ADHD: Willpower or Meds?

Psychiatrists and parents are often torn over giving psychostimulants to children suffering from attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). The finding that kids with ADHD are reluctant to credit medication for their behavioral improvement won't do much to resolve this controversy.

Jason J. Washburn, a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Michigan, asked children treated for ADHD and their parents what made a difference in the child's behavior: Was it the pill, the child or both?

The answer depends on whom you ask, says Washburn, in his study of 8- to 13-year-olds.

Parents and children attributed positive results to both the medication and efforts by the child. However, parents were likely to give more credit to the medication, while children gave more credit to themselves.

The findings are encouraging, says Washburn. "When these children go on medication, parents are often concerned that daily pill-taking will damage the child's self-esteem and that they will feel helpless without the medication," he says. "Our findings show that children don't ask, 'Is it the pill or me?' They say, 'It's the pill and me.' "

Find a Therapist

Search for a mental health professional near you.

Current Issue

Dreams of Glory

Daydreaming: How the best ideas emerge from the ether.