Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is the fastest growing diagnosed disorder in children under the age of 18. Many children in countries like the US, New Zealand and Australia are being prescribed medication at an alarming rate. With the FDA requiring ADHD medications to come with warning labels, over-medication of children with ADHD becomes a real problem.
Most ADHD medications are stimulants that contain amphetamines. Various side effects have been reported when taking these drugs. Some of them tend to suppress feelings of any kind, which makes children unhappy. Some are addicted and prone to substance abuse. In some cases, depression can lead to suicidal thoughts or actions.
Ritalin is a common prescription drug for ADHD in children to help them focus better. Ritalin side effects include headaches, abdominal pain, insomnia, dizziness, nervousness, weight loss, and even abnormal heart rhythms. The effects of long-term use are not fully understood, but have been linked to abnormal brain development and stunted growth in young children.
Adderall is another ADHD drug that combines various amphetamines. Common side effects of taking Adderall include dizziness, restlessness, insomnia, headache, dry mouth, and weight loss.
The potential for addiction and abuse is the biggest concern with ADHD medications. Children, especially teenagers, who take these drugs without the supervision of their parents and doctors are more likely to become abused and dependent on them.
There are other types of treatment for ADHD, especially for less severe cases. An alternative treatment is to make dietary changes. There are certain allergy-causing foods that can trigger or increase hyperactivity, such as wheat, dairy, sugar, soy, and eggs. Avoid refined carbohydrates and processed foods. The latter usually contain preservatives, coloring and artificial flavors that can cause further behavioral problems. A dietitian can help determine an appropriate eating plan for children with ADHD.
Herbal remedies are also available to treat ADHD and are effective for mild to moderate cases. These drugs do not have the side effects and potential addiction that traditional prescription drugs have. Behavioral therapy is beneficial because it teaches children how to deal with different situations. Children who understand how to react when they are frustrated, angry, or misunderstood can learn to better control their behavior.
While there is no one treatment that works for every child, the right combination of treatment options can keep ADHD symptoms under control. Parents should be less accepting of traditional prescription treatments and discuss alternative treatment options for ADHD with their doctor. ADHD children who are prescribed medication need to be monitored to prevent addiction and substance abuse.
Thanks to Alvin Toh