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ADHD in Children Health Center

Most Kids With ADHD Take Medication

84% of Kids With Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder Take Drugs to Treat the Condition
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Medication Side Effects continued...

The Consumer Reports Health special report says two classes of drugs are available for treatment of ADHD:

  • Stimulant medications, such as dextroamphetamine-based drugs, including Adderall, Vyvanese, and methylphenidate-based medications, including, Concerta, Daytrana and Ritalin. Generic medications are also available.
  • Non-stimulant medication, such as the anti-depressant bupropion (Wellbutrin and generic) or atomoxetine (Strattera).

Michael Goldstein, MD, a child neurologist with Western Neurological Associates in Salt Lake City and a former vice president of the American Academy of Neurology, is quoted as saying that there are no definitive comparison studies to show which medications work best in specific circumstances.

"We asked parents to rate how helpful each medication was in the following areas: academic performance, behavior at school, behavior at home, self-esteem, and social relationships," the authors write. "Both amphetamines and methylphenidates were equally likely to be helpful in all areas with the exception of behavior at school, where amphetamines were rated as slightly more helpful."

Tips for Parents

Consumer Reports Health offers these tips for monitoring medications.

  • Keep a log of your child's progress and "down" times to make sure dosing is correct and side effects are manageable.
  • Help your family manage stress by being patient and understanding during new experiences and around unfamiliar people.
  • If side effects seem overwhelming, talk with your doctor about switching drugs or dosing.
  • Talk with your physician about having time off - for example, a drug holiday -perhaps during vacations.
  • Keep good records to create a baseline for your child. Document not just test results and dates but also notes about practitioners, dosages, and frequencies.

The report also says that although drugs can help treat ADHD, medications can also be used for purposes other than those for which they are intended.

Consumer Reports' medical advisor, Orly Avitzur, MD, says students and professionals sometimes are seeking out drugs to help them improve work or test performance.

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