What You Need to Know About ADHD Medication
It is often a shocking and heart wrenching moment for any parent when confronted with the notion of having to choose whether or not to embark on medication for their child suffering with ADHD. Many GP’s themselves are reluctant to push medication but they realize as well as the parents, that a child who cannot sit still in class and pay attention is a child who is missing out on valuable learning and not keeping up in class. The longer the condition is left to persist the more the child can get behind in class work.
Figures compiled in 2011 showed that approximately 11% of children aged 4-17 years are diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). For many of these children, the condition can have a strong impact on the ability to behave in a socially acceptable manner.
Many children with ADHD understand the things that are expected of them, but cannot comply with various social standards without some kind of outside intervention. The most common form of intervention revolves around prescription medications. This is the method of choice for many physicians and clinicians.
It is important to realise, however, that medicating is not the only option. For some children it can be the only viable solution. For many more, however, there are alternatives.
The real question is whether or not medicating is a necessary course of treatment for your child. Medication can be a help, but it can also be a hindrance. It can help if your child’s behaviour issues are the result of a chemical imbalance, but if they are not (and this is rarely as thoroughly explored as it should be) they can hinder the child’s ability to learn to manage or overcome the condition. To put it into perspective, let’s weigh a few of the pros and cons.
The Pros of Medicating for ADHD
Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that is associated with attention, movement, motivation and pleasure. Medications like Concerta, Metadate, Dexedrine, Adderall and Ritalin work with the brain to increase Dopamine levels and regulate behaviours and impulses. They also help to lengthen the patient’s attention span.
The increase in Dopamine boosts concentration levels and helps the patient stay focused while at the same time reduces hyperactivity and impulsiveness. It also helps them sleep better and allows them to think more rationally about their words and behaviours.
The Cons of Medicating for ADHD
There are notable side effects associated with all medicines used to treat ADHD. Some patients actually report INCREASES in anxiety and mood swings, increased heartbeat, dizziness, headache, upset stomach and difficulty falling and staying asleep. Others lose their appetite and become worryingly thin. Furthermore some parents report that their children have become spaced out and have lost their personalities to the point where they become unrecognizable as the person they once were.
Alternative Treatment Options
If your child is currently taking medication for ADHD and is exhibiting any of the above mentioned side effects, odds are that the issue is not originating with low levels of dopamine. In fact, if the child’s dopamine levels are normal, some of the side effects can be severe and, in rare but notable instances, life threatening.
This is why I strongly recommend thoroughly exploring the source of the problem before deciding on a pharmaceutical solution. Quite often, the issue lies not with chemical imbalances in the brain, but a disconnect between external stimuli and how the brain processes them.
Treatments like TOMATIS® Sound Therapy are an effective way of identifying many non-chemical causes of ADHD. TOMATIS® is a listening therapy that teaches the brain how to more efficiently manage and process incoming signals. Quite often, teaching the brain how to listen effectively is all it takes to bring the symptoms of ADHD under control.
I would urge any parent to explore TOMATIS® as well as other therapies I have used to treat children throughout Australia with ADHD before deciding on a course of medication. I have helped countless numbers of children overcome their symptoms without drugs or the side effects they cause.