3 Things to Keep in Mind When Medicating Your ADHD Child

3 Things to Keep in Mind When Medicating Your ADHD ChildIf your child has been diagnosed with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD, one of the many treatment options your doctor may suggest is ADHD medication.  Medication for ADHD, especially when combined with other available treatments, can be very effective in managing your child’s symptoms, but like with any other type of medication, there may be side effects and potential risks involved.  To help you better understand this popular, and sometimes controversial treatment option, in this article we will discuss ADHD medications in a bit more detail, and outline 3 things to keep in mind when medicating your ADHD child.

ADHD and Medication:  The Facts

There are currently a number of stimulant and non-stimulant medications that have proven very effective in managing the more common ADHD symptoms, including hyperactivity, impulsivity and inattention.  However, many of these ADHD medications can cause troublesome side effects of which you, as a parent, need to be aware, including:

  • Restlessness and or/jittery feelings—much like the symptoms coffee and other caffeine products can create
  • Irritability and mood swings, including, in certain cases, aggressive behavior
  • Sleep difficulties, including insomnia
  • Appetite suppression
  • Dizziness and headaches
  • Upset stomach
  • Racing heart or palpitations
  • Depression/anxiety

In most cases these side effects are very mild and manageable, but when one or more of these symptoms begin to affect your child’s ability to function normally, it is imperative that they are immediately reported to the prescribing physician.

Medication can be a great option for children coping with ADHD, but most doctors are hesitant to use medication as the sole treatment strategy, recommending instead a multi-tiered approach that includes behavioral therapy, dietary changes, exercise and plenty of sleep in addition to medication therapy.

3 Things to Keep in Mind When Medicating Your ADHD Child

Making the decision to medicate your ADHD child can be very difficult, and the decision is not to be taken lightly.  You need to do your homework on each of the available medications, investigating not only the efficacy of these drugs, but the risks and side effects associated with each of them.  This will help you make an informed decision.  Additionally, here are 3 things to keep in mind when medicating your ADHD child:

  • What Medication Can and Cannot Due.  While medication can help your child’s ability to focus, concentrate, control impulsivity and help with forgetfulness, it is not a magic formula that will immediately turn your child into an angel.  He or she may still struggle with some emotional and behavioral problems, and may still feel socially awkward.  This is why it is so very important to explore multiple treatment options, including therapy and lifestyle changes, in addition to medication treatment.
  • Medication is Not a Cure for ADHD.  Stimulant and non-stimulant medications can help relieve the symptoms of ADHD, but they are by no means a cure.  Once the medication stops, so too will the improvements you noticed while your child was taking the medication.
  • ADHD Medications Work Better/Worse for Some.  Each person will respond differently to ADHD medication.  A drug that works for one person may not have the same effect on your child.  This is why it is so important to stay connected with the doctor and have your child monitored closely when taking ADHD medication.

Medication can be a fantastic solution for ADHD symptom control, but it should never be the sole treatment strategy.  Alternate treatments such as behavioral therapy can help your child explore the reasons for his/her symptoms and discover ways to accommodate for his/her issues.