Medicinal Treatment Options for ADHD
ADHD is a condition that affects specific centers of the brain, preventing them from operating “normally.” Scientists believe that the levels of brain chemicals called neurotransmitters are lower in people with ADHD, thereby affecting their attention, focus, activity level and other behavioral expressions. It is not uncommon for symptoms that develop in childhood to follow them into adulthood.
Once your child has been diagnosed with ADHD, there are a number of treatment options available. The one you choose depends on your child, your doctor and your preferences.
ADHD Medicinal Treatments
Choosing the appropriate treatment for your child is critical because it helps to determine your child’s future. How well treatment is received will affect how children do in school and social situations and how they relate to their family and other close relationships. Treatment decisions involve you, your child, and the professionals you’ve been working with, from medical professionals to teachers.
The first course of treatment is typically medication. Many parents may object to “doping” their children, especially for much younger kids, but medication has proven to be a very effective safe manner of treatment for many ADHD sufferers. Many psychiatrists employ a multi-modal treatment option encompassing medicine and behavioral treatment options. Here, we will only discuss the medicinal options for you.
Stimulant medications are often misunderstood and misaligned. For instance, you might wonder why anyone in their right mind would provide additional stimulants to a child who’s already overly active. The answer is that stimulants have a different affect on the brain of children with ADHD.
The role of a stimulant drug in the brain is to increase the levels of underrepresented neurotransmitters. For instance, taking a drug like Ritalin in age-appropriate doses can boost the production of dopamine. As it binds to the appropriate receptors on brain nerve cells, dopamine increases concentration, and decreases hyperactivity and impulsive behavior.
Other drugs that fall into this category are: Concerta, Dexedrine, Adderall and Metadate CD. Side effects of these medications include: loss of appetite, twitching, nervousness and sleep interruption. Usually these side effects go away once the correct dosage is discovered for your child. It may take some experimentation to find the appropriate dosage.
A new medication on the market is marked “non-stimulant,” making it an answer to parents’ concerns about stimulants and their possible side effects, as well as worries over abuse of stimulants.
The drug is called Strattera (atomoxetine). Strattera works by affecting the levels of norepinephrine in the brain. Norepinephrine plays a role in attentiveness, sleeping and learning. It has been shown to alleviate symptoms of impulsivity, inattention and hyperactivity. Because it is not a stimulant, it can take longer to work, about three or four weeks.
Antidepressants have shown promise in changing the brain chemistry of those with ADHD. Some children who have been diagnosed with ADHD also have a depressive component. The drugs used most are tricyclic antidepressants (Wellbutrin) and those that work on the serotonin system in the brain (Prozac, Celexa and Zoloft).
Antidepressants are usually a secondary resort if the child doesn’t respond to more traditional ADHD medications. Antidepressants have shown to help with all three components of the disorder. One thing to note is that these drugs have their own side effects. Your doctor will discuss the possibility with you.