Pros and Cons of Medication in Young Children

Stimulant medication is not a universal panacea for childhood ADHD. Although most children will see improvements, academic challenges and behavior problems may persist that require other types of intervention. And studies show that stimulant medications do not work for all children with ADHD.

While most children do not suffer longtime adverse side effects from taking stimulant medication when taken properly, it's important for parents and children to monitor side effects and bring unexpected or adverse side effects to the attention of your physician.

Myths about ADHD Medication

There are many myths concerning stimulant medications. Before letting the myths discourage or frighten you from considering the use of stimulant medications for your child, it's important to get to the truth of the matter.

Here are two of the most popular myths concerning ADHD medication for children, and the truth behind the issues:

Myth 1: Children treated with stimulant medication are likely to become addicted to it and also more likely to abuse other drugs. Truth: There is no data indicating that children with ADHD who take stimulant medications are more likely to abuse drugs than other children. In fact, studies show just the contrary — that they are less inclined to abuse them.

Myth 2: Stimulant medications will turn your child into a zombie. Truth: While some children may become sluggish and withdrawn when going on medication, these symptoms are generally an indication that the dose is too high, or that the child is suffering from a coexisting condition that has not been addressed. In fact, studies show that children treated with stimulant medication show an increase in social behavior, not a decrease.

The Practice of Polypharmacy

Polypharmacy, or prescribing several psychiatric medications at the same time, is often used to treat coexisting conditions in children with ADHD. For instance, if a child has ADHD as well as clinical anxiety, depression, or bipolar disorder, he may need to take medication for both conditions. If done in the right way, polypharmacy can result in a simultaneous reduction of symptoms for both conditions.

But if medications are prescribed without taking into account their side effects, a patient could suffer serious medical consequences, or even experience an increase in ADHD symptoms if one or both medications have side effects like depression, anxiety, brain fog, or insomnia.

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