Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder is a
very common pathology; it can be corrected effectively with medication. Usually
the onset is in early childhood, and with time, the symptoms tend to diminish
in most patients. For that period it is essential to correct the condition with
drugs to prevent a child from lagging behind – because of ADHD it might be
difficult to percept information at the same pace with classmates.
There is a number of ways ADHD can be treated medicinally – most common representatives are psychostimulants. The effect from this group of medication is similar with the effect one gets from coffee (much weaker representative – caffeine), it includes faster reactions, slightly improved senses, reducing tiredness and for some time, reduces the need in sleep.
But of course coffee is not the proper treatment for ADHD – amphetamines are. Amphetamine or its more recent analogue Methylphenidate (more commonly known as Ritalin) do a great job by giving the body, and more importantly for ADHD – the mind, a powerful boost.
By increasing levels on norepinephrine and dopamine, amphetamines make body release glucose from deposits, therefore the decreased appetite and possible weight loss. There is a feeling of dry mouth, light tremor in the fingers, like when you are about to do something risky, of course in a condition like this it might be difficult falling asleep – a person is like a winded spring – ready to work, create, think and challenge.
All these strong symptoms can occur only when these psychostimulants are taken in much higher doses that are therapeutic for ADHD, so the strong association with amphetamine as a recreational substance should not concern you – the child is not going to become a party maniac from the smaller doses. Amphetamines are just going to make the child or a grown up person more active, concentrated, and capable of performing longer tasks and as a result – improve communication. Especially it is true for Ritalin – it is much weaker than Amphetamine and is hardly used as a recreational substance at all, despite its cheap price and availability.
Because of that effects Ritalin has two types of release – immediate and slow. Immediate would reduce the symptoms and slow release is better for children to take in the morning, last all day while they are at school and fade by the bedtime. A slow release form of methylphenidate (Daytrana) is available in a form, similar to those that people with diabetes use to keep their insulin levels up – a sort of device that can be worn on the hip and keep the stable low dose of methylphenidate (Daytrana) present in the system for as long as it is necessary.
There is one more common representative of the group - dexmethylphenidate (Focalin) – it has similar features and acts about the same as the other psychostimulants we have described above.
It is not recommended to take amphetamines with antidepressants, particularly with MAO inhibitors, in case of accidental overdose – the treatment is benzodiazepines.
Another group that is used to treat ADHD is cognition-enhancing medication. Common representatives are Atomoxetine (known as Strattera), and Guanaficine (Tenex).
Cognition-enhancing medication is weaker than psychostimulants, so amphetamines remain the first-line choice. Their biggest advantage is lack of abuse potential.
These meds also act because they increase Norepinephrine and Dopamine in synapses, so effects are similar, but weaker.
ADHD is a difficult diagnosis, there can be plenty of other reasons for child misbehavior, and they have to be excluded by a professional. Children with this diagnosis will require a special approach, medicinal is not the only treatment required here – the approach should be complex: doctors working on pharmaceutical correction of the problem, while parents, educational professionals and psychologists correct the behavioral aspect of the problem.
Doctor should also adjust the dosage of medication and it is not constant. There are many variables: every child has individual reaction to psychostimulants, and the reaction varies from child to child as well as it changes with age.
Before starting treatment with psychostimulants a doctor should assess the cardiovascular system of the child, as the use of amphetamines is associated with such side effects as increased BP, increased hear rhythm and sometimes even extra systoles. Medicinal treatment is indicated only with healthy individuals, while in children with heart problems it is better to try all non-medicinal resources, which can also be successful.