Straight Talk About Psychiatric Medications for Kids: A Book Review

A parent of a client gifted me the book, Straight Talk About Psychiatric Medications for Kids, by Timothy Wilens and Paul Hammerness. As a therapist, clients and their parents often ask for my thoughts on medication, so I was thrilled to check out a book that breaks down all angles of this issue in layman’s terms. Today, I’ll share some of the highlights with you.

“Considering medication for a child’s psychiatric disorder is one of the most anxiety-producing decisions that many parents ever face, largely because so many questions remain unanswered.”

I love that this book empowers parents to take an active role in being part of the treatment team that tends to their child’s mental health.

“You are a crucial player on this team. You are in a unique position to observe your child, you understand your child better than anyone else, and the information that you can provide about what works and what doesn’t […], is invaluable to the practitioner you have chosen to manage your child’s care.”

I liked the list of red flags provided to help parents determine if seeing a therapist or psychiatrist is necessary:

  • Self-harm or suicidal thinking
  • Threats to others
  • Behavioral outbursts
  • Social isolation
  • Drug and alcohol abuse
  • Disordered eating
  • Psychosis: hearing, feeling, or seeing things that are not there.

Types of childhood and adolescent conditions covered in the book:

  • ADHD
  • Oppositional defiant disorder
  • Conduct disorder
  • The anxiety disorders
  • Mood disorders; for example, depression and bipolar disorder.
  • Autism spectrum disorder
  • Schizophrenia and psychotic disorders

Types of medications covered in the book:

  • Antidepressants
  • Mood stabilizers
  • Anxiety meds
  • Antihypertensives
  • Antipsychotics


I can definitely see myself lending this book out to parents of kids and teens. The authors empower parents to educate themselves and to take a collaborative role in their child’s treatment. The research shared also does a great job at debunking myths about psychotropic medications for young people. The book is also easy to use as a reference guide on the multitude of medications out there. You can find this book here (paid link).

For my previous writing on mental health meds, click here.

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