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ADHD: Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder

ADHD Treatment

Margaret Austin, Ph.D., Natalie Staats Reiss, Ph.D., and Laura Burgdorf, Ph.D.

Hearts Apart helps children of deployed Soldiers - FMWRC - US Army - 100924image by U.S. Army (lic)Although the importance of an accurate diagnosis has been emphasized repeatedly above, finding an effective treatment strategy is also vitally important. The 1999 Multimodal Treatment Study of ADHD (MTA Study) is the largest study (involving approximately 570 children over 6 different sites in the United States and Canada) to date comparing the effectiveness of different treatments for ADHD. The results from the MTA study showed that medication was the single most effective treatment. However, the most effective treatment strategy overall was a combination of medication and psychosocial treatments (social skills training or anger management training). The MTA results are groundbreaking in suggesting that medication is not the only option for people with ADHD, and that combination therapy will likely provide the most positive impact.

Insurance sometimes pays for various evaluation and treatment services. Be sure to check with your insurance carrier and determine what is covered so as to maximize benefit usage. This is even more important for conditions that require ongoing treatment.

Medication

Medication is usually the first line of treatment for Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder. As mentioned previously, in the last ten years, the number of prescriptions written for medications to treat ADHD has increased dramatically, particularly in the United States. The exact reasons behind such dramatic increases are not entirely clear.

These drugs are not a cure for ADHD. Instead, they can help minimize the negative impact of ADHD symptoms on an individual's life. For example, in school, children who cannot concentrate on their work may find their grades plummeting as they advance through each grade level and performance expectations increase. Medication may enable children to begin concentrating, and therefore, to learn the material and raise their grades.

Most people are reluctant to put their children on medication. There is much to consider in doing so. The benefits of medication for the treatment of ADHD are significant. Many people find that the benefits outweigh the risks and are at least willing to try the medication and observe the results. Research conducted with children with ADHD regarding their medication suggests that most of them believe that medication made "a world of improvement" in their lives. Their ability to gain clarity on their disorder has been enhanced by the improvements they experience with medication. Despite the difficulties and challenges associated with medication, most children think it is worth it.

Many people take medication for several years. Some people continue taking medication and reaping the benefits of it throughout their childhood and well into adulthood. However, since ADHD is a disorder that changes over time, it may be helpful to periodically stop the medication and observe the changes. This can be done during the summer, or even at the beginning of the school year to determine if the benefits are still worth the complications involved.

The extent/severity of ADHD-associated problems, the availability of support services, and the likelihood of cooperation from school personnel and parents must be considered in the medication decision. Whether or not to medicate a child from an uncooperative family who also desperately needs other resources (such as psychotherapy) is a difficult decision for any doctor. The child's school may provide a mediating role by discussing treatment with the family, arranging for counseling on the school site, as well as administering medication at school. However, the family's cooperation should be continually encouraged. Most clinicians believe that it is not fair to punish children or their peers in the classroom by restricting medication that might provide a significant benefit.

The 1999 Multimodal Treatment Study of ADHD (MTA Study) is the largest study (involving approximately 570 children over 6 different sites in the United States and Canada) to date comparing the effectiveness of different treatments for ADHD. The results from the MTA study showed that medication was the single most effective treatment. However, the most effective treatment strategy overall was a combination of medication and psychosocial treatments (social skills training or anger management training). The MTA results are groundbreaking in suggesting that medication is not the only option for people with ADHD, and that combination therapy will likely provide the most positive impact.

Insurance sometimes pays for various evaluation and treatment services. Be sure to check with your insurance carrier and determine what is covered so as to maximize benefit usage. This is even more important for conditions that require ongoing treatment.

 

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