How to Decide if Medication is the Most Effective Treatment for Your ADHD Child

Medication does it help or harm your ADHD child?

Many families dealing with ADHD struggle with the decision to add medication to their child’s treatment. Before medicating children with ADHD, here are five critical questions that parents of an ADHD child should answer first.

It’s a familiar struggle and I see in my own office again and again: parents of children with ADHD trying to decide if their child needs to add an ADHD medication to their ADHD treatment plan. Their child may be falling behind or getting into trouble at school. They may be overly emotional, showing low self-esteem, having a hard time maintaining friendships, or acting out of control. They need help. But is medication for ADHD the answer?

These five questions can help families find the best ADHD treatment for their kids:

QUESTION ONE | Has my child been diagnosed with ADHD by a doctor?

ADHD is a developmental disorder, meaning that it is a condition that first appears in childhood. Children as young as four years old can be formally diagnosed with ADHD and most ADHD children will show a range of symptoms before they turn 12. But many of the symptoms of ADHD—being in constant motion, having a hard time listening, being noisy, talkative and prone to distractions—can also seem like “kids being kids.” After all, every child learns to control their body and focus their mind at different rates and ADHD is not the only condition that can make it harder for some children to master these skills.

Because there is no definitive test for ADHD, a proper diagnosis of ADHD is a careful, multi-step process that requires professional experience and training. A good doctor rules out other potential causes like anxiety or depression, identifies six or more known symptoms of ADHD, and may even consider a brain scan before diagnosing your child with ADHD.

Before parents consider giving their child medication for ADHD, they need an ADHD diagnosis from a qualified doctor.

QUESTION TWO | Do I understand the side effects of ADHD medication for children?

Like all medications approved for use by children, the most common medications for ADHD are rigorously tested, continuously studied and are considered safe for otherwise healthy children. But like all medications, ADHD drugs do have side effects. Parents and physicians must balance the risks of known side effects against the benefits a child may receive from their ADHD medication, understand how these medicines will react with other drugs their child may be taking, and children with known heart conditions should not take certain kinds of ADHD drugs at all.

The most common side effects of ADHD medication for children are problems with sleeping and a decrease in appetite. These may not sound like a big deal at first, but my research has shown that regular sleep and the right mix of nutrients are both very important factors in how well a child can manage their ADHD symptoms naturally over time. I work closely with parents in my practice to identify these potential side effects and develop a strategy for how to lessen them.

Before your child begins taking medication for ADHD, ask your physician about the known side effects and have a plan in place for how to deal with them.

QUESTION THREE | Do my partner and I agree that medication is the right treatment for our child’s ADHD?

In my consulting room, I’ve heard parents express many fears and doubts about giving their child medication for ADHD. They are good parents who want to protect their child and I work hard to give them the information that they need to make their decision and to feel comfortable with their choice. But what if parents or caregivers disagree?

Medical treatment for ADHD is a big step that adults should agree on. There are many ways to help families find consensus. I always encourage my patients to take a holistic approach to ADHD treatment and not to rely on medication alone. I always ask parents to try proven natural remedies for ADHD and to implement behavioral therapies before adding ADHD medications. I also recommend beginning ADHD drug therapies with less intensive (but highly effective) nutritional supplements called neurotransmitter precursors to rebalance brain chemistry naturally.

By easing families into a holistic treatment plan for ADHD, parents can find a way to get on the same page.

QUESTION FOUR | Will my child always need medication for ADHD?

Parents thinking about medicating their child for ADHD often find themselves thinking not just about the decision they face today, but about what it means for their child’s future. Will their child always need to take medications for ADHD? When parents ask me this question, I tell them that I can’t forecast the future. I can, however, give their ADHD child a better chance at a medication-free future.

According to recent studies, about 50% of children are able to naturally transition off ADHD drugs as they grow into adulthood. To give my patients the best chance of treating their ADHD without medication, I make sure the ADHD children I see are learning strategies to modify their behavior and are receiving the right nutrition and proven natural treatments to rebalance their brain chemistry.

Holistic treatment for ADHD can help children give up ADHD drugs as they grow into adulthood.

QUESTION FIVE: Have I explored the proven, scientifically studied natural remedies for ADHD first?

My work has shown again and again that medication is just one part of the most effective treatment for ADHD, and that behavior therapy and natural remedies for ADHD. My research reveals that the complicated relationship between an ADHD child’s biochemistry and their behavior can best be unlocked through optimized nutrition. Holistic ADHD treatments can work alongside behavioral therapy and ADHD drugs and they can work alone. They are essential for parents looking for a more natural way to treat ADHD in children or who want to avoid the side effects of ADHD medication.

I wrote Finally Focused, my latest book, on ADHD natural treatment to provide families of children with ADHD with scientifically proven tools they need to support and nurture their child, naturally.  For more about the rigorous research into the causes of ADHD, proven natural treatments for ADHD, visit the Finally Focused website.

1 reply
  1. Sally Bunday
    Sally Bunday says:

    It is clearly essential that those parents who feel their child has Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder seek professional help for a diagnosis and for some children and young people medication will be prescribed, however I feel that in view of research that has been carried out over many years around the world it is most unfortunate if the vital role of Diet and Nutrition is not considered by the Doctors and parents. There is no reason why a trial of an Additive, Food Intolerance diet together with essential nutrients cannot be considered before medication is prescribed. Low levels of Zinc, Magnesium, Iron, B Complex Vitamins and the Essential Fatty Acids ( Omega 3 & 6) have all been found to help the children and for all we know what appears to be ADHD might just be a need for a change of diet and some supplements .

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