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Pros and Cons of ADHD Medication for Children

Walter Kyle By Walter Kyle on March 5, 2021
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Children are the most important part of a parent’s life. With this in mind, it is not surprising that many are hesitant about giving medication to their kids. Here are some things to keep in mind in regards to ADHD medication like the differences between the two different types of ADHD medications and the pros and cons of both. 

The Two Types of ADHD Medication 

There are two types of ADHD medication. Stimulants, or Amphetamines, include brand names such as Adderall, Dexedrine, and Eveka. They are also the most common. Amphetamines work by promoting the release of norepinephrine and dopamine, which boosts concentration for those with ADHD. Non stimulants include drugs like Ritalin, Concerta, Quillivant, and Focalin XR. Similar to stimulants, non stimulants increase the levels of norepinephrine. They are only typically used when stimulants aren’t effective. 

The Pros of Stimulants 

ADHD can be a very stressful condition, especially for school aged children. The following are some pros to stimulant ADHD medication, and the reasons that most parents choose to medicate their children. 

-Improved performance in school 

-Increased productivity

-Increased motivation 

-Decreased impulsiveness

-Longer attention span 

-Improved mood 

-Decreased Hyperactivity 

-Reduction or elimination of racing thoughts 

-Less procrastination 

-In some cases, an easier time making friends 

The Pros of Non Stimulants 

Non stimulant medications have all of the same benefits that stimulant ADHD medications do. Due to the improved school performance, and in some cases overall quality of life, many parents decide that medication is a beneficial tool for their child to manage their condition. A pro to non stimulant ADHD medication that stimulant medication lacks is that it can often be used when stimulants cause too many side effects and/or are ineffective. 

The Cons of Stimulants 

Although stimulants can be beneficial, they do have a number of side effects that vary severity from patient to patient. Here are the most common side effects of Stimulant ADHD medication 

-Insomnia 

-Loss of appetite 

-Nausea

-Feeling Jittery 

-Irritability 

-Depression 

-High blood pressure 

-Dizziness 

-Weight loss 

-increased heart rate 

-involuntary movement (often called tics) 

-Headaches 

As mentioned before, the above side effects vary in severity between patients, and their intensity often depends on the dose size. Luckily, non stimulants are often an option for those that have a bad experience with amphetamines. 

The Cons of Non Stimulants 

Like stimulants, non stimulants have a number of side effects to consider. Here are the most common side effects experienced by those taking non stimulant ADHD medication. 

-Drowsiness and fatigue 

-Insomnia 

-Dizziness 

-Nausea and vomiting 

-Mood swings and changes

-Weight loss 

It is possible to have a bad experience with taking non stimulant ADHD medication as well, and, like with most prescription medication, the severity of side effects depends on the dose size and varies from person to person. 

Some Other Considerations 

Another thing to consider and a potential drawback to both stimulant and non stimulant ADHD medication is that they are both highly addictive substances. It is common for those abusing these types of drugs over a long period of time to need to stay at an Austin rehab center to stop their addiction. This is a concerning fact that often makes parents hesitant to give their child with ADHD medication. Although this can be troubling, it is important to know that ADHD medication is safe when administered under a doctor’s instructions. 

The Importance of Finding the Right Medication

Though all of these side effects may seem troubling and overwhelming, the key to success is finding the right medication that works for your child. This will allow for them to experience the benefits of ADHD medication with few of the negative side effects. Depending on the situation, your child may also benefit, and see even more success, when adding therapy into their treatment plan. As always, elements of a treatment plan like medication and therapy should be talked over with a healthcare professional before being implemented. You are also more likely to give your child the best treatment possible when you consult a psychiatrist. 

Things to Consider when Stopping ADHD Medication 

Although it may not be a full blown drug detox, there are withdrawal symptoms to consider when stopping the use of ADHD medication. This specially true if your child has been taking them for an extended amount of time. “Most withdrawal symptoms are virtually the same for both stimulant and non stimulant medications, but there are some symptoms that are unique to one or the other”, says Mat Gorman, CEO at Briarwood Detox. As always, you should always consult your doctor before ending the use of a medication. The common signs of ADHD medication withdrawal are: 

-Irritability 

-Headaches 

-Fatigue 

-Depression 

-Sudden unusual behaviors (non stimulants) 

-Irregular heartbeat (stimulants)

Conclusion 

Whether or not ADHD medication is right for your child involves numerous factors. The severity of your child’s condition, side effects they experience, and the suggestions from a doctor are all things to take into consideration. Remember, what might be right for others may not be right for your child and vice versa. Taking the time to find the right medication will make huge improvements in your child’s life if you decide to go down that route. 

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