How to Work Out the Kinks in ADHD Drug Therapy

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ADDitude Magazine on Apr 15, 2013 at 1:22PM

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How to Work Out the Kinks in ADHD Drug Therapy

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Problem: ADHD Medication Doesn't Work

Some parents claim that their distracted or hyperactive child shows no improvement. The most common reason for this lack of response is an incorrect ADHD diagnosis. Maybe your child’s behaviors are caused by an academic problem, such as a learning disability (LD), or an emotional problem. Many parents tell their doctor that their child can’t sit still or pay attention in school. Without asking questions or conducting tests, the physician writes a prescription. The ADHD diagnosis is not that simple. Specific criteria must be met before an attention deficit disorder diagnosis is made: establishing that the behaviors have been chronic (existed since preschool or early elementary school) and pervasive (at home, in school, with peers).

In some cases, the ADD diagnosis may be correct, but the prescribed dosage may be incorrect. Determining the right dosage is not based on age or body weight, but on how quickly the medication is absorbed into the bloodstream and passed into the brain. A 250-pound adult may need 5 mg., while a 60-pound child may require 20 mg. Since the dose needed is specific to the patient, medication should be started low, at 5 mg. If no benefits are seen, the dose should be increased, by 5 mg., every five to seven days until the correct dose is determined.

Finally, many ADHD children have additional problems. The most frequent are learning disabilities, anxiety disorders, depression, anger control problems, or obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). Stimulants manage ADHD symptoms, but don’t address symptoms caused by related disorders.

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