Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder:
Should Stimulant Medications be used to treat our Children?
What is Attention deficit Hyperactivity Disorder?
With no cure for ADHD, stimulant medication should be considered for the overall management of the disruptive symptoms associated with the Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is the most common mental health problem in children. Children with ADHD often have problems with attention span, hyperactivity, and impulsive behavior. It is often called by an older name, attention deficit disorder (ADD). The disorder begins in the preschool years and may either continue or fade away during the teenage years. About one-third of children with ADHD also have learning problems such as a reading disability. About half of ADHD children and teenagers have behavior problems, which may include breaking rules, talking back, and hitting other children. ADHD is 7 times more common in boys than girls. Girls are more likely to have troubles with attention and less likely to have hyperactivity. (Wiener, 1999) What causes ADHD?
In about 70% of cases, ADHD is inherited. It runs in families, especially through the males in the family line. Research continues in an effort to find out why it occurs in those without a family history. Parker (n.d.) says, ADHD can be caused by development problems during pregnancy or delivery. The medical explanation for ADHD is that neurotransmitters help the human brain to form thoughts, store and recall information, and translate thoughts into physical actions. One of these neurotransmitters, dopamine, is abnormally low in children diagnosed with ADD and ADHD. Another key neurotransmitter that may play a role in ADHD is acetylcholine, which is responsible for signaling and helping to control memory, attention, awareness, perception, reasoning and judgment. Since problems with memory and attentiveness are attributes of those with ADD and ADHD, researchers believe that low dopamine levels may be responsible. How is ADHD diagnosed?
To diagnose ADHD, it must be clear that the symptoms persist and interfere in a major way with daily life. According to Wiener (1999), being able to tell a child has ADHD is much harder than diagnosing mumps or chickenpox. (p.1). You and your child's teachers, may be asked to complete questionnaires or rating forms about ADHD symptoms. Your child may be asked to see a psychologist or other mental health professional for tests of attention and self-control. There are no useful physical tests such as blood tests or brain scans for diagnosing ADHD. There are 3 forms of ADHD:
Combined ADHD. Your child has all of the main symptoms: distractibility, poor impulse control, and hyperactivity.
Predominately inattentive. Your child has problems with focus and attention. This form of ADD is often missed because there may be very little hyperactivity or impulsivity. This form is especially common among girls.
Predominately impulsive-hyperactive type. Poor self-control is the main problem.
There are 2 main treatments used to treat ADHD symptoms.
Non-Stimulant Medication: There are 4 types of non-stimulant medications; Strattera is a fairly new medication that acts like a stimulant but is not. Strattera has a 24 hour coverage period, less weight loss, also you're able to call this medication in versus going to pick up the prescription every month from the doctors office. (Watkins, C., Brynes, G., Preller, R., December, 2004) Tricyclic Antidepressants (TCA) have been found effective for treating major depressive disorders, anxiety disorders, and panic disorders in adults. Most TCA's are relatively safe, effective, and easy to administer. Within children and adolescents, however, they have not proven as effective. TCA's are metabolized by the liver and loosely bind to protein. As in all substances with primary hepatic (liver) metabolism, TCA's are metabolized more rapidly in children...
References: ADHD Medications: Benefits and Risks. (n.d.). Mental Health, Retrieved December 21, 2004 from http://www.helpguide.org/mental/adhd_medications.htm
Jaska, P. (2000). Childhood Attention Deficit Disorder Is a Serious Problem. Mental Illness, Retrieved January 22, 2005, from the Opposing Viewpoints Resource database.
Parker, H. (n.d.). It 's about Time: Promising Practices for children and Adolescents with ADHD. A.d.d. Warehouse, Retrieved February 2, 2005 from http://www.addwarehouse.com/shopsite_sc/store/html/article10.html
Watkins, C., Brynes, G., Preller, R. (December, 2004). Non-Stimulant Medications for Children and Adolescents with AD/HD. Northern County Psychiatric, Retrieved January 14, 2005 from http://www.ncpamd.com/NonStimulants.htm
Watkins, C., Brynes, G., Preller, R. (December, 2004). Stimulant Medication and AD/HD. Northern County Psychiatric, Retrieved January 14, 2005 from http://www.ncpamd.com/Stimulants.htm
Wiener, J. (1999). Medication Helps Children with Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. Current Controversies: Mental Health, Retrieved January 18, 2005, from the Opposing Viewpoints Resource database.
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