How to Treat an ADHD Child With Medication

ADHD is a medical condition, caused by a chemical/electrical imbalance in the brain. Just like any medical condition, medical treatment is required to really gain success in treatment of this condition. Behavioral management and natural therapies all work far better when medication is introduced first.


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    Make sure you have a correct and thorough diagnosis before you start treating with medication. A diagnosis should be a lengthy process, if the doctor diagnosed the condition in one visit then seek a second opinion.
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    Take your child for a blood test and have his blood pressure tested as well, its important to make sure there are no other underlying problems first.
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    The best medications for ADHD are usually stimulants. These help with concentration, focus, distraction , hyperactivity and behavior problems as they help to normalize the chemical imbalance in the ADHD child's brain.
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    Doctors will usually start on a low dose of medication and raise the dose if success ensues.
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    Start the medication on a weekend, that way you can watch for improvements and side effects. The medication should start to work fairly quickly after the child takes it. About an hour after the child has taken it you will see the best effects. Due to this it's a good idea to time the morning dose about an hour before school starts.
    • Some medications are short acting and others are long acting. Long acting medications should last about 12 hours and should need only be taken once a day. Short acting medications last about 4 hours and will need to be taken again at about lunch time to help kids get through the second half of their school day.
    • Long acting meds are good because they only need to be taken once a day, but they don't have as good coverage as short acting. Short acting meds need to be taken more often but often produce a more stable result.
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    A third dose will usually need to be taken after school to help with doing home work, sports and extra curricular activities, chores at home, playing with friends, enjoying free times and home behavior. Some parents see the meds as only helping with school and have difficulty seeing that kids struggle at home too and can't enjoy free time or socialize as well as they could on meds.
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    Sometimes long acting meds don't work as well by the afternoon and a child may need to take another small dose of a short acting med in the afternoon, especially if they are doing extra curricular activities or homework.
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    Most kids do experience side effects at first, they may feel funny or zombie like, they may feel sick or dizzy. These side effects usually only last a few days. Many parents take their kids off the meds straight away when they appear rather than giving it a few days to let the body adjust. Once these few days are up, the side effects are rarely ever seen again, even after a long break from medication.
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    Some side effects last longer, these are usually difficulty falling asleep and a reduced appetite. Try not to give the final dose for the day any closer than 4 hours before bedtime. These side effects may last a while but will eventually go away as well. If they are not causing any serious problems then there is nothing to worry about.
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    It your child is extra quiet or seems like a zombie after being on the meds a few days, this is not a side effect and this is not how the medication is supposed to work. It means that the dosage is too high and needs to be reduced.
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    Kids will experience different side effects and different positive effects on different medications. There are many available. If your child seems to have a lot of problems with a medication or no benefit. Don't give up, try a different medication. It may take up to a year of experimenting to get the medication and dosage right, but it will be well worth the struggle as it can produce a lifetime of positive effects.
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    Sometimes non stimulant medications are used to treat ADHD such as risperdal (anti-psychotic medication), anti-depressants or even clonidine which is a blood pressure medication. These medications are usually used if there is serious aggression, ODD, conduct disorder or severe behavior problems. Then are usually taken with stimulants as they have no effect on concentration, just on behavior.


  • Kids under school age rarely need medication, and not as much information is available on their safety in young kids. For kids under 5 only use medication in severe cases.
  • By 5 years old kids will usually need medication as they are now in school and expected to concentrate, listen, learn, wait for turns, sit still, be quiet and behave in a classroom situation.
  • By 8 years old the need for medication will increase even more as schoolwork will become more complicated, there will be more homework and more expectations on the child. Often a child who scraped through at a younger age will begin to struggle now.
  • At around 12 ADHD tends to change a little, in some cases it may improve, in some cases it may get worse. For females it usually gets worse. The pressures of high school can also cause the need for medication to increase.
  • Adults with ADHD need medication too to get through work, social situations, self care and to enjoy leisure time well.

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Categories: Attention and Developmental Disorders