It’s back to school time and many parents begin wondering if Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) medication might be part of the solution for helping their child succeed in the school year ahead.
ADHD is a developmental disorder, which means it’s symptoms present before the child turns 12. It is a disorder that causes impairment in one’s ability to stay focused, make well-thought-out decisions, and form healthy, lasting relationships.
The American Psychiatric Association estimates that 5% of children suffer from ADHD, but parent reporting on health surveys in the United States suggests that around 10% of children nationwide have been diagnosed with ADHD, and that about half of those diagnosed are taking ADHD medication (Data and Statistics, n.d.)
A stimulant class of medicines is typically prescribed to help manage the symptoms of ADHD. These medicines increase dopamine levels in the brain. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that regulates feelings of pleasure, motivation, movement, and attention.
Studies show that children diagnosed with ADHD, who are taking medication, have decreased impulsivity, hyperactivity, and inattention. This aids in the child being able to stay more focused in the classroom, as well as yields reports of overall behavior improvement, both at school and home (Braaten, 2016).
When seeking medication of any sort for one’s child, an understandable concern is a potential for negative side effects from the medication. Common short-term side-effects of methylphenidate include decreased appetite and possible sleep problems, but these can often regulate once the child’s body adjusts to the new medication, or with a few minor lifestyle changes (Braaten, 2016). Since the medicines used to treat ADHD are a stimulant, its long-term use can result in a tolerance to it being developed, which leads to a need for increased doses of the medication. When taken as prescribed, the risk of dependency is low. However, as with any medication, a discussion with one’s doctor about how medication may interact with one’s other existing physical/mental conditions and predispositions is always wise.
If you think your child may be suffering from ADHD and might benefit from treatment, an ADHD assessment by a licensed, Child Board Certified psychiatrist is a great starting place. At New Horizons Center for Healing, we have a licensed, Child Board Certified psychiatrist that is specialized in working with children. They are capable of assessing your child to better help you put the best plan in place for your child to succeed in school, at home and beyond.
- Braaten PhD., Ellen. (2016, March 4). ADHD medication for kids. Is it safe? Does it help? Retrieved August 14, 2019 from https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/adhd-medication-for-kids-is-it-safe-does-it-help-201603049235
- Centers for Disease Control Prevention. (n.d.). Data and Statistics About ADHD. Retrieved August 14, 2019 from https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/adhd/data.html.