Treatment for ADHD
from The Diary of a First Grade Teacher
Treatment for ADHD is available. If your child has been diagnosed with ADHD, there are a number of options available, including medical, behavioral, and the ADHD diet.
In a later article, I’ll provide information about behavioral options and the ADHD diet because you should be familiar with ALL of the choices available. The one you choose will depend on your child, your doctor, and the method you most prefer.
For now, let’s look at some of the most commonly prescribed medical treatments. Medical treatments are discussed here because – usually - the first course of treatment is medication.
Medical Treatment for ADHD
Selecting 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 the child performs in school and in social situations.
The treatment decision will also play major roles in how well the child relates to their family and to other close relationships.
After gathering all of the information - from you, your child, teachers, and the medical professionals you’ve been working with - a medical treatment plan can be made.
Many parents may object to medicating their child, especially for much younger kids, but for some ADHD sufferers, medication has proven to be a safe and effective method of treatment.
Should a Child with ADHD be put on Medication?
Treatment for ADHD
Stimulant medications are often misunderstood. Have you ever wondered why anyone in their right mind would provide additional stimulants to a child who’s already overly active?
Have you ever seen a parent give their child – one diagnosed with ADHD - a cup of coffee to help settle them down? Sounds strange, but this may help the child settle down for a little while.
How can that be?
The answer is that stimulants have a different effect 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 example, taking a medicine 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 at this same time, it decreases hyperactivity and impulsive behavior.
Examples of Stimulants
There are several other drugs that fall into the category of stimulants: Concerta, Dexedrine, Adderall and Metadate CD. And some of these medications have side effects, such as loss of appetite, nervousness, twitching, and problems sleeping.
It may take some experimentation to find the appropriate dosage for your child. But once the correct dosage is determined, “they say” these side effects will go away.
A new medication on the market is marked “non-stimulant.” The drug is called Strattera (atomoxetine).
Strattera works by affecting the levels of norepinephrine in the brain. Norepinephrine plays a role in attentiveness, in sleeping, and in learning. It has been shown to help control symptoms of impulsivity, inattention, and hyperactivity.
Because it is a non-stimulant, it may take up to three or four weeks to work. But, so what?
Strattera is one choice that some parents consider because of their concerns about stimulants and their possible side effects.
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.
Two types of antidepressant drugs are the ones most often used. One type is tricyclic antidepressants (Wellbutrin). And the other type works on the serotonin system in the brain (Prozac, Celexa and Zoloft).
If the child doesn’t respond to more traditional ADHD medications, antidepressants may be a secondary resort. Antidepressants have shown to help with all three areas of ADHD.
Be aware, though, that these drugs have their own side effects. If need be, your doctor will discuss the all of the possibilities with you.