ADHD (Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) is a condition both controversial (as regards the opinion of many experts) and yet one that is very difficult for parents and children to deal with. Symptoms of ADHD may include impulsiveness, which is the tendency to act quickly without thinking things through; hyperactivity, in which a person who is unable to keep still or concentrate easily; and inattention, in which a person daydreams or seems to space out. There are also several other associated behavioral symptoms that might affect a child who has ADHD. Though occasionally the legitimacy of the condition is debated, most doctors agree that it is a neurobehavioral developmental disorder, and one that affects a small percentage of the world's population of children. Many doctors also believe that this disorder is chronic and that it will affect children even as they grow into adults.
What will help this condition is if children are taught coping mechanisms in their youth so that they will know how to handle ADHD as they grow older. Do you notice something telling about this statement? That's right-the main objective here is for the child to learn how to cope with this condition. There is no way of curing ADHD, not even with medication. In fact, the most problematic cases you hear about involving children and ADHD medications, are when parents try to solve the problem by giving children medicine, hoping the problem will disappear. It simply does not work that way.
A competent doctor will prescribe not only medication (and only if it is absolutely necessary) but also will tell the family to incorporate a change in diet, lifestyle and perhaps suggest some behavior modification along with regular counseling. These recommendations are what will eventually help the child learn to live with ADHD. ADHD medication will merely stimulate the child to be able to process this other treatment more effectively.
Is stimulant ADHD medications safe? The American Academy of Pediatrics has stated that most stimulant prescription drugs are safe for children and that children can tolerate such medication for a period of five years. It has not been determined whether these drugs have any long-term effects beyond this time period. The American Heart Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics have both stated that children should be tested for heart conditions before proceeding with ADHD medication.
Can Medication Be Beneficial?
The good news is that about 70% of children have benefited from ADHD medication, statistically speaking. Stimulant drugs are cost-effective and are known to tolerate for a short number of years-usually just enough time for the child to become close to legal age. However, this certainly does not imply that ADHD medication is always the answer and is "always" safe. In fact, some stimulant drugs could produce some concerning physical or mental side effects. Ritalin is one of the most negatively-covered drugs in the media and for legal purposes it will list some concerning side effects: psychosis, difficulty in sleeping, mood swings, nervousness, stomach aches, diarrhea, headaches, lack of hunger and weight loss, dry mouth, and irritability. Therefore, if a parent were to notice any of these or similar symptoms in their child, they would certainly want to cease or decrease the medication, depending on the doctor's advice.
Remember that herbal supplements could be considered ADHD medication, but may not involve the risks that certain stimulant drugs carry. Many herbal supplements are considered natural treatments for some personality disorders. Research whatever medication you or your doctor is thinking about and always put your child's long-term well being above convenience!
by Einar Eskeland