ADHD medication has seen its share of controversy. It has been touted as a way of turning children into zombies or a way of quieting children so that we no longer need to be bothered by their misbehavior. But medication for ADHD has been shown to be safe and effective when used as prescribed. It is often an important part of an overall plan for treating ADHD.
Dr. Craig Liden, a pediatrician in PA, in an article entitled, “Paying Attention to Adult ADD,” on Medicinenet.com, discusses what people with ADHD face before receiving treatment, “It’s like if I needed glasses to read, and then I was put into situations every day where I had to read without my glasses. Pretty soon I would become frustrated and angry. That’s what life is like with ADD. The ability to pay attention and sustain concentration is a prerequisite for almost every life task.”
But medication is only one component of an overall treatment plan, Dr. Liden explained at the 2008 ADDA Conference. A treatment plan should be specific to the individual. Each person may need different aspects of the different types of treatment available:
- Individual counseling
- Support group participation
- Family/marital counseling
- Language therapy
- Basic skill remediation
- Vocational support
Determining if medication is needed should be based on a comprehensive evaluation, Dr. Liden explained. There are a number of reasons a doctor may suggest a regiment of medication to treat ADHD:
Dysfunction in one or more of the following areas:
- Academic or job performance
- Independent functioning
- Behavior and impulse control
- Social interactions
- Problem solving abilities
- Health maintenance
Even when the situation may point to medication benefiting a patient, there are some reasons why medication may not be a good choice, Dr. Liden continued:
- Physical conditions such as heart disease, high blood pressure or glaucoma
- Co-existing emotional disorders such as depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety disorders, substance abuse
- If a person is against medication or is unwilling to commit to a treatment plan to try to improve their life.
Dr. Liden offered three main goals for integrating medication into treatment: decreasing symptoms of ADHD (increase attention, decrease impulsiveness, decrease distractibility), provide the patient with the ability to take advantage of other therapies and to help the patient function efficiently in all aspects of their life. Specific goals, however, should be set according to each person’s individual needs.
“Paying Attention to Adult ADD”, 2001, Mar 19, Michele Bloomquist, Medicinenet.com
Eileen Bailey is a freelance health writer. She is the author of What Went Right: Reframe Your Thinking for a Happier Now, Idiot’s Guide to Adult ADHD, Idiot’s Guide to Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Essential Guide to Overcoming Obsessive Love, and Essential Guide to Asperger’s Syndrome. She can be found on Twitter @eileenmbailey and on Facebook at eileenmbailey.