sleep problems), Pamelor (nortriptyline), Sinequan, and Tofranil (imipramine, also used in bed wetting, and panic) Norpramin (desipramine). Tetracyclic antidepressants include: Remeron (mitazapine), Ludiomile (maprotiline). MAO Inhibitor antidepressants include: Nardil (phenelzine) and Parnate (tranylcypromine sulgate). Other antidepressants include Effexor and Serzone. Asendin is used to treat psychotic depression.

Wellbutrin (bupropion) is an anti-depressant commonly used as an alternative to stimulant medication. Now Stratterra may be viewed as the most common non-stimulant alternative for treating ADHD symptoms. Wellbutrin is also used for smoking cessation.

Anti-mood swing medications. These medications attempt to control mood swings, Bipolar Disorder, and aggressive behavior. The most common Bipolar medication was Lithium: Cibalith-S (lithium citrate), Eskalith, Lithobid. Now anti-seizure medication is being used to treat Bipolar disorders: Tegretol (carbamazepine), Depakene (valproic acid), Depakote (divalproex sodium), Lamictal (lamotrigine), Trileptal (oxcarbazepine), Topamax (topirimate), Isoptin. Anti-hypertensive medication is now used for children who are angry and aggressive: Catapres (clonidine), Tenex (guanfacine), Visken (pindolol).

Anti-psychotic or major tranquilizers. These medications give more inner control to a child or an adult who is out of touch with reality (psychotic), aggressive, highly anxious, or irrational. There are two major classes of anti-psychotic medication: Typical anti-psychotics include Haldol (haloperidol), Mellaril (thioridazine), Moban (molindone), Navane (thiothixene), Stelazine, Thorazine (chlorpromazine), Trilafon (perphenazine), and Vesprin. Atypical anti-psychotics include Clozaril (clozapine), Risperdal (risperidone), Seroquel (quetiapine), Zyprexa (olanzapine), Abilify (aripiprazole) and Geodon (ziprasidone).

Anti-side effect medication. These are used to counteract such conditions as muscle stiffness, extreme restlessness, blurred vision, and dizziness that may occur when taking psychiatric medications. Cogentin (benztropine) is an example.

Anti-anxiety medications. These are for short term use for certain conditions associated with high anxiety. Their usefulness in children has not been well studies, so they should be prescribed by a physician with experience in their use. Examples include: Valium (diazepam), Librium (chlordiazepoxide) Xanax (alprazolam), Alivan, Tranzene, Klonopin (clonazepam) and Busbar (buspirone). Librium is often used in alcohol withdrawal. Anti-depressant medication such as Paxil (paroxetine) has been shown to be effective at reducing anxiety. The anti-seizure medication Gabitril (tiagabine) has also been shown to be effective at reducing anxiety.

Anti-chemical dependence medication. ReVia (naltrexone), Revex (nalmefene) and Campral (acamprosate) are given to reduce urges to use drugs and drink alcohol. Antabuse (disulfiram) is given to alcoholics and will make a person sick when they ingest alcohol.

Anti-sleepiness medication: Many of the stimulant medications are also used to treat fatigue and excessive sleepiness (e.g., Dexedrine (dextroamphetamine), Ritalin (methylphenidate), Cylert (pemoline), Provigil (modafinil). Provigil is believed to work on the histaminergic pathway.). The anti-Parkinson's Disease drug and flu drug Symmetrel (amantadine) has also been effective.

Other medications. Synthroid, (T) (levothyroxine) is used to treat low thyroid problems and as an antidepressant augmentation. Mirapex (pramipexole) is used in Parkinson’s Disease and has an antidepressant effect.

Notes: Long term effects of Clozaril and Zyprexa have been linked to excessive weight gain, diabetes and vascular disease.