So What’s the Deal with ADHD Medication?

Hello again everyone. There was a point in time when I felt that medication was one of the ills of modern society. My ADHD condition was mild but I went through a lot of behavioral therapy at an early age to get to where I am today. I never took medication and this led me believe that if a person puts enough effort in his or her life they will not need the medication.  This comic represented my opinion before  that medication was easy way out taking away imagination and creativity of ADHD in exchange for dull discipline.

The comic is funny and thought provoking but does that mean its right? People tend to believe statements that sound interesting and blunt even if they aren’t true.  As I said in my previous article of ‘Causes of ADHD’ people are free to have opinions but need to be careful in distinguing opinions from facts.  This is what I discovered when I started to study use of medication for ADHD children.  I am going to present to you guys the facts of ADHD medication and its up to you to draw your own conclusions.

Biology of ADHD

Neurotransmitters are chemical signals that conduct messages between neurons(brain cells).  These signals travel from a neuron and cross a small gap called synapse where they get accepted by another neuron at a kinda of docking bay known as a receptor. Certain neurotransmitters have lower activity in ADHD individuals then those without the disorder leading to inattention and hyperactivity. Dopamine, Serotonin and Norepinephrine are some of neurotransmitter who are responsible for attention, motivation and movement.

In the first image you see a long thing that looks like a vacuum cleaner which is known as a transporter. The orange things under it are dopamine cells which are sucked back in by the transporter after delivering their message to a neuron the large green thing.

The second image shows how medication for ADHD like Ritalin works. The drug releases artificial cells similar in structure to neurotransmitters to block the transporter in order to prevent dopamine cells being sucked in and allow them to remain. This increase the dopamine activity and hence increases attention and control over impulses for an ADHD child.

Medication for mental health disorders are over 60 years old being first synthesized in 1944. So medication for ADHD is not a recent phenomena. These type of medication comes in two different types Stimulant and Non stimulant.

Stimulant Medication

Ritalin, Adderall and Dexedrine are examples of Stimulant medications. They increase the levels of neurotransmitter Dopamine.  Stimulant medication have the most research and longest tracking record for dealing with ADHD. They are divided into two types long standing and short standing stimulant.

Short standing stimulant has a person taking 2-3 pills a day and the effects last for 4-5 hours.   Long standing stimulants only requires one pill being taken a day and lasts for 8-12 hours. Due to forgetfulness of ADHD individuals long standing stimulants are preferred because its only needs one pill to work. Like most drugs for disorders these medication regrettably come with side effects such as mood swings, irritability, depression, headaches, loss of sleeping and withdrawn personalities.

Non Stimulant Medication

Non stimulant medication such as Strattera  are alternative medication to stimulant medication. It boosts the level of Norepinephrine and only require one pill lasting for 24 hours and also deals with depression. Its side effects include headaches, nausea vomiting, abominable pain and the most severe one are suicidal thoughts for some children and teenagers with bipolar disorder.

The Postive effects of the Medication

So with all these side effects why would anyone subject their children to these ordeals. Well for one the medication is largely successful helping children adjust to work and to do well in society.

A study published in the journal Pediatrics, from researchers from UC Berkeley and the Nicholas C. Petris Center on Health Care Markets & Consumer Welfare found a correlation between stimulant medication such as Ritalin and higher test scores for students with ADHD.  In study consisting of 600 students over the whole U.S.A it showed that student taking the medication have shown a mean point difference of 2.9 in math and 5.4 difference in reading compared to those who don’t take the medication. Also some who have taken medication have shown dramatic improvement in a year to the extent that symptoms have lessened that they don’t need medication anymore.

The Stigma of Medication for Mental Health

There are unpleasant side effects to these medication but one could say the same for medication for Bipolar disorder and Epilepsy. Tylenol and Aspirine are among the most popular drugs consist of serious sideffects such as renal failure and kidney failure at high rates but no one complains.

I believe it has to do with the stigma of mental health disorders that the public see that medication should be for diseases or headaches and not for mental health disorders.  The public needs to rely less on their feeling and more to see the benefits and practicality of medication for the public to understand that there nothing significantly wrong with it. The side effects are troublesome but a individual can try different types of medication until he or she settles on one in which benefits of ADHD highly outweigh the side effects.  That’s it for my article I want to hear what your guys thought. Do you think children and adults with ADHD should be prescribed medication or is it just a front for drug companies?

  

Updated: 17 November 2015 by