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ADHD Treatment in Children: Addressing Medication Concerns

Parents' dilemma to treat ADHD with medication

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is one of the most common childhood diagnoses. Previously, I wrote a blog on strategies to manage ADHD. One of those strategies was appropriately treating symptoms with medication. As a clinical child psychologist, I often encounter parents who have a child with ADHD. These parents are faced with the decision to use therapy and medication as a way to improve their child’s functioning at home and at school. Although it may seem like an easy decision for most, some parents struggle with the thought of giving their child medication. In my discussion with parents, I emphasize that “best practice” is to treat ADHD with a combination of behavior therapy and medication. While medication is used to treat ADHD, data from the CDC indicates that less than 50 percent of children with ADHD take medication.

While medication used to treat ADHD is helpful it is important for parents to know that children experience the effects of ADHD medication differently. One child might have side effects with a certain medication, while another child may not. Sometimes several different medications or dosages must be tried before finding one that works for a particular child. As a result, it is extremely important for parent to monitor their child and express their concerns to the doctor prescribing the medication.

Below is a list of commonly reported side effects:

  • decreased appetite
  • sleep problems
  • anxiety
  • irritability
  • mild stomachaches or headaches
  • children also may have a “personality” change such as appearing "flat"

Even though some children experience side effects while taking ADHD medication, these tend to decrease over time.

Parents’ role in managing ADHD

Copyright 2013 Erlanger A. Turner, Ph.D.

You can follow Dr. Turner on Twitter @DrEarlTurner for daily post on psychology, mental health, and parenting. Feel free to join his Facebook group, “Get Psych’d with Dr. T” to discuss today's blog, or to ask further questions about this posting.


ADHD Graph Source: Division of Human Developmental, National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. National Institute of Mental Health. Retrieved January 2013 from