What is ADHD?
Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder or ADHD affects at least 5 percent of children in the US. The girl to boy ratio averages 4 to 1 although some experts still contend that it can be as high as 9 to 1. There is no concrete reason for this alarming gap. Symptoms include hyperactivity, inattentiveness/inability to concentrate and short attention spans.
Children with ADHD are prone to act impulsively, be impatient and develop behavioral problems that can lead to antisocial behavior because of repeated rejection from peers. Learning disorders often develop which can result in an attitude of outright rejection towards school. Victims of the disorder do not outgrow it as was popularly believed hence many adults still exhibit signs of ADHD.
Since the condition can be very disruptive for both the victims and those around them, treatment is necessary. Early diagnoses and proper treatment can help those affected lead normal lives and prevent victims from carrying the disorder into adulthood. Medication is never a first resort but is used when needed. Despite the anxiety experienced by parents, at least 80 percent of children place on medication respond well. Children under the age of five are very likely to display adverse side effects so it is inadvisable to start them that early.
Types of Medications
There are four main drugs that can be prescribed; they all work by influencing chemical messengers in the brain that govern necessary bodily responses. These messengers are referred to as neurotransmitters. The drugs are not sedatives nor do they affect the child’s intellectual perception or growth. Instead they are designed to improve impulse control, lessen disruptive behavior, stabilize emotions and increase the attention span.
The four drugs are divided into two categories: stimulants and non-stimulant medications. Methylphenidates like Ritalin and Amphetamines like Dexedrine are stimulants while Atomexeline (usually Stattera) and antidepressants such as Wellbutrin are non-stimulants. Ritalin and Dexedrine are both classified as controlled substances by the Food and Drug Administration of America (FDA) however; there is no proven correlation between the use of these treatments during childhood and adult substance abuse.
The drug chosen is dependent upon each specific case. ADHD that is diagnosed at an early stage often requires low doses. Behavioral and other therapy can be coupled with medication for the best results. Children on ADHD drugs must be monitored regularly. Taking feedback from children as well as the adults overseeing them (parents and teachers for example) is an important part of the process.
Symptoms of treatment
Symptoms of treatment include difficulty sleeping and loss of appetite. Adjustments to treatment (chosen drug, dosage or timing) can be used to combat or resolve these. When making changes to treatment, monitor children for possible rebound symptoms of the disorder as patients get use to the adjustment. Effects of ADHD medication due to the long term (abusive) use of high dosages include uncontrollable shaking (referred to as tremors), changes in mood, paranoia, delusions, irregular breathing, hallucination, high blood pressure and high heart rate.