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Hidden Dangers of ADHD Medications: Effects of Drugs on Child's Brain

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MR A’s son is suffering from anxiety. The child demonstrates impulsive behaviors and is performing poorly in class. Teachers identify losing concentration easily or the troubles of paying attention in class when the child appears to be more distracted from the class than the rest of the students. Losing of concentration may cause the child to take extremely a longer time to complete their schoolwork while in class. These symptoms are mostly associated with ADHD and since the child and the father hardly seeks medication the condition is likely to worsen. Inattention that is beyond the typical ranges could be ADHD. However, based on the report of the patient does history diagnosis should not be made unless a visit to a pediatrician is fulfilled.

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Mr. G’s son who is seventeen years old also is suffering from ADHD. The patient always demonstrates an irritable mood, defiant, and always angry. His condition may worsen because the patient was on medication and stopped. Concerta 18mg are usually used in the treatment of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in adults and children that are above the age of six years. Even though the patient was on medication, Concerta is not recommended for patients with Glaucoma, sever anxiety, agitation and tension as Patient G demonstrates.

Following DSM-5, diagnosis for each patient will be based on the symptoms. Mr. A persistent mode of inattention and / or hyperactivity-impulsivity which interferes with functioning or development, as characterized by (1) and / or (2):

Inattention : the following symptoms have persisted for at least 6 months to a degree that does not correspond to the level of development and has direct negative effects on social and academic activities:

  • Often fails to pay attention to details or makes careless mistakes in schoolwork.
  • Often find it difficult to maintain their attention or to stay focused during a lesson
  • Often does not comply with the instructions and fails to complete his school homework, his domestic tasks, or his professional obligations
  • Often avoid, dislike, or reluctantly do tasks that require sustained mental effort
  • Often easily distracted by external stimuli.

Patient G is suffering from Hyperactivity and impulsivity. The following symptoms have persisted, to a degree which does not correspond to the level of development and which has a direct negative impact on social and academic. The patient is presents with irritable mood, very defiant, always angry and argues with his father all the time. Opposes his father on everything.

For patient A, physicians should determine if the diagnostic criteria on the DSM-V have been met and document the difficulties the child suffers from. It is recommended to obtain observation information from more than 1 major setting. Psychotherapies for both patients can include training in social skills, anger management, and problem-solving. Stimulants have effectively treated many ADHD children and are the most prevalent ADHD medical treatment. Clinical studies have found that therapeutic doses of stimulants can improve PFC functioning and efficiency, reducing ADHD symptoms.

When there is doubt regarding the provided observations, physicians may recommend that parents complete a parent-training program before seeking an ADHD diagnosis. Such training programs can help parents develop age-appropriate developmental expectations and specific skills for managing problem behaviors. Instructors in these programs may also have the opportunity to directly observe the child’s functions and symptoms and report the information back to the physicians for further diagnosis.

The first concern of using drugs to treat the disorder is safety. Safety is a concern with all medications, not just ADHD medications. However, since these drugs target the brain’s neurotransmitter systems, which are far more complex than other organs in our bodies, there is a greater risk of unforeseen problems. Another concern is the negative side effects such as loss of appetite or developing tics. Abusing stimulants for non-treatment use is another major issue feared by parents. Because of all these concerns, parents are recommended to start with non-pharmacological treatment before considering adding drugs to it. If non-pharmacological treatment has not been effective or enough, parents have to weigh the fear of these potential issues with the benefits gained from using medications. When ADHD goes untreated, the effects can have vast impact on the child’s learning, self-esteem, relationship, and quality of life. 

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