How To Treat ADHD
Typical ADHD Medication
Children diagnosed with ADHD are typically given the following prescription medication (10):
- Stimulants such as amphetamine (Adderall or Dexedrine) and methylphenidate (Concerta, Metadate CD, or Ritalin), which reduce hyperactivity and impulsivity to improve focus.
- Atomoxetine (Strattera), a nonstimulant medication.
- Clonidine (Kapvay) and guanfacine (Intuniv), nonstimulant medicines that treat aggression, inattention, and impulsivity.
ADHD medication side effects
Ritalin, perhaps the best known ADHD drug of all, has serious side effects. It’s estimated that 2.5 million children in the United States are taking medication for the condition (11).
Worse of all researchers led by Madelyn Gould of the New York State Psychiatric Institute and Columbia University in New York City found that out of a group of 564 children and teens who died suddenly were 7.4 times more likely than not to have been taking stimulant medications. This may be due to the drug’s effect on the cardiovascular system.
- Abdominal Upset
- Stomach pain
- Loss of appetite
- Weight loss
- Emotional ups and downs
- Insomnia and dizziness
- Emotional sensitivity
- Muscle tics or twitches
- Nervous habits
Ritalin is also addictive, and withdrawal can lead to depression, disturbed sleep, malnutrition, cardiovascular complications, and stroke (14).
Amphetamine, like methylphenidate, can be habit-forming.
Serious side effects of amphetamine include (15):
- Chest pain
- Trouble breathing
- Feeling like you might pass out
- Fast heartbeat
- Rapid breathing
- Unusual thoughts
- New behavior problems
- Feeling irritable
- Feeling pain or cold
- Unexplained wounds
- Skin color changes in your fingers or toes
- Changes in your vision
- Unexplained muscle pain, tenderness, or weakness
More common side effects include:
- Stomach pain, nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite
- Diarrhea, constipation
- Weight loss
- Mood changes, feeling restless or nervous, sleep problems (insomnia)
- Dry mouth, unusual or unpleasant taste in the mouth
- Runny nose, nosebleeds
- Increased heart rate
- Headache, dizziness
- Impotence and sexual problems
In light of all these side effects, are these drugs truly suitable for children?